Some of my favorite church services are those when missionaries are visiting and speaking about their ministries. I love hearing their stories about things that are happening, whether they are foreign missionaries or serving in the United States.
When we were living in Illinois our church had the pleasure of hosting Huldah Buntain, who is an AG missionary to India. She's one I'd heard about throughout the years and if there had to be "famous" missionaries, I would consider her a well-known woman.
Huldah's story is pretty cool. She and her husband, Mark, and their daughter boarded a ship to India in 1954, expecting to spend a year there in ministry. It is 2009, and she is still there, even after her husband passed in 1984. From what I remember, her daughter was just a baby when they boarded that ship and as any of us with kids know, a car trip, let alone a number-of-days-trip to India, is tough stuff.
Today, Calcutta Mercy Ministries is involved with inner city outreach, the ministry feeds 25,000 people daily, and offers the services of a full general hospital, among other ministries.
When Mrs. Buntain was scheduled to speak at our church in Troy, our pastor and his wife were unavailable to host she and her traveling companion when they arrived in St. Louis. Sabian and I were asked to pick them up from the airport, take them to dinner, make sure they were settled in their hotel, and then get them to church in the morning.
Upon their arrival in St. Louis, Mrs. Buntain and her friend arrived safely, but her luggage did not. It was scheduled to arrive on another flight the next morning. But wait...she was to be speaking at church in the morning. What about her toothbrush? PJs? Clothes for church?
From what I recall, we took a detour to Wal-mart and it was decided that I would head back to the airport in the morning, get her suitcase, take it to our house so she could get ready, and then get them to church. That last part wouldn't be too hard considering we lived about 100 yards from the church.
Amazingly, all went as planned and we made it to church on time and ready to hear what Mrs. Buntain had to teach us about the awesome things happening in India. It was such a pleasure to spend that time with her, getting to know her as a person, hearing her testimony, and listening to what their ministry is doing. She was also interested in who we were and what we did at church with the youth group.
I receive the monthly newsletters from her ministry via email and occasionally receive something in the mail. Several months ago something in a mailing caught my eye. I cut it out and posted it on the refrigerator, only to forget about it until it caught my eye again this week.
An arm of their ministry is called Children Need Love. This ministry offers several ways for people like you and me to get involved, including making a trip to India as a volunteer. While that would be an incredible opportunity to take advantage of, I know that many of us aren't able to do it. At least, not at the moment. The great thing is that we can all do something so simple, right from our homes.
Send a card to a child in India. Choose a card from their website, add a personal note, and the card will be printed and given to a child who is receiving free treatment in the Calcutta Mercy Hospital.
It's that simple. It's just like sending another email, updating your status on Facebook, or letting the world know what you're doing on Twitter, only the encouragement you can offer by taking five minutes to do this will mean so much more.
Today I am thankful for people like Mrs. Buntain and her husband. It's pretty cool to see that what they started so many years ago has grown and is doing so much for the people of India. I am also thankful for the opportunity to have spent some time with her.