Our 2013 program began with some drama, as Donell Peck, who was slated to travel to both India and Africa, tore a muscle in her leg two days before our flights. Donell missed India, but thanks to a lot of prayer on two continents, was able to meet Carrie Miles in Africa.
Minus Donell, Carrie Miles (Orange, California) and David Nutter (Herndon, Virginia) met in Frankfurt, Germany and flew together to Coimbatore, India. There we were met by our host, Dr. W. S. Vedha, who took us to the small town of Pollachi.
We were interested to learn that many of the people in this seminar were the lowest or “untouchable” caste. Even the leaders here are poor, and almost no one spoke English. The Bishop’s son, Anbarasu, or Anbu, came from some distance to translate for us. We met in a retreat center, now allowed to mostly go to ruin, some distance out of town. The beautiful Pollachi countryside is used for filming Bollywood movies, and we enjoyed the lovely coconut plantations surrounding the center.
During the first day of the seminar, participants everywhere work in small groups through the Genesis material. In Genesis 1, they learn that God created woman as well as man in God’s image. In Genesis 2, that woman was created as a help face-to-face to the man – not as just a housemaid and child bearer. In Genesis 3, participants discover that the man was with the woman during the temptation (Gen 3:6) and that only the serpent and the ground, not the people, were cursed in the Fall.
By the end of first day, some of the women were in tears. They had been taught from the pulpit, all their lives, that they are the source of all evil, and cursed by God. Imagine, in a culture that practices witchcraft, how it feels to believe that you are cursed by God. As Carrie finished the final debriefing on Genesis 3, she was surprised when the participants began to cheer, “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!” What good news!
And the men were glad as well as the women. Pastor Vedha remarked afterward that if one preached this message for a year, the men would not have accepted women’s equality and freedom from the curse. With the Bible-study, small group method we use, however, the men understood and accepted this radical new teaching, as they understood just how Jesus frees them as well as women from the cruelty of the belief that God discriminates against people based on caste, ethnicity, gender, or wealth. And with Paul’s emphasis on agape love, affection, and mutual submission, marriage suddenly becomes a whole new experience. Just take a look at the photos of some of the couples to get an appreciation for how life had suddenly changed for the better!
Coming soon: information abour our exciting gala dinner in Fairfax, Virginia; link to photo album; reports from Ahmedabad, India; Uganda, and Burundi.
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