by Richard Lee
Visit to Massih Tudu in Purnea, Bihar, India.
My journey to Purnea, Bihar started on 30 April 2012, after my teaching assignment in North East Bible Institute (NBI) in Guawahati in the state of Assam, India.
I boarded a night train and traveled 13 hours to reach Kotihar Junction where bro. Massih Tudu and bro. Arvind Kisku, both preachers, came to pick me in a church-owned mini pick up truck. From there, they drove more than two hours to reach Purnea where I checked into a hotel and had my lunch at about 3 pm. (I didn’t have breakfast, as the food served in the train was not suitable for my tummy). Purnea is a town about 610 km west of Guawahati. They have a population of 100,000 people, including those living in the outskirts.
At about 5 pm, bro. Massih Tudu came to pick me for the evening bible lesson where we had about 20 in attendance. The next day was the Lord’s Day and we had some 25 members and friends gathered to worship. I spoke on both occasions in English and bro. Samil Baski led singing in the Santali language. They had only one hymn book, so I had them photostat 15 copies so that many more can read and can sing praises to God. Bro. Massih Tudu translated my lesson into Hindi. The Christians here speak Santali and Hindi. That afternoon, Massih Tudu and I had lunch together and we discussed the work there.
Bro. Massih Tudu is married and has a two-year son. He studied in the Madras Bible College before doing full time work. His work involves teaching the bible to prospects who live within a radius of two-hours’drive. Travel is measured by time, not distance as transportation is slow and the roads hard to travel.
The general population is very poor and not very receptive to the gospel. Most of them are farmers who grow maize, rice and wheat. Most of them are Hindus. Massih Tudu’s idea is to continue to teach and preach and to win souls. I can understand him as the situation and condition are different than in Malaysia. He hopes to increase the number of Christians and continue to expand. One of his visions (also that of his father, bro. Paul William Tudu – a strong supporter of his son’s work) is to work together with bros. Samil and Arvind in starting an orphanage. According to him, without any kind of “good work” it is hard to win the souls of the people there. The denominations provided schools for their members’ children and also looked after their welfare. They have “nice” buildings which are attractive.
It is tough work for those who believe in the truth and still hold on to it though the offer elsewhere is “greener.” I could imagine the amount of good work he and his family had done in the past, which included the purchase of a mini pick up truck, creating a place for worship without any rental burden to the church and his low salary.
The church in Purnea has more than 10 members. The attendance varies on different Sundays. His family has successfully applied for a loan, through Massih Tudu’s father, to buy a mini pick up truck for the church. This is to help members to come to church by picking them from a designated location. They worship in a shed just beside their house (this land belong to their family), built by their family members together with the help of church members.
One of the converts of Massih Tudu is bro. Samil Baski. Bro. Samil has also started a new work in a village (Ramnakol) about two hours’ drive away and they have some five families and single Christians worshipping with them. I visited some of them when I went to his village.
Likewise for bro. Arvind Kisku, he has a small group of Christians worshipping every Lord’s Day in his village, Irchaibari. Another brother, Nehemiah (converted through bro. Massih Tudu), has also shown interest in preaching the Word and is contemplating enrolling in preaching school. They walk by faith not knowing who will support them after they graduate.
They have land to plough and they plant padi, corn, wheat but don’t have solid cash. Some may own cows, wild boars and chicken. Most of them have one or two meals a day which consist of “heapfuls” of rice and dhall. Local food for the locals are inexpensive but other expenses such as schools fees, school uniforms, books, transportation, petrol and a meal in a local restaurant and mineral water are costly. Most members’ houses I visited have no proper tables. They live in their village without running water and electricity. It was total darkness when I visited bro. Nehemiah at about 7.30pm. They used oil lamp, LED torch lights and other lighting equipment. Road conditions are bad and that is the reason for the long journey to travel a short distance.
On 23 April I left Purnea for the Semapur train station (after visiting bro. Samil’s village and members of the congregation) and left on an overnight train to Kolkata, capital city of West Bengal. This city has 18 million people. Have you travelled overnight by train in India? For me it was very comfortable in my air-conditioned sleeping berth but I have to make sure my luggage is with me all the time. I saw some passengers had chained their luggage to the metal pole beside their beds. You can imagine the crowd in the train station when I arrived at the city in the morning rush hour. By the way, when I left Kolkata for LCCT, the temperature was 40 degrees Celsius.
May the good Lord bless you as you contemplate and thank God for His blessings. But what are we going to do with our blessings? Whatever your decision may be, do remember to pray for the Christians in India and their work.
Care to join me in a mission trip somewhere else – Myanmar this time?
<Editor’s Note: Bro Richard Lee is planning to do Mission Work in Myanmar this Nov. 7th – Nov. 15th, 2012. The cost is about RM 2500.00 (Air Asia flight, food, lodging and transport). He already has Sis Chan Ai Lin and two other ladies as traveling companions and he is looking for two more, preferably another guy and lady. If you are encouraged by his work in India as shared by him in the appended article, then do join him in his next trip to Myanmar. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)>