We had a most amazing opportunity to travel to southern India to visit with the Soura people on a CBM trip in November 2010. Memories drifted back from childhood of children’s stories with place names I had forgotten, and black and white photos on the church’s walls of David and Ruby Hayward, just two of many CBM missionaries to serve in India. So much of this trip served as an opportunity to see God working through the church as a giver of hope and as God’s hands to those who are impoverished.
We drove the narrow, dirt roads offering scenes of natural beauty as we climbed into the hills. In one village of just 100 people, we were warmly welcomed with music and singing as we walked the remaining distance to the village past banana fields and rice paddies. A highlight was witnessing two young women reading from their writing slates. Though it was now nearly dark, the light of pride and dignity shone in these young women’s faces. In this area, through the work of CBM and its church partners, the literacy rate has risen from 7% to nearly 70%.
We also heard the story of the Jodasing villagers growing tamarind. They had always been dependent on the company who owned the tamarind packaging machine
and the price that company would give for the tamarind. Through a loan from CBM’s partners in India, a tamarind packaging machine was purchased and now household incomes had increased significantly. Independence from those who were in economic control was a very good thing! Women no longer sat in their huts alone. They belonged to cooperatives, were literate and able to be involved in buying and selling. Hope, in the name of Jesus and his Church, had come into their lives.
The next morning, Sunday, we drove down from the mountains into the lush valley. We were once again welcomed with music and dancing. It was particularly touching to see the local people carrying Bibles in their own language. This translation was accomplished by much hard work of many Canadian Baptists and local Soura people. After a beautiful church service with Indigenous music, we were served lunch. We were very aware that this welcome should have been for the people who served and sacrificed in ministry to the Soura. The joy they would have felt was a gift to us that we did not deserve. This trip was life changing for us.