We have received this report from our sister churches in India (the story has been edited – original post found here).
Mark 6:6 “….Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.”
Mahatma Gandhi said ‘India lives in its villages.’ If we will see this nation saved, we must reach out to the villages. Here is a great story of how God is reaching out to a village in rural Bangalore.
Sharadamma is a 56 year old widow who got baptised on 10th March this year. She comes from a remote quiet village ‘Talla Halli’ close to Chikkaballapur near the Devanahalli township, an area that has been developing at a rapid rate since the international airport came in. She travels every Sunday 85 km both ways (about 43 miles) to reach the church service.
She gets up early at 4am, organising fodder for her cattle and food for a little boy Santhosh (11yrs old) who she is raising as she is childless and leaves her village by the first bus at 5:30am to reach the national highway by 6:30am. Then she boards a 7am bus and reaches Hebbal where her nephew Mahesh, one of the disciples who reached out to her, waits with his car at 9am. They have a quick breakfast at his house and reach church by 10am. She hasn’t missed a meeting for 3 months ever since she got invited except for one Sunday when she fell sick. She travels 40 km every Tuesday for the mid-week daytime Bible talk at 11am.
Not once has she ever complained or regretted this decision to know Christ. In fact, many years back when she and her husband were influenced by the teachings of Jesus through a protestant missionary, they decided to dedicate their lives to Christ though no one came forward to teach them anything. Both belonged to a strong conservative community of landlords who own large vineyards and eucalyptus groves on these fertile lands surrounding Devanahalli town. Neither could read or write, yet they would buy CDs of the Kannada language Bible and Christian movies dubbed in Kannada to get an understanding of the scriptures. In fact, since they had no kids they would invite the children of the village to watch Christian movies in their mud house and would play the scriptures loudly on a public loudspeaker every day in the daytime for the villagers to hear.
Sharadamma’s husband kept begging many protestant pastors to teach the Bible to him so that he could be baptised and be saved, but sadly none made any effort. He died 2 years ago broken-hearted and sad even though he held on to his faith in Christ. Sharadamma was disheartened but not bitter. She kept praying that someone would reach out to her and baptise her. God had a plan, and answered her prayers through Mahesh, a member of the Bangalore church. Mahesh had won a 15-year litigation suit on his ancestral land this year and decided to visit his land. Mahesh’s mother is Sharadamma’s first cousin and their family had migrated 15 years ago to the city of Bangalore to start a business.
Mahesh visited his village and decided to drop in at his aunt’s house. He was amazed to hear her story of faith in Christ. Here was his mum’s cousin in a remote village talking about Christ. Mahesh invited her to church and she decided to start coming. Her first meeting was at the thanksgiving prayer at the ancestral land that Mahesh had won back. The church organised a prayer meeting at this place and invited many villagers to come. To God’s glory ever since that meeting at least 30 villagers still come for the fortnightly mid-week on Saturdays at 4pm. The Christmas service saw 50 villagers join the disciples who had gone to Doddaballpur town.
Sharadamma saw this fellowship and the sincerity of our members and decided that she would come every Sunday to the city of Bangalore to worship and she has been doing so for the last 3 months. The family group leaders – Sivatha, Cathleen and Gracy visit the village every Wednesday to study the Bible with Sharadamma and she comes down every Tuesday to the mid-week. These leaders travel by the local state bus at 8am and only reach their home by 5:30pm to just finish one study with Shardamma but everyone is so enthusiastic about her conversion. What a joy to see her baptised just a few days ago! In fact, one of her neighbour’s daughters, Nethra, who is probably the only highly educated young woman in this village, is also studying the Bible.
Nethra is one of the new generation youth of the village who have benefitted by the development of the rural suburbs in Bangalore. Even though she grew up in this village hearing Sharadamma’s Bible stories she never really understood Christ until her parents sent her out of the village to pursue higher education. Pitted against the urban elitist students in her first B.tech engineering course she got introduced to Christ by a fellow roommate. She continued praying to Christ as she struggled to speak in English and understand the course taught in English. Yet it was at this time she remembered her neighbour Sharadamma and her faith in Christ. Nethra narrated to us how eventually she gained confidence and passed her B.Tech course with a first division and then she joined her masters in a college in Bangalore city . The day the family group leaders Sivatha and Cathleen came to meet Sharadamma, Nethra had come home to visit her parents and she heard the Bible study and got introduced to Sivatha whose house was closer to the college she was studying in and had regular mid-week devotionals. Nethra has also started studying the Bible and comes regularly to church.
Sharadamma’s life stands out like a beacon of hope and faith in Talahalli. Her prayers have been answered, and the villages of India have hope. Please pray for the spread of the gospel in these rural areas.