Friday, May 25, 2012

India 2012: Day 12

Not because it was our last day of ministry do I say this, but I believe that this day was the most significant for me...

We traveled about 15 km out of Srinigar higher up in the mountains to about 9,000 feet, where we set up our medical camp at a school in the middle of a Muslim village of 1,200 people. The people of this isolated community were shy, innocent, and skeptical as we began our work.

Our doctors saw over 600 patients.

Speaking to a school official, I learned that only the school and a few homes had electricity, that the people rarely ventured far from their homes, and contact with the outside world was minimal. But the people warmed up to our presence, the school children became my friends, and we were able to do some significant groundwork for our local host pastor Kelu, who has a vision to reach this village.

Kelu is a former Muslum who has suffered much persecution including beatings, forceable removal from his house, and multiple other acts of discrimination on himself and his family because of his conversion to Christ. And yet he stands as a visionary light in this dark place.

The team began their journey back to Kazipet that evening, and because I was not catching my first flight to begin my return journey to the US until the next morning, Kelu acted as my host in his home before taking me to my hotel.

I had been to Kelu's house three years ago during my first visit to Srinigar. It's a two room apartment with no furniture where he, his wife, his wife's mother, and his three children live. His oldest son Selmon, has multiple physical and mental needs and requires constant attention.

While I observed the stacked sleeping mats and blankets in the corner, we sat on the floor of the living/dining/bed room and drank tea. Kelu proudly brought out a small bowl that was filled with tiny pictures. He carefully laid them out in a row, and proudly said that these are the ones who had been baptized so far this year, 28 in all.

Then he laid out the pictures of about 15 others whom he told me were "with us" but had yet to be baptized. To be baptized as a believer in Christ in this Muslum region can be a death sentence. And yet Kelu and his wife witness, minister, and faithfully seek to be a light.

His wife asked me what style and color of Indian clothes my wife likes. I told her, and later in the evening they presented me with a gift for her: a Punjabi-style dress in her favorite color.

I was honored and humbled, because they are very poor, they live humbly, and yet their hearts are generous. Facing a difficult life both because of their son's situation and because of the ministry they conduct, they continue to give with joy and consistency.

Yes, today was significant, and truly humbling.

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