A change of heart brings lasting change to a rural community in Southern Asia
In a rural village in Southern Asia*, Mrs. Nirmala lived a Christian life with little impact in her community because she didn’t believe she could help her neighbors. And it didn’t seem that they wanted her help, slandering her and her family. “With that attitude towards me, how can I make a difference?” she thought.
A Community Problem Becomes a Personal Opportunity
Waste is one of the recurring problems we see in rural, impoverished villages. Garbage and sewage aren’t government issues like in America. In this village, the smell was so horrid from the open drainage that people would stay indoors rather than enjoying cool evenings outside. This community problem became a personal opportunity for Nirmala and her daughter.
When our team came to talk with her and her family, we discussed how Christians have to humble themselves and serve others. Feelings of resentment from gossip and slander, which Christian’s worldwide are prone to, can keep us from shining the light of Christ to our neighbors (Luke 11:33). “How can you impact your community?” we asked. Nirmala had an answer right away: the sewage problem. What better way to help than address a problem affecting everyone!
So, one Sunday after church, Nirmala and her daughter decided to clean the drainage that was causing the whole community to smell. This wasn’t a fun job. They got dirty. The smell was horrible. The danger was real, even with precautionary measures, as many diseases that passed through contact live in sewage and garbage. Their neighbors mocked them behind their backs. But this selfless act sparked something: not only did the drainage system look better, it smelled better. In place of the stench was an openness amongst the community. As a result, the minds and hearts of neighbors’ started to change towards Nirmala.
An Act of Humility Brings a Community Together
Being empowered to change the practical through a change of heart has brought joy to Nirmala and her family. When they set out again to clean the drainage the next Sunday, their neighbors joined them. The mocking stopped, as believers and unbelievers in this rural community began working together. Now, the foul smells and threat of illness are gone. The tension between them and their neighbors has been relieved as families now sit outside at night spending time with each other.
Because of this act of humility and love, two new people in the community began to attend church. The gospel has been shared with them and their lives are being changed by God’s grace. A small change of heart cleaned up a neighborhood, brought peace to broken relationships and drew people into the Kingdom of God. It is amazing what empowering the marginalized can do to impact the world around us!
*Due to Christian persecution, we are unable to specify the country or last names of our partners.