We have just come back from visiting north India to encourage our partners, Masih das and Sarita, who have worked as pioneer missionaries for 15 years in the tribal area amongst the ‘untouchables’, where monkeys, elephants, trees, rocks, bones, idols are worshipped and hold the people in fear and poverty. The Sabar, one of the tribes they are reaching, is said to be one of India’s most primitive and backward peoples. They live in the forest areas in small huts made of sticks and leaves. They do not own land, have enough food to eat or send their children to school. They are totally illiterate. They are among the world’s poorest. No one ever visits them; people are scared to go to their huts. When the rains come everything gets soaked – rice, food, clothes. ‘I never saw people living like that, and I was really very moved’, said Masih das. He takes tarpaulin sheets out to them to help them, along with clothes and blankets (it gets very cold out there at night)
Over the last 15 years we’ve helped him build ‘Bethany House’ as a base for their outreach into the villages. A church hall and safe accommodation for village children to stay has gradually been added. They are now looking after 38 children. And they love it – good fresh food, lovely beds, help to learn to read and write, games, songs, competitions, watering the flowers, clothes washed for them, and best of all, clean toilets that don’t smell!
Masih das tells of one of the widows he works with, who has four children. She lost her husband seven years ago due to malaria. They were struggling to survive. The widow sought help from Masih das when his team visited her village, and he gave her a goat and some money to buy pigs. She was so delighted by this kindness and faithfully took care of the animals who have transformed their lives. The widow now has two of her children being looked after by Masih das and Sarita in Bethany House so they can go to school. The whole family is also attending church regularly. The Kingdom of God’s ‘good news’ has come to them, the only Kingdom in the world where ‘Many who are now first world, will be third world, and many who are now forgotten world, who have nothing, are branded ‘untouchables’ will be first world’.