In a remote village in one of the hardest-to-reach villages in South Asia, one of OM’s teams laboured last year and saw a community with only six believers grow to eleven.
One couple who made the decision to follow Jesus, did so because the wife, Susita, had been ill and was told by the team that God heals; so she attended the church and was healed when the Christians prayed for her. She and her husband, Babu, both prayed to receive Christ as their Saviour and a few months later, when the team had finished their ministry term, Babu was asked to lead the small fellowship of believers.
This is the reality in many remote parts of the country: that soon after becoming a believer you can be given responsibility of the spiritual growth of a community that has no pastor, and no local church nearby. This is why OM began a ministry in 2010 to send out teams into rural villages to disciple young believers and is developing a discipleship programme that uses trainers to lead ministry leaders in remote areas, who then lead teams of disciple-makers. As these small churches grow, it is necessary to see local leaders, who are living out their faith and sharing it well with their families and communities, raised up in the hard-to-reach villages.
In spring 2016, an OM follow-up team was sent to visit Babu and the community of believers, and to provide more training.
“Many of the kids there got fevers and one man’s 4-year-old son had died,” Tabitha, one of the OM trainers said.
They used the Healthy Families course, which talks about basic hygiene and sanitation, to help improve the health knowledge in rural communities. “We taught about washing hands and that it kills germs; and what germs are. We also taught about some basic first aid things in case of burns [a common danger to village children],” Tabitha explained. “Much of this was new to them.”
Of the 22 participants, one of them was the father who had recently lost his son, and whose other 6 year-old son was sick with similar symptoms.
“They don’t know not to put extra clothing on a child when it’s sick.” Tabitha said. “So we taught about using a wet washcloth on their forehead, giving a little paracetamol (Tylenol) to alleviate the fever, and opening windows to let in fresh air and light.” The thankful father went home and used this new information to help his sick son, and by the next day he saw a change. “Before I didn’t know any of these things, but thanks to you, I can care well for my sick child,” he told Tabitha.
Through this further training, more people in the village were open to the idea of attending the local fellowship and the Christians were discipled in practical ways to minister to their community. OM teams will continue to visit this village, and others like it, to provide a variety of practical and biblical trainings that aim to disciple believers, and draw others to Christ.
The teams are always looking for more trainers and evangelists who have a heart for the least-reached and want to be hands-on involved in God’s work.