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10 February 2016

Spring Harvest 2016: international game changer

Spring Harvest 2016: international game changer

This blog was first published by Spring Harvest – a teaching and worship event for everybody. Spring Harvest are featuring everyday game changers in the lead up to the event this Easter. You can find out more about Game Changers and Spring Harvest 2016 here.

Jane'Alam Sheikh

Jane' grew up in the slums of Kolkata where 10,000 people shared one tap and two toilets. The first in his community to go to school, and now a Masters graduate in International Business, Jane's life was dramatically changed when he encountered the love of God through the work of his local church in partnership with Compassion. His game changingencounter was followed by a passion to share the opportunities given to him with others from his community. 

SH: Jane', what started your game changerjourney?

JS: I always felt called to multiply the blessings I had been given by giving back to others. For me this started by volunteering at my church. I got involved with youth ministry, and later volunteered for a microfinance project that helps women stuck in prostitution and the slum by giving them small loans to start up businesses.

This is how I got interested in the effect business can have not only on world economies, but also on small scale local businesses. Naturally, when I was given the opportunity, business is what I wanted to study at university. Following my degree I got an offer to complete my Masters in International Business and so I came to England in 2013, having been given private sponsorship.

SH: Now in England, what are you doing as a result of your experience?

JS: I am currently involved in two different things. Firstly, I work for Compassion where I try to raise more sponsors for the ministry, as their work has been hugely instrumental in changing my life and that of my family.

Secondly, with much help, I've started an organisation called Pursuit International that aims to empower local people in spiritual and physical poverty by supporting existing and new Christian ministries that are already trying to bring the gospel and help the poor but struggle because of lack of resources.

SH: It is clear that your passion to share Christ's love is what drives you. Have you had help on the way?

JS: Definitely, my relationship with God is my driving force in sharing the gospel. I've been blessed to find friends who share the same passion and vision, have their own personal journey with Christ, and want to share that with others too. They sacrificially give their time to help with the work of Pursuit and together my vision and efforts have been multiplied.

SH: What are the highlights so far?

JS: Together we have supported not just a micro-finance project (as I first intended when I volunteered), but helped children from vulnerable backgrounds to go to university, and provide funds for a rehab centre that helps young people caught in addiction. All this came from just sharing my story.

SH: So what do you think qualifies anyone to be a game changer?

JS: Well, when I was doing my Masters I thought that these are the skills that would equip me for the vision I had to help my community in India. But despite my knowledge I'm always experiencing new and different situations, where I feel that I don't know what to do.

I think that the only qualifications you need are an open heart and a servant attitude – being willing to let Jesus work through you. God doesn't need experts, most of the time He uses the things that I'm not good at to help others. For example, I was very introverted and shy as a child and now God uses me to speak to different people from different backgrounds, sharing my story to make them see the work that God is doing. Nothing qualifies me for public speaking – I never thought that was a strength.

Our academic knowledge and personal experience helps us to a certain extent, but the most important thing is to be identified in Christ.

SH: What would you say to those who feel they don't have a significant story like yours to make a difference?

JS: Well, Moses had a stammer and God used him to speak to Pharaoh. God used David while he was still a young boy to bring a giant down. God clearly uses people who feel they can't do anything – what better way for Him to show us what He can do when we trust in Him?

Every little thing you do – if it's just a conversation, praying for somebody or helping someone in need – you don't know what God can do and how he can use that for His glory. Don't discount anything because for you it doesn't seem like something big: God uses small things to do great things.

SH: What difference have events like Spring Harvest made to your game changerstory?

JS: I come from eastern India where I have never seen anything like a Christian festival taking place. I come from a Muslim family, but grew up in a community of Hindus. When I became a Christian I moved from a minority into an ultra-minority. It's difficult anywhere in the world to walk the journey with Christ feeling alone and without the support of others.

When you come to events like Spring Harvest you join in with the wonderful body of Christ. For me, the opportunity of joining together to worship provides the impetus to carry on and go further. So personally it's been a massive boost to my faith journey by being involved with Christian events and being able to worship the Lord together.