Rotarian shares stories of strife, hope from India

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In April, Buck Baxter joined a small group on a short-term trip to Chinthaluru, India.

That short-term trip changed Baxter’s life and his wife’s for what he hopes will be the long-term.

Baxter was the guest speaker at the Brundidge Rotary Club Wednesday and talked openly about his life-changing experience.

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Baxter went to India with no great expectations. He came home committed to The Great Commission.

Chinthaluru is a tribal village located in southeastern India in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The village is one of thousands of villages in the area where the people have been forgotten by the rest of society. They have no clean water, no medical care, no schools, no electricity and, most importantly, Baxter said, no hope for a better tomorrow.

“I was not prepared for what I saw,” Baxter told the Rotarians. “We went to work with a Pentecostal pastor who had opened a orphanage. It was not at all what I expected.”

“A cow stall had been converted for them,” he said. “The nine boys at the orphanage sleep on the roof of the church when weather permits. Other times, they sleep in the small church building.”

One of the young girls was named Dena. Baxter’s daughter’s name is Deana.

“What happened is an experience that I can’t explain,” Baxter said. “But that little girl, Dena, climbed on my lap, and I say this sincerely, the Lord spoke to me. He told me that the work he wanted me to do was there, in Chinthaluru.”

When Baxter returned home from the mission trip and his wife picked him up at the airport, he immediately told her, “We’ve got to go home and talk.”

Together they read The Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 and accepted it as their personal mission.

With these “forgotten people” of Chinthaluru in mind, Buck and Haldine Baxter formed The Great Commission-India Ministries (GCIM), a United States non-profit organization based in Auburn, where the Baxters make their home.

“These people, ‘the forgotten people,’ are the lowest of the ‘cast’ system in India,” Baxter said. “Their villages are run by a chief. They worship the moon, the sun, the trees and their ancestors. They don’t know about religion expect the religion of nature.

“They believe in reincarnation and pray to things such as stones and baskets. In some villages, there are human sacrifices. These people were born into that low class and they will die in that class but you have never seen such big smiles. They don’t know they are being done wrong.”

Baxter said many of the women have to walk up to 10 miles to get water for their families – dirty water.

“Every day, 4,200 children will die of diarrhea and millions will die each year from water borne diseases,” Baxter said.

“A part of our mission there is water purification which can be done effectively with a five-gallon bucket and a membrane water filter that is capable of purifying five gallons of water every 40 minutes for two years. We have yet to build a clean water well but that is in the plans.”

The Baxters will return to Chinthaluru after Christmas and remain there until the end of January. He will be involved in several mission projects and she will be involved in life skill training, which includes making tote bags from plastic bags and jewelry from throw -away items such as pop-top tabs.

“We go to teach them about the Lord so they will trust in Him,” Baxter said.

“When we can dig a well for these people and they ask why we would come from America to dig a well for them, we can say, “The Lord dug the well for you. Let me tell you about Him.”