Shibu's visit to West Bengal

31/8/2016

Dear Partners in Christ,

After a few days on the road I am back home. I am tired from covering close to 6000 miles by plane, car, and foot, but heart is rejoicing within having witnessed God’s marvelous work.

This was my first time in Bengal. I have only known the place through the photos Shaju had taken and Samson had sent in the past. The high-mountain village is located nearly 1.5 hours from the airport I had landed in. A beautiful paved road snakes up the mountain through tea plantations and small rice fields. Rohini is a small village consists of nearly 50 families. Other than taxi, which has to come from 10 kilometers away, no other transportation is available here. Few of the villagers own their own car and motorbikes. Small shops are in town but for vegetables and other purchasing villagers hire vehicles and travel to the nearby town once a week. Electricity, clean water and most importantly cellphone connection and cable TV connection is readily available here.

Samson has completed 2 plus years here by now. He went there as a single man, fresh out of seminary. He is married now, expecting a child next month and a mature servant of the Lord. As we walked several times through the roads, the villagers, from small children to adults greeted him warmly. He is no longer a stranger but one of them. The relationship is solid, I observed. He narrated to me that he has personally been to every home in that village 3-4 times or more with the gospel. He has also visited few surrounding villages. One man, Mr. Myla, the Buddhist community President is the only one who will not talk with or even look at Samson. In fact when we were walking down to visit a few families Samson pointed out Mr. Myla to me. He was working in his vegetable garden. As soon as he saw us, he walked down to a stream and did not come back up till we passed by. “I am convinced that if Mr. Myla comes to Christ, most of the villagers will come to him”, Samson said. Many people who have heard the gospel from Samson are afraid to take the next step in fear of Mr. Myla. Walking by him, we talked about the conversion of Saul and prayed for an intervention from God.

Two villagers that Samson led to the Lord now attend Pentecostal church. He was heartbroken over it because it was a result of much prayer and regular visit over the period of a year. For us Indians, this is nothing new. His concern is that now they are attending an extreme charismatic church where the Word is not taught. The believer would rather come with Samson but the pastor of the Pentecostal church is from the same tribe, so the man feels obligated to go with him. This is another reality that makes no sense outside of India and inside of authentic Christianity!

It was year and a half ago or so on a December day Samson on one of his visitations noticed that a man hanging a star in front of this house. This did not confirm the man’s identity but revealed that he was at least sympathetic towards Christianity. They started talking and the result is the present congregation. This man is a Nepali (the locals are called this way) who is originally from this area, but now after 40 years of work in Nagaland settled here with his family. After studying them for a long time, Samson started daily evening devotions in one of the homes. The attendance grew to 11. Sunday service started monthly later. Presently 11 people are attending the services. I had the honor to be with this small yet, enthusiastic congregation on Sunday (8/28). Because the services are held in a home few of the other interested locals are not coming. Please pray that this will change.

Samson is staying in a two room (10X10 each) house on the second floor of a Hindu man’s house. This is a good place for him for now, but we are praying that as the baby comes, the Lord will provide a better place for him. Samson and his family is sharing bathroom, cloths washing area, and vessels washing area with the landlord and his family. The landlord is kind and courteous when he is not drunk but the rest of the family are very friendly, just like family members. During domestic abuse due to drinking, Samson’s room becomes a safeguard for the landlord’s family members.

I was not able to meet Samson’s wife. There was no room for the three of us there, especially since she is expecting. Her due date is the 28th of September.

As I close I will mention two needs that I observed there. One, is a motorbike for Samson. I did not realize the remoteness of the village. To go anywhere you need a taxi and it has to come from outside of town. This will help him to climb up and down the village. Two, the church has already started saving money for a land. They have found one plot which has road access from the main street (property close to the main street will cost more). The plot that I saw is about 6 cents (2640 sq. ft) and the owner is asking $8064. They think that they can negotiate down to 7500 or so. Property close to the main road will cost close to $10000. If the property is purchased, they are hoping to build a temporary shed till something better can be constructed.

From Bengal I traveled to Odisha to be with Pastor Joy and family. We had a wonderful meeting in Bhuvaneswar. That church is growing. Three new families are attending. Pastor Joy’s son is having a tough time with school there. My primary reason for the visit there was to be with the family of Joy.

I thank, we thank God upon every remembrance of you. Thank you for being there for us.

Shibu Simon