Since leaving Oregon the first week of September I have had quite a busy few months! I was able to go back up to where I live for about a week to check on my farm and my house even though the strike was still going on. It was pretty much a ghost town with no vehicles and all the shops boarded up! The strike was finally lifted the end of September but underlying agitation persists. Then I headed to Assam for 10 days to help some guys I trained implement an animal vaccination program in multiple villages. From there, I headed to Thailand to attend a conference on sustainable agriculture put on by an organization called ECHO. It was an awesome networking opportunity! After that I met up for another conference with fellow CVM fieldworkers from Asia. Then a few of us went together from Thailand on to Nepal where we did an animal health camp and training through a local partner organization. I can’t possibly share all the highlights from each of these experiences in just one short letter. So I want to focus on one story in particular that highlights why I feel God has called me to do this whole animal health training thing.
Pastor Raju and his team vaccinating a cow
I met Pastor Raju in April when he came with five others from the state of Assam to attend our animal health training. He is the pastor of a small church plant in the middle of a strong Hindu community and his five colleagues are pastors, elders and evangelists from small churches in neighboring villages. During the training, they all seemed to really catch the vision for going back to their communities and applying what they had learned. I went to visit them in June to do some animal health training for villagers. It was at that time that we were invited by countless local people to come back and provide veterinary services, such as vaccines and dewormers. So in September we had a fabulous time going village to village with the six guys I had trained, vaccinating over 600 cows and deworming and treating countless animals. By the end of the time, the guys were doing 100% of the work themselves (with much gusto I might add) and they had long lists of villages that they wanted to go to after we left. Right before I left I asked Pastor Raju if he would share how the training impacted him. Here is how he responded:
“I moved to this village in 2008 and for years received heavy persecution from my Hindu neighbors. They didn’t allow me access to water. They told me I couldn’t go door to door preaching. They never invited me into their homes for tea. They threatened my family multiple times. When I heard about the animal health training, I invited five other Christian leaders from other churches in my area to attend. It was the best training I have ever attended because it was so practical. I came back and immediately started treating animals. Soon I found that my neighbors were inviting me over for tea. They were calling me to come help with their sick cows. The persecution stopped. Now through this vaccination program I feel that we are making good relationships with many people, including the strong Hindu leaders in the community. Everyone here has animals and the needs are great. I am so thankful to the Lord for this opportunity to learn these new skills so I can serve my community and build better relationships with people. As a team we plan to continue this ministry in many poor villages here. We are charging minimal fees for the services and we are saving the money we earn to maybe buy a pair of bulls so that we can make profit from them during the rice harvest season. From this profit, we can support our ministry needs.”
I was encouraged to hear Pastor Raju’s testimony because he has really caught the vision of how meeting needs in his community can open doors for ministry. It was also encouraging for me to see leaders from different denominations coming together in unity to reach out to their Hindu neighbors. We have already been invited to come back in February to do more animal health trainings in villages and help them establish a small medicine shop. I just love how doing animal health work in villages opens so many doors for ministry!
Me in Assam working in Hindu communities
Prayer requests for the next season:
Thanks so much for your prayers and support,
- Please continue to pray for the region where I live. The unrest is far from over. People in the hills are divided on the issue of whether or not to fight for their own state. With division comes the potential for more violence and the reoccurrence of a strike.
- Please pray for me as I figure out what this next season will look like in terms of community and support. All the foreigners in my town are leaving for various reasons and the small house church I have been attending is disbanding.
- Please pray as I discern the best way forward in establishing my new ecotourism business and registering my farm.