Since moving to India in January 2016, I feel that I have seen a lot accomplished: establishing a breeding and training farm that now has 25 goats and 80 chickens, distributing goats and chickens to more than 20 needy families, training over 25 village animal health workers, introducing a new type of breed of dairy goat into the area, running livestock vaccination programs in villages where there are no veterinary services, and surveying over 250 families in villages to get baseline data regarding animals, crops, and the needs of farmers here. If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a common theme among all these things: animals! The truth is that none of these accomplishments would mean anything if it weren’t for the work that God is doing through the vehicle of animals here. I have been quite amazed at how simply working with chickens, goats and cows has opened up so many doors for ministry and building relationships. God can truly use any vehicle he desires to accomplish his purposes!
In February, I was asked to train 20 local church workers/missionaries in animal healthcare. They came from the neighboring states of Sikkim to the north and Assam to the east. They are the ones in the trenches, working in remote villages doing evangelism and church planting. They all had similar stories to tell about how hard it was to reach the Buddhists and Hindus in their area and how much persecution they were facing. They came to the training because they said every family in their village is dependent on animals as a source of income, and yet there is no access to veterinary services. We spent three very full days together learning about animal diseases and treatments, finding out what problems they have seen and possible solutions, and practicing newfound skills on goats, cows, pigs, and chickens. We even spent a considerable amount of time talking about how to use this training in animal health care to share the Gospel with people. Everyone was really excited about this and couldn’t wait to go back and start going house to house offering deworming tablets, medicines, and animal health training booklets to their neighbors along with the evangelism tracts and materials they usually use.
Animal health worker trainees
Right after the 3-day training concluded, I wondered if I would ever hear from the trainees again or if they would really put into practice what they had learned. Well, I didn’t have to wonder very long! Just that next week I started getting phone calls from some of the trainees asking me advice about specific animal cases, dose rates, and medicines. Another trainee called to say that in just two days he had already gone back to his village and castrated 10 goats (a skill he never used to know how to do) and had made some money doing it. Weeks later, I started receiving pictures from trainees of their work in their villages with animals. One trainee wrote and said that he had been invited to a staunch Hindu village by the head priest to do animal treatment there. He said that this animal work is opening doors for relationship building and the Gospel like he has never experienced before. All the trainees are requesting that we come and visit them and provide them with follow up training and medicines so that they can reach more people!
In April, I went to visit one of the trainees in a village only a couple hours from where I live. This man (Pastor Sanjib) and his wife are local missionaries, having moved to a Hindu village four years ago with the expressed purpose of evangelism and discipleship. In four years, only one Hindu family has believed in the whole village despite countless efforts to share with them. He has received lots of persecution being not only a Christian but also an outsider. He and his wife and two daughters are struggling to survive financially but feel that God has called them there. We went house to house with him interviewing 25 families and asking about their animals. We found out their chickens and cows are dying of diseases that can be easily vaccinated against. We held an animal health training and over 40 villagers showed up! They all requested that we come back and do a vaccination program there and that they will pay Pastor Sanjib to do the vaccines! As we left, Sanjib told us that this will not only be a great opportunity to witness to his Hindu neighbors, but also has the potential to be an income source for his family that is struggling financially.
Conducting an animal health training in Sanjib's village
I share all this not to highlight all the wonderful things I am doing here, but to highlight how God is using my passion and skills with animals to accomplish His work and purposes. I have had so many moments here when I have asked myself, “What in the world am I doing starting a farm in India?” It seems absolutely crazy at times and so “unspiritual.” It is definitely the most challenging thing I have ever done. But then I watch as God opens doors of ministry through animals and I am reminded that He works in many different ways to reach many different types of people.
Please pray for me as I head into an extremely busy season of travel, training, vaccinating animals, and running my farm. Also, please pray as I get the paperwork together to try to apply for a new visa this summer. I recently found out my current visa cannot be renewed another year so I will be coming home July and August to try to apply for a new one. Thank you for supporting me in this journey,