Fellowship’s tsunami gifts enable continued ministry in India

By Carla Wynn, CBF Communications
Friday, December 16, 2005
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Through gifts to CBF’s Asian Response, a sewing center opens in the village of Sardu Kadapa, where local teenage girls learn sewing skills that will generate income for themselves and their families. Sam Bandela photo

ATLANTA – One person can change a village. For 45 years, Ramajayamma, 60, has gone door-to-door sharing Jesus Christ with those in her southern India fishing village. Over the years, her efforts have helped form four churches with more than 1,500 Christians.

But the church buildings – some already weak structures – were damaged in last year’s tsunami that killed more than 178,000 people in Southeast Asia. Through the gifts to the Fellowship’s Asian Response, four new churches will be built in this fishing community, with the first one set to be dedicated Dec. 25, nearly one year after the tsunami, according to Sam Bandela, one of CBF’s Global Missions field personnel.

The Fellowship has also funded the purchase of 200 school uniforms for children in the fishing village of Peddamynavani Lanka. The uniforms, along with Bibles for each family, were delivered Sept. 24, followed by a village-wide celebration that included local and state government officials.

"It’s hard to get smiles off these boys’ and girls’ faces. During the celebration, these boys and girls were so happy, encouraged and excited, along with their family members," Bandela said.

Between the Fellowship and its partner World Vision, more than 1,000 uniforms have been purchased for Indian children in the tsunami’s aftermath.

Funds from the Fellowship’s tsunami offering have also opened a sewing center in the village of Sardu Kadapa, where local teenage girls learned sewing skills that will generate income for themselves and their families. Because training is done in the girls’ village, they can still live with their parents, preventing the safety concerns of having to relocate, Bandela said. Three additional sewing centers have been or will soon be opened in other villages.

Teenage girls who do not finish high school only have potential of earning 25 cents per day doing crochet work. With the new sewing skills they learned in the Fellowship-sponsored class, these girls will be able to earn around $2 per day by making dresses, more than an average wage for Indian women, Bandela said.

"We are helping them stand on their own feet with this newly-acquired skill," he said.

These projects are part of the Fellowship’s holistic approach to missions, meeting a variety of needs in culturally appropriate ways. Through the Fellowship’s efforts and that of other Christians in the region, a spiritual response is growing, Bandela said.

"Many people are interested to know more about Christian faith. Many closed doors and hearts are being opened," he said.

Other plans in India include buying push carts for up to 1,000 women who sell fish in villages. Currently, the women balance the fish supply on their heads as they travel the community selling fish, and carts will be less of a physical strain, Bandela said. Up to 200 additional families will receive bicycles, which will enable better transportation for fisherman. In helping meet physical needs, Bandela said, "We can develop a one-on-one, personal relationship to share the gospel."

These tsunami-affected villages depend on the fishing industry, and as a Christmas gift, the Fellowship will provide 400 families in four villages with new fishing nets, Bandela said. Sanitation systems and water development projects are also scheduled.

For more information on the Fellowship’s continued response to the Southeast Asian tsunami, visit www.thefellowship.info/disaster/tsunami.

CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

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