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Women Who Win

Tramps for the Lord

 

It was on a hot summer day that a chattering team of ladies was waiting under a neem tree for further instructions.  One young mother was worried about her children whom she had left under the care of her aunt.  The elderly comrade was wondering if her physique would stand the stress and strain of the strenuous programme.  The young set was discussing the exam results.  Working women’s worry was the accumulation of work.  The youngest was already homesick!  Such was the spectrum of the Women’s Team sent to the State of Karnataka under the Summer Missionary Programme of the Blessing Youth Mission, India, in 1970.

 

Hardships

 

We all realized right at the start that the summer ministry meant sacrifice and not super-nice.  In Bangalore at 10 a.m. our leaders announced that we had to cook our meals as it was too costly to eat out!  This was where the real trial started and each looked at the other as if to say, “I am too tired.”  But nobody could afford to be too tired in a team work.  So we pulled ourselves together and were at the job.  The silly sambar and rice at 3 p.m. was like manna and honey to us. 

 

Our missionaries’ houses in Hubli were in the midst of a Koravar colony, surrounded by pigs and a piggy aroma.  All night the pigs were grunting.  But we were too tired to heed anything!  Even the worst insomniacs would snore and sleep after such a trying trip.  About 12 girls from the Hubli congregation joined us.  They spoke Kannada, Telugu and Marati.  Their Kannada, Telugu and Marati punctuated by Tamil, English and Hindi words played games in our ears and sent our heads a reeling!  All were from different backgrounds.  Everybody had to adjust to everybody.  It was the best way to round our sharp edges.  The Psalmist sang, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for BROTHERS to dwell together in unity!” – in masculine gender, because he did not live long enough to see us!

 

Our travel through the forests was a rugged one and our guide never seemed to think we belonged to the weaker sex.  Along the hot muddy pathway through the deserted forests we walked as much as 25 km a day.  Our sandals wore off and our feet started to crack from the heat and calf muscles went into cramps.  Halfway through, the water, energy, patience, everything would have waned to nil.  Half an hour under a tree would boost up only our zeal and nothing else.  We arrived at six every evening for a night halt in an unheard of dreary shed with no flooring.  None of us knew that in Thavaragatti such hot days would be followed by such cold nights and hence we had brought just a thin bed sheet.  We lay curled up on half the bed sheet and covered ourselves with the other half.  The dew was dripping constantly on the roof and nights proved to be nothing but nightmares till we got out of beloved Thavaragatti!

 

We could not ask for the right food at the right time in the right quantity.  Often we went hungry after a meal because new soulwinners joined us everyday unexpectedly and we had to share and sure we did it with great joy.  The other reason for the shortage of food was that the dainty darlings who measured their food at home in the name of ‘diet’ had become devouring dragons.  Surely Summer Missionary Programme is the best treatment for anorexia.  At the end of the day we would find ourselves covered with a thick layer of oily dust but unfortunately no water would be available for a wash.  On our fourth bathless day, when we could tolerate no more, we went in search of the pond which was ‘clean’ according to the villagers’ version.  We discovered the decoction-coloured lily pond with half a dozen of relaxing buffaloes.  That was the best we had and we would say we enjoyed it thoroughly!

 

Climbing the Himalayas would have been easier than travelling to some of the villages.  Bus service was scarce and mostly we had to walk or jump into a merciful driver’s lorry which jolted our bones apart.  In a way it was good; because then we were unconscious of the trials and sufferings of the six hours of our sleep.  We did not know whether to covet or cringe such a life!

 

Labour

 

Ten days were 14400 minutes for us.  Each minute counted.  We went into the Koravar huts in twos before we started out.  We took turns to cook.  The cooking pair’s lot was the worst, because they had to cook and serve breakfast and get lunch packets ready quite early.  We had to walk along rail roads and rugged paths on what seemed to be an endless journey to meet just a handful of huts or a small shanty.  We would then talk to the people, sing and pray.  To reach the next shanty we would walk for another eight to ten kilometers or so.  When we remembered the Lord Jesus striding the dusty roads of Jerusalem, this did not seem hard for us.  We could not believe when our missionaries said that they covered that distance every weekend on foot to visit those few villages tucked amidst the dense forest.  Why did we not think of such labour and count minutes so precious in our hometown which is after all our God-given mission station?  This was the question that haunted us.

 

Jesus said, “Go..  Go..  Go…” (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15; Jn 20:17).

 

Tribals

 

We encountered the Gowlis, Siddis and Lambadis.  The Gowlis are timid and peace-loving folk.  They fear outside men and live in interior forests away from human habitation.  They live in the back enclosure while their animals live in the front rooms!  The Siddis are otherwise called Negro Tribals.  They have the typical negroid features.  The Lambadis are simple, sweet and smiling folk.  They are open to the gospel.  The missionaries are tracing the tribal pockets in Karnataka to take the gospel to them. 

 

Language barrier

 

It was not easy for us in the beginning.  Some were even discouraged because they could not freely talk to all.  But the problem was quickly solved.  Each one of us paired off with a member of our local team who was fluent in Kannada, Telugu and Marati.  With the help of these translators we quickly got the message through.  In Thavaragatti we conducted even open-air meetings in front of a hotel at night.  We took turns to preach and translate.  We realized how important it is for us to learn other languages if we have the opportunity. 

 

Cultural barrier

 

It takes quite some time for one to get used to the cultural habits of the tribes.  In a Gowli hut we were singing and preaching for quite some time but without a breakthrough.  They were quite reserved and kept themselves at a distance.  But suddenly we remembered what our missionaries had told us of their liking and so started calling them “mama” and “mousi” for each sentence (uncle and auntie).  Suddenly their faces lit up and they came out of their shell sharing their problems and became very friendly.  Then we sang “Yes God is good, God is good to mama (to mousi)” in Marati!  They beamed with joy on hearing this.  Our hearts glowed with a new understanding of why Jesus had to become a “Man” to save us.

 

Many of us are like frogs in a well.  Coming out to see the perishing world will remove the veil hanging over our eyes.  In the villages it was a trying task to make them pronounce ‘Jesus.’  Demon-possession is common.  The innocent panic-stricken faces in the clutches of Satan, superstition and sorcery still haunt our memories.  Ignorance written on their faces, darkness engulfing their souls, how cannot anyone have compassion on such a multitude who are like sheep without a Shepherd?  Truly we could say with Paul, “I am obligated” (Rom 1:14).  The voice of our sisters’ blood cries to Him from the dusty soil of India.  Is it nothing to you?

 


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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