Pedaling Past the Scars
By ICC’s South Asia Team
04/18/2022 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The Kandhamal anti-Christian riots changed everything. Lives lost, homes destroyed, futures gone. About 52,000 Indian Christians were displaced during that 2008 persecution incident, and though over a decade has passed, most have not returned home. The Christian community needs rebuilding, a mission which Pastor Nayak believes he is specifically called to fulfill.
His heartfelt dedication to God is reflected in a lifetime of service, overcoming many obstacles to take part in an extraordinary outreach effort. As ICC’s field team observed, “Pastor Nayak pedals through unhealed scars from the past riots.” He knows each of the villages personally. As Pastor Nayak shared with ICC, “I had a burden to reach out to the people with the gospel in 42 villages in Raikia block because there is a very little scope for people to hear the gospel.”
Pastor Nayak is the only church planter who has been faithfully ministering to these eastern-central Indian villages in the last 19 years. Throughout most of his ministry, he lacked transportation and thus traveled on foot to most of these villages. The solution was simple: a bicycle.
“I am so thankful that my ability to visit these villages has increased many times. Because of the bicycle provided to me by ICC, my desire even grew, and I am much more motivated,” said the pastor.
ICC provided Pastor Nayak’s bicycle through the Bikes and Bibles program, which was launched to empower 1,000 rural church planters in India. Ministry leaders in India are often in Pastor Nayak’s shoes, and thus their ministry is limited to how far they can travel by foot. A gift of a bicycle allows church planters, such as Pastor Nayak, the opportunity to access more villages on a regular basis. These evangelists are also gifted Bibles so that new disciples can have access to the written Word of God.
“Prior to receiving the [bicycle], it used to take months for me to cover all the 42 villages, but now I take advantage of the transportation tool and visit more often now,” he explained.
Many of those under Nayak’s pastoral care also suffer additional hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When speaking with Pastor Nayak, ICC’s field staff observed how “he is glad that God is using him to counsel people and share the message of hope, as people are gripped with fear due to corona.”
The pandemic creates opportunity for further reflection on just how deeply scarred the community remains because of the anti-Christian riots in 2008. Hundreds of churches and Christian institutions were destroyed, and at least 100 Christians were murdered. Fear of renewed persecution remains hidden underneath the community’s surface. For Pastor Nayak, he pedals throughout these villages with a promise.
“Jesus is the only hope for these forest dwellers, I thank God for this [bicycle] which carries the message of healing and reconciliation,” he shared. A special gift with a significant impact. Pastor Nayak is but one of many ICC beneficiaries who have put to use a new bicycle and allowed God to bless it in the continuation of his work.
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