Cast your bread upon the waters
Ecc 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
It’s time to go back to a season when my wife and I worked in India. Our profile indicates that we were missionaries in India since 1994. Actually it goes back even further seeing that my wife worked in the state of Tamil Nadu before we were married. What was the work and ministry that the Lord entrusted to us? From the years 1994-2002 we served as overseers of two Bible schools and two orphanages. The men’s school and boys’ orphanage were on one compound while the women’s school and girls orphanage was 15 kilometres away. The Bible school(s) was a two year residence school consisting of pastors and Bible women from various districts in Orissa and Bihar states. There were a total of 43 boys and girls under our care ranging in age from 4-9 coming from the poorest and most backward tribal districts. Each of them were given a quality English standard education. In addition they had to continue speaking English in order to communicate with us foreigners. This bode well for them as years past by seeing that there English became a highly sought after commodity.
A 1994 Christmas feast with the boys after receiving their Christmas dress pants and shirts.
My wife and I had the privilege of working alongside other foreigners who selflessly gave of their time to sow seeds into the students and children. My wife was like a mom to the boys, working with them through their school work, making sure they ate well, visiting their schools and even spending overnights in the hospital. As an aside my wife even delivered babies. I had the easy part with the boys, I ensured they had daily recreation consisting of cricket and football. (We had the same arrangement with our girls on the other compound) We wanted to make sure that each of them had a memorable childhood).
This picture was taken in October of 1995 with Dr. Brian Bailey, founder and president of Zion Fellowship International. Dr. Bailey and his wife Audrey had a heart for orphan children and it was through their leadership that the works of Birmitrapur (Girl’s compound) and Kuarmunda (Boy’s compound) became a reality. Their love and example was not only an inspiration for us it was for the children as well. Several of them now seek to build upon the foundation they established by leading in Bible Schools and similarly run orphanages. In fact, some of them are already serving in this capacity.
This Indian family relationship began in 1992 under Helen Dexter who was the founder of the work. We came on board and lived together up to February 2002 when everything came to a halt. In a matter of two days all of the foreigners had to pack up and leave India. This was done secretly due to the risk of being arrested and or deported. We gathered the children one hour before our departure to inform them that we were leaving and not able to come back. This incident took place 15 years ago and it still stings. Was it all for naught; was the investment made through the years in the lives of the students and children wasted? We as foreigners were entering into an unknown as to what would happen next but what about the children, our boys and girls who became our family? This article will not delve into what transpired over the subsequent months and years; that will be picked up at another time because it is an amazing testament to God’s favour.
The boys growing up. This picture was taken in February 1999.
The primary message and takeaway is that the bread that is cast and sown in the name of the Lord will one day return to His glory. I would like to highlight two examples; there are many more and they will be featured in future updates. The two young men featured are Stephen and Nathaniel.
Stephen Digal-Recent graduate of Filadelfia School in Udaipur, Rajasthan. This school was founded by Dr. Thomas Mathews who was a well-known Indian evangelist. The ministry is now running under the capable hands of his son Paul Mathews. Stephen has been a right hand man of Dr. Paul over the past few years. (In the picture with Dr. Bailey he is the first boy from the left)
Nathaniel Pradhan-Principal and pastor serving in the state of Bihar. Nathaniel serves under the ministry of Dr. Kalyan from Harvest Mission ministries. (In the picture with Dr. Bailey he is the boy positioned between the arms of Dr. Bailey and myself)
These are just a few testimonies of what God has done through the lives of the children through the years. These 43 children taken from the remote backward districts of Orissa are serving in various capacities throughout all of India. One of our boys is serving in the hotel industry in Dubai. God is so good! (In the picture with Dr. Bailey he is the 4th boy from the left who looks to be touching my tie)
Keep a lookout on this site as we share other testimonies through the lives of the students and orphans in Orissa. I would like to cite several missionaries who sowed seed in Orissa through the early years. A special thank you to Helen Dexter the founder of the work who answered God’s call at the age of 69. Sis Helen just went to be with the Lord at the age of 93. A special thank you to Kathleen McCann, Joan Jones, Linda Phillips, Maureen Gustin, Erin and Cacia McDougall and Cameron Walcott. A special thank you to Martin and Grace Tan and family. Your efforts have been noted and will never be forgotten. The seeds sowed and bread cast in those early years is now returning back as fruit to his glory. Even when everything seemed to fail God was still able to work it for good. May this account inspire and encourage the reader to consistently sow the seeds of the kingdom.