A hillside view from the state of Orissa
in the interior of South Eastern India
In October, Aaron joined our colleague Terry Smith, Canadian Baptist Ministries’ Director of International Partnerships, for meetings with CBM’s ministry partners in Orissa, India. It was a great opportunity to learn more about our earliest work as Canadian Baptists, which began in India in 1874, when the first Canadian Baptist Missionaries landed by steamer in Andre Pradesh, India, to begin work among the Telugu people.
Entering a Kui Tribal Village
One of our great privileges, was to be the first CBM people to visit the remote Kui tribal villages in over 25 years. The Kui are one of the smaller tribal groups in Orissa, but through God’s work among the Kui the seed of the Gospel has spread and today ninety percent of the tribe living in this area are now Christian believers.
Being a minority tribe, the Kui people were pushed out of the fertile valleys of Orissa and established a network of villages on the steep hillsides and mountain tops of the area. Today none of the Kui villages are accessible by road but require a minimum of a day’s hike to reach. Terry and I were able to drive for about 4 hours into the mountains with our CBM India team mates Suraj and CP Raju. After the road ended, our 4x4 took a narrow path eventually crossing through corn fields until we had to walk. After rolling up our pant legs and fording a river, we walked to the closest village which was expecting us for a time of worship with the community, before our meetings. Today the Kui Church is composed of 20 villages.
Kui girls posing for a photo
The Kui people live as subsistence farmers. Lack of access to health care and education is a major problem. The closest clinic is over 50 km away from the village that we walked to, and the other 19 villages are several days journey away from any road. Most families can only afford to have one child attend school because they must pay for their child to be boarded in a youth hostel as there are no schools near their villages. Illiteracy is a major challenge facing their community.
A Kui mother carrying food to her home
Church Supper Kui Style
It was great to see the Kui men serving the women and children of their village. After the community worship service, a feast of rice and curried meat was prepared and served by the men on banana leaf. It was a great celebration!
Terry, Suraj and Aaron in Serango, Orissa
A highlight of our time together was getting to know our CBM India team leader, Suraj, who is committed to seeing CBM’s work in Orissa grow. Over the past ten years, the majority of our work as Canadian Baptists in this region has been through the COCH hospitals not only providing health care to the region, but also community support through the Guardians of Hope HIV & AIDS ministry and through women’s Self Help Group initiatives -- two ministries very close to our hearts. The Serango hospitals are vital work of Integral Mission to the Kui, Oriya and Sauran people. They still speak highly of CBM missionaries who dedicated so much of their lives to their people. We were asked many times about Mildred Law, Muriel Bent, Frank Burn, Ken & Janet Knights and many others.
One of the exciting new developments in Orissa is the construction of a new Mother and Child hospital in Orissa that CBM is helping to establish through the ministry of the COCH hospitals. Please continue to remember the ministry of CBM in your prayers.
To learn more about our work in Africa, India and around the world please visit our website at www.cbmin.org