india {with Empart}

in 2009, sean and i sat in our bed and watched slumdog millionaire.  the first words out of my mouth were “i never EVER want to go to india!”.

sean and i have done a bit of traveling in our married years and often talk about where we’d like to go in the future, but for some reason, i felt compelled to make it clear that india was not an option.  sean was not nearly opposed as i was, but i needed him to know i wouldn’t be ok with him going either.

*     *     *     *     *

i don’t watch the news.  i don’t read the newspaper.  i don’t listen to world events on the radio.  i over-hear about world tragedies (earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, bombings…) in passing.

i am happy in my own bubble.

its neat, clean, and fairly uncomplicated.

seeing even the movie version of india was much more than i could handle.  the utter hopelessness and disgusting living conditions slumdog millionaire displayed was nearly unbelievable.

fast forward a couple years…

april 17th, 2011 jossy chacko, founder of empart, shared with our church what God is doing among unreached people groups in northern india, where approximately 500,000 villages have never heard the gospel message of Jesus.


(source – go here to see in better detail)

the red dots represent the least reached people groups – clearly india represents the highest population of unreached people groups in the world.

shocking, right?  india needs the gospel.

throughout jossy’s message i was wiping tears from my eyes, and by the end of the service i leaned over to sean and said, “i want to go.”

God works in mysterious ways.  jeannett said the moment i said i never wanted to go to india was the moment God laughed at me!  i felt such a strong call to go and see and be changed from my tiny world vision to a bigger, more realistic view of the rest of the world that desperately needs Jesus.  over and over in my mind i would hear the words of hosanna by hillsong united:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

for years i have not let my heart break for the things that broke God’s heart.  God decided it was about time.

this february (in just 3 weeks!!!), sean and i will be traveling with a group from our church to northern india, the lucknow region.  i am not nervous or afraid.  i am certain.  i am certain that this is what God has planned for us.  that it is about time that my world vision be smashed to smithereens and i adopt the vision that God has for me, to let my heart break for the unreached people groups of the world.  that He has bigger plans and that i am supposed to share  them with you.

as i felt the call to go, i still had this nagging question in the back of my mind: “why?”  why go?  why not just send money?

here’s the answer we got from our good friend and pastor, tim theule:

“My goal for this trip is to take others from GraceSLO to see and serve where needed to grow our vision for the unreached.    We will have opportunity to share and encourage church planters in a couple of different church planting training centers.   I went last time with a bit of a grandiose expectation to make a significant contribution. I was humbled by my experience and realized that the work God did was IN ME.  

Empart has encouraged us to bring folks from our church to see and learn about and from what God is doing in India and to do this over a long period of time. . . to get as many as possible over there.   As proactive “get-it-done” Americans, we think this sounds like a waste to time and money.  But its not.  A trip like this is heart-changing, mind-bending and vision-expanding.    Going, seeing, encouraging, praying, and, where possible, serving will change us, will change our church, and will grow and fuel a vision for the unreached.  

One more thing. . . . in the eyes of these Indian church planters, we Americans represent the highest of the classes.  The very fact that we would go, talk to them, touch them and encourage them is very significant thing in their eyes.   It is our biggest opportunity for impact.   The last thing the Indian church needs is for us to teach them American ways of Christianity.  In fact, what God is doing in India through Empart has challenged all my paradigms.  

This is why I keep emphasizing “see and serve” . . . instead of “fix and teach.”    For some who want job to do, this will be frustrating.  For others it takes the pressure off.  The only qualification for going is a willing heart. “

*     *     *     *     *

empart is different than any other missions organization i have heard of.  instead of westerners bringing the gospel into an unreached area, empart is training local people to bring the gospel to their own people, in their native tongue, to their own villages.  better put, on the empart website:

“Empart is transforming communities by training local people to start churches 
in the local community. The members of these churches then go on to minister 
to the people living in their towns and villages, sharing the love of Jesus while
helping to met their physical needs in practical ways. What’s more, every new
church is passionately committed to planting other churches in unreached
communities as well.We believe that real & lasting community transformation can only be achieved 
through starting authentic local churches- like the ones currently being planted 
by Empart.”
God is at work in india through empart.  their strategy is working.   they have a local church-centered approach to community transformation.  local pastors are trained for a year, then sent to areas of their own choosing (often back to their own villages) to plant churches, start children’s homes, women’s sewing centers (woohoo!) and other community service outposts.   these pastors are given a vision for multiplication.
*     *     *     *     *
so where do we (westerners) come in?

“Our priority has always been to establish partnership and relationship. The best way that we know for that to happen is through short term trips (STT) to India. STT’s allow Empart supporters to see India first hand – poverty and suffering as well as hope, revival and grace. We’ve seen lives transformed through a visit to one of our Transformation Centers or a Children’s Home. Stories of revival seeded in India are now taking root in the West as well.” – empart website

jossy chacko, the founder of empart, has a passion for combining the strengths of the west and the faith/devotion of the east.  he has a balance of faith and organization.   the general mindset of all involved in empart is:   “Jesus  has charged us to lift up our eyes and see the harvest.  at any given time, there is a harvest somewhere.  the harvest is small in the west at present, but great in india.  it is our responsibility and calling to move resources toward the place where the harvest is most fruitful.  it takes money and work to reap the harvest.  let’s not miss it.”   that’s hard to argue with.

as pastor tim wrote: “Gospel transformation is the only hope and help for North India.  Poverty is rampant.  The caste system, though illegal, still keeps people in poverty.  Begging is organized crime.   The issues are longstanding and systemic.  We are ignorant and naive as Westerners if we think we can solve the problems of North India.   But partnering to see the raising up of an indigenous church planting movement holds great potential for, not only, the salvation of men and women, but also community transformation.  God is at work through Empart.  God continues to supply gifted, skilled, people with passion and influence to the ministry.   It’s amazing to hear the stories.   The growth has accelerated over the last 4 years and they are “building the plane in the air.” “

*     *     *     *     *

here’s where YOU com in!

we need you to:

1 – pray.  pray for the safety of our team and for God to use us to encourage the empart church planters.  pray for the gospel to be spread throughout northern india.

2 – give.  some are called to pray and some are called to give.  we are still in need of funding.  as hard as it is to ask for financial help in these difficult economic times, its a reality for us that we can’t do this alone.  taking donations online is still fairly new to empart, so please be patient with the process as its not as easy as one click.

if you would like to donate, please CLICK THIS LINK , which will allow you to give a donation under “most urgent needs”.  when you get to the part where you enter your credit card info, there will be a box for “special instructions”.  it is very important to please write “Short Term Trip Payment for Sean and Lindsey Cheney” in that box, so the money can be properly allocated.  shortly after you complete this a receipt will be emailed to you.  if you could then forward your emailed receipt to  that would be the last step, so emily, our trip coordinator, can keep track of the revenue.

*     *     *     *     *

i am so very excited to be partnering with empart and seeing what God has in store!

over the next few weeks i’ll share more about the organization and the impact they are having on india, then i’ll be writing about our adventures in india as well (of course!).  as God is stretching me through these next weeks and months, i invite you to be stretched with me!


  1. 1

    What an awesome calling!
    I am so excited for you and Sean and will be praying for you!
    Thank you for letting us know.

  2. 2

    Wow Lindsey! What a great thing for you both to be doing. Isn’t God’s sense of humor great? He always seems to send us or have us do what we always said we never would. I will be praying for the two of you!

  3. 3

    Lindsey, that is an amazing story and plan, thank you so much for sharing both with us. Good luck with all that lies ahead to meet your calling! I will be praying for you and your whole group. Take care, Laura

  4. 4

    I can’t wait to hear all about your trip. I wish you and your whole group my best wishes for what is going to be a great journey. I was not surprised to read that India does not know a lot about God as they are mainly a Hindu country, but I am sure that the work that your group does will have a great effect on them.

  5. 5

    Yay! One of the most beneficial things that I did before I went on a mission trip (aside from PRAY!) was to read “When Helping Hurts” by Brian Fikkert. It was eye opening and helped make my time and my interactions more meaningful and appropriate while trying to bring Jesus to people. Hope that it is a life changing and awesome experience for you! Safe travels :-)

  6. 6
    Nadir@StitchSense says:

    What an incredible thing to do! Our church is actually planning a missions trip to India this year also, I wish I could go but hubby just started a new job & we weren’t able to this year. I’ll be praying for you both & can’t wait to hear how God moved in your lives through this trip. :-)

  7. 7

    Fantastic! God certainly knows how to break our hearts for what breaks HIS.
    I am a Compassion International Advocate so I see how significant the need truly is just in a few (26 countries) places globally. Oh, how much wiil be changed from this trip. I am praying for you and Sean.

  8. 8

    What an amazing journey you are about to embark on. I too saw the movie and thought the very same. I can’t wait to here about your journey. I’ll be praying for you both.

  9. 9

    Lindsey, this is amazing! I hope your trip is filled with wonderful experiences for God’s glory. :)

  10. 10

    we have to go because we cannot imagine how much it means to someone in the 3rd world to know that we chose to come to them–and God commanded us to! praying for safe travels for your whole group.

  11. 11

    Lindsey, yours is one of my all time favorite blogs, but I rarely comment. :) But I HAD to comment today!! Our church has just “adopted” an unreached people group in SE Asia and I am going with a group from our church in April!! I was so excited to read about your church’s adventures in an area not too far from there. (we aren’t supposed to mention our exact location.) I wanted to tell you that I will be praying for you and your team as I think about our own team going!! God is good!!

  12. 12
    kellee reilly says:

    my husbands cousin and her little family are currently in india for a 17 day “mission” trip. How exciting!

  13. 13

    Oh wow!
    I am so excited for you!
    I went to India twice as a teen ager.
    Both times we were in Southern India, living with a family and ministering in schools, orphanges, hospitals and churches.
    Both times we stayed for about 5 weeks.
    They were the most amazing times of my life.
    India is overwhelming in every way.
    Sights, sounds, smells.
    There really is no way to describe it all.
    But the most overwhelmingly wonderful part of it is the people.
    Everywhere we went, we were touched (literally and figurativly) by the people.
    They were open, loving and interested in us.
    Many were open to the gospel.
    Especially the children.
    I will never, ever forget my time there and long to return.
    Since I have 4 kids ages 7 months to 7 years, now does not seem the right time.
    But GOd knows my heat and knows His plans for me.
    Until then, I will happily revel in your stories and photos.
    I know there will be lots and lots!
    God bless you and your family for hearing the call and obeying.
    “The great commision is not an option to be considered, but a command to be obeyed.”
    Hudson Taylor
    We all obey that call differently, but I am excited that you are actually going.
    It will change you forever.
    God Bless!
    Love from,

  14. 14

    Lindsey, this is so inspiring! I feel my life being pulled in another direction and I don’t know how to follow through. It is nice to see that you are able to make it happen!

  15. 15
    Lauren Kaczmarski says:

    Fantastic post. Thank you for shedding light on this. So interesting because each year at our church’s Christmas Eve service we take up a collection for a special cause. In 2010, we collected money to help the homeless locally (in Charlotte, NC). This past December, our church felt called to raise money to help bring Jesus’ name to India! We raised $220,000 in one night! Thank you for opening your heart to “see and serve” and not to “fix and teach”. God bless!

  16. 16

    You know every time I hear a story like yours it feels like I’m reading my own words. I also live a pretty awesome life, its not a huge life but its overflowing with blessing after blessing. I also don’t let the big “bad” world in too much. I fiercely protect the sanctity of my little home and my little life. I had my heart opened up to children recently. I have my own, and love mothering. And when I let my heart open up to all the need and injustice in the world it is overwhelming. And when I cry for children all over the world, its not even like I’m crying, its like God is crying through me. Like I’m connecting with Him in how He see’s these children and their needs. I haven’t yet found my calling but my heart has been broken and will never be the same and I hope I find where I am supposed to help soon. I can’t wait to hear about your trip and all that you experience!

  17. 17

    How awesome that God spoke to your heart and most of all that you were willing to listen despite your apprehentions. Good luck, I’ll be praying for you and anxiously awaiting to hear how it went.

  18. 18

    I went to India last summer for 3 weeks, and it was the best experience of my life! It was a country unlike any I have ever visited before. Everyone I met was wonderful, the food was great, the traffic was crazy, and the sites were memorable. I visited many churches/missions, and I was always impressed with the positive impact they were having. Have a wonderful trip – I would love to go again!

  19. 19

    this is so great. I will be praying for you and will be so excited to read your posts about your journey! we have dear friends who live and serve in north india….dehradun. they run two business as missions companies… JOYN and dehradun guitar company
    it’s super cool stuff.

  20. 20

    I’ll be praying for you and your husband as you prepare to go, as you’re there ministering to the people of India, as the Lord works in you and transforms you for His purpose, and as He brings you back to transform your community. Good for you for obeying His call on your life, it’s both terrifying and exciting, and always worth it.

  21. 21

    Lindsey, you will probably never experience a more spiritual place than India…everywhere you turn, there are temples and churches, and prayer is a big part of peoples’ daily lives. I was there a number of years ago, and never felt closer to God than that time. And, as other comments have stated, the Indian people are hungry for God.

    By the way, most Indian people that I know through my family liked the story from Slumdog Millionaire, but hated how the movie portrayed the worst of what India has to offer. It’s like someone filming a movie in the United States and using a drug-infested, violence plagued inner city as the full backdrop for the country. Relax and enjoy…

  22. 22

    Congratulations! God is smiling down on you now because you took a step and that led to another, then another and here you are, going to India. Your world will open and you will share with your children the blessings they already have and show them that their mama can do anything and make a difference. So happy for you, Lindsey! Be safe.

  23. 23

    God bless you for doing this! That’s one of the things I’d like to do when my little ones are not so little any more =) We’ll keep you, Sean and your church group in our prayers! You’re totally doing God’s will, go girl!

  24. 24

    Have a fun trip! Can’t wait to hear about it when you return!

  25. 25

    that is so great! we are supporting our dear friends the Peets that were going on this trip. we are now praying with them in a different way. we will now be praying for you, too!
    small world!

  26. 26
    Roshni Patel says:

    I am glad you are going. I am from a family that is from India. I traveled there when I was two so didn’t remember much in my young adult / adult years. I made a trip with my husband and his family in 2005 at the age of 25 and was shocked at how different it was from what my family has told me and what I have seen. Yes there were parts that made my heart cry for the people having to live in unbelievable situations but there was so much more to see in India. The beauty, by far, outweighed the untolerable living situations for some.

    Basing one’s opinion about a place based on a movie is a bit harsh. Nevertheless, I am glad you will be able to go see it, for what it really is. Happy Travels!

  27. 27
    Kristen Walsky says:

    First, I love your blog and have been following it for over a year now. I also love Pleated Poppy items that I adorn on almost a daily basis! I am excited for you to go to India, but please be tolerant of those that have religious views that date older than Christianity. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are older than anything written by modern religion and say the same things as the Old Testament. I am glad that you are spreading your heart and message but also learn from others. I was raised Catholic and married a Jewish man, but we have the same values, understanding, and love of God. I understand that some people feel the need to spread their faith to others, but I wouldn’t dare go into my husband’s synagogue a start preaching. One thing that makes the western world fabulous is our kind hearts, respect, and tolerance for all faith. So have fun, love others, and respect the gifts that God gave you in your heart, but understand the gifts he gives to all. Sorry if I hurt anyone, but I just respect all religions.

    • 28

      I completely agree. I don’t understand the disregard for the traditions and religions of one people that allows others to feel that they “need” your religion. I say this as an Orthodox Jew, committed fully to my religion and community, with no interest in convincing others to abandon their traditions in favor of mine.

  28. 29

    That is amazing! I will pray for you and your husband while you are gone. I also live in a little bubble not knowing all the details of the world. And as sad as it may be it has allowed me to live a life free of worries.

  29. 30

    Yay for Lindseys going on missions! I just got back from serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One scripture that I really like says, “And behold, I tell you these things that you may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17) That is so beautiful that you and your husband have the desire to serve the Lord and to share your testimonies of Jesus Christ with the people of India. Like you said when you watched Slum Dog Millionaire, and how you didn’t want to go to India…the Lord sometimes has a lot of different plans for us than we would have ever imagined. But we just have to be humble enough to be able to accept His will. The wonderful thing is that His will is always for our benefit! He loves us so much and only desires to bless us, and will never lead us astray.

    People in every continent need to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ. 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give ban answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

  30. 31

    Yay! Lindsey, this was a great recap of the trip and I’m so excited that Travis gets to go with you guys. I’m totally jealous that you and Sean get to go together, I want to go so badly. Its just not the right time with me still nursing little Atticus. Hopefully on the next trip. You know of course I’ll be praying for you all. Will you be praying for Travis too, also for his funding??? He’s hasn’t gotten much in yet, and that can be a bit discouraging. :( But God is in control…He’ll make everything work out. :)

  31. 32

    This is so amazing! I will pray for you and the rest of your church team as you go to do God’s work. Wishing you safe travels and life changing events. <3

  32. 33

    Hi there!
    I’ve been reading your blog for sometime now and I just read this post and it brought me to tears! I love India. I went there with YWAM (youth with a mission) when I was in my twenties and it has always held such a special place in my heart! I remember when I was in New Delhi, feeling VERY overwhelmed by all that I was seeing, I was indeed experiencing culture shock. Everything around me was different, and although I really wanted to be there, it was really hard to experience such a different life than the one I’d known. It was in that moment of panic/numbness (they do go together) that I heard the Lord speak to my heart and say, “Jesus, my Son, left Heaven for EARTH. Nothing on earth can even compare to what He left behind for you. I know you can handle giving your comforts up, for THEM!” Seriously, that helped me more in India than anything. Knowing that Jesus had given up so much for me! I was so happy to give things up for them to know Him too!

    I’m going to be praying for you and your team members! I’m still praying for my chance to go back. India has captured my heart unlike any other nation. It’s where I learned who I was in God’s plan for others. I can’t wait to read all that you do and all that you learn from your trip! Thank you for sharing!

  33. 34

    so proud of you for saying yes and following God’s leading. i know this will be an amazing experience for you. you will both definitely be in our prayers! love you guys!

  34. 35

    I’d just like to say I’m so excited for you and your adventure into India. I have a huge heart for India and lived there for 2 months last year. It’s definitely a difficult place to go, but the impact is huge. There is so much need and just being with the beautiful people of India not only minister to them, but will minister so much more to you. I hope someday to go back to India longterm. I’m so glad you aren’t letting your original predispositions keep you from going and being used greatly by the Lord. Praying for you and your trip.

  35. 36

    What a mighty God we serve – He takes our “no” and turns it into “go”.

    Praying for you you Lindsey that God will prepare your heart, meet you in a significant way in India, and use you to bless and encourage His servants there. May your story inspire others to go as well!

    {My husband has been to India twice – it is his favorite place to go. He loves the people. I think you will too!}

  36. 37

    Hi there, I have been following your site to browse your outfits. they are cute. by far this post is heartwarming because I love moms who offer themselves to service of others. Good Luck in India and hope you stop by and visit my blog to read about our cause. Like you I am mom as well and this is our small way to give back to the universe. .. take care

  37. 38

    i haven’t been on google reader in a while and just noticed this post! it’s strange because to say that india has been on my mind lately would be an understatement. my littlest sister has just begun a six month long mission trip to yangon in southeast asia BUT she just spend one week in new delhi india training for her six month trip in myanmar. you should go read about her time in india here … … but what she said about the people of india is this … they are the sweetest, most polite people that she has ever met but they are trapped. it has burdened my heart for the sweet, trapped people of india in a way that i cannot even put into words. i pray that your time there is amazing. they you are able to reach people and fill them with the love of Christ. a love that will free them. and i cannot wait to read about your time spent loving on these people.

  38. 39

    Wow, I am so excited for you! I didn’t realize I’d missed this bit of info here :) I’ll be praying for your safety and for some amazing things to happen. I’m sure your mind will be blown by what God will show you. Can’t wait to hear the update!

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