The Side By Side India Crew 2000
The India Crew group photo at training in Minneapolis.
The India Crew is:
(Click on a name to view a profile.)
Casey Christiansen, Holly Gold, Roy Heflin, Jocelyn Johnston, Erica Lambart,
Roberta Moore, Darren O'Hare,
Zac Pennell, Tracey Pollick,
Nathan Roemer, Heather Rose,
Shawn Smith, Ian Somerville,
and Becky Taylor.
Some profiles are not yet available.
A profile of each crew member will be available soon.
Casey taking a break in a newly whitewashed room.
Cassandra Lynn Christiansen (email@example.com)
was born on 17 February 1984, which makes her 16 years old now. She lives in
Saginaw, MI, where she attends Valley Lutheran High School. When asked about her
experience in India, Casey said, "To be quite honest, I don't know what made me
decide to go on this trip. I guess it just felt like the right thing to do at the
time. I mean, once I got to India, I realized that I was there to help the people of
the Women's Bible College. But even then, I didn't feel like I had done enough. Now that I'm home I can really see what an impact we had on those people,
and I'm glad that we could help them. Although, they have helped me as much as, if
not, more than what I could have ever done for them. I feel like I was blessed with
the opportunity to go and see India and to 'understand' its culture, and it is an
experience that I will never forget."
Holly covered in whitewash after a hard day's work.
is 15 years old, and was born on August 29th. She lives in Linwood, MI, but she
attends Living Hope Christian Church and is a Junior at Valley Lutheran High School, both
of which are in Saginaw. Some of her hobbies include softball, shopping, dancing,
singing, and hanging out with friends.
When asked how she felt about her experience in India, Holly said, "I really loved
it. At first, I really wasn't sure why God wanted me to go on this trip. I had
never done anything this big before, so I didn't know why He suddenly wanted me to jump
into something like this. Now, I know that He wanted me there so that those women
could learn how to teach each other. I somehow feel responsible for helping them to
lead people to Christ. I also formed some great friendships that I know God really
wanted me to have."
Roy taking some time out with two kids at the work site.
Roy Heflin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is, in his words, "just another servant in Christ" who lives in Lubbock, TX,
where he is a Campus Minister at Texas Tech.
"Why did I feel called to go?" Roy asked.
"Well, first of all, its because Shawn Smith sent me an e-mail asking me to
pray about it, so its his fault! Not really, but his asking--kinda like Andrew
asking Peter to come see Jesus--caused me to seriously pray about why God would want me to
go. After weeks of prayer and questioning Susan [his wife] and friends, I decided
three things had to fall in place for me to know I should go. 1) Money--meaning
sponsors who would support me financially; 2) permission--from Susan and from my
supervisor, Rev. Ken Hennings, because I was just starting my new position at Texas Tech;
and 3) that plans for this Fall semester at Texas Tech were taken care of before I
left. Well, God answered all of those in the affirmative, so I followed! But
I also wanted to go to learn more about Jesus from a different perspective than I would
learn in the U.S. And I did!! God is much bigger than I ever could have
imagined. Plus, I learned two life-long lessons: 1) I need to show Susan how much I
love her, more than ever, and 2) I need to be more wise about how I spend my personal
money, to be a better steward of the gifts God has given me!"
Jocelyn on the evening of the building dedication.
Jocelyn Johnston (email@example.com)
is a 19 year old sophomore at Grove City College, where she's majoring in Music Education.
She plays a variety of instruments, but her concentration is Alto Saxophone.
She's a member of various musical ensembles on campus, and also Historian of the GCC
chapter of MENC (Music Educator's National Conference). She also participates in
Intramural Basketball, and enjoys other sports.
Jocelyn remarks, "I decided to go on the trip to India because I felt called by
God through Shawn's invitation and encouragement. I've never really done anything
big like this to challenge myself; I've always been in a comfort zone. I wanted to
get out of my comfort zone and do something to really serve God and others. I was
very humbled on the trip, and my heart was touched by my crew members and the people of
India. I think the trip has also helped me to challenge myself and take risks more
Erica is all packed and ready to leave for India from training in
Erica Lambart (firstname.lastname@example.org)
was born on the morning of Sunday, February 5, 1984. Erica has always thought that
it was unique that God chose her to be born at that time for two reasons. One of the
reasons is that her father is a pastor, and he got out of preaching in order to be at her
birth, and the second is because her best friend of 11 years, Allison, was baptized at the
very exact time on the same day of her birth. Pretty neat, eh?!
Skipping to the present day, Erica is 16 years old and a junior at Valley Lutheran High
School in Michigan. She has an elder sister who is 19 and studies at the University
of Michigan. Her father is still a pastor, and he loves to sail to Put-in Bay, Ohio.
Her mother also enjoys sailing, and she works at Dow Chemical. Finally,
Erica's dog, Bosco, is a Chow and was named after the really old chocolate drink.
Erica comments, "I absolutely love to travel. However,
I loathe sailing. I enjoy playing my guitar and cooking gourmet meals out of the
cook book that my sister bought me a few years ago. As for my future, only God
knows, but I hope to attend Concordia Ann Arbor for college, and maybe even become a
Director of Christian Education."
Roberta worships God by singing a song in sign language.
Roberta Moore is 25 and lives in Wooster, OH. After years of living the
corporate life, she followed her hear to Wooster where she currently works at the
Christian Children's Home of Ohio. She has the daily joy of working with teenagers
in need. In her free time, Roberta enjoys music, art, reading, hiking, and
When asked, "Why India?" Roberta replied, "There were numerous
reasons why I wanted to travel to India. One of the biggest reasons was that I
wanted to experience life and my faith from a completely different point of view. I
wanted to 'walk a mile in someone else's moccasins.' This trip was definitely
life-changing in that respect. I saw lives that were fully dedicated to and
dependent on God. It was a reminder for me to readjust my priorities. Upon
returning, I realized that God had many more lessons for me to learn. One of the
most profound impacts this trip has had on my life and my ministry is that it has restored
my hope. I worked with some of the most amazing Christian young people, and seeing
their faith in action reminded me that our future is in very good hands!"
One of the biggest highlights from her trip was seeing the Indian orphanages and
interacting with the children there--hearing them singing and seeing the beauty and joy of
Darren smiles and cuts his cake on his birthday.
Now 22 years Old, Darren O'Hare (email@example.com) was born and
raised on Long Island, NY. Straight out of High school Darren joined the Army, and
he's now in the reserve while attending college, where he's taking a double major in
Business Management and Theatre. For the last few years Darren has been volunteering
at his church working with the youth group,
Darren shared a little bit about what made him decide to go on this trip and his plans
for the future: "I originally heard about the Side By Side program from Michael of
Lost and Found. I talked with my friend, Justin--he is the Youth Director at my
church--about his experience with Lost and Found in India. After hearing about their
trip, I knew this was something I wanted to do. I am deeply grateful for all the
support I received from my friends, family, and congregation, and I thank you for making
this trip possible for me. We are now in the process of planning a similar type of
mission for the Cherch Nurdz."
A highlight of the trip for Darren was the children from the village next to the work
site. They would come over everyday--even cutting school sometimes--and do
everything they could to get us to stop working so we would play with them.
Darren concluded, "This trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Thanks again to all who made it possible."
Zac recommends this yummy orange juice drink.
Tracey enjoys a Limca soda with some Bible women.
Tracey Pollick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is 32 and lives in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Philadelphia). Tracey was
born and raised in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and she attended The Pennsylvania State
University, where she earned both her B.S. and M.ed. in Special Education. Tracey
has been teaching for ten years, and she is a special education teacher at Plymouth
Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.
When Tracey was asked why she felt called by God to participate in this trip, she
replied, "God works in amazing ways! I feel that God worked through my dear
friend, Shawn Smith, by way of a personal invitation to join the work crew. God has
blessed me with a very special ability to lead youth. I was excited to be able to
use this gift to do God's work in India. In addition, I welcomed the opportunity to
escape my comfort zone and challenge my faith."
In reflection, Tracey feels this trip has profoundly affected her life. Although
the beautiful and humble brothers and sisters of Christ in India couldn't thank us enough
for giving them our gifts of love and labor, Tracey feels the people and experiences of
India were the greatest gifts she could ever receive. "I learned the most
valuable life lessons during my time in India. I felt privileged to live among
people who were so rich in spirit and joy despite their monetary poverty. As I was
taken from my comfort zone, my faith was tested daily. Of course, God was with me
and carried me through the more difficult times. Although our wonderful hosts made
us very comfortable, I gained a new appreciation for the daily struggles to obtain basic
needs, such as food and water. I have a renewed respect for my freedom of religion,
as Christians in India suffer religious persecution daily. In addition to being a
religious minority, I was also in the racial and gender minorities. I learned what
it was like to be treated differently because of the color of my skin. As a woman, I
brought home a whole new perspective on what it means to be a woman. I admit that,
as a strong and independent woman, I had reservations about how I would be treated in
India. Traditionally, women are submissive to men in India, and I thought I would
struggle with this concept. However, I learned that equality does not necessarily
equal respect. Indian women are treated with great respect and reverence.
There is no doubt a father, brother, son, or husband would lay down his life for a woman
he loved. I was treated with this same respect. In the U.S., I always felt
women would never earn true respect until we were perceived as equals to men. Now,
I have stopped fighting those differences. I am celebrating the beauty and grace
that only women share. I respect myself more for this change and hope others will
"I thank God daily for this gift of new life for me. I carry a piece of
everyone I came in contact with in my heart, and I do this to replace the piece of me
which will always remain in India. It is my prayer that God will keep my experiences
fresh in my heart and mind forever."
Nathan and his Compassion International sponsored child, Nukala.
Nathan Roemer (Sound
Message, LLC Email Form) is 20 years old and lives in Boston, MA,
where he is currently pursuing his B.A. in Audio Production at Emerson
College. (Since then, Nathan was graduated with his
degree in 2001.) Nathan is also the
Sound Message, LLC,
that provides creative audio, music, new media, internet,
and artistic production services to independent artists and small businesses
at an affordable price. In Boston, Nathan attends Park Street Church
Worship Center, and he is also
active in Real Life (Campus
Crusade for Christ) and
Chi Alpha Campus
Ministries, which are organisations of Christian fellowship and ministry for
university students in the Boston area. Food, travelling, and little gadgets keep
him busy when he's not doing all that other stuff.
This was Nathan's second trip to India; he went on a Side By Side team to India
back in 1998 as well. Here's a little bit about why he went back:
"I knew after my first trip to India that I wanted to go back sometime.
Little did I know that sometime would be only two years later! I must admit
that when Shawn first suggested the idea to me almost one year ago, I didn't think it
could happen. But, that Shawn is really persistent, and the more I thought and
prayed about it, the more I knew that God was calling me to go back to India."
Nathan served the crew with his past experiences in India as a sort of
"cultural advisor," and he also facilitated the crew's ministry through
technology (like this web site) and through music (by singing and playing the guitar).
Later on, his passion for food was recognised as he was appointed to choose the
yummy Indian food for the crew's meals. The highlight of the trip for Nathan was the
children. Their discipline in education, their strength in faith, and their sheer
joy in childhood were truly remarkable and inspiring.
Heather and a young girl at the work site.
Wendy takes a ride on Richard's scooter.
Wendy Schelper (email@example.com)
lives in Minnetonka, MN and attends All Saints Lutheran Church. She is 15 years old
and will be a sophomore this fall at West Lutheran. Some of her interests include
dancing, cheerleading, swimming, hanging out with friends, teaching Sunday school,
short-term mission work, and more!
When asked why she decided to go on this trip to India, Wendy said, "I've always
had a passion for any kind mission work, and I really felt like this was something that
God wanted me to do. I knew there was a purpose for the desire God had placed in my
heart, but I wasn't sure why. I was told a million times that this trip would impact
my life, but I had no idea as to what God can truly do when you give yourself up to His
ways! I know that God "hand picked" everyone in our group and put us
together for a reason, and for that I am truly thankful. Looking back, I can't
believe what an opportunity it really was. I now know that God will provide for His
children, and He uses each and every one of us to speak to others in our words, actions,
and love. I was able to see that everyday from the nationals and my group! I
can now say that this experience has touched my life and will be treasured forever!"
Shawn is "Big Giant White Man" next to the Indian children!
Shawn Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is 33 years old and from Clarkston, MI. He does full time Christian music ministry for a living
and served on the India Crew as our crew leader. Calvary Lutheran Church in
Clarkston is Shawn's home congregation. As a graduate of the University of Michigan
with a B.A. in Secondary Education, Theatre & Speech, Shawn often jokes that he is in
the 28th grade. His hobbies include volleyball, photography, digital video editing,
reading, and writing.
When asked why he felt called to serve in India, he said, "I felt called to
serve the Lord in a meaningful, overseas mission trip, and to share it with young,
faithful people I've met in my own ministry. My original hope was to learn more
about our faith by removing ourselves from the distractions of affluence and by learning
and "under-stand"ing what it means to be a Christian minority in the 3rd
world. Upon returning from India, my hope and prayer is that all of us on the crew
will appreciate our faith more, prioritize our lives accordingly, and inspire others here
in America to do the same." The highlight of the trip for Shawn was a draw
between meeting and sharing so many memorable moments with the Indian children; and
working on, completing, and dedicating the women's Bible school in Rajahmundry.
Ian in the computer room at the Baptist Center
Ian Somerville (email@example.com)
is 16 years old and lives in Port Charlotte, Florida, where he finds his church home at
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. He enjoys computers, church, sleeping, tinkering with
electronic things, thinking and eating. Before this trip, Ian had no overseas
experience, but he agreed to this one when Shawn Smith invited him to go with him on a
mission trip to India. He then encouraged his friend, Zac Pennell, to join
him. What a guy!
When asked why he decided to go on this trip, he responded, "I saw
it as an opportunity to enhance my faith. I knew that it would be a life changing
experience for me and everyone else in our group. I knew from the first day that God
had assembled the most exciting, faithful, and all around great group of Christians
possible." He later added, "I think I would really like to go to another
country again in the future. It might be an interesting way to strengthen my faith
even more and to meet another really awesome group of Christians." One
highlight that stood out for Ian was getting to meet the natives and learning how to blend
into their culture--well as much as he could, anyway.
Becky Mae Taylor with her smile full of sunshine.
At sixteen, Becky Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a fiery redhead who lives in Caledonia, Michigan. She attends Grace Lutheran
Church in Wyoming, Michigan and enjoys being active through volunteering for many church
functions. She loves to dance and finds herself quite busy throughout the school
year. Some of her other passions include swimming, reading, shopping, talking on the
phone, and ice cream! Before India, Becky had never had any overseas adventures, but
now she vows she will fly over the great ocean once again to explore!
When asked why she decided to go on this trip she responded, "The whole experience
just sounded like such an adventure. I was sick of walking around in my comfort zone
all of the time, so when God threw this awesome opportunity at me, I was all for it.
I am thrilled about all of the exciting things we were able to accomplish under
God, and I can't wait to finish telling the rest of my family and friends all about it.
I met some wonderful people on my India Crew who have touched my life forever.
I know that people like these guys didn't show up by mere coincidence. I
praise God for how he has blessed me through my new, aspiring friendships and facilitated
me to be an awesome witness through my mission experience!"
The highlights of the trip for Becky were learning dances from the children at the
orphanage and swimming in the Bay of Bengal. She couldn't wait to go home and tell
her family that she had now been swimming in THREE oceans! Becky strongly encourages
anyone considering a mission trip through Side by Side to go for it!