was the ironic comment my father habitually made when rain lashed the windows of my childhood home…and it has become a family saying in his honour (I always wondered if he might in fact have once seen it rain up…such was the gloomy surprise in his voice). In the last week there’s been lots of it “coming down” in the UK…some deaths, and huge damaage and inconvenience…
But over the weekend this was put firmly into perspetive for me. Some readers may remember that when I was in India last winter, I travelled with the clergy from my host diocese of Karnataka Central to a clergy conference attended by 3 dioceses of the Church of South India. There I was befriended by Dharma Das, a CSI priest working in a desperately poor area of Andhra Pradesh . I was humbled when he told me that he generally receives no stipend and is dependent on his congregation (and his wife’s salary as a teacher) to meet the family’s needs. When the harvest fails, as it does too often, he goes hungry alongside his people. His diocese, Nandyal, was a mission field for Anglo-Catholic missionaries in the nineteenth century, who had left a legacy of sacramental theology and a love of ritual (always very close to the Indian heart) which meant that my descriptions of life at St M’s were music to his ears. While we were at Kanyakumari one of his daughters celebrated her 6th birthday, and Dharma was determined that as an English Aunty (the term adopted by all well brought up Indian children – a bit disconcerting at first) I should be the first to speak to her when he telephoned to wish her well on the big day. Quite what the poor child made of an unknown woman blathering away in an unknown language I’ll never know..but for Dharma this sealed our connection. Alone of all the clergy I met and made friends with, Dharma has been a regular emailer since I got home. He is such an enthusiast….(indeed, he on occasions signs himself “your excited brother in Christ") - reading his emails brings him instantly to mind, thin, energetic, passionate about his faith, his church, and the wonder of 2 people from such different contexts meeting and becoming friends at the southern tip of India. Just remembering makes me smile.
hello, sister kathyrin, greetings in the name of our lord and saviour jesus chrise. i learned menty things about anglican church in england. regulerly iam praying about st marys church. i red the church in internet.it is 800years old church. it is right? recently i started one out reach ministry about SLUMS. we reach the people and pray the needy and also preach the gospel. please pray for me. convey wishes to russel st marys chuch and your family bye sister yours ANNA DHARMADAS
(Anna is "brother" in Telegu)
At Easter he wrote to tell me of a new mission church his struggling congregation had planted in a slum area of Kornool…. His excitement rippled off the page….
Dear loving sister in christ, greetings ,
we celebreted EASTER service very meaningfully,
ON THAT DAY WE START ONE CHURCH(HUT) IN SLUMS AREA CHURCH NAME CALLED RESURECTION CHURCH.. WE APOINTED ONE LADY EVANGELIST.
KARNATAKA CENTRAL DIOCESE HELPED THE EVANGELIST VERY FEW SALORY. OUR BISHOP P.J.LAWRENCE OPENED THE CHURCH.
PLEASE PRAY FOR CONTINUATION OF THE SERVICE.
WE WANT TO BYE THE LAND FOR CHURCH
PLEASE PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY.
CONVEY MY WISHES TO YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS.
PLEASE KEEP IN TOUCH THROUGH ONLINE. THANK YOU. DHARMA
But I heard from him again on Saturday – in very diffrerent vein. There has been extensive and a mini tsunami in his area of Andhra Pradesh. His people’s homes have been swept away. The mission church is under water. The people are “hopeless mentally and physically”, their homes and the staples of their lives lost together with many of their families.
As so often, Dharma ended his email PRAY PRAY PRAY
Please join me, if you would. I’m trying to find a way to get money to him for his congregation…over 100 families are now without shelter and I’m fearful for my friend too. The body of Christ feels very real – but tonight it’s a body in pain .