Mathew and Mary's story
Knowing where they would settle and work in India seemed a like a foregone conclusion. Mathew and Mary Mathai had done their homework. They chose a place with good weather, good educational opportunities and a great place to raise a family.
I was already supporting my cousin, K Mathai. We had sent him to the state of Andhra to learn the language and prepare for our coming. -- Mathew
The Mathai family (with kids Cecil, Suja and Jaisen) arrived in May of 1980. Mary went to Kerala to settle their oldest two children, Cecil and Suja, in boarding school while Mathew went to Andhra. That’s when the plan hit a snag.
I was amazed when I got there and learned that any Christian denomination you could name was already established. -- Mathew
Somewhat discouraged but not disheartened, Mathew went to another city. He stayed a week and visited surrounding villages but heard the same story. Then a friend of his who happened to be a preacher told Mathew about the state of Kanada. It was a state where doing ministry work was difficult but the opportunities were plentiful.
An interesting journey into Chikkaballapur
What happened next was truly an act of God. -- Mathew
Mathew contacted a minister in Bangalore and they arranged for a visit. He took a bus but didn’t have clear directions to the man’s house. Fortunately the conductor knew some english and was helpful. This was normally a non-stop bus but the conductor asked the driver to make an exception. They stopped at an intersection and the conductor told Mathew that he should be able to find it from there.
Not knowing the language, Mathew simply stood in the middle of the intersection with a briefcase wondering what to do next. To his surprise he looked down the road to see the bus come to a stop and then turn around and come back. This sort of thing never happens in India. The conductor personally helped Mathew find the minister’s house.
Mrs. Solomon’s crucial help
Mathew realized immediately that this minister was the key to his next step. The two talked about the possibilities for ministry and the minister suggested Mathew visit the town of Chikkaballapur. Mathew went to meet a Christian widow names Mrs. Solomon. She had been a school teacher and spoke english. Over the course of the next week Mathew shared his dream with Mrs. Solomon. She was excited and felt this was the opportunity that she herself had also been waiting for.
That's how I put my feet in Chikkaballapur. -- Mathew
That was just the beginning. Through Mrs. Solomon, Mathew began to meet many influential people in the town. It seemed everyone had been her student at one time or another. Mrs. Solomon had great insight. She realized they were going to have to lay some groundwork before they earned the right to share the gospel. The easiest way to do that was by meeting needs. It quickly became evident to them that the biggest need in the villages was access to medical care. So that's where they began.