In January 2019 a group of us are visited the Bangalore area in India to see our friends in the Churches there. We shared in worship, and visited a number of people. Over the years we have supported a small church in Bangalore and its six sister Churches in the TVM area; rasing money to help with various projects, including the setting up of a water bore in one of the villages in TVM. During the course of our stay, we posted regular updates on our Facebook page; a selection of which are here.
First day in Bangalore – we received a lovely warm welcome by Pastor Raj, his son Pastor Gladson and Gladsons wife Sumi. And saw some of the city. Full of life, dust, colour and noise. The conditions here certainly highlight how much we in the west take for granted. But, there is a lot of joy; the service we attended this evening was full of life. We also had our first cow encounter, and some of us braved a Tuck tuck ride. Tomorrow – Tvm.
Following a night at Bangalore, we’re now in the Tvm area. On travelling we were struck by the stunning countryside and, also by the unfolding human story, much of it shaped by poverty. During our stay we have enjoyed the hospitality of the lovely community here. Visited the Churches, and some of the wider community, including the large Hindu temple, which was an experience to say the least. More later…
Tuesday – today we visited the refugee camp in Tvm; three generations of Sri Lankan refugees have arrived here, been born here and died here, with little hope of finding a true home. These are the stateless people; the dispossessed who many would rather forget. They can make bits of money, but they have very little; yet their warmth and hospitality is immense. I sensed God amongst these people; I am shaken. Dean.
Happy Pongal – today we enjoyed the generosity of three families celebrating Pongal; a cultural festival of the Harvest
On Wenesday we left Tvm. This place will always stay with me; the joy, the humility, and the graciousness in the face of hardship. Here I found a smile on the face of God, and a compassion which defies explanation. Dean.
On to the most Touristy part of our trip, and a bit of light relief. We went to Chennai, and St. Thomas mount, the cave were he hid, and the Cathedral, under which he is said to have been buried. Lots of religious tat, and who knew that Allah ran a coach company? Now we’re back in Bangalore.
Bangalore; a city of colour, noise and scent; it bonbards the senses. There is light, and a certain beauty in the bustle of assorted humanity. It is also a city of contrasts; this evening we visited some of the people who live in the slum area of Bangalore. People piled on top of each other in wood and concrete hutches; accessible via narrow, wet alleyways. As I think of India, my mind also turned to home; with welfare cuts, increasing homelessness, a shortage of decent housing, and decreased job security in Britain, India serves as a warning. So as I pray for India tonight, I also hold Britain in my prayers. Dean.
So today we did shopping, but even when haggling over the price of a scarf, religion isn’t too far away. Christian and Hindu iconography jostle for attention, and none seems to be turning over the tables…
So, we’ll be on our way home soon. It’s been an amazing trip, and there’s too much to put into words at the moment. But one things comes to mind. When visiting the refugee camp at Tvm, we went into a small shop, run by a lady who is a refugee from Sri Lanka. This lady has very little, and no true freedom. However, there was a kindness and joy in her eyes, of a kind we rarely seen in the west. On leaving the shop she gave me a bottle of water from her stock. I was shocked, and deeply humbled, it was difficult to accept her gift, but getting into an argument about it wasn’t an option. I think that we in the west have become so caught up in individualism and materialism that to some extent we’ve lost the meaning of empathy, hospitality, community and grace. We isolate ourselves, and in doing so I think we lose part of our soul. We fail to see the presence of God in other people, and miss that which is sacred. Thank you India, for all your gifts, and all that you are revealing to me. With love & Blessings. Dean.