Rachael Cruickshank (Durham, NC)
“In February, I traveled with three other members of my church to India to spend a week with Leena. It was a week that left me completely awed by her passion and desire to share God’s love. Her entire soul and energy are poured out in service to her people. I am specifically impressed by how flexible Leena is with her daily schedule. She gladly and willingly alters her plans to attend to those in need. As we travelled to the Markapur School one afternoon, Leena learned of a village family whose patriarch (and a Godly man) had died. So, we made an unplanned detour to visit and pray with the family. To share in their sorrows during this intimate funeral was humbling. Had Leena stuck to our original plans, an opportunity to minister to a grieving family would have been missed. This is just one example of how Leena allows her time to be directed by the Holy Spirit. Thank you Leena for your loving, Christ-like example, and for welcoming us into your life for that week.”
Amy Jicha (Waynesville, NC)
I first experienced India by visiting ServeTrust in 2007. Encountering such radiance and simultaneous suffering were new experiences that settled deep into who I am. I was able to revisit Leena in May 2017. It was a beautiful lesson in the cyclical nature of God.
Leena’s warm welcome dissolved the decade between us. I have worked with multiple Indian charities, so I quickly noticed her connection to ServeTrust beneficiaries. We visited a handful of sites, from beach town microloan payees to the School of Joy’s growing student body. It’s clear that ServeTrust provides relationship in addition to funding. Everyone was thrilled to see Leena. At each site with children, either a classroom or a roadside tent city, they ran up shouting “Mom!”
Entering the Rock Crushers School, I was confused. The terrain resembled the quarry I visited ten years prior, but now held a sturdy, cheerful building where a thatched awning had been. Instead of a handful of scattered children, a singing assembly welcomed me. After dousing me with marigold petals, the students displayed what they’d learned in that encouraging environment.
While the writer of the Old Testament book, Ecclesiastes lamented his own meaningless routine, I began to connect his words to my experience. To me, newness had exemplified God’s redemption. But in South India, recurrence also illuminated its depth. This trip exemplified Leena’s commitment, deep caring, and unfettered joy. Had this been my first visit, I couldn’t have grasped how nothing about this relationship was new, though the results had grown”.
Ron Kelley (McLean, VA)
“In February, 2016 I traveled to India with colleagues from North Carolina, Australia, Texas, and Northern Virginia to visit Leena Lavanya and to see ServeTrust ministries.
Leena’s energy and commitment was inspiring to all of us, as was her dedication to Jesus Christ through so many actions of faith and caring. Prior to this trip, I did not understand the scope of the ministry that Serve Trust is undertaking, and the expansion of work that is still going on in many communities. Leena’s ministries are meeting 1000’s of human and spiritual needs in Andhra Pradesh, India. This is a servant ministry directed at so many desperately poor and impoverished people. Every day, Leena is sharing and demonstrating God’s love for her people.
Bill Brown (Australia)
“The opportunity to walk with, work with and learn from Leena Lavanya and her ServeTrust team was one of those experiences in life that leaves an indelible impression. I witnessed what God can do through a life that is surrendered to Him. I was inspired by seeing word and deed seamlessly interwoven to help people hear and experience the Good News. I was moved by the way the love of God has so captivated and compelled Leena and her team that they selflessly and sacrificially express love to people whom many others would avoid or ignore.”
As an MBA student at Baylor University, Susanne Blake met Leena when she came to share about her work with business students, in hopes they could contribute valuable insight into the business aspects of ServeTrust. This brief interaction with her led to planning a trip to visit Leena in Narasaraopet, India a few months later …
When I raised my hand to ask Leena a question, I asked, “What is it that you need most? Money? Resources? Etc?” Leena replied “people”. Her speech and gentle nature touched my heart and after the class I made a beeline to her. I told her that I’d been praying about doing volunteer work in India for a long time, that I was planning a trip to a friend’s wedding in Delhi, and I would love to come and do anything I could to help in India. Those 15-20 minutes of chatting with Leena proved to be some of the most valuably invested time of my life. Perhaps others call it coincidence, I call it divine intervention. I knew from the moment I met her that God led her into my life for a reason. Over the next couple of months, we kept in contact and planned my trip to visit her in Narasaraopet.
Suzanne spent two weeks with Leena and the ServeTrust team visiting many of the programs described on this website.
Thoughts returning home …
I know the woman who walks out of this plane will not be the same one that entered Delhi weeks ago. With my hair in braids, wearing multi-colored bangles, a flame-colored, traditional Punjabi suit and a silk scarf embroidered with turquoise, India’s influence is externally evident. However, it is the interior, intangible side that is even more decidedly different than the bright, exterior array. How could I not be changed? After holding a malnourished, dying child in my arms, after feeling hot tears in my eyes while witnessing the greatness of the Taj, after visiting destitute women my own age in their mud huts, after seeing the love of God in the soft brown eyes of one of the most incredible women I have ever met (Leena), my heart is indelibly marked and I will continue to “Pray for India” as I hear the slum children’s voices singing the words.
Tony Cupit (Australia)
During his years as a BWA Director, Tony Cupit met many outstanding, dedicated leaders and people all over the world who serve God’s people with great commitment. He testifies that few, if any, reveal the same deep spirituality, compassion and practical skill as Leena. Tony was among the first to appreciate Leena’s qualities and her potential for significant service to her people. He and his wife Margaret have been strong supporters of Leena’s work for more tham 16 years.
An Early Memory …
I spoke in the open air in the city of Nellore in India and after I spoke on a specially constructed podium, standing at the foot of the stairs waiting for me, was a very pregnant and very sick woman. She implored me to lay my hands on her head and to pray for her. This I did. In the circumstances I thought I had done about as much as was possible. Leena was at the meeting and as iron filings are attracted to a magnet, somehow the woman found Leena. Leena spent the rest of the night with this desperately sick woman (it turned out she was HIV positive) and after being denied access to two hospitals finally found a hospital that would admit the woman if she had a relative to accompany her.
So Leena and the sick woman drove out to a village, found a sister of the sick woman and extracted a promise that on the following morning she would admit her sister to the hospital. Like the Good Samaritan, Leena bound up her wounds, paid for her care at the hospital and showed what love means. I just prayed. Leena spent the whole night serving this desperate woman.
Final Say …
My wife Margaret and I have had the privilege of knowing Leena from when her social work was in its early stages and have seen that work develop quite spectacularly over the years. Our admiration for Leena has grown as her work has grown for she has been a consistent, warm-hearted and generous friend. We have watched in awe as Leena’s life has touched countless people bringing peace, wholeness, dignity and joy in a context where people can so easily sink into despair. We give thanks to God for this remarkable lady.