Our Happy Return to Damoh

After two weeks in Kulpahar we returned to Damoh for a few more days. It felt  like a homecoming to be with these good friends once again. (We felt the same way in Kulpahar. You can tell we like India.) We had no assignments in Damoh; we came to enjoy hanging out with–that is, take further advantage of–the Lall family hospitality. We have had a long and cherished relationship with them. Mostly we overate, whether with mission leaders

David and Sheela Lall 

          or Vivert and Neelam Lall

Josh & Lashi Howard

 

 

or Josh and Lashi (Lall) Howard

 

 

 

 

Ajai & Indu Lall

 

 

or Ajai and Indu Lall.

 

 

 

We Americans like to boast of Southern hospitality—and rightly so. But nothing in America surpasses what we experienced in India.

Damoh Christian Hospital

A highlight—among so many highlights—was our trip to the Christian hospital. There used to be an American mission hospital on this site but it closed decades ago. Central India Christian Mission reopened it as an entirely India-operated facility, and it is now recognized as the premier hospital for this whole region. Some American individuals and churches contribute to the operating expenses, but it is 80% self-sustaining.       We met several of the doctors.

Surgery at Damoh Christian Hospital

 

We even had the opportunity to observe a surgical operation to remove a very large abdominal tumor. This experience is not for the faint of heart.

 

 

We saw so much more:  several schools for disadvantaged children and youth, most of whom would have no other opportunity for an education. We visited a hostel for girls who have been saved or rescued from prostitution and sex slavery.

Everywhere we went we were met with singing and dancing and joy. And just about every ministry we visited welcomed us with an almost overwhelming presentation of leis.  Fortunately (for the sake of the allergy-prone among us) we could take them off after a bit.

There were other ministries, like the Mid-India Christian Mission video-IT ministry which prepares teaching materials and broadcast-quality videos for TV and social media. It’s manned by the crew we saw doing such a good job at the World Convention last month.

TV Ministry editing room, with longtime IT worker Madhur Garcia at the computer.

Then there’s the nursing school. And the Bible college and leadership training institutes that prepare young preachers and evangelists for work in the villages.  Joy and I have been modest supporters of Mid-India Christian Ministry and Kulpahar Kids Home for decades. Ask me if we think we’re getting our money’s worth!

Children of persecuted Christians find safety in this special place.

Host David Lall made special arrangements for us to attend a regular worship service at a nearby Hindu temple. He’s good friend of the young man who gave us a guided tour of the building and grounds, explaining what gods (of the 32 million gods in this religion) were represented in the various little statues.

Hindu priest performing his ritual.

This was a first for us. We benefited from the experience and appreciated the kindness with which we were treated, but we’ll stick with monotheism.

Hindu temple guide explaining use of drum in worship

 

 

 

 

 

Gate opened for worship of one of many gods

THE DAY IN JABULPUR

Before leaving Damoh we were treated to a touristy day in Jabulpur, the nearest large city (about a million and a half in population), a couple of hours away. We joined a group of twenty-or-so Americans for the outing. On the outskirts is Marble Canyon, famous in these parts for its marble cliffs and photographic vistas.

Our group filled two gondolas like this one for our ride through Marble Canyon.
Marble Canyon reflections

We were hosted here by Mercy Home. This safe haven for at-risk girls makes it possible for them to attend a nearby school, escape the threat of the sex trade, and prepare themselves for life under the care of people who love them.

Some of the Mercy Home girls who welcomed us.

You’ll have noticed several references to persecution in our reports from India. The theme has been on my mind during our entire stay here. It came abruptly to my attention while I was lecturing at Kulpahar. I had used a familiar illustration from something I had read years ago, that Americans were most afraid of snakes (the #1 fear) and (#2) of public speaking. Then I asked the class of 30 or so what they were most afraid of. The first one mentioned was “persecution.” Many heads nodded in agreement.

It caught me by surprise. It shouldn’t have. 80-85% of Indians are Hindu. The next largest group is Muslim. Christian are a minuscule 1% to 2%. This is a religious country and the inter-faith tensions run high. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the practice is something else. In many places minorities are not suffered gladly. We heard too many stories (and met the story-tellers) of incredible suffering for the faith.  (Being here makes me more concerned than ever that America never be guilty of doing the same to our minorities, religious and otherwise!)

While in India I heard a guest speaker at a conference I sat in on. Both are Christians now. The first was from the lowest of the castes (“outcastes”). When he became a Christian he walked into a maelstrom of trouble. 34 charges were trumped up against him. He was beaten, jailed and banned from speaking. That didn’t stop him. His courage in spite of all that was done to him attracted a following. The nation’s anti-conversion law dictates you must have government permission to change religion. That permission that is never or at least seldom granted. Still people are following this man.

In the Q&A following his talk, he was asked, “What about Jesus is most attractive to you?” He answered, “Jesus loved us. Nobody else loved us.” Proof? Pointing to the friend who invited him to the conference, he said when they met, “He sat with us and ate with us. Nobody else would.” Christians here believe there is only one God and only one class (“caste”) of people and only one way to treat each other in the name of God, and that’s with love.

Then when he was asked the biggest change in himself in becoming a Christian, he said that before, “They hated me and I hated them.” Now, “They still hate me but I don’t hate them.”

A NEW FEATURE…

Below are a couple of Joy’s favorite photos. They don’t quite fit the narrative above, but she doesn’t want you to miss them. Neither do I. We plan to include more of her choice pictures in future blog posts.

India’s future
Oh those beautiful eyes!

10 thoughts on “Our Happy Return to Damoh”

  1. What a wonderful experience you are having. You are surely citizens of the world and bringing blessings wherever you go. Love the pictures, Joy. Especially of the children. Take care of yourselves😍

  2. Especially fun to read this post and remember shared experiences!!! Thanks for “voicing” them so well!!! Blessings on your continued journeys!

  3. What an incredible journey and wonderful post. Love the pictures that mom is capturing. As always your words are heart-felt encouraging .

  4. What a gift it is to read these lovely entries as you both are eating with and loving Christ’s diverse Body worldwide!! This post brought back beautiful memories of my own time in Damoh with the Lalls in 2014 and the deliciousness of Indian hospitality.

    Traveling vicariously through you both!
    Laura Beth

    1. Welcome to the blog, Laura Beth. I wish we’d known you had been to India before us. We and the Lalls could have talked about you! I hope that recommendation I wrote for you did the trick. Please let me know how that project progresses.

  5. Certainly, very little has impacted my life more than the time I was able to spend around the men and women of Damoh. The Lall’s are some of the most compassionately tempered prophets I have ever met.

    We too were able to witness a surgery while there (though, I got to see a C-section, including the little baby girl being born). It was very neat!

    1. OK, you one-upped me. It had to be a thrill to see the delivery of the baby. Which reminds me: We haven’t had an update on your baby in awhile. We’re assuming no news is good news, but still wouldn’t mind some new news.

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