I stood at the back of the village overlooking the rice fields that stepped up towards the mountains. I was amazed and thankful that God had somehow brought me to such a place. Behind me a little dirt road sloped down as the main street for this poor community of about 200 precious people. It was a Christian mountain village tucked away in the vast Hindu state of Odisha. It’s another world there in so many ways.
We had just driven a hour or two by 4×4 up from Paralakhemundi, waved away by 55 smiling faces at the children’s home. They were all from tribal, rural villages like this one and hard circumstances had brought them to the home. The two youngest children were 5 years old and had both lost both of their parents in the Titili Cyclone a few months before. Now the home was their new family and new life.
The dirt road that brought us in to the village was just about the worst I’d seen and would usually never see a car drive down it. In fact most of these villages would had never seen a white face before. For some, the last foreigner had been a Canadian missionary from the baptist movement of the 1900s. “It’s because of them we are Christians” my translator told me as we had navigated the bumpy road.
It was due to that work that these villages were now Christian and had a nice white brick built church at one end. However, during these special days in India, travelling up to several such remote villages I came to realise that the gospel had been lost by many of these churches. When you asked how long have you been a Christian they answered with their age, implying they were born Christians. Or perhaps spoke of their baptism, which for some perhaps marked the move from Hinduism to Christianity. However the clear moment and personal decision of faith in Christ alone was lacking, as was their assurance.
The most powerful moment for me was, after “testifying to the gospel of grace” in that little tribal village church nestled among the rice fields, the leaders said through the translator “No one has ever told us that salvation is free”. In that moment I saw clearly, even as our own western church history has shown us, that man is “so soon removed” from the gospel (Gal 1:6) and the need for teaching and guidance in grace is so crucial.
Im already excited for next year as we will hold other conferences and meetings with these precious leaders of the churches and teach on Galatians, grace, eternal security, assurance and the glorious gospel. Thank you for your prayers and support.