India: Belonging to a Family of Families

By R. Thinagaran Richard, India

In Chelluru village, Andhra Pradesh, Pastor Sekhar Babu and the El-Shaddai church ministry team shared the gospel to one Appla Raju, who was on his sick bed suffering from HIV due to medical negligence. He, his wife, Bangari Parwath, and their teenaged daughter, Soundariya, were abandoned by their biological families. As the family accepted the gospel, they were baptized into the church. As he was not able to earn for daily living, the church families provided monthly groceries and helped the girl in her schooling.

When Appla Raju got strength to move around and started petty works, he met with an accident in the train while crossing the track and died on the spot. The dependent family got some compensation from the railway. As soon as the news spread out, all his relatives schemed to grab the money. The church families intervened, protected the two ladies and took care of them. The church leaders guided them to construct a house, as they were living in a mud hut. But the money the family had was not sufficient to build a house. So the church families took their turn, did a major help in daily manual work; some met the financial needs for a particular job like painting, electrical works, carpentry, etc. I, too, visited while the construction was at the finishing stage and painted the windows as my part.

The church families supported their daughter’s education until she got a job. Later the church families became fully involved in her marriage. At her wedding, the church invited people as 'El-Shaddai Church Families Daughter’s Wedding.'

When I asked them how they got the concept, the pastor Sekhar Babu’s wife, Mercy, gladly told me, "This is what you teach us—the church is a Family of Families. We practice it.”

The church pastor and elders lead small groups in the churches through all The First Principles series of BILD.