Walk with me into a dimly lit room where Vijaya, an Ultimate Mission health worker, is caring for a young boy who is lying on blankets on the floor. His arms and legs are contorted, and he looks as if he has lain there for days. The boy is weak, malnourished, and dirty, and his parents have no idea how to care for their handicapped 9-year-old son. There are millions of people in India who have very few resources to meet their daily needs. Social services, which are taken for granted in developed countries, are completely overwhelmed here, and a child like this will probably not survive long. This is where Vijaya works. She visits the home and gives advice to the parents on nutrition and hygiene. She helps them understand that the boy needs to be repositioned every 2 hours and encourages them to take him outside to sit in the sun for short periods of time. Since Vijaya lives nearby, she will return often, sharing her healing knowledge and hope, comforting and caring for the boy as if he were her own son.
Most days Anitha visits homes in her village and asks mothers about the health of their family. Sometimes she visits alone, but most of the time she visits with her husband, the pastor of the village Adventist Church. Hindu families, 80% of the population in India, are very suspicious of a Christian pastor and, as a rule, will not allow him into their home. However, when his wife is an Ultimate Mission health worker, the husband-wife team can walk together through almost every door in the village, be the families Christian, Muslim, or Hindu. The young girl in the picture below is suffering from diarrhea. According to the World Health Organization, around 525,000 children under 5 die every year from this treatable disease. Anitha finds great joy in teaching parents how to boil their water and keep their children and surroundings clean. The picture shows Anitha goving the young girl an ORS drink (oral rehydration solution), a healing mixture of salt, sugar, and clean water. It sounds simple, but when Ultimate Mission’s health workers train other village women to keep their children alive, the entire village becomes a safer place.
Caring for aging parents is not easy, and the elderly are often abandoned by their children, surviving by a combination of wits and the kindness of someone who lets them sleep in a cow shed or other makeshift structure. Most villages in India are “free range,” where every kind of animal and rodent is allowed to come and go at will. One elderly lady was bitten by a rat during the night and sought out the pastor’s wife at the Adventist Church. Manikumari, an Ultimate Mission health worker, gently cleaned the wound with hydrogen peroxide, applied a broad spectrum microbicidal solution, and insisted that she see the doctor to get a tetanus shot. Manikumari will visit her patient for at least the next 3 days to make sure the wound is clean and healing properly. The health workers you sponsor provide an essential role in a country where the health care system is severely overwhelmed.
It has been amazing to watch God work through these wonderful ladies. With your support, these women are doing an incredible job. Because of their success, we will be training another 149 women to work this year in India. We have also been asked to start a program in Bangladesh, as well as guide a similar program in 20 countries in Africa. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how fast this program is growing, but I know God will never ask us to serve Him without providing the necessary resources. I am humbled by the way you share the vision for the health worker ministry, and I thank you for your trust and continued support. Please pass this letter to a friend or read it to your church family. Together we can help these ladies provide care and salvation to some of the poorest on the planet.
Pray, pray, pray.
For 912 episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he asked the whole country through a television screen, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”