As Mother’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the many lives God allows us to impact through the various ministries of GBIM. Among those ministries are the Dorcas and Lydia sewing centers in India. These ministries help women learn sewing so that they can establish their own home business as tailors. These ministries make a world of difference in the lives of the women who participate. They also teach the ladies about a God who loves them. Here is the story of one of those dear ladies, a widow mother named Bhavani. As you read her story please consider a gift this Mother’s Day to GBIM designated “India Sewing Centers.” Thank you and God bless you.
“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” (Talmud)
One never knows how a life can be changed with something that many of us may consider insignificant.
We arrived on our visit to India at the Dorcas Sewing Center; it was graduation day. The porch of the center was filled several hundred women. They wore brightly colored sarongs and most had scarves that covered their heads. The women were a mix of Hindu with the bright red dot on their forehead, Muslim, and Christian. The sat on the concrete floor and waited with anticipation. Trucks and vans continued to bring more women and children. There was a buzz in the air.
Sitting on tables were one hundred sewing machines; each one a means of hope. For six months the women had attended the thirteen different centers and learned how to sew. They first learned to hand sew and then they learned how to sew on the machine with a pedal like my grandmother had in her small upstairs room. Several times a week they were taught the Bible and discipled with the hope that they would give their lives to Christ. One hundred machines…one hundred women…one hundred dreams.
Each center was called forward and their machines were handed over to anxious hands. Humble smiles brightened the faces of the women and they giggled and said “Dhan’yavādālu” or “thank you”. It was incredible to see this ministry after hearing about it for many years.
Later we sat in a side room with Pastor Prakash and his wife Jemima attentively presided over our afternoon meal. There were various vegetables, rice, and the strong smell of curry chicken. Three women were graciously serving us and tried hard to keep our plates filled. Jemima introduced one of the young women, Bhavani, who had bright eyes and shy smile and told us her story.
At fourteen she became a wife in a prearranged marriage, as is the custom. Soon she gave birth to a daughter and several years later to a son. By the age of thirty-one she was a widow. In the Indian society it is customary that a woman cannot remarry. This is a “social death” and for many it becomes difficult to provide for themselves and their children. The widows are often the poorest of the poor.
Each day she struggled to find enough to eat for her, her children, and her mother-in-law who also was a widow and lived with her. One day she was invited to participate in the ministry of the sewing center. Soon she learned to sew and, in the process, became a follower of Christ. Now she has her sewing machine in her small and humble home and she earns enough to provide for her family. As Jemima finished the story it was evident that the young widow’s life had turned around and her smile was the exclamation point.
I asked to take a picture of her hands. These hands eagerly worked. These hands comforted her children. These hands brought in an income and sustained their lives. These hands were lifted in praise to her God for His supply. She was fulfilling the Scriptural admonition, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecc. 9:10 NASB).
“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” In one of our churches someone gave $100 to buy a sewing machine. It may have been a sacrificial gift from an elderly widow in a rural church or a gift from wealthy businessman. Who gave the gift or the size of the gift is immaterial but the gift saved a life and changed the world for a young widow in Kakinada, India.
(Article by Phil Warren, reprinted from the General Baptist Messenger, Spring 2018)