Reaching Out With Voice
Young adults in India preach the gospel through music and a ministry of service.
Although Sangzela Tlau and the other 12 young men and women involved with Reachout Ministry share Jesus’ message of love and hope through music in Mizoram and its bordering states, they don’t stop there. They also take seriously the Lord’s directive to care for the helpless, the hopeless, and the most vulnerable in their northeast India society.
“Thousands of young people in Mizoram are addicted to alcohol and drugs and must be liberated from Satan’s captivity,” says Tlua, director of the organization. “Reachout Ministry visits many rehabilitation facilities to minister to the people there, to pray with them and to let them know that Jesus still loves them in spite of their sins and shortcomings. It is impossible to just not do anything when we see people so much in need of help.”
Mizoram is one of seven northeast India states and is flanked by Myanmar on the east and south, and Bangladesh on the west. Its approximately 21,000 square kilometers (more than 8,000 square miles) of territory is home to almost 900,000 people, most of whom earn their livelihood from agriculture. It boasts the second highest literacy rate of the India states.
REACHOUT MINISTRY: This group of young adults not only travels throughout northeastern India to share the gospel of Christ in music, they also raise money for and personally minister to orphans, the physically and mentally disabled, and those who are homeless in that region. Currently, 12 members are involved with Reachout Ministry, but that number varies as some leave and others join. Seventeen ensemble participants are shown here.Founded in 1991 by Tlau and seven other young adults, the Reachout Ministry ensemble performs concerts in churches, rented halls, and outdoor pavilions in this region of India. Often they conduct concerts to solicit funds for those in need.
“We organized two successful concerts to raise money for the TNT (Thutak Nunpuitu Team) Calvary Hospital here in Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram,” Tlua notes. “This is an establishment that Reachout Ministry is especially committed to helping and supporting. The hospital houses about 120 physically disabled and mentally handicapped people, approximately 300 drug addicts, and more than 300 orphans who rely entirely on donations and gifts from churches and individuals for food and clothing.”
The orphans are brought to the hospital not only from Mizoram but also from several neighboring states such as Manipur, Assam, and Tripura. Some come from as far as Myanmar.
“There are many orphaned children inIndia,” Tlau notes. “We entertain them, raise funds for them, and I’ve been appointed as one of the hospital’s eight advisers. This means I’m involved with decisions about internal problems and financial and legal matters. I also help organize programs.”
Traveling about the country to hold their musical performances would not be considered glamorous. Once, the group accompanied a pastor on an arduous 9-hour journey in an old, beat-up van that had not been used in years. It was the only transportation available to them. Tlau says, however, that the Lord provided them with safety while driving through the remote dusty hills and rough terrain of the outlying villages where vehicles rarely pass. He also believes the Lord worked a miracle for them during that trip.
“While traveling back home from the edge of the Myanmar border in the darkness of night,” Tlau explains, “the vehicle’s headlights gave out. We were driving through the mountains, and the moon was nowhere to be found.”
Tlau says the group became fearful and prayed to the Lord to help them out of this difficult and potentially dangerous situation.
“Miraculously, the sky cleared up and the moon lighted up the road,” he says. “We made our way back home without any further problems.”
Despite their lack of reliable transportation and no regular income from their music ministry, Tlau credits God for unfailingly providing the resources needed to preach the gospel message. In January 2005, he says, they were called to minister in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
WORSHIPPING GOD: Orphans attend church services at theTNT Calvary Hospital, a Christian facility.“Initially, there was some hesitation in granting the permit to use the town hall for our performance,” Tlau explains, “but after the permit was granted, the district magistrate and many other high-ranking officers attended and appeared deeply moved by our songs and messages on health.” They were invited to return and perform again the following year.
Reachout Ministry visited the northeasternUnited States for several weeks in the spring of this year, performing in numerous Mizo and other Adventist churches in theWashington, D.C., area. They also sang for a morning worship service at the Adventist Church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
“We are delighted with the work of Reachout Ministry in Mizoram and other states of northeast India,” says Southern Asia Division president Ron Watts. “It is so good to see our young people on fire for God, sharing their faith through song and testimonies. They have been an inspiration to youth in other parts ofIndia to use their talents to share the good news of Christ’s soon return.”
Tlau sees his youth as an advantage in the ministry, particularly because of the inconveniences involved with travel and service in more remote regions of the country. He says he’s grateful the Lord is using him and the other members of Reachout Ministry while they are still young.
“Sometimes it is difficult to go out, but when we dare to answer the call of God, we never regret it,” Tlau says. “We always come home filled with lots of joy and happiness.
“Sometimes some of our members must go by faith to performances because of challenges with conflicting work or school schedules,” he adds. “But they never say they regret it, or they’ve never suffered any loss because of it.
“We praise God for blessing this ministry.”