Chittoor is the one of the most important districts located in the state of Andhra Pradesh. According to the government census, most of the families live below the poverty line. Poverty in Chittoor district affects most areas of an individual’s life—lack of employment, low income generation and food shortages. This district is one of the most unreached districts, with only 0.8% Christians. This is one of the areas where Operation Saturation has begun the TCT program.
Kanthamma is one individual who was touched by the love of Jesus, portrayed through the church. She comes from a poverty-stricken family. She worshipped 33 million gods and village deity. In 2006 she was married and was blessed with two sons, but her dreams were quickly shattered. Her husband was addicted to alcohol, drugs and smoking, which dragged the family into poverty. She was physically abused. Her children’s education suffered because she could not send them to school. Kanthamma was very depressed with her life and lost all hope for her future. Just as she felt it couldn’t get worse, her husband passed away as a result of years of excessive drinking. According to the beliefs of the community, widows are bad omens. They are looked down upon and are not respected by anyone in the community, even their own family.
Ray of hope
Although Kanthamma felt like there was nothing to live for, the Bible says otherwise in Isaiah 61:3: ‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified’ (ESV).
Kanthamma saw that her neighbours who attended church were living transformed lives. She wanted to attend church, but because of the traditional, religious values and their staunch beliefs, she refused to attend church and also stopped talking to the neighbours. But the work of the Holy Spirit is amazing! She heard the Gospel through the church speakers and started to attend church. Her family members and in-laws warned her not to go to church, but she still made plans to attend church because of the peace that she found there. Over time, she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour. However, because of her decision to follow Christ she was sent out of her home and cut off from all of her family. She had mixed feelings of dejection and peace at the same time. Kanthamma felt like her life had hit rock bottom, but she didn’t give up hope in Jesus.
The church saw her situation and came to her aid. Since the church had been studying TCT, they knew that this was an opportunity to serve. Despite being financially poor and low-literate, they came forward to take care of Kanthamma and her two children. They did not consider them to be a burden, but a responsibility and opportunity to show the love of Jesus. They formed a committee and planned to build a shelter for Kanthamma. The 20 members of the church pooled some finances from their daily wages and gathered Rs. 3,900, with which they were able to buy 4 roofing sheets and 4 cement poles to build a small house for Kanthamma’s family. Today she is an active member of the church, is studying TCT, and has also started helping others in the community.