Evangelist in Remote Outpost in India Morphs into Much Needed Doctor
October 2, 2014
Pastor Sukeswar Nayak needs medical supplies not readily available in his remote ministry outpost.
In a remote village in eastern India, a pastor who became a missionary in his own nation has also become the doctor to hundreds of families.
Tribal people from the Pokari area in Kandhamal District, Odisha (formerly Orissa) State, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the nearest government hospital in Balliguda, line up from morning to evening for Sukeswar Nayak to treat them. He provides treatment for illnesses as serious as dysentery, sickle cell anemia and tuberculosis.
“Many come to me for medical service. Sometimes I do not find time to eat and take sufficient rest,” Nayak said.
Thus Nayak has a visceral understanding of Jesus’ words, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34), but he’s more concerned about the comfort of the people he serves.
“I have a small house, so there is not sufficient accommodation for the people to sit and wait,” he said. “I cannot provide them any food if they stay longer.”
Though not educated as a physician, Nayak is the only person trained to provide basic medical care for the area people, which include tribal animists as well as Christians. A U.S. missionary doctor who is devoted full-time to training evangelists in medical care provided Nayak six months of instruction over the course of three years.
Another 15 evangelists from Kandhamal District also received the medical training. The director of the indigenous mission overseeing the medical evangelists said Nayak is serving more than 1,000 families.
“We are glad to know that many seriously ill patients who cannot go to the hospital due to the distance are getting treated by him,” the director said. “Praise God.”
Nayak may be overworked, but he is encouraged when he sees body and soul healed.
“I do ask them to go to the government hospitals if the disease is beyond my capacity to deal with it,” he said. “But I am thrilled to see that many patients who return from the government medical hospital without being healed get healed through my service, by God’s grace and intervention.”
Besides addressing common maladies, such as colds, scabies, and diarrhea, Nayak has treated people for malaria, pneumonia and anemia. He does not rely on medicine alone for healing.
“Late at night when parents bring their sick children for help – they are poor and cannot afford to take them to the government hospitals – then I pray to God before giving any medicine,” he said. “Then I give medicine based on examining the sick, and God heals that child miraculously.”
The mission director said Nayak and the other evangelists providing medical care in Kandhamal District need more supplies.
“They need a supply of drugs for these diseases – vitamins, antibiotics, analgesic, and ointments for eye infections and ear infections, so that they can help the poor and needy with much joy,” he said. “With this they can reach many villages with the gospel. Each of these evangelists has very thrilling experiences with this ministry as people are being healed miraculously.”
Nayak’s son, Bisnu Nayak, also works as a pastor, missionary and doctor for two other villages. Based in Gadgaballi village, he takes care of 200 families, including Hindus and Christians.
Another missionary doctor, Bipra Nayak, serves in Pangali village, providing medical assistance to 150 families. In Gotangi village, Sanjit Nayak treats 100 families. In both cases, the indigenous missionaries treat both Hindus and Christians.
Tribal people line up from dawn to dusk to receive medical care from the pastor.
India is more than 74 percent Hindu, according to Operation World, with Odisha State 94 percent Hindu, though that figure includes many tribal people with animistic beliefs and practices. After the murder of an area Hindu leader in 2008, Kandhamal District was the site of anti-Christian violence that killed more than 100 Christians and displaced more than 50,000.
Nayak said that his wife and church help to sustain him spiritually.
“The local church where I am pastor is my spiritual base for medical service,” he said. “The enemy is always there to discourage me, but as I pray and trust Jesus, He delivers me from the enemy.”
“The Lord in His plan has raised this man to take care of His children in times of need,” the mission director added. “God is saving many from dying due to this small enterprise in the name of Jesus.”