Six members of Olney Baptist Church recently returned from India, where they ministered to orphans, lepers and men and women living in dire poverty. The group traveled as part of a mission trip organized by Salvation Streams, a Christian ministry involved in feeding the hungry and distributing clothes among the poor and needy in rural India.
Olney resident Ralph Mallela formed Salvation Streams more than 20 years ago to address the dire situation in India. Over the years, he has enlisted the help of many churches in India and the U.S., including Olney Baptist Church, where he and his family began to worship over a year ago.
“It is sometimes not easy to convince people in America of the needs in India,” Mallela said in a news release. “The reason is that today’s western world only looks at the brighter side of India, as one of the economically and technologically fastest growing nations. But the fact is, half of India’s population are still illiterate and living in the remote and neglected villages, having minimum living conditions. These poor people are often seen half naked, exposing their bodies to burning sun, rain and all kinds of diseases.”
The Olney Baptist Church mission team included Mallela’s wife, Anu Mallela; their two teenage children, Anuraag Mallela and Aashikaa Mallela; Pastor Brian Tubbs; and Choir Director Dee Barnett.
The team made several stops in India, including an orphanage and a leper colony in the port city of Kakinada. At the orphanage, they gave children gifts that had been collected and prepared by families at Olney Baptist Church.
At the leper colony, the team distributed blankets and rice, while also making financial contributions to its residents.
“In India, people with leprosy are considered the untouchables of society,” Mallela explained. “No one has a desire to have any contact with them and their only means of income is begging.”
The Olney Baptist Church team also ministered to the people of Yerakauram Village in Andhra Pradesh, where they provided food and clothing while spending time and singing with them.
“While the people of Yerakauram feel so blessed just by having a mere water pump in their village, they really don’t know what they don’t have,” Barnett said. “Their hearts are filled with love for the Lord, and they sing like angels. We went to minister and serve, were overwhelmed with all we saw, and returned blessed beyond measure.”
In addition to their work with the orphanage, village, and leper colony, the team participated in a Christmas concert in Kakinada. Organized by Salvation Streams, the concert reached over 3,000 people and featured a 200-person choir led by Barnett.
“It was a wonderful time and a life-changing experience,” she said.
For more information, go to www.salvationstreams.org.