We’ve spent the last three days making visits to church work going on in various villages throughout the remote (“interior”) areas of the state of Orissa in Northeast India.
For the first day, we ministered with the Dalit people who live in the coastal area near Balasore. The drives were long and bumpy, the landscape was somewhat featureless, and in contrast the people were featurefull — with joy.
Over these last two days we’ve moved inland, to the verdant hill country known as Kandhamal. Behind that beauty, however, lies danger to Christians: Kandhamal is the scene of deadly persecution of the Christian minority by the Hindu majority in 2008. You can read about it here. Jesus’ people in the region are rebuilding their homes, lives, and churches. It was truly a privilege to share in ministry with people of such faith and courage.
Some highlights from our ministry in India’s “interior”:
- Many of our new friends had never seen Westerners in person before. As our own Ron Dozier said with a smile, “How great is it that I’m the first white man these folks have seen?!”
- On a couple of occasions, these people of faith have been under the misconception that we “come bearing gifts” — of money or goods. Nevertheless, they hid their disappointment well.
- A couple of scenes of incongruity . . . at our first village, which has unreliable electricity and no plumbing, we saw a smattering of satellite dishes. Then today, at a village literally “at the end of the road” one of our hosts was wearing an AC/DC shirt. I ALMOST started singing “Highway To Hell” for him but then thought better of it.
- Instead of a sermonette today, we held an impromptu healing service. Both Ron and I had felt a longing for exactly this kind of ministry, and we sensed divine timing.
- In one of the Kandhamal villages, former Hindu persecutors are now living for Jesus and worshipping in the church. Meeting that family alone was worth a trip halfway around the world.