Presence, Service, Proclamation

The following is the message by Subbaro Yarlagadda he presented at the 2019 Curry Bash.

Some of my own people ask me why I am a Christian and all this trouble is it worth it? Summer time in Indiana and winter time in Florida. Big screen TV. LG. Life is good. Some of our friends ask us “Why do you go to all this trouble? Is it worth it?”

First of all and best of all Christ is my salvation, my here after, my eternal life. In Christ there is no death and I don’t want to die. That’s why I am a Christian and it’s all worth it. 

I met a little man from the untouchable caste when I was in Chiluvuru. His name was Yacobu, a Christian. He always had a smile on his face. He never blamed anybody for his poverty or the social status that he was born into. He always would say everything is God’s grace. I saw this man wash John Murray’s feet when John stepped into human feces. He washed the feet with his bare hands. That was a great foot washing ceremony Anabaptist style. I saw different. I saw Jesus Christ washing John Murray’s sins off and Jesus Christ washing the sins of each one of us that’s involved in this project. In this humble, generous, and kind, untouchable Christian that I saw our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why I am a Christian and it’s all worth it.

I met a man in front of our clinic. He didn’t have any legs. Both his legs are gone. He had an improvised, hand built wheel chair. He cranks it on the side that moves him forward. One day I asked him how he is doing. I sure thought he will ask me for some money. That’s all we money people can think. You know, he didn’t ask me for my help, he didn’t ask me for a dollar, he didn’t even ask me for a plug nickel. With a smile on his face, he said “by the grace of almighty God, I am doing fine”. Through him I heard the grace of God. In him I saw the Grace of God.  At that precise moment I felt the grace of God. That’s why I am a Christian and it’s all worth it.

Menno Clinic India

One time we took a group of nursing students to Chiluvuru. One of the things we did was we took the group to a local Government run hospital. It was so busy and not so clean. We saw a man scooting on the floor trying to get to his place in this big building. He lost both his legs. He didn’t have a wheel chair like the other person. He couldn’t afford it. This man was scooting on the floor of a germ infested hospital. He didn’t blame anybody, he didn’t ask for any help from anybody, even though we wished we carried him on our shoulders which we didn’t. He was serene, he wanted to live one scoot at a time. In this man I saw Christ scooting and asking some Christian people help him. In this scooting man I saw my salvation. That’s why I am a Christian and it’s all worth it.

This lady came to our eye hospital. She had a serious blood clot in her eye. Our Optometrician attended to her. Jane Kauffman, Brenda Yoder, and I were there watching this. We asked our optometrician what was the matter. She said that woman is 8 months pregnant. Her husband got drunk and beat her up causing damage (blood clot) to her eye. Choked in my own tears, I saw Christ in the tears of her newly born. She will have a healthy baby because our generosity helping her in more than one way as we give them counseling also. In the tears of her newly born, I saw my salvation. In the tears of her newly born I saw your salvation. In the tears of her newly born I saw our collective salvation. That’s why I am a Christian and that’s why I do what I do for those that are wondering. And yes it’s all worth it.  

Olga and I went to see Robert Lambright in his final days. Such grace, such style, such courage he was. Before we left, Robert said how much he loved my family. With tears of emotion He said he loved his family. He said he loved Lord Jesus Christ as his savior. Olga and I were Hindus then. In his last tears of emotion and affection, I saw victory over death to those that are in our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s exactly why I am a Christian and it’s all worth it.

A long time ago one day I got a phone call from my son that my daughter-in-Law had brain tumor. Olga and I  were so devastated. Harvey Chupp and Carolyn Chupp came over to our home before we started driving to Boston to be with my son. Olga and I cried on Harvey’s shoulders. Now and then Harvey still lends me his shoulder. In his wet shoulder and his prayer I found strength, comfort, and healing in our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why I am a Christian and it’s all worth it.

Goldie Lambright. When I saw her, I didn’t see Goldie.  I saw kindness, I saw generosity, I saw humility, I saw faith, and I saw our Lord Jesus Christ. I never ever forgot once she told me on our journey to the Mennonite World Conference in Calcutta, India. She heard me say someone, I am a Mennonite. She told me son, we are Christian First and Mennonite next. I understand what she means perfectly.

Be a Christian First. 

When you meet a Hindu on the road you give him a hug and talk to him as if you have known him through many reincarnations. You talk to him like you were his family from the previous life. That my brethren is Christian first.

When you meet an untouchable. You touch him gently and let him know in Christ there is no upper caste and lower caste. That my brethren is Christian first.

When you meet a muslim you say  “salaama Lekum” and give him an old Hyderabadi hug and make him feel we are one in God. That my brethren is Christian First.

Why our mission project has been so successful?

Presence, Service, Proclamation and in that order.

When John Murray washed Yacobu’s feet we were present in flesh and in Christ.

When we walked the streets of village we were present in flesh and in Christ.

When we healed almost 100 people a day through our clinics, we were present in flesh and in Christ.

When we sang praise to our Lord Jesus Christ with the locals in our church, we were present. In flesh, and in Christ

When we went to the untouchable area by defying the traditions, customs, and taboo, boldly saying that in Christ there is no upper caste and lower caste. We were present. In flesh and in Christ

When we visited the Christian, Hindu, and Muslim families and broke bread with them, we were present in flesh and in Christ.

When a paraplegic young man in a wheel chair in the untouchable area asked John Murray to pray for him,  John stretched out his hands and prayed for him passionately. That young man passed away later. Through his life and death we were present in flesh and in our Lord Jesus Christ.

A Muslim neighbor of ours came to our clinic on a regular basis. He was an alcoholic and never took care of his high blood pressure. He had massive enlarged heart. He was in his deathbed. Dr. Jay and I went to see him. Him being Muslim and us being Christian, we asked him whether Jay can pray for him? His face lit up and he said he love that very much. Jay laid his hands and prayed for him. Prayers don’t have language barriers.

In few days this Muslim neighbor of ours passed away. In his life and in his death, we were present in flesh, and in Christ Jesus.

About the Proclamation now.  I have seen people standing on the street corners and yelling at you “Hey do you know Jesus?” To me that’s not proclamation. That’s yelling.

A guy, brother of one of the farmers I know was introduced to me. I was a Hindu then. He was a missionary in Newzealand or some place. When I was introduced,  he came close to me, put his finger on my chest, pressed it hard and said “Your God is a stone God. Your God is a dead God. You worship a stone”. That’s not proclamation that’s insulting and rude.

I know a family left everything here and went to DR and built homes and whatever that was needed for the locals. They could have stayed here in a job and made a lot of money. When you meet them you know that Christ resides in that family’s heart. When you meet this family you know the God they worship. That’s proclamation. That family is proclaiming to me the story of Jesus Christ each and every day. 

There is a young lady from this church that I know well. I saw her grow up. She could marry a young man, building up a career, making money. She gives up all this, leaves her family, takes risks, and goes to Mexico to work in an orphanage. The world says why is she doing this? She is proclaiming to me the life of Jesus Christ each and every day that I get up. That’s Proclamation.

A young lady in Chiluvuru came to us and said “ I am a Christian now because of you, your presence and your service”. That’s proclamation done in style.

It was said Presence, Service, Proclamation and in that order. 

After all these years, I have learnt something very different. 

I have learned Presence is proclamation. There is no 3rd step

This feeble Old lady came in front of us with her folded hands right in front our eye hospital and said she can see now because of our generosity. She knows us and she knows our Lord Jesus Christ and she knows the God we worship. 

Service is proclamation. There is no 3rd step. No need for the 3rd step

“If Every Christian did what Christ told them to do, there won’t be a Hindu left in India”. Gandhi.

That’s a challenge to each one of us here.

We (all of us) set out to do what Christ told us to do

We set out to wipe tears off the face of a poor untouchable widow like Christ told us to do

We set out to love people irrespective of who they are like Christ told us to do

We set out to change souls one by one like Christ told us to do

We set out to proclaim the good news of salvation like Christ told us to do

We set out to announce that we are all equal like Christ told us that we are.

We set out to lift Christ up in front of men and women. Just not by empty words but by Presence & Service.  Our presence is our proclamation. They could see Christ in everyone form here that visited the clinic. Our service is our proclamation. They know we are doing this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Throughout the Gospel, the “division of labors in the Kingdom of God” is laid out so well and so crystal clear. 

There are those that climb the mountains and shout the word. They cross the rivers, they cross the oceans, they cross the cultural and physical barriers, and they take chances in foreign lands. Come what may, they are made for it.

The other group stays home and supports those that cross the oceans, and that take risks for our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Our Lord said both are equally important in establishing the kingdom of God. 

I told one of our big donors, you gave the project so much money, thank you. He said, no, thank you for doing this. This man fulfilled what I call “The division of labors”.

We are taking risks for our Lord and I beg you that you do your part in the division of labors.

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