Our newest Indian Cluster is seeking focus, courage and faith in challenging circumstances.
In India, the rise of the ‘Hindu Nationalist’ movement in recent years has seen increased attacks on religious minorities, in particular Christians and Muslims.
Our two Clusters in the country's north - in Uttarakhand and Bihar - consist of healthcare workers who are mainly Christian. Increasingly, they have encountered violence and intimidation in various forms: church services have been disturbed, and Christian health programs have been shut down.
With this in mind, last month our Bihar Cluster ran a training course called ‘Integral Mission’. Its aim was to better equip its members to ensure everyone has access to healthcare - irrespective of caste, class, creed and gender - and to do so in accordance with the example set by Jesus.
The course involved Cluster members learning from one another by sharing experiences from their own work. These experiences came from Christian healthcare organisations in the region, all of whom are responding to the needs of the times in their own ways.
Different themes emerged, one being a tenet of Christian belief known as 'Imago Dei'. This refers to the belief that every person has the 'Image of God' within them. In other words, we all have the same inherent dignity, and so we should be treated as such.
This is not a controversial idea, but it stands in contrast to recent events in the country.
While a faith-based movement can sometimes create an 'us vs them' philosophy, the Bihar Cluster is seeking to be a faith-based movement that does the opposite, showing that there is no 'them', there is only 'us'.
To do this can sometimes require courage. On behalf of the whole network, we will continue to offer the Clusters our prayers, thoughts and encouragement.