Road to Kalimpong
February 27, 2014
A remote mountain village in West Bengal, India, had no Christians a few years ago. Now the village has a church and a growing community of believers who are sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
As a native missionary in the lush hill country of West Bengal, Dayaram * knows what it means to go the extra mile or two for the sake of the gospel. In March 2012 he and his wife, both newly ordained, made their first arduous trek to a remote mountain village located hours away from the resort town of Kalimpong.
The couple traveled the first four miles of the journey by motorbike. That was the easy part. Then Dayaram and his wife left the bike in a secure place and set off on a rigorous hike. They walked down a mountain, waded through a river, climbed another mountain, and meandered through the forest for another hour until they arrived at a village that is home to 50 families.
Dayaram befriended residents of this village and found them to be very receptive to the Word of God. For eight months he made numerous trips to the community, even venturing out during the rainy season. The swollen river was at times treacherous to cross, but the determined missionary made every effort to continue preaching and teaching in the village.
By October of that year, 13 people had accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and were asking to be baptized. Dayaram shared the exciting news with his ministry leader and home church in Kalimpong. The ministry arranged for a baptismal service to be held in the river. A short time later five more believers were baptized, and a third baptism added four more believers in the village. Even the local government leader received Christ.
Since no church existed in the area, the people assembled for worship and prayer in a room in one family’s house. The growing community of believers needed a larger place to gather. One family donated a small plot of land, 100 feet long by 50 feet wide. Other individuals felled trees in the woods and offered them as a contribution to the project.
Construction started in the fall of 2012 and progressed slowly as funds became available. The villagers poured concrete for the floor, then fashioned wooden slabs for the walls. The tin roof came from monies supplied by the ministry office. Through generous support from members of Dayaram’s home church, the ceiling, electrical fittings, a rug, and curtains were added. It was a true labor of love for the men and women who pooled their resources and talents to complete the one-year project.
Finally the long-awaited day came on Nov. 14 of this past year, when the community gathered to celebrate the dedication of their new church. About 50 people from the ministry headquarters church also attended the service to show their support. With thanksgiving and great joy the villagers lifted their voices in praise to the Lord.
Currently there are 11 families worshiping in the church, and the little wooden structure on the hillside may eventually need to be expanded. Eager to spread the good news, the believers have become powerful witnesses for Christ among their own friends and neighbors.
There is another reason why more people are coming to the church, a second great miracle that is transforming the community.
Dozens of villagers and ministry guests turned out for the dedication of the new church in November 2013.
“Before there was no road to enter the village. We had to cut through the forest path to reach this place,” explained Dayaram. “But once the gospel was being preached, local leaders were able to approach the authorities and apply for the construction of roads.”
Their application was approved, and now a small access road is being built through the forest. Hard surfacing of the road will be done later this year.
“Very soon this village will have proper roads and transportation will become easier. We praise and thank the Lord for the new church,” he said.
Dayaram and his wife still travel to the community. When the new road from Kalimpong is finished, they will be able to visit more frequently—and in a fraction of the travel time. Best of all, the village church can now serve as a beacon of light to neighboring communities, directing people down the “narrow path” that ends at the foot of the cross of Christ.
In December two villages in the West Sikkim region held dedication ceremonies for their recently completed churches. One congregation celebrated with an opening service Dec. 23—just in time for Christmas.
Christian Aid Mission provided funds to help believers in Sikkim rebuild after a devastating earthquake in 2011.
“Many more new areas are being targeted for church construction and for spreading the gospel,” said the ministry’s director. “Please pray that we will be able to work vigorously for the building of the kingdom of God.”
Since 1956 Christian Aid Mission has assisted the work of this evangelism and church-planting ministry in the foothills of the Himalayas. Our donors have helped provide funding for several of the more than 150 small churches started by indigenous missionaries like Dayaram. They have also assisted the ministry’s Bible school, where Dayaram and his wife received their training.
In addition to missionary-related support, Christian Aid sponsors needy children who are receiving care through the Indian ministry. More than 1,000 children are being reached at its Child Development Centers in Sikkim and mission high schools in Sikkim and West Bengal.
An earthquake in Sikkim in 2011 caused substantial damage to churches and homes. Christian Aid responded by sending emergency relief funds to help impoverished believers repair the damage.
* (name changed for security reasons)