I spent my afternoon at a little church in a nearby village. the Pastors son, Prasanni and his family pastor’s this church. The first time I visited his church, it was very small and the service were held on the porch of a small home along the road that is more like an alley. To walk there, you step over mud puddles, dodge scraggy chickens, avoid cow manure. I glanced back often to smile at the stares of the curious onlookers who do not see white people, let alone a woman, walking down their streets. You see children playing with rocks, skipping rope and enjoying hand games. Old men sit listlessly on rudementary porches. Women walk by with a pot on their head, or hands full of burdens.
Yet, the church is no longer on the porch. It is in a very well made yet tiny, thatch and stick structure. Inside are the weathered faces of around 15 women. They sit on the dirt floor, on mats. When we arrived, I noticed they have such an expectant look on their faces, as if something was to be revealed. The sewing machine is sitting in the room with fabric sitting on a nearby table.
As we sit down, they just gaze upon us. All we have to do is catch their eye and give them a smile and they just beam! We sat down and learn about their story. Four years ago, there was no church in the area. The women were all Hindu. They lived a suppressed life dominated by their husbands. Many of them were not allowed out of the house, and were primarily bound to the kitchen, preparing meals and taking care of children. They were isolated and very lonely. Many of the husbands drink at night, into a stupor. It is not uncommon for these woman to endure undeserved and cruel beatings.
Pastor Matthew and his son sent a woman to sewing school. We supplied them with a sewing machine, along with two they had. These machines are the old fashioned machines that you pump with your foot for power and guide by hand. This trained woman came back, and soon began to teach a few women how to sew. This helped them to get out of their kitchen and enjoy the company of other women. They grew in fellowship and would in time learn about Jesus. Soon they had something new… Hope. Hope in the salvation of a loving Jesus. Some of them told their husbands about Jesus and they also recieved Him as Savior, experiencing changed lives. Some have not. Soon, they were sewing for local people and this created sorely needed jobs. When they progressed in their sewing, their husbands see that they are making income for the family and allow them to work. When women are finished with the training, new women gladly come in to learn. These women independently have the potential to change their whole village and community. Especially when their husbands see the change in their lives. They are hard working. Very hard working. When I asked them what they would like prayer for, there was only one response…”happiness”. The pastor explained, for them to be saved and their husbands, and to learn to have a business and earn money, created a inner happiness. One woman spoke up and stood out. She came to us with tears in her eyes. Her husband still beats her… but she is in a good place when she is among the women. She is with a fellowship of other women who know her plight. I know now she, and her husband will be in my prayers.
They asked for a gift. Only one thing. Now, the women buy pre sewn printed cloth. The teacher is showing them how to hand stitch the intricate designs on their colorful clothing, but it takes a very long time and is a tedious job. There is a machine that will do this detail work for them and save them much time. It will allow them to make more clothes on plain cloth that is cheaper. It will generate them more income. The cost is $300. but it will transform the skill of a village full of women. I promised I would help provide this machine. I am not sure how at this time, but I could not look them in the eyes and not offer this gift of hope. I am excited to see how the Lord provides this for them!
Those who support Messiah Missions state-side, employed them to create India clothing for them. I thought, instead of buying from a store, I could purchase from them and help with their income. They charged very little, just what is their normal wage. I also left them a blessing offering.
I must not fail to mention their children. They all wanted to shake our hand and touch us. The children as well as every woman there, came before us and knelt for prayer. I have many photos of them, but this computer will not take my camera disk. The photos are quite hilarious I am sure, as the the church was so small that they were pretty much in our faces, without sufficient space to pose properly at a distance. They all wanted a photo taken so they could see themselves. They thanked us again and again for taking their photos.
Life changing moments are all around us this trip. This was one of them…