Two Wabash Valley Shuri-Ryu Karate Academy students were black belted on May 15, an honor bestowed upon them by Sensei Mike Castro (center). Rob Barton (left) and Tommy Music (right) traded in their brown belts when Castro decided that they had earned to move up in rank, according to Music. “It’s an honor to be promoted to black belt,” Music said in an interview with The Paper of Wabash County. “I cried. It’s seven years coming. Almost seven years that Mr. Barton and I have been coming down (to the dojo) anywhere from five to six days a week, one to two hours at a time. It’s been a long road to now and it’s an honor.” Photo provided
by Emily Armentrout
Brittany Hobson, Indiana Wesleyan University student and 2011 graduate of Southwood High School, began making jewelry as a hobby when she was in the 8th grade. As a sophomore, Hobson was able to go to India on a mission trip with Friends Church. Never did Hobson think that such a “girly” hobby could be used to bring people to Christ, but as she has learned over the past five years, “God’s a creative God,” Hobson told The Paper.
“I met Eric Fleck from Friends Church and he just randomly asked me if I wanted to go to India. I didn’t even know him, but I was going to India,” Hobson explained.
Fleck works a lot creating sustainable income while in India. Hobson was able to work for the first time with some women in making jewelry while visiting India in 2009. After her first visit to India, she knew she wanted to return. Her second trip to India actually began in Atlanta, Ga., at Passion conference in May 2013. 60,000 youth members gathered at the Georgia Dome and Hobson found in her group of 10 people someone who had been praying for her. He was not praying for Brittany specifically, but for a woman to come along and help him with his business venture. Cole Johnson had decided to build a factory in India for women to make scarves to make and sell to support their families. Though Hobson doesn’t make scarves, she was the woman he had been waiting for, and Hobson found herself back in Kolkata, India in August 2013, a few months after meeting Johnson.
“This was a total God thing. 60,000 people and he had been praying for a woman to come along,” Hobson told The Paper.
While in India in 2009 and 2013, Hobson worked with an organization called Kolkata City Mission. KCM provides jobs for women but they also offer the spiritual side by presenting the gospel so the women can come to know Christ as their savior. Hobson worked with women from four different slums and another American girl from Indiana Wesleyan, Faith Neidig of Plymouth. Neidig is a 2013 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University.
“I could not have done this trip without her. She agreed to be a part of this mission trip out of blind faith and assisted me with jewelry making and was able to entertain the children while I did additional training with the mothers,” Hobson said of her traveling partner.
Hobson and Neidig brought back a suitcase full of the jewelry that was made during their visit. While home, the girls sold that jewelry for a total of $3,000. The money made from the sale was sent back to Kolkata to build the factory that Johnson envisioned.
Working with the women and children in the slums was the portion of the trip that changed Hobson’s life.
“These are strong women. I have to check my attitude so I am not coming in as an American who is all ‘let me show you something,’ but I get to be a part of it. God is allowing me to be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Hobson. “We were able to spend time in the slums. Last time, we got to spend time with the kids and that was probably one of my favorite parts. We didn’t speak the same language, but we didn’t have to, we just giggled the whole time at each other,” added Hobson.
Hobson’s third trip is scheduled for the end of July, where she will check in on the women she trained during her trip last year, who have been working with a woman from Australia. After checking in on those women, she will work with a new organization in a different area with 12-15 new women to train on making jewelry. Training the women there to make jewelry offers them a sustainable job and income. Hobson thinks of this as the “new mission movement.”
“These organizations offer a sustainable income. They don’t just hand them money that won’t last,” explained Hobson. “We’re empowering these women to support their own families.”
Offering women in India sustainable income offers them an opportunity to remove themselves from prostitution.
“Kolkata is one of the biggest cities for prostitution and sex trafficking. They have the biggest red light district. Not all women are necessary trapped in it, but they are selling themselves to support their families,” Hobson told The Paper. By coming alongside the women that Hobson works with, they give them other options to support their families. Making only 200 rupees a day, which translates into $2 a day in American money, it is hard to escape poverty in Kolkata. These women are paid every time they work when they make jewelry.
Hobson and Neidig’s return trip to India has been fully funded by donations.
“I’ve sent out support letters every time and God blesses me with double,” said Hobson.
They have already purchased their tickets and Hobson is currently working on purchasing the supplies necessary to create the pieces of jewelry. Financial contributions can be made to Hobson and she will use the money for jewelry supplies but also distribute the funds for other ministries within the Delhi City Mission and Kolkata City Mission. Checks can be made and sent to Brittany Hobson at 7382 S State Road 13, Wabash.
Though Hobson’s primary task is to help these women create jewelry, she intends to focus more on the other aspect of the organizations she will be working with. Hobson wants to be more intentional in bringing the women and children she comes in contact with to Christ.
“When I go, somehow I need to get through to those women that Jesus loves them and that there is redemption and eternal life.”
Most of the women she will encounter are Hindu and it is very hard for women to convert because you often lose your entire family.
“In reality, jewelry is going to help them support their family and that’s what they need, but it doesn’t save them. They are not going to get into Heaven because they made some jewelry on Earth. That’s what these organizations do; they give them what they need in their here and now, but they also give them Christ,” said Hobson.
Hobson couldn’t believe the difference in poverty in India compared to the United States, but the United States, like India, has lost souls according to Hobson.
“Lost souls are lost souls. This community has a lot of lost people and a lot of need. Poverty is real in India, and it is real here. It looks different, but it’s still an issue. People are needing Christ over in India and people are needing Christ here,” said Hobson.
“Jewelry is such a girly thing and I never thought it would be something I could use for anything greater and look where it is now. Look at your gifts. Don’t count any of your gifts as something stupid or something you can’t use. God blesses people with certain things that are unique. Pray for the opportunity to come along. It doesn’t have to be overseas. If you have the opportunity, no matter where, just do it. If God wants you there, the money will come,” Hobson said.
You can follow Hobson’s journey this summer on her jewelry Facebook page, Jewels for Jesus- India, 2014.”