“Saints in Hyderabad, India,” Liahona, Nov. 2003, 127–28
The 400-year-old city of Hyderabad, India, bustles with a population of approximately 4.2 million people. In this city where old-world charm blends with growth and enterprise, those who walk the streets may hear the many languages of India.
The official language is Hindi, spoken by 30 percent of the population. English is the associate official language, and the most widely used for higher education, government, and commerce. The Book of Mormon has been translated into Hindi and Telugu, and selections from it have been trnslated into Bengali and Tamil. Additionally there are at least 300 known languages in India, but one language is universal to all—the language of the Spirit.
From the humble beginnings of the Church in India in 1850, the Church has grwon to 3 districts with 22 branches in this predominantly Hindu nation. The first chapel to be built in the city of Hyderabad, a center of science and technology located in south-central India, will be completed in December 2003.
“It is a dream come true,” says 18-year-old Gunday Solomon Israel, who goes by his last name. “The design of the chapel itself makes me feel the Spirit. I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for answering my prayers.”
With the completion of the chapel, Church members and investigators in Hyderabad will have a beautiful building in which to meet and feel the language of the Spirit touching their hearts, just as it did Israel’s three years ago.
“When I first came to church, I was surprised to see the love among the Saints. They were so happy. I could see the glow of the gospel in their faces,” recalls Israel.
Like Israel, 17-year-old Madhu Bunga remembers the first time he attended a Church meeting and felt the Spirit.
“I was glad to see so many strangers come and sit beside me and talk to me about my life,” says Madhu, who attended his first Church meeting in December 2000. “I was amazed how people taught and approached things by the Spirit of God. I loved it, and I ran to my house, thinking all the world was in my hands.”
Madhu and other young members of the Church keep the Spirit in their lives by attending church and seminary and participating in service projects in the community.
“I am the only member of the Church in my family,” says Madhu. “To stay strong, I attend seminary regularly. We have done many service projects, like going to a charity to teach children English, fun stories, and games. I went with the young men and women to a government hospital to paint the walls, and we helped Church members when they moved.”
Joseph Cornelius, president of the Hyderabad First Branch, also recognizes the importance of service and attending Church meetings to feel the Spirit.
“Members have service projects like collecting clothes for the orphanage once a year,” says President Cornelius. “We attend all the Church meetings an dactivities. WE have family prayer and family home evening.”
Recently members from the Hyderabad First and Second Branches collected old clothing and bought rice and cereal to give to a boys’ shelter. The people who run the shelter go to a train station in the area, find boys who are living there, and bring them back so they have a place to sleep. Schooling and counseling are also provided at the shelter.
When Church members arrived at the shelter, they were warmly greeted. After much visiting and an exchange of games and laughter, members sanded down the walls of the shelter, which were in dire need of repair. Paint was donated and applied, giving the shelter a clean, cheery appearance.
Whether it is at the service projects or in friendly gospel discussions, the Spirit continues to whisper the gospel to many in Hyderabad. Though soft, the language of the Spirit is clear, uniting Saints across one of the most populous countries in the world.