India Land of Contrasts and Challenges

Thirteen people from Oregon and two from Idaho converged in Hyderabad, India, on Dec. 23, to conduct village evangelism for two weeks. These 15 people formed four teams, and each team worked in five villages, to reach 20 villages.

Of the 15 people who went, all but four were from the Oregon Conference. Four young people made up part of the group. Scott Gardener and his wife Beckie organized the trip in cooperation with Bob Robinson, Southern Asia Division administrative assistant for development.

Each day, the teams visited people in their homes, praying with families and suggesting, and sometimes demonstrating, very simple health remedies. One team helped enclose a hut that had only a thatched roof. In the evening, teams told children’s stories, gave health messages and preached the Gospel. After the meetings, they prayed with those who requested special prayer.

As a result of the four groups’ work in the villages, combined with God's mighty power and that of Bible volunteer workers, 1,925 people accepted Jesus and were baptized.

After two weeks of cold showers from pitchers and sleeping in hard beds, how can the 15 people who went to India now sink into soft beds and enjoy warm showers without feeling guilty thinking about the Indian villagers' hard beds and cold “pour baths”? But we live here, and they live in India.

How can I look at my five pairs of shoes, two pairs of sandals, and a pair each of winter boots and hiking boots, and not think about their one pair of rubber flip-flops or bare feet and feel a pang of remorse? But I live here, and they live in India.

How can we sit down to a meal with a variety of nourishing food and not feel guilty when we know that the villagers have only rice, chili peppers and, maybe, if they are lucky, a chunk of chicken once a week and maybe a piece of fruit or vegetable once in a while—never as much of any food as they would like? But we live here, and they live in India.

How can we unlock our homes—solidly built, safe, warm, protected—without thinking about the mud huts and thatched roofs and reflecting on the inequities in life? But we live here, and they live in India.

How can we jump in our car and drive down an orderly street, free of oxen, goats, motorized rickshaws and people, and not feel a twinge of an unnamed feeling? But we live here, and they live in India.

How can I see in my mind’s eye the woman afflicted with leprosy, the man with an ulcer on his leg from a snake bite two years ago, or a woman treating a broken arm with the chicken-blood prescription from the witch doctor, and not cry for their suffering?—suffering because they live in India, where adequate medical help is too expensive for the villagers. And I am thankful that I live here!

One Sunday morning, most of our 15 members climbed to the top of a cone-shaped hill, atop which sat a Hindu shrine. We are thankful that we serve the living, loving God.

How will God ever reach the approximately 598,000 out of 600,000 villages where people live who have never heard the name of Jesus? How will "every nation, kindred, tongue and people" ever hear about Him so they can make an intelligent decision?

How thankful I am that that is God's problem, not mine! But how can we ever remain complacent when we've seen and experienced what we've seen and experienced in India?

Life-changing? Profoundly so! For months to come, we'll continue to meditate on and dream about what we experienced in India and what our continuing responsibilities are toward helping reach the unreached. We will also cherish memories of the Bay of Bengal, visiting a Hindu temple, and other brief breaks in the routine. And our memories will clash with the reality of living in the North Pacific Union.

Many in the North Pacific Union contributed funds to help make this trip possible, to build churches and to provide a stipend for the Bible volunteers. The Quiet Hour made a significant contribution toward the construction of churches.

Some ask, “Why India?"

If you are a fisherman, you cast the line into the place where the fish are biting, and the “fish” are biting in India!

April 01, 2006 / Oregon Conference
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