By: Melissa White, CVM Fieldstaff serving in India
This year Christian Veterinary Mission is celebrating its 40th anniversary and I am celebrating eight wonderful years of service with them! It all started with a three month trip to Mongolia in 2007 when I felt God calling me to serve in Asia long-term. At the time I was the first veterinary technician to become a long-term fieldstaff with CVM and now I’m the first long-term fieldstaff to be living in India. Even though I have been with CVM for some time, I still occasionally get questions from people asking, “What in the world does starting a goat farm or vaccinating pigs have to do with the Gospel?” In case you’re secretly asking this, I wanted to share the vision that God has given to me to reach some very hard to reach people groups here in India.
It all started last year when I went to a very remote mountain village called Longshol, which in the local tribal language means “broken stone.” It’s a very appropriate name considering the path to the village is so rocky it takes 45 minutes to travel less than a mile. I went there to do some surveys and ended up meeting with almost every family in the village—110 households! Most families were from a tribal group professing Buddhism. In one part of the village there were a handful of Christians and three very small churches. Although it was encouraging seeing churches there, I found out that there had never been any conversions from Buddhism to Christianity in the village and none of the churches had permanent residing pastors. When I returned to India this year I felt like God was putting it on my heart to work in Longshol village. It’s three hours away from the town where I am living, has no electricity, and is difficult to access by road during the rainy season. But I have learned that if God puts something on your heart, you can’t ignore it!
So in February I chose three young men in the village to train to be animal health workers. Each one is from a different church (both Protestant and Catholic) and has a genuine desire to reach out to their community. They have been incredibly enthusiastic about doing the animal work and even spent an entire day in the POURING RAIN vaccinating animals! Each of the three guys has been assigned a different area of their village to provide services to, and this will eventually be a great source of income for them. What’s most encouraging is that they each have a strong desire to use these new skills to build relationships and share their faith with their Buddhist neighbors. The three churches in this village have never come together to do anything before and they are just starting to catch the vision of what it means for the church to be a light in a dark place!
After many trips to Longshol I started realizing that most families had very little to no sources of steady income. They kept telling me that when they needed money they would just sell a goat. But it takes two years for the goats to reach just 10kg—we’re talking very small and inbred goats! That got me thinking that it would be beneficial to start raising better quality goats to breed and distribute to needy families. So I found some land to lease and am starting a small goat breeding and training farm! We hope to begin distributing quality breeding goats to Longshol this fall, and eventually distribute chickens, cows, and pigs as well. This too will be a joint project of all three of the small village churches and will provide great opportunities for outreach.
Training the animal health workers and distributing goats is just the beginning. As I continue to spend time there I hope to touch on other needs as well, including alternative sources of income for the farmers, rain water harvesting, improved education for the children, and most importantly, Bible teaching and discipleship. Before coming to India I had big visions of starting a huge training farm, but since being here God has really put it on my heart to invest fully in one village at a time and to use a small training farm to breed quality animals and model to farmers sustainable ways of supporting their families through agriculture. While working in the remote village God has been showing me his heart: to see HIS church be a light in a very dark place. If God wants to use goats to accomplish this, then who are we to question it? This is what Christian Veterinary Mission is all about and I am so blessed to be part of such a wonderful organization. Through my years of service with them I have learned that the God we serve is not conventional and missions doesn’t have to be either.
Want to hear more from Melissa? Visit her webpage and sign up for her prayer letter!