Heute Samen, morgen Blüten

Bildhhh1von Curtis Peter van Gorder

Als ich in einem botanischen Garten im indischen Kalkutta spazieren ging, faszinierten mich die kräftigen und lebendigen Farben der Blumen. Ein paar Stunden lang hatte ich das Gefühl, dem Stress der Stadt entflohen und in eine Welt der Schönheit versetzt worden zu sein. Beim Verlassen schaute ich beim Büro vorbei, um den Angestellten ein Kompliment für die gute Pflege und Zusammenstellung der Pflanzen auszusprechen.

Zufällig war der Direktor an diesem Tag anwesend und freute sich, mir mehr über den Garten erzählen zu können. Wie ich erfuhr, hatte der Missionar William Carey diese Einrichtung im Jahre 1820 ins Leben gerufen – die älteste ihrer Art in Indien – und zwar mit dem Ziel, der ansässigen Bevölkerung auf eine praktische Art und Weise zu helfen. Carey war die Benutzung minderwertigen Saatguts der Bauern aufgefallen und ihre ineffektiven landwirtschaftlichen Arbeitspraktiken. Er wollte ihre Lebensgrundlage verbessern und ihnen dabei helfen, wie er es nannte, „das Potenzial des Bodens“ zu erkennen, „um dadurch eine Nation bis ins beinahe unendliche Ausmaß zu bereichern.“

Careys Vision ging sehr viel weiter und bestand nicht nur darin, schöne Blumen zu pflanzen und auszustellen. Er sammelte vom Aussterben bedrohte Pflanzenarten und züchtete sie im Garten der Einrichtung, um sie für die Zukunft zu erhalten. Er pflanzte auch Mais, Baumwolle, Tee, Zuckerrohr und Chinarindenbäume 1 aus verschiedenen Ländern an und führte die Idee der Plantagenpflanzung in diesem Teil Indiens ein. Er vermittelte diese Vision erfolgreich an andere, und die von ihm gegründete Einrichtung half als Wegbereiter bei der Einführung einer weitgefächerten Anzahl von Getreidesorten, Agrarprodukten, Früchten, Gemüsesorten und verschiedenen Bäumen und Pflanzen.

Es beeindruckte mich, wie Careys Vermächtnis, seiner ersten Idee folgend, auch noch zwei Jahrhunderte später weiterlebte. Als er diesen Garten anlegte, handelte es sich um ein völlig neues Konzept, und wahrscheinlich musste er sich vielen Herausforderungen und Widerständen stellen. Dennoch gab Carey nicht auf. Zusätzlich zur Pflege seiner kranken Frau, übersetzte er die Bibel in etliche lokale Sprachen und versuchte, die Tradition des Sati (Witwenverbrennung) abzuschaffen.

Der Garten, mehrmals verlegt, erhielt schließlich im Jahr 1870 seinen heutigen Standort. Hier überlebte er Kriege, Aufstände, Dürren und Naturkatastrophen. Das große von ihm eingenommene Landareal ist heute eine erstklassige Immobilie mitten in der Stadt, und ich bin mir sicher, eine Menge Leute würden sie lieber als gewinnbringendes Bebauungsland ausgewiesen sehen. Doch der Garten, zum wertvollen Gemeinschaftsgut geworden, wird daher wohl sehr unwahrscheinlich solcher Gier zum Opfer fallen. Ein derartiges Projekt in der heutigen Zeit an einem solchen Ort zu verwirklichen, wäre eine monumentale, wenn nicht sogar unmögliche Aufgabe. Careys Weitblick und harte Arbeit, die viele, viele Jahre zurückliegt, ermöglicht es den Menschen von heute, diesen kleinen Himmel auf Erden zu genießen.

Es leuchtet mir ein, wie unser jetziges Handeln die Zukunft und die kommenden Generationen gewaltig beeinflussen kann. Careys Arbeit im Botanischen Garten ist ein gutes Beispiel dafür, was für ein Erbe wir hinterlassen können. Er folgte seiner Vision, die wortwörtlich und im übertragenen Sinne viel Frucht hervorbrachte. Manchmal erkennen wir die Ausmaße unseres Einflusses nicht. Jede Seele, mit der wir in Berührung kommen oder der wir helfen, wird einen weiterführenden Effekt haben, der sich über Jahrhunderte hinweg bis in die Ewigkeit hinein fortsetzen wird. Doch der erste Spatenstich muss getan und der erste Samen gesät werden, um einen Garten daraus machen zu können.

Curtis Peter van Gorder ist Drehbuchautor und Organisator für Pantomimen (http://elixirmime.com/)

  1. Ein immergrüner Baum, aus dessen Rinde Chinin hergestellt wird, ein Alkaloid gegen Malaria Bildhhh1
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Palace of Light – A Legend Discovered

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By Curtis Peter van Gorder

While visiting my relatives in Hyderbad, India I beheld the wonder of the Golconda Fort and palace ruins. As I roamed through the echoing chambers where sultans once held court and hoarded vast treasures, I felt a strange sensation that it had a great story to tell beyond the mere rubble of stones that lay before me– but what was it?

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Throughout its history, this site has seen the rise and fall of empires through war and intrigue, but what was that to me – a 21st century man? I felt the tingle – a story was waiting to be discovered, and I like an archeologist, had but to unearth it. I studied its history but I felt there was more than names and dates. I searched for its soul.

The story came unexpectedly that Sunday, when the entire town turns into a used book store. I picked up a collection of short stories published in 1923. Though printed in England, one of the stories was of this very place.

It told of a mighty sultan named Abbanes who ruled his vast kingdom from this palace. His mines unearthed the fabulous Kohinoor diamond. Wishing to build a suitable edifice to house this treasure, he searched the land for a worthy craftsman that would be up to the task.

A man well-known for his building skill as well as a kind and generous nature named Mahesdas who had retired from his labors was found. After being asked to take on this project, he reluctantly agreed, yet warned the sultan, “I may build something that pleases you not. For I now live only that I may help others.”

Having reassured him, “If you are able to build anything like the palaces I have seen, then I am sure that we will not be disappointed.”

Having agreed to try, Mahesdhas began to plan. Unexpectedly, the sultan was called away to settle a dispute in a far away portion of is kingdom. But before he left, he left instructions with his royal treasurer that Mahesdas could have any money to complete his project.

Soon after the sultan’s departure, war broke out in the region, and it was very difficult to send or receive messages from his palace. He was curious as to how work was progressing on his dream palace that was to outshine any that had ever been built.

After almost two years, the sultan was able to return home. With each passing day on his journey to his palace, his heart soared in expectation. He thought to himself, How wonderful my palace must be now! Even if it is not yet completed, it must be a wonder for all to behold.

But his expectations turned to sadness then soon to anger, when he learned that nothing had been done on his grand building project. Not one stone had been laid upon another, not one beam hewn, yet the treasure which he had left in Mahesdas’ care to be spent in the palace’s construction was gone-all gone! For Mahesdas had given it, down to the last copper coin, to the sick and the poor, the needy, the hungry, and the distressed. One of the many projects he undertook was to dig wells for surrounding villages that had no water to slake their thirst in the days of the great drought.

Many lives had been given a new start in those two years. But that was not how the sultan viewed it.

Mahesdas was bound hand and foot and dragged into the sultan’s judgment hall, and thrown at the feet of the mighty ruler.

“Is this how you carry out my commands, and how you repay my trust?” questioned the sultan.

“Did I not tell you that I might build something that pleased you not?”

“You have built nothing! That is the problem!” the sultan yelled.

“But I have carried out the behests* of my sultan, and even so do I fulfill his trust. Let me explain,” said Mahesdas.

Before he could answer, the sultan called out to his guards, “Throw this villain into the dungeon to await my punishment.”

Now it so happened that at this time, the sultan’s brother named Jamshid fell severly ill that seemed to be unto death, as he fell into a sleep that he could not awaken from.

The sultan grieved, for his brother was most dear to him. He shut himself in Jamshid’s room and would not eat or drink or talk to anyone. He would only wail and talk to his sleeping brother: “Oh, my brother, will we never ride together in the hunt again? Will you never be there to greet me when I return from my journeys?”

On the fourth day, as the sultan sat mourning beside his brother, suddenly Jamshid sat up.

“Jamshid! You are better!” the sultan said joyously as he kissed and embraced him.

“Brother! I am feeling well!” Jamshid answered, still recovering his senses.

“How is it that you have come back from the dead?” the sultan asked.

At first, Jamshid could only say, “I have seen strange things!”

“What strange things? Tell me of them.”

“I will tell you all, but first call Mahesdas to my side. I wish to speak to him.”

“I have locked that thief in the lowest dungeon. He will never see anyone again except on his execution day. He promised to build me a palace, but instead he has given my riches away to the poor!”

“Please, brother, don’t hurt him. He is a friend of God, and the angels of God serve him.”

“What foolishness is this? What has he told you? You are still recovering from your sickness. You need rest.”

“No, I tell you! Please, brother, if you love me, release him. I am glad I awoke from my death sleep to plead for his life. For truly black would have been your sin if you had lifted your hand against him.”

“And why are you so interested in this man? Has he enchanted you?”

“You may not believe it, but when I had died, angels came to me and took me to Paradise. There they showed me a palace more wonderful than any ever seen by mortal eyes. I approached it by a wide, crystal road bordered with gracious date palms. In its center stretched a sparkling waterway wherein floated lotus blossoms of many colors, and great white birds. Beside this pool wandered happy souls, singing heavenly songs, arrayed in delicate garments of the deep hues of flowers.

“Next we climbed steps in a gentle gradual ascent to the palace. Its towering walls arose like rosy mist from a terrace flagged with precious tiles. Those walls were more dazzling than alabaster, yea, more pure than the snow of the mountaintops illumined by the first flush of dawn. And there were scores of windows-some were vast and open to the indescribable light of Heaven, and some windows were screened with climbing vines of flowers of every kind. The walls were crowned with domes glistening as bubbles that form upon the sea’s edge, and minarets lifted themselves into the air, light and slender like darts. Within the floors was inlaid silver, reflecting all things as in a mirror. The walls were gold, wrought by artisans skilled beyond men of the earth. Everywhere gems burned with luster unspeakable, radiant yet subdued, and fountains flowed cool and sweet as music delighted the ear.

“But enough of its beauty. What you must know, my brother, is even this … that the angels who showed me these wonders, said: ‘This is the palace built by Mahesdas for your brother, the sultan. He is not worthy to inhabit it, so it shall be taken from him and given to another more worthy.’ Then it was that I awoke to find you embracing me.”

“I will release him,” the sultan said with determination in his voice.

“Let us go together, and free him then,” Jamshid said joyfully.

Having spoken, the sultan and Jamshid walked quickly to the prison, released Mahesdas and Abbanes, and clad them in precious vestments.

The sultan then said meekly, “Mahesdas, I ask your forgiveness.”

“I give it freely, my sultan.”

“But tell me, why did you give my money away to the poor?”

“My Lord came to me and told me not to lay up treasures on Earth, where thieves will break through and steal, but to lay up treasures in Heaven by helping others. For He told me that as I have done it to the most needy, I have done it to the Lord. But may I also ask of you a question?”

“Ask.”

“Why did you change your mind and free me?”

Jamshid told Mahesdas of his dream. Mahesdas replied, “In Heaven there are many mansions such as the one you have seen. Jesus has said that in His Father’s house there are many mansions, He is even now preparing a place for us. They that have faith and show love to others are helping to build it. These are the true riches, O Sultan, that shall never fade away.”

The sultan humbly answered: “I will be found worthy to inhabit that mansion, you will see. But, Mahesdas, could you help me to build another such mansion in Heaven for my brother next door to mine?”

Mahesdas smiled as he bowed. “As a servant, I can only do the bidding of my king.”

The sultan was true to his word, for with Mahesdas and Jamshid’s help he cared for his people like a father cares for his children. So beloved by his people was he that he became known as a sultan of kindness, benevolence, and one who would help anyone in need.

As for the Kohinoor diamond, through war that ravaged the land, the priceless treasure was stolen and the palace laid to waste. It was cut in two and one piece rests in the crown jewels of England.Untitled-5

What does this story mean for the 21st century man, perhaps it would be that the treasures of this world pass away but kind deeds done in love to help others endure. Though the diamond was lost to this land, the wells that were dug by Mahesdas those many years ago, are still being drawn from and giving life to a thirsty land.

 

Christmas Puppets

Peter van Gorder

Crystal’s story reminds me once again of the beauty of puppets. I have been working with puppets for quite a while now, due to a wonderful miracle of supply, similar to the one Crystal recounts below, in fact.

Over the years I have seen many advantages to incorporating a puppet show into our work. Here are a few I thought of:

  • Puppets are a great way for us to tell a meaningful story from “behind the scenes.” Kids generally love puppets and puppet shows and relate well to them.
  • You can combine music, sound effects, and interesting characters (human, animal, or aliens) to tell a great story. There is a wealth of stories to choose from and lots of terrific music for children, which can help create a lively and meaningful show.
  • It is fairly easy to order good puppets online, or you can make your own. (There are lots of tutorials on YouTube.)

I found that the initial investment of creating a puppet show paid off many times over. Our show has been in great demand for birthday parties, special events, and celebrations—especially for the younger crowd.

If you have been looking for a way to reach children, this may spark your fire.

By Crystal, India

This is the story of how the Lord miraculously dropped a new puppet theatre into our laps—quite literally!

It all started a short time before Christmas, when I was out with a friend looking for a Santa toy to use as a puppet in our Christmas show. But let me give you some background first…

One of our handy friends made a wooden puppet theatre for us, which helped us launch our puppet ministry. Our children have been very involved with writing stories, doing the puppet shows themselves, and interacting with the kids after the shows. This provided an avenue for our children to be a witness, and we’ve been able to raise funds through it as well.

You may be thinking, “So what was wrong with the puppet theatre?” Well, our puppet theatre, while very well made, was very heavy and took up almost all the car space, leaving very little room for anything else, including the puppeteers. Then there was the sound equipment we were about to invest in, and we were just not sure where and how to fit it all in.

So one night, I was online browsing the internet and wishing for these super lightweight, easy-to-carry-and-set up puppet theatres, but they were all very expensive. I began to wonder if it was really the Lord’s will for us to even be in the puppet ministry, as it seemed we needed to invest so much more into it if we really wanted to go professional. When I talked to my mom about it, she encouraged me with an oversized amount of faith and said that if it were His will, then He would take care of all the rest. So I closed the computer and forgot about it until the next day.

The morning didn’t start off too well. Quite a few things went wrong, and we still didn’t have a Santa puppet for our first Christmas puppet show, which was scheduled for the very next day at a local hospital. My friend, Rejoice, prayed for me—that despite how the day started and how I felt, the Lord would somehow guide us to the right place to find a Santa puppet, which brings us back to where this story began…

Our first stop was a stretch of shops in Bangalore—but no one was selling Christmas decorations yet, much less cuddly Santa toys. Archie’s Department Store was next. They said Santa toys wouldn’t be coming in for another week. I pleaded with the manager, “I have a puppet show tomorrow, and there’s no way I can do it without a Santa.” “Okay, madam, come back at 4:00 p.m., and we will see what we can do,” was the typical Indian reply.

Just as we were walking out of the shop an older gentleman from the U.S. came up to me and said, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. You said you do puppet shows. What exactly do you do?”

After explaining our work, he mentioned that he did puppet shows too and, in fact, had an extra puppet theatre that he wanted to give away. Did I hear correctly? Give away—like for free? Yep!

“I have to go back to the States with my wife,” he explained, “and we can’t take it with us. Besides, we have one over there too. I can’t think of anyone better to give it to.”

Wow, yes please! Rejoice and I thought we were dreaming.

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Mia (of Crystal) and her friends, Atlanta and Amanda (twins) with the new puppet theater.
These young people not only man the puppet show entirely on their own, but they also write all the stories!

The amazing course of events that led us both to this place then began to unfold. This man and his wife never go out on a Friday, as their driver is a Muslim so he has that day off and they stay at home. That Friday, for no explicable reason, they both felt they should go out. We both had tears in our eyes as we realized this was the Lord’s engineering!

That night we came home with a brand-new 8-foot puppet theatre that weighed only 20 pounds!

Does God want us to have a puppet ministry? I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I say it seems like one heaven of a YES!

Every puppet show since has been a reminder of who really loves us, who hears our prayers, and who knows our secret Christmas wish … better than any Santa.

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P.S. In the end, the Christmas puppet show we were in a frenzy to prepare for was cancelled. Still, none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been so desperate to find a Santa puppet. The Lord sure knows best!