It is a long time ago that I tried to help some people in India to get to know Christ and his God. At first, I was a (non-trinitarian) Baptist but got people baptised in Christadelphianism, before I myself also decided to become a Christadelphian, going out that denomination with thousands of my Baptist brethren for the Baptist community having become more and more Trinitarian.
Having two autoimmune deceases I have troubles with my body when there is too much dampness. Humidity is a killing factor for me. One time, I even managed to stay for a week in a hospital in Antalya, whilst I had paid for an all-in resort in Turkey, leaving the family to enjoy themselves whilst I was bounded to bed.
As a character in The Marigold Hotel says
“India is like being hit by a wave….stand up against it and it’ll knock you over, dive into it and you’ll come out the other side”
From documentaries and books I read, I might have a pretty good idea of how grand that magnificent land might be, offering a treasure of incredibly beautiful buildings and countryside.
Within minutes of being out of the airport, you probably will see exactly what the Marigold Hotel character meant.
One’s senses are bombarded, in a fabulous way, with the noise, colour, smells and general ”buzz” of the place. The faces with never ending smiles are matched with greetings of “hello uncle” everywhere you go.
Writes Bro David Adamson, who after speaking to Bro Wayne Leadbeater, decided that he and his wife, Fiona, really ought to try and do something to help and to try out this volunteering idea.
As Wayne would say
“…if you say yes to things in life, you open up all sorts of possibilities.”
The Adamsons often had heard talk about people having to go to volunteer at Shunem for about 3 months. After having been some time there he concludes:
Having now been, I can see why that would be a good idea. The longer you can go for the better – mainly because you’ll have more chance to build lasting relationships with all the wonderful children and amazing staff. You’ll possibly also be able to help in the school or visit other meetings / areas / bible schools etc etc. However we only went for 3 weeks and Bro Tim and Sis Sarah, whilst not able to be there when we were, did all they could to accommodate our wishes, and far exceeded them.
Loving myself Indian food, I am pleased the Adamsons found it all delicious.
The food served by the home and at Tim and Sarah’s is not only safe to eat but delicious and neither Fiona nor I had any ill effects for the whole time we were there.
Going on a mission project one would think also people using time to share the gospel. For David Adamson whilst having been baptised, 15years, he had never given an exhortation. He writes:
I have been happy to preside, read and give prayers but I’ve always lacked the self confidence to exhort. What could I offer an audience that was infinitely more knowledgeable than I about anything religious or biblical?
Wayne has another saying: it must be his Northern Poet coming out “surrender, smile, serve.” So when I was asked, with only 12 hours’, notice to exhort the next morning at The Meeting, I was desperately trying to think of an excuse not to: I’ve nothing prepared, I don’t speak, I’m not ready…. Wayne’s sayings forced their way into my head. So despite trying to say no I actually said yes!
Well I may not be the world’s best speaker (although I did feel it at the time) I now know I can do it and people can be so grateful for what ever you can give them – I think that could be said for many, many things, but especially in somewhere like India.
I am convinced it is the task of a Christian to go up to those around him. Jesus demanded his followers to share his teachings and to tell others as many as we can about the Good News. Doing so this can be done in different ways, but the most important one is, first of all, showing the love for the other.
Let us never forget:
Give what you can: love, time, knowledge, effort and you will be rewarded.
Or in other words,
“put a lot in because you’ll get more out!”
As a dancer-choreographer I was also trained to be a teacher and my experiences trying to produce something interesting and by guiding several people in my function as artistic director of a modern dance company, you could say I learned enough tricks of the trade to communicate with others. For Bro. David it was another matter. He writes:
I have never thought of myself as a teacher but I offered my services at the school as I thought I ought to try and help if I could.
I was asked to help with two classes with maths. Having not been in a class room for over 35 years, I did feel a bit out of my comfort zone, but the beautiful smiling faces of the children soon made me feel at ease. I am now somewhat of an expert in prime numbers, long division and times tables!
The Shunem Home can do with funds and people helping them out. The new legislation in India requiring major changes in the way that children’s homes are managed has meant that some homes in India have been forced to close. At the Shunem home however, things are very different as they have 130 growing children and 21 elderly people to look after! After a great deal of effort from the staff and in the Father’s mercy, the Shunem Home successfully gained a registration certificate and licence to operate for a further 5 years. Another landmark has been the 25th baptism at Shunem. Over the years, staff, young people and elderly residents have come to a knowledge of the saving truth of the Gospel through the daily readings, first principles classes and Sunday meetings. For this, we can only be thankful to our God, Who makes all this work possible. It is lovely to see how many at Shunem have accepted the call of the Gospel and embraced our shared hope of life in God’s coming kingdom. But still a lot has to be done (not only in Shunem and other parts of India). The sharing of the gospel goes with giving and receiving love. David writes:
If I had to sum up Shunem in one word it would be “Love”.
The love the children have for one another and the love the adults have for the children are both lessons for us. But without a doubt the biggest love is the love you get from the children: their beaming smiles greet you where ever you go; there are waves out of the bus, cries of uncle or auntie or and if you’re younger, then maybe “ana” (big brother) or “aka” (big sister). You get hugged- but not just a little. You get huge hugs from lots of little people. They really do fill you heart with joy – but you’ll never know how much until you go and find out for yourself!
Why not consider helping our community at some faraway places in the world?
Bro David Adamson ends his letter:
Would I suggest or even recommend a visit to Shunem for those of you that are a bit older – ABSOLUTELY. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and has enriched me more than I ever would have expected. Will I go back….. God willing, I hope to go again next year.
If you would be interested, do not hesitate to make contact with the Shunem home or with other projects of our brotherhood.
If you are a UK taxpayer your donation can be increased by 25% with gift aid, please ask for a form. Does your Ecclesia have regular collections for the Shunem Home? Please contact Bro. Mike Page Tel. 01684 299854 email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Cheques payable to “Christadelphian Shunem Home” can be sent to: Bro. Mike Page, 5 Hillview Lane, Twyning, Tewkesbury, Glos, GL20 6JWIf you would like to make an on-line donation, please contact us or them for account details.
Donations can also be made via paypal, please see their website: www.theshunemhome.org
Those who have visited Shunem have one thing in common – they love to talk about it!
So if you would like one of the committee to give a Shunem presentation at your Ecclesia or gathering, please get in touch.
Finally we ask for your prayers that our Heavenly Father will continue to bless the children and elderly residents at Shunem and all those who work with them as together we await His son’s return.