These are some of the beautiful and heartfelt expressions that fill my heart as I sit in quietness and reflect back on my journey from central to southern India. What I gained was priceless and well worth the long and arduous train ride. I can still feel the warm smiles of the cancer patients that were receiving chemotherapy and those that had just finished receiving radiation therapy as I entered the rooms during my visit to Neyoor Hospital, International Cancer Centre. How members of the Subaharrison Memorial Church of South India (C.S.I), Kannacode church came to instantly embrace me as family and display their love through their radiant smiles, hospitality, care, words of encouragement, and prayers.
“I may be very small, but You answer when I call.”
– Portion of a song sung by children at MBKG Pannai
“I will build you a small room and then you can stay and have a dental clinic here.”
– Member, C.S.I. Church, Kannacode
“Live for Jesus…. I will pray for you and you pray for me.”
– Mrs. Rachel Moses, Train passenger
“Do not forget us…”
– Teenager at MBKG Pannai
These are some of the beautiful and heartfelt expressions that fill my heart as I sit in quietness and reflect back on my journey from central to southern India. What I gained was priceless and well worth the long and arduous train ride. I can still feel the warm smiles of the cancer patients that were receiving chemotherapy and those that had just finished receiving radiation therapy as I entered the rooms during my visit to Neyoor Hospital, International Cancer Centre. How members of the Subaharrison Memorial Church of South India (C.S.I), Kannacode church came to instantly embrace me as “family” and display their love through their radiant smiles, hospitality, care, words of encouragement, and prayers.
These experiences, along with many others, quickly redirected my attention from the blazing temperatures and pouring sweat to the full awareness of “oneness” and the love of family, namely the spiritual family. “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 3:4-5) This is the scripture that the Lord impressed upon my heart and one in which I shared during greetings to various congregations during my trip.
Subaharrison Memorial Church of South India (C.S.I), Kannacode is a beautiful congregation. This growing congregation of about 68 families may be small in number; but large in spirit and faith. Rev. Shoba Kingson, Pastor of Subaharrison Memorial Church, states that they excel despite economic challenges. Many have financial difficulties but they give to God what they have in their hands and their faith in Jesus Christ is unshakeable.
During Sunday service, I had the honor of presenting Academic Excellence Awards to three young people in the congregation. These awards went to those students who earned the highest grades in their 10th and 12th standard class.
Sunday school at C.S.I. Church, Kannacode was a treat. Smiles, laughter, and excitement filled the room with the children, including some “big children” or adults, alike. Together we learned new Sunday school songs in English which included Jesus Loves the Little Children and Jesus Loves Me. After a few minutes of singing, the initial tone of shyness began to dissipate and sweet melodies rang out loud and permeated the atmosphere. Afterwards, we enjoyed a time of sharing and eating sweets.
In the Marthandam District, great emphasis is placed on congregational care and not just viewed as the role of pastors exclusively. I had the opportunity to spend time with an incredible group of women, called the Bible Women during a one day retreat for the Marthandam District, Sexton and Bible Women at St. Peters Church in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. These faithful ladies come from one of the 27 churches of the C.S.I. Kanyakumari Diocese, Marthandam District and are willing vessels. They care for the congregation and church through home visits rendering birthday wishes and distributing monthly covers, praying for the sick, attending funerals, and assisting with housekeeping duties at the church. The joy in which they serve is evident if you spend any amount of time in their presence.
I actually had the pleasure of meeting a few of the Bible Women two days prior during a Sunday evening District Women’s Fellowship Meeting at Gnana Bethel Church. This meeting is held once a month in one of the 27 churches. I was delightfully overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm and participation the women displayed. There were so many women in attendance that women filled the sanctuary, overflow vestibule area, and others were seated outside down the length of the church building on both sides. An auction and dinner followed the conclusion of the program. Proceeds from the auction will be used during the Christmas holiday by providing sewing machines, educational support, marriage support, or other ways deemed appropriate to benefit women affected by poverty.
My next stop was to Kasam, Katpadi, Vellore to visit Mudhiyor Balar Kudumba Grama (MBKG) Pannai, Family Village Farm. I was initially invited for a visit as a guest by my dear friend, Mr. Avinash Sundas, who grew up in the loving family structure at MBKG from 10 days old until adulthood. I met Avinash at my assigned location, Christian Hospital Mungeli, where he works as a Nurse Tutor. I was so eager to get there and to see my friend’s family; the family that cared so deeply for him and now remains an integral part of his life. He knows everyone and everyone knows him, even down the little nursery children that is at MBKG right now. However, my train was not as eager as I, as it arrived four hours behind schedule to the station.
The staffs at MBKG and the King’s Matriculation School were so welcoming and ensured that I would have a well-rounded experience during my stay. I was thrilled to see for myself the family structure that is in place with the children, mothers, and grandmothers. There was a mutual spirit of enthusiasm between myself and the children; they were excited to see me and I was excited to see them. They asked questions, I asked questions. The time that I spent interacting with the teenagers and playing in the nursery with the little children was amazing.
I departed MBKG counting it all joy for the experiences that I had, people that I had met, and love for my family members that I never knew until now. Again, I boarded the train but this time I was headed back “home” to the Christian Hospital Mungeli where more family members awaited me.
Kahala Cannon serves with the Synodical Board of Health Services of the Church of North India. She serves as a dentist at the Christian Hospital in Mungeli, India. Her appointment is supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, Our Churches Wider Mission, Disciples Mission Fund and your special gifts.”