When I tell you about the typical Indian village pastor’s home remember that there is great variety here. While I have been in hundreds of them, I certainly haven’t been in them all. So anyway lets begin. The typical home is very small, about the size of a small one-car garage. Houses surround it everywhere and there is no privacy. If they are so fortunate as to have electricity it will be just to burn one small bulb to light the whole house.
The home was probably built by the pastor who made it of mud, straw, grass or concrete, depending on his finances. He bought the property for more than it is worth because land in India is very inflated and commands a high price due to foreign investors buying up so much of it.
His door opens right on the street in front of his house. Dust and dirt from the street cover everything despite the wife’s continual cleaning. Inside is one main multi-purpose room with a small space partitioned off as a ‘kitchen.’ Everyone sleeps in the same room, with the children’s beds propped against the wall or slid under the parent’s bed during the day to make more room to walk. The parent’s bed double as a sofa during the day. There is probably a chair in the room for the pastor to sit and read or nap. As likely as not, his church meets in this room, or at least it did when it was starting.
The room is dark even during the day, and especially so at night. The one bulb seems to do nothing but draw bugs. There is a clock on the wall but it only tells the correct time twice a day, for the hands don’t move. There will be a calendar from a bank or church hanging somewhere. A picture of Jesus will be found hanging in the room, often clearly Roman Catholic in origin. A toothbrush for each family member is stuck somewhere within easy reach.
Against one wall will be a small shelf and also a cabinet in which all the extra clothes and possessions of the family are kept. Needless to say, there isn’t much inside. The only contact with the outside world is the pastor’s cell phone, which seems to ring every few minutes.
The kitchen nook is small and dark, more a place to store things than to work. The actual food preparation is done sitting in front of the house where it is cooler and women can talk with each other. It is slow, tedious, time-consuming work. There are no appliances in the kitchen except maybe a small stove top with a couple burners which is fueled by propane and used when cooking can’t be done outside over an open fire. Without refrigeration, and because of the hot climate, food is bought fresh each day. All dishes, pots, cups, etc. are stainless steel which works well for sanitary purposes.
The bathroom, if there is one, is a small enclosed area barely large enough to turn around in. It is outside the main house and made of plastic, dried leaves or, if possible, concrete. It may or may not have a roof. In the floor is drain, or at least a hole going out to the ground alongside it. There is a bucked of water and cup with a handle to wash with. Baths are taken here from this bucket as well. There are no stacks of magazines to read for no one spends more time there than necessary. If a pastor comes from a caste or has more resource his home will show it, but the vast majority of pastors here are Dalit, outcasts, and live far below the poverty line.
Children live the same as the parents. They do not have their own room, not even there own space, and there is no such a thing as privacy for them. If they are fortunate to have more clothing than they wear or a few personal objects they keep them on a self in the living room. They help with the chores, especially watching younger children. They play with other children in the streets, rarely will any of them have a toy, if so perhaps they may have a ball for a group of them to play with.
Yet for all this they are grateful for what they have and proud to show off their home. They offer hospitality with love and openness. They share whatever they have when necessary. One of the reasons Christianity is growing so rapidly among the Dalits is because it is only Christians who reach out to help others in times of national or personal disaster. Neither other groups nor the government itself will help. Just Christians. After all, when they’ve been so richly blessed by God, how can they not share those in need!
I Peter 4: 9-10 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
What is your attitude to your things? Are you discontent, comparing yourself to others and thinking you should have more? Maybe you are comparing yourself to the wrong people, try comparing yourself to the typical Indian pastor’s home and see if that doesn’t improve your appreciation for what you have. God could have had you born into an Indian Dalit family, you know, and if it was a Christian family you would have been content there.