Shanthi Grammam literally means village of peace in Tamil.
The residents have several things in common: they are older, poor, and all have survived leprosy. However, because many of them got help too late, there are deformities, which make them a source of contempt for their own family members.
At one point, the desolation of the place was at odds with its name. JP Sundararajan with Audio Scripture Ministries sadly notes, These people come here to these places, and they wait to die.
The village grew out of concern for these people and the residents need for love and compassion, apart from shelter and care. A doctor tending to the residents then brought in 10 audio Bibles for the people and introduced them to the Prince of Peace.
Not only did they listen daily, but interest grew. In August, ASM delivered an additional 30 digital audio Bibles. Sundararajan visited the village a few weeks ago to see the impact from that August visit. When the van pulled in, the residents greeted the team enthusiastically. There was a tree in the middle of the property: we just sat around this tree, and they began to recite Scripture, the same Scripture that they had just been listening to for the past few weeks.
The team also started to notice that while the digital audio Bibles might be great tools, there was one thing they’d overlooked. We had worked with people with visual impairments in the past, and we work with people who are non-literates. But we’ve not worked with people who do not have fingers and are blind, as well.
Many of the residents who received digital Scripture players left them in the plastic bags in order to better protect them. Some of the women had someone tie them to their saris so they could just reach the units easily.
Sundararajan says the people were incredibly inventive in how they listened and learned. Then, they spotted a man who was a little removed from the main group. He called one of our colleagues to the side and said, ‘I want to share with you my favorite Psalm: Psalm 23. He began reciting it in Tamil. But as he’s reciting it, were listening to it, and all of us who speak Tamil said, ‘Yes, that is Psalm 23. But something seemed off about how he was saying it.
What happened next was truly humbling, says Sundararajan. It wasn’t mistakes, but it was a certain kind of accent that he had. So, when he was done [reciting] it, we asked him, ‘Are you a Tamil speaker, by any chance? He said, ‘No, sir. Im a Telugu speaker. We asked him, ‘Why didn’t you ask us for a Telugu Bible?
A simple request, surely, and one that was easy to fill because it just required a couple of adjustments and a quick download; the team had the equipment with them. Sundararajan explains, His whole life, he’s been trained not to do that, so he just listened to what was given to him. In spite of that, he was able to memorize and recite Scripture to us.
That, in a nutshell, is how the people in Shanthi Grammam take in the Bible. Gods Word still meant a lot to him, even though it was not in his heart language.
Sundararajan continues: That moment captured for me the kind of conditions that these people are living in today and have come out of as well, and what Gods Word can do. He adds that for many, its an infusion of hope and peace, finally living up to the namesake of their home: Village of Peace.