In a small Indian village, a woman watches as her husband’s breathing becomes more labored. Knowing that his death is imminent, she sends her daughter for the Hindu priest. As custom demands, he will administer the last rites in a Hindu ceremony, conduct the funeral service, and oversee the body’s cremation. Here, in her village, the Hindu priest presides over the rhythm of life and worship, from birth to death.
On the outskirts of the village, another woman holds vigil over her dying husband. She sends her daughter to bring their Christian pastor to pray with them and comfort them. When her family left their Hindu faith and believed in Jesus, they were excluded from the Hindu community. Now, when they need the community to help them with their loss, they are alone. Their small village church won’t be able to help them pay for a Christian burial, and they refuse to turn to the Hindu priest for help.
Hindus who want to follow Jesus face a common fear: “Who will take care of my body when I die?” Reverend Syam Babu Mari and Esther Sunitha, his wife, have stepped into this crisis for Hindu converts to Christianity and offered a solution. Their ministry supplies local pastors with wooden coffin boxes for Christian burials. Zion Evangelistic and Care Ministries (ZEC) serves the greater Visakhapatnam area in Andhra Pradesh, southeastern India, an area with over 6 million people.
ZEC, founded by Syam Babu and Esther Sunitha, establishes reproducing communities in the greater Visakhapatnam area. Their network oversees and equips over 3000 local pastors through Bible training and evangelistic crusades. That partnership also includes supplying local pastors with 20-25 coffin boxes. Then, those pastors are able to provide for the burial needs within their churches. Families who receive a coffin box pay what they can so that the church will be able to purchase more. The coffin boxes are built out of local, available wood for about $25 each.
Though ZEC’s initial relationship with Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Illinois, other FEC churches have become involved by sending teams to assist Syam Babu with leadership training, care ministries, and carpentry to build coffin boxes. Learn more about ZEC on the FEC website.