Journey to India

Journey to India

We, Rev. Dr. Valerie Carter (leader and organizer), Rev. Freda Wilkins and I, left for Bengaluru, India on August 16, 2012. The flights from Washington DC to Paris then to Bengaluru were uneventful—thank God—long and good.

Bengaluru/Bangalore, India, August 16 – 31, 2012
New Delhi, India, September 1- 4, 2012
Host – Rev. Alex and Mrs. Reney Korulla

We, Rev. Dr. Valerie Carter (leader and organizer), Rev. Freda Wilkins and I, left for Bengaluru, India on August 16, 2012.  The flights from Washington DC to Paris then to Bengaluru were uneventful—thank God—long and good.

Our host, Rev. Alex Korulla and his son met us at the airport and drove us to his home so we could contact family to confirm our safe arrival.  We stayed at the Royal Inn Hotel located across the street from the home of our host.  Rev. Korulla, his wife Reney and family members were exceptional hostesses by providing excellent hospitality.  I could not thank them enough for their care and concern for our physical as well as our spiritual health.

The Korulla’s are a missionary family who live in a four level home.  It is the home of the school–Indian Institute of Theology and Mission (IITM) and the church—Metropolitan Baptist Church, both located on the fourth floor (the roof).  It is also the home of the seminary students and two instructors.

The students as well as the instructors of IITM had never met or knew about the experience of African Americans, specifically African American women.  They were excited and embraced us with open arms.  Since I did the mission and music moment each Sunday, I used that time to give them a synopsis of the Black African and African American, experience in America and God’s actions in our history.  The first Sunday, I gave a brief historical message that I wrote using verses from the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”  The second Sunday, I talked briefly about the Negro Spirituals being a life giving foundation of our ancestral journey in America.  They enjoyed the songs I shared with them and sang the songs with enthusiasm.  Out of the twelve students, some from Burma, Nepal, Punjab as well as of Hindu origin had given their life to Christ.

We taught every day for two hours.  Rev. Carter’s topic was on mission, Rev. Wilkins topic was on pray and my topic was multicultural religious education.  All topics were received very well by the students, their instructors and the director Rev. Korulla.  These classes were part of a mission conference held at the school and ending at a church in a rural area.  We each gave a 10-15 minute message to the pastors and their wives that related to the classes we taught.  My title was “The Power of Learning.” We were received and embraced with love.

While experiencing another perspective of Christian education in an environment of poverty in India at IITM, in some ways it is similar to that in Haiti.


India (IITM)        





Teaching style

Lecture oriented

Lecture oriented

Learning style

Paul Frere banking method


Language barrier





Conservative –KJV, open to other versions

Number of Students



Student participation

Listen & take notes

Listen, take notes, engage

Female students









Women in Ministry/Leadership roles


Very limited

Female instructor(s)



On the last day of class, we taught for 1.5 hrs. each, therefore allowing time for reflections on the two week class.  We were surprised with the student’s responses.  With the help of their instructors as interpreters for some of the students, they said, They were in awe of seeing African Americans; they were introduced to information they had never heard before; majority embrace my lecture on the images of God/Jesus and learning about the African American experience in America;  we asked them to share their faith stories with us as we had shared our faith stories with them, this was the first time visiting instructor(s) ever gave them an opportunity to share their stories, they appreciated that and felt a connection with us; and most of all, they started to feel connected to people that struggle to survive all over the world.

Personally, I was in awe of being in one of the ancient countries of the world.  The realization that the United States is really a “baby country” was experienced throughout my journey in India.  Being received, embraced and affirmed as an instructor and a sister in the family of faith in a male dominated conservative Christian theological society was astounding.  I am still full of respect and admiration for each student and the instructors who shared their narratives of becoming a Christian. To be in the midst of a religious fusion of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism was awesome, especially for the fact that Christianity is not the religion of the majority.  It gave me a tangible understanding of our Christian sisters and brothers’ religious experience during the New Testament era.

I had an opportunity to briefly attend a funeral service.  An elder on our block/neighborhood died at 10pm and the service was the next day.  Anita, one of the IITM instructors, invited me to go with her to pay her respects to the family.  The service was outside two doors from the school.  The deceased was in a glass casket surrounded with flowers.  Incense was burning around the casket.  In the afternoon, the casket was brought outside and the service began.  Music was played throughout the day until the deceased and the family left.  They were Hindu’s so the deceased was cremated.

Rev. Korulla and his wife are from Kerala, an Indian state located south-west of India.  We had lunch with people living in Bengaluru that are originally from Kerala.  We ate on banana leaves with our hands.  During our time in Bengaluru, there were many religious and cultural celebrations that we were able to observe.  The funeral as well as all the other events, were held outside in the community.  It was a wonderful experience. 

Finally, one evening after dinner, Valerie and I walked to the corner store to get some snacks.  As we were leaving the store, an elderly woman approached us for money.  I usually keep some change in my pocket but did not have any at that time.  I felt horrible because I have a passion for all people living on the streets, but especially for my elders.  Valerie had change and gave it to her.  The woman held her hand and was very appreciative of the donation.  As I slowly walked away feeling low in spirit for not having something to give her, she grabbed my hand and pulled me into the circle of divine love she created and began to pray for both of us.  We did not cognitively understand a word she said, but spiritually she prayed and blessed our souls right in the middle of the street that evening.  We gave her a hug and thanked her for her prayers.  She touched our heads and walked away.  My eyes are full just remembering and sharing this most powerful experience with an angel in the evening in the middle of the street.  Needless to say, as we walked back to the hotel, my spirit was high and my heart was grateful.

I shared my experience with Patrick and I plan to develop my curriculum on Multicultural Religious Education and teach it this school year with Patrick’s approval.  

Thank you Julia, Felix, Cathy and Global Ministries for your support of my journey to India.  It was an awesome as well as an educational journey.