It was in November 1982, the very early years of my ministry. I remember very well one day when I traveled the whole day and reached this house at dark. This was the house of a rural style, freelance evangelist in the interior Punjab. It was four hundred kilometers from my home town of Rawalpindi. When I reached their home, the evangelist’s wife asked their neighbor for cooked lentils or vegetables. In the rural areas, only walls separate the houses. People are used to talk with one another above the wall, especially the ladies.
The lady of the house said to the neighbor, “We have a guest. If you have some cooked lentil or vegetable please give it to us.”
I listened and was not happy to hear those words (I could smell and feel the circumstances surrounding this family who represented the majority of people living in rural areas). The evangelist’s wife had no vegetables in their home. The neighbor provided so my hostess was able to offer me a meal.
My lunch box contained a boiled egg that was left over so I shared it among the six
children in the family. As I shared it, my heart hurt to see the life of these children. How they live and how their parents raise them. There may be several factors contributing to the poverty of these kids’ parents, but they were really poor and needy.
This incident left a deep impression on my mind—for these children and for the people in the area. Now, almost thirty years later this incident is fresh in my mind as if it took place yesterday. I can visualize the room where I sat, the dim light of the kerosene oil lantern, the mud house, and outside the dusty street where the carts were moving past. The dust powder from that traffic was in the air hurting the breathing system.
I believe this is how Lord called me into the rural areas to serve Him. This is how the Lord reinforced my call to the poor people outside of the cities who are in dire need of both spiritual and social uplifting. In our nation we have a population of one hundred and ninety million people. More than seventy percent of our population lives in the rural areas.
Nobody goes to them to share the Gospel because they do not give big offerings. They only give at the time of harvest. People think it as a disadvantages of living in rural areas. It is not easy to travel to those areas because the local buses are broken and are overcrowded. You often have to travel on the roof of the bus and that’s one of the bad things about rural areas. This is the most neglected segment of our population.
We thank God that by His grace we are able to train local evangelists. Now there is a group of forty at work. They reach more than two hundred separate areas. In the year 2010 we baptized ninety-five people in these different areas. The evangelists take care of the local people. They are trained, encouraged, and supported. These local evangelists own the ministry and the Lord is blessing the labor of these precious servants of God.
God is good indeed. God is good all the time.