Stories Open Mic Climbing the steepest slopes Partner Relationship Manager Johnny F sets off uphill and reflects on meeting our Indian partners and project teams to plan the year ahead. I’ve just returned from another amazing visit to India. On the 17th June I joined 35 people from our partners, Feba India on a 6hr bus trip, going up into the mountains of Sikkim to the capital, Gangtok. The road was windy, busy, and downright dangerous. The weather was hot. The views were spectacular. Over the last two years Feba India’s Hamari Beriyan, West Bengal and Udaan projects have developed a number of new production teams, based in local communities where listeners live. These new teams take the projects closer to the listeners and bring listeners closer to the projects. We travelled to Sikkim to bring these teams together in an environment where they could spark off each other’s creativity and experience, reflecting on the past year, and planning for the year ahead. Khangchendzonga Tourism Complex near Gangtok was a beautiful setting for the event. When the clouds cloaked the mountains around us we were given relief from the humidity, being drenched in a fine refreshing spray. Looking across the valley to see the city of Gangtok floating in and out of the clouds was quite surreal. But a conference centre on a mountainside is not without its challenges. Whichever way you went there was a steep steep climb. Down to the lunch hall was fine - until you remembered you would be coming back up the hill with full tummies afterwards! The climb to the very top of the hill to the conference hall was exhausting, especially in the humid heat. We tried for good timekeeping, but the steep hill defeated our good intentions. Life can also feel like that. Lifted by the Lord A man from the Kolkata team (lets call him **Jay) shared his story with me. He had discovered Jesus, or Jesus had discovered him, while he had been struggling with an addiction to alcohol. When he became a believer, he stopped drinking. Jay went from strength to strength and he started studying at a Bible College. 1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40, NIV. But in the midst of his studies he relapsed and started drinking again. He said it was like falling into a dark pit. From this pit he prayed, like the psalmist in Psalm 40, and he felt God answer him, pull him up, and deliver him once again from the clutching hold that alcohol had on him. West Bengal Women's Initiative [improving the lives of women]...men need to hear the radio programmes too Jay is a passionate worker in the West Bengal Women’s Initiative. He knows first hand that husbands or fathers who abuse alcohol are behind many problems that women in India experience. Jay believes that men need to hear the radio programmes too. And he knows that the journey of a listener is not always linear. Sometimes the slope is too steep and people suffer defeat. Sometimes transformation happens through a series of ups and downs. Jay also believes in a God who is listening and who is able and willing to lift people up, to help them overcome the steepest slopes, and to experience a fresh start – time and again. Have 90 seconds to spare? Watch our short video to see the difference media is making to these listeners in northern India.