Friday, August 2, 2013

The artisan, the wooden Cross, and the pastor.

Hello my dear ones,
The  Cross that you see here in this picture, was made by a graduate carpenter in Kerala,  India, on the plantations on the Western Ghats in Southern India. The plantations are at an altitude of over 4000 feet above sea level. Kerala is a state in Southern India that has the highest literacy rate. Read  more HERE. This state also has a higher rate of Christians as well as life expectancy. My passion is in palliative care, and I have to mention that this state is the only state that has made progress, in this area,  read more HERE.  Kerala  is known also for its  matriarchal society.  The western ghats  mark many a memory for me on   the mission road.
The western ghats (read more HERE) are draped by  awesome tea, cardamom and coffee  plantations that are a source of  pure culinary delight.  The cardamom is also known as the 'green gold'.  The  plantations,  are  set in the idukki district, near the periyar tiger reserve and the kumily hills. (read more here). It was during the early years of my married life, and my baby was a toddler at that time.  While on the plantations I came across great talent every now and then among the local artisans.  I noticed a talented carpenter and I happened to ask him if he could make a wooden cross for me and he said "yes" and in no time he fashioned this for me. My daughter was a baby then, and over the years, this  cross has been her most loved one, that she takes it wherever she goes. The hills where this cross was crafted, also mark the footsteps of a dear pastor whose mission heart shaped me in the ministry.
He  was a widower and with no children. The church members were akin  his children. The plantations in kerala followed very many administrative  systems as established by the British administrative practices, and left behind by them, when they left India after India's  independence.   The houses  were palatial and each bungalow had numerous workers. As we belonged to the managerial staff who were held as the authority in everything, we were bestowed with all the same privileges that the British enjoyed while they ruled over India and managed these plantations. Spices were a  focal point of trade that drew many  to India, and that explains the focus on the plantations.  Each worker was assigned to do one kind of work...such as  cooking,   gardening, keeping watch over the bungalow as watchmen, and one to polish the wooden floors, chauffeurs  and so on..

The pastor however did not have any such  privileges as they were support staff, and not managerial staff,  and his only means of transport was to walk. He  used to walk up and down the hills sharing the gospel, and bringing the Word of Christ, praying for the needs of those whom he met etc. This was in the  1980s.  He came from a  town named Nazareth, in Southern India, one of the earliest Christian colonies, that happened to be the place where my great grandmother had lived too. (Read more about Nazareth by clicking HERE) As a child I have spent each Christmas with my great grandmother in the Nazareth church that used to have awesome firework display after the service. Although I have seen many a firework display around the world I still have not seen anything as great as the fireworks in this church. I love this church as it is where my faith was developed as a child see more of the church HERE  Click HERE to see a video of some of today's celebrations in Nazareth. A history of the Nazareth church HERE. His zeal was contagious, in sharing Christ.
My ministry has been informed and shaped by his simple life and the great testimony that he lived.
I recount one event of the many, that happened while we were there, and on my mission road.

One day he  had as usual walked up the labor lines sharing the gospel. The labor lines (homes for the laborers/plantation workers) were built in a separate area far away  from the homes of the managerial staff (where the British had lived and where we now lived). The labor lines resembles  the town homes here.  They had common walls but with independent doors and were all built in a row. They were also referred to as the row houses.

The pastor having returned home after his visit to the row houses of the laborers, was about to have his dinner when a burglar broke in. At knife point he threatened  the pastor to give all that he had. The pastor had nothing  as silver or gold (Acts 3:6),  to give but the name of Jesus that he could share without fear. And so he started sharing Christ and by also telling him the commandments to not steal. The infuriated burglar grew  more angry, when the pastor started reading the Word of God to him from the bible,  and pulled out his knife to stab the pastor. The pastor started telling him about Christ, but the burglar chased him.  He was able to run although he was old. There was a point when he could run no more,  as he had reached the end of the compound  that was fenced in with  sharp iron barbed wire, to keep out the wild elephants and wild boars. There was no way a human could cross the fence or jump over it. At  that moment the pastor related, he felt something lift him over the fence and he was bodily carried across the barbed wire and dropped on the other side, and the thief could not get him. This is a true story on the mission road. God does give us angels to keep charge over us in all our ways. Be encouraged my friend. He who keeps us does not slumber nor sleep and there is nothing too hard for the Lord. Psalm 121:4..Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. and Jeremiah 32:27....I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is there anything too hard for me?"

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life".

God Bless each of you.
In Christ

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