Fishhook International catches people who are falling and cannot help themselves.
Based in Lexington, Fishhook works exclusively in India in three major areas. It starts Christian churches, provides care for widows and orphans and sponsors programs to help the poor become more self-reliant. Although Fishhook performs some activity throughout India, its main area of operation is in the state of Tamil Nadu, a rural area in southeastern India.
In India, where 28 percent of the population lives on less than $10 per person per month, medical care is beyond the reach of a large part of the population. Fishhook partners with a group called Gospel Friends to operate three medical clinics with a doctor and nurse on staff. These clinics care for more than 200 patients a day. Among the American medical personnel who have traveled to India to work as volunteers in one or more of these clinics is Lexington gynecologist Dr. David Hager, a member of Fishhook’s board of directors and editor of KentuckyDoc magazine. Hager saw the need for home-health nursing care while working in India two years ago. As a result, his idea for a nursing school to teach young men and women skills in nursing as well as Biblical studies has come to fruition in the Jaya School of Nursing at Living Hope.
Fishhook grew from an organization originally known as the Ford Philpot Evangelistic Association. Begun in 1956 by evangelist Ford Philpot, it was renamed Fishhook International after his death in 1992. Philpot’s son, Fayette Circuit Court Judge Tim Philpot, is currently chairman of Fishhook’s 15-member board.
Board members reached a decision that they needed to narrow the focus of the work. This was when they began to concentrate on India. The organization has two native-born partners in India, Ghuna Kumar and Richard Samuel, who preside over a wide range of charitable endeavors. Kumar and Samuel have known personally and worked with staff personnel of Fishhook and its predecessor for more than 15 years. “We are really blessed to work with them,” said Kim Turkington, executive director of Fishhook.
Fishhook opened a school of nursing in 2010. Its two-year program offers an approximate equivalent of the American LPN degree. Most of the students are between 17 and 20 years of age. Although a few men sign up, the majority of the students are girls. The first class graduated in 2012. These graduates might not have had a chance to get an education without Fishhook’s school. They go back to their home villages equipped with a way to make a living. In addition, they frequently provide the only medical service available in their village.
Among many other Fishhook activities are the Living Hope Theological College, the Harvest Bible School for Women and homes for widows and orphans. Turkington says the widows Fishhook helps are often elderly and destitute. Illiterate and from families on the edge of poverty, these women have no way to support themselves and frequently wind up living on the street. “We try to find the most needy,” said Turkington.
Fishhook operates a six-month training program in sewing for the women. At the end of her training, each widow receives her own treadle sewing machine, which does not require electricity to operate. The woman can return to her village with some means of making a living, operating out of her home.
Fishhook also operates three orphanages. The largest, housing 150 children, is located on the same campus that includes the Bible school, Bible college and nursing school. Another orphanage houses 20 boys. The third, called the Lydia Home, is for HIV-positive children. Turkington has visited the orphanage with her husband, Will. “The kids are doing really well on maintenance drugs,” she said. “They are going to school and are happy kids.”
Although there is a thriving technology industry in India and many people are prospering, because of cultural differences there are not a lot of charities to help the poor. Helping people is not a mindset of the general population, Turkington said. That is why Fishhook’s presence is so important.
“If you could put a phrase on everything we do – taking care of orphans, widows, preaching the gospel, caring for HIV people – you see how Jesus wants to rescue people from hopelessness and darkness,” she said. “To bring them in and say God loves them and has a use for them, that is revolutionary to them. This is the thrust of Fishhook’s work.
3060 Harrodsburg Road
Mail: P.O. Box 910691
Lexington, KY 40591
Web site: www.fishhook.org
Like to help?
Sponsor one orphan for a gift of $35 a month.
Sponsor one nursing student for a gift of $45 a month.