December 2017
From Pastor to Pasture

Overwhelming – But Doable!

 

The well in this picture was constructed in October when I was last in India.

I have never seen so many people in one place! Until I saw it for myself, I really could not visualize it.

India is about one-third the size of the U.S. geographically, but has almost four times the population. The United States has a population of roughly 325 million people, while India has a population of over 1.3 billion – over 400 million of them being children!! Yep, India has almost 25 percent more children than the United States has in total population!

Just a little more trivia. The United States has 31.27 persons per square kilometer (a square kilometer is 247.1 acres) or one person for every 7.9 acres. India, on the other hand, has 343.68 persons per square kilometer, or one person for every 0.71 acres. You take away all the uninhabitable land area of mountains, marshes, lakes, streets, buildings, etc. – that makes for one heavily populated and crowded place!

Sadly, 31 percent of the children around the world under 5 years old who are stunted from malnutrition live in India. It is estimated, in some regions of India, 64-71 percent of the children are either stunted or have retarded cognitive development due to malnutrition. In most cases this is irreversible. World Bank data indicates that India has one of the world’s highest demographics of children suffering from malnutrition – said to be twice that of Sub-Saharan Africa. India’s Global Hunger Index ranking of 67 among the 80 nations with the worst hunger situation places them even below North Korea or Sudan. It is reported that in India 44 percent of children under 5 are significantly underweight and 72 percent of infants suffer from anemia.

There are a number of reasons for these high rates of malnutrition and child mortality, but they all eventually go back to inadequate protein intake (or the inability to absorb protein). Some of this is due to lack of breast milk, a high-carbohydrate diet lacking protein (mainly rice is eaten every meal), and diseases from contaminated drinking water and poor hygiene. Even in places where water may be available within a reasonable distance, only 40 percent of households have toilets of some type. It is estimated that 60 percent of India’s population still practice open defecation, leading to more contamination of water and food sources, increased parasite absorption and higher incidences of typhoid. The lack of flushing toilets and handwashing practices not only complicates the matter for everyone but they have a greater impact on girls and women, who are more susceptible to infections affecting their bodies and the babies they carry in pregnancy. High rates of illiteracy contribute to all of these problems.

In response to the incredibly high occurrences of preventable diseases, defects and deaths among children, Cattle for Christ is working as part of a much broader and holistic evangelistic strategy all linked together to address these issues. The strategy includes pastor training and church planting, providing a quality education for children, providing greater access to safe and clean drinking water by digging water wells, treating children for internal parasites, and educating families and children on basic hygiene and handwashing practices.

To help make these programs self-sustainable, we are also working to provide water buffalo, cows, sheep and goats for families to have access to milk products and adequate protein in their diet. These animals will also provide a source of revenue so families can eventually send their children to school, purchase some medicines and be able to purchase sanitation supplies.

In India, we can provide three water buffalo or three cows to a pastor’s family for $1,100. Three lactating or bred sheep or goats can be provided for $600-$650. These animals will help sustain the pastor while he devotes his time to ministry and will enable him to train others in animal husbandry and other skills so eventually the entire village will be able to sustain themselves in some way. The dung from the livestock is used to cover the walls of the huts and when dried is used as a fuel source to make fires to keep warm or to cook over.

In these remote villages, it is most often the heavily persecuted church-planting pastors that Cattle for Christ helps to train with our Cattle for Christ TRAILBLAZER players. These pastors are the ones who coordinate, initiate and facilitate the work. They are often persecuted, rejected and beaten, but as they continue to go to, love and minister to the needs of the people, they are eventually able to build some relationships so all the other work can gradually be implemented. These acts of sharing the love of Christ open the doors for sharing the Gospel message of Christ, church planting and discipleship. All of these are needed for the people to be able to reverse the common practices leading not only to childhood deaths and malnutrition but also to the other detrimental social, physical and spiritual practices.

In years past, Cattle for Christ has been involved in a lot of church planting and church-building construction in unchurched and underchurched areas around the world, but that has changed through the years as we have learned better and more strategic ways of meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the people. Though we are still very much involved in pastor training and church planting, we no longer put a strong emphasis on church buildings (for a variety of reasons). However, there are extreme cases like these in the hard places where pastors walk long distances (sometimes days) to visit the people in these very remote villages where there are no Christian churches. In these cases, a church building is needed as a place for the pastor to stay, for the people to meet, for training to take place and for children to be educated. However, these church buildings do not need to be westernized; they just need a place that is safe, shaded and dry. The churches we help build usually cost $1,500-$4,500 and the people in the community do the construction. The focus remains on the people and not the building; however, the building facilitates the holistic work, all of which is part of our broader, strategic plan to share the Gospel message and the love of Christ Jesus.

Water wells to provide clean drinking water are critical in reducing such diseases as typhoid and diarrhea that make the people’s digestive systems unable to absorb the limited nutrients consumed. Price ranges for these wells vary from country to country. In the remote villages of India, where most of the water is contaminated due to under-regulation, overpopulation, pollution, lack of septic systems, open defecation, etc., the need for safe drinking water is critical and the price is very low when compared with the overall benefits to the health of the people. A 100- to 200-foot deep, hand-pump-operated well can be installed for $1,000-$1,500. The average cost of sending a child we are working with in India to school is $30 a month if they live with their own family. This includes lunch, books and uniform. Because it is unlawful (and strictly enforced by the current Hindu regime) in India to teach anything religious in a licensed school, it is critical we help place children in schools where there is an intentionally placed network of Christian teachers and leadership who can love and minister to the children in school, and also minister to and share the Gospel with them and their families outside the school. In the remote places where there are no schools, the rules cannot be as heavily enforced as in larger communities, so the pastors often start their own schools inside their homes or church buildings and teach what they can, including the Bible.

There are several children we are helping who were living as orphans in their villages and have been unofficially adopted by the pastors. Total care for these children (a Christian-home environment, safe shelter, school, three meals a day, routine medical care, supervision, clothing, etc.) averages $100 per month. To visualize the real numbers of children who need our help, keep in mind what we have already discussed: there are 25 percent more children in India than the total population of the United States!

India is just one country of many with such great need where Cattle for Christ is working. We are also addressing these same needs as part of our overall strategic approach to share the Gospel message and the love of Christ here at home, in Africa, the Middle East and other places around the world. None of this happens without the financial and other support of those who partner with us in our ministry efforts.

As you, your family and your church celebrate the birth of Jesus and all the ways He has blessed you this Christmas season, please think about what you can do to help us bless His children who will otherwise have no hope or reason to celebrate. We know we can’t save them all – but by working together – we can save millions while sharing the love and Good News of the God who came and gave Himself to eternally SAVE all! It’s overwhelming, but it’s doable!

Please contact us today to at 334-333-4400 to see how you can help, or donate online at www.cattleforchrist.com. Thanks for your partnership and Merry Christmas!

 

Glenn Crumpler is is president of Cattle for Christ International, Inc. He can be contacted at 334-393-4700 (home), 333-4400 (mobile) or www.CattleforChrist.com.