Recently, I had been to Orissa during the month of March with a bunch of friends for a missionary journey. I had some idea of what Orissa was, through whatever I had seen on the television – its poverty, illiteracy and natural calamities with a few good things about its culture here and there. However, it was only after visiting the place I could really comprehend the world of difference between my lifestyle and the lifestyle of my own countrymen, who live not 1000 km farther from me.
We began our journey from Bangalore to a place in Andhra Pradesh called Vizianagram. Incidentally, I found out that this place (i.e. Vizianagram) was the capital of the Vijaynagar Empire of the 14th-15th Century. Many European historians had compared it to Rome and had written much about its splendor. 500 years later though, no traces of those remain. The Psalm is indeed true
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field, the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. — Psalm 103:14-16
From Vizianagaram, we went in a car towards a town in Orissa called Jeypore (not the Jaipur of Rajasthan). The route that we took was through the Eastern Ghats. The mountains looked majestic in the backdrop of the setting sun. Also, during the journey, I saw a forest fire. It looked like a jewel from distance. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
After spending the night in Jeypore, we made haste to get a town called Ramagiri. The town happens to be a tribal one. We met some missionaries there and they were very hospitable. I was touched by their commitment to serve the Lord in such a remote place. After having breakfast, we started our visit to villages. We went 2 villages in the morning and received a warm reception. The people in the first village were so eager to see us – city-folks – visiting them that they stood outside their church for a long time! They garlanded me! We preached and strengthened them in the faith. The second village was also similar. The 3rd Village was in the evening. We finished the day by spending more time with missionaries.
The Second day was adventurous. We had to go through a rugged terrain to reach a town called Umarkot. The journey took us through some beautiful landscapes. I was clicking my camera to glory! Some of the scenery were stunning. I also got to see a lot of palm trees and trees without leaves. In Umarkot we againvisited the missionaries and met a few girls who belong to the girls hostel run by them. These girls happen to be tribal people’s children who are being given education. The sight of them growing in the Lord by reading the Bible was lovely. After having some sumptuous food there, we started the second leg of our village visits. This time it was in the evening. And most of the villages that I went were very remote and all of them had no electricity whatsoever. It was a wonderful experience for me. I take electricity as something for granted. But in these villages, I learned that even that is a gift from God. Being in these villages seemed like going back 500 years in history. But, as usual, the reception in every village was very warm. I had some tribal ‘tea’, enjoyed tribal worship songs and prayed for the needy ones. Second Day was just as good as the first.
And the third and final day, we again a visited the last village – a village which had no ‘kachha’ road even leading to it – and preached the word of God. We had a tribal food in one of the brother’s house and bid good-bye after a brief time of prayer.
And so we began our return journey back to Jeypore. After a brief sojourn in a missionary’splace, we took a taxi to Vizianagaram and boarded the train to Bangalore. All in all, this was a trip which gave me a first-hand experience of what it takes to ‘reach out to the ends of the earth’. Humanly, it is not easy. But with God all things are possible. The Lord prepared me through this experience to serve him even better. I had an impulse of quitting my job in Bangalore and immediately moving to Orissa to serve the Lord there. However, the Lord reminded me – ‘Be faithful in the few things I have given you and l will make you in-charge of greater things.’ To God be the Glory.
To reap the harvest that you have prepared
And to prepare me to for my life’s journey ahead Surely, O Lord, your word is true, All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to you, All the families of all nations will one day bow down on their knees,
How blessed am I that I have done so even now, willingly (Psalm 22:27)