Pushpendu Soren, secretary of the church committee owes it all to the white people who came and built schools
Puja Bhattacharjee | January 15, 2013
As I entered Bhimpore on the foggy Christmas eve, I was greeted by a group of men. Upon enquiring I learn that a man was caught trying to steal a goat. The villagers were taking him to the nearby police station in Pirakata.
I found people busy erecting tents for the Christmas fair which was organised by the American Baptist Church, Bhimpore. The church is a single storey white structure which greets you the moment you enter the village. The church was constructed in 1874 by American missionaries who came to preach their religion in Bengal, Bihar (now Jharkhand) and Orissa. Reverend Thomas Wesley Burkholder and his wife Julia Philipps Burkholder contributed significantly towards the construction of the church. Bhimpore is the only Christian village in Salboni block.
Pushpendu Soren, secretary of the church committee, tells me that until 1971 foreigners from America regularly visited the village. “This is a completely tribal area but 70% of us are educated and have good jobs and we owe it all to the white people who came and built schools here,” says Soren. “I am a tribal but you will never guess it by my manner of speaking. In our village I can say that nobody lacks food or clothing,” he boasts.
The American Baptist Foreign Mission society sends gifts for children once a year. They send toys, clothing and trinkets.
Soren’s wife offered me to delicious fruit and rose cakes as Soren told me about the programme for the next few days. “There will be a dance- drama based on the Lord’s life and celebrations will continue until the new year,” he says.
“People will start pouring soon. Cock fight is a special attraction,” he smiles. The church collects donations from its members all around the year to pay fees of the pastor and church bearer and also to save for celebrations. As per Soren’s estimate there are almost 700 members from 80 families.
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