Gospel for Asia: Let the Koya Praise Him
- Thursday, April 22, 2004
Delirious with fever, young Tamu lay dying of malaria in the thatched mud house that was his home. His father and mother, a poor Koya tribal couple, were numbed by the familiar scene. They had buried four children already, all taken by malaria. Surely the gods would have mercy and allow their last surviving child to live?
Following their ancestral ways, they sought help from the village shaman. He could ward off any evil spirits at work, they hoped. But there was no change. At that point Tamu's father borrowed money from relatives so he could take his son to the nearest hospital 65 kilometers away. That, too, failed. Doctors said there was nothing they could do.
Then word came about the missionary living nearby who prayed for the sick. Grasping his last hope, the father begged Pastor Singham to pray for Tamu. Unlike the shaman or the doctors, however, Singham did not ask for money. He simply laid hands on the boy and prayed to Almighty God in the name of Jesus. Three days later Tamu was healed.
This miracle 11 years ago sparked a wonderful move of the Holy Spirit among this Koya tribal community in central India. Tamu and his parents became the first believers in the area. Today more than 200 people have received Jesus as Lord. Another 60 show genuine interest in the Gospel.
Behind this dynamic work stands a native missionary couple pouring out their lives among the Koya people. Meet Pastor Singham Vedur and his wife, Anika, who live in a tribal village with their two sons, ages 11 and 10.
Like their neighbors, 33-year-old Singham and his family live without a phone and often with no electricity (the power supply is sporadic). The Koya are primarily hunters and farmers, growing grains and vegetables with rain as their only source of irrigation. Last year there was drought. Fields that should have stood tall with wheat were empty, the soil baked dry by the sun. "Many people," says Singham, "migrated to other places for survival."
He and his family pulled together with the others who stayed behind. Unless God said go, they would not abandon the people He had called them to serve.
With an easygoing manner, Singham teaches believers the Scriptures, holds prayer meetings in homes, and prays for the sick. He is always ready to give someone a Gospel tract or New Testament, and he's not afraid to use a megaphone in open-air preaching so his voice will carry. His ministry extends to 12 other villages, bringing 4,000 people into his sphere of influence.
Singham's deep longing is to see Koya souls made alive in Jesus. What makes him unique among GFA's missionaries is that he also provides basic medical care for the sick.
"I Am Available"
A man has come seeking treatment for a skin rash. Singham sterilizes a syringe before giving an injection. The money for the medicine, along with the aspirin and other supplies he has on hand, comes out of his own pocket. Recently a girl came to him with a staph infection. Every day he treats around 10 people.
"No doctor is available here," he says. In the early days of his ministry, as he went sharing Jesus door-to-door, the need for health care and better hygiene kept coming before his eyes. "I saw people suffering from so many sicknesses," he recalls.
"People are attentive when I share the Gospel after giving medical treatment," he explains. "They come to my house even at midnight ... sometimes 3 o'clock in the morning. Whatever time they come, I am available."
A Man Prepared by God
Looking back he sees how the Lord carefully prepared him for this work. When Singham was a boy, his father took a teaching job among a Koya community. With his two brothers and two sisters, Singham grew up - not far from where he now lives - speaking Koya as easily as his native Telugu. Over the years he learned to see inside the Koya heart.
By the time the Lord called him to ministry in 1992, he already had much of the sacrificial love and compassion that fuel his ministry today.
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