When we lived in Winson Green, a Christian lady, called Margaret lived nearby. She held weekly Biblical meetings, in her house for the children on our Street.
My daughter Banso went there, and any stories she heard, she would then come home and relay them to me. Banso became a Christian and started going to church, then, the church people used to come to our house, for one to one bible meetings with her, I called them time wasters, and I would tell them that Banso wasn’t home, when in fact she was.
Although I keenly listened to the Biblical stories from Banso, I still went to the Temple, every week, until I paid for an akhand padth, to celebrate a happy occasion in my life. When I went to help in the kitchen, I was refused entry on the grounds that, that I was not initiated through the Sikh Amrit ceremony yet, and I was made to feel unclean, even a second-class citizen.
Banso, pointed out that Jesus doesn’t discriminate against colour, race, rich or poor. Everyone is equal in his eyes. Banso invited me to attend Christ Church, Summerfield. I was touched by the warmth and love, the congregation showed me there, so much so that I wanted to become a disciple; I asked how much will it cost? The answer was that it would cost nothing for me to become a Christian. On that day I decided to follow Jesus and I started going to church, regularly in Winson Green opposite the prison, where Hakim Singh Rahi was the curate. I was baptised in the Edgbaston reservoir with Banso, by Rev.John Knight / Rahi. Bishop Leslie NewBigin attended the ceremony. I never went to the Temple again. It was then that my husband started going to the Hindu temple.
Every Sunday, he would come home drunk at the end of the day and start a religious debate, which normally ended in insults and abuse. He would say; my guru said this. I would say; my Jesus said this. I am not just stating the severity of my own persecution from my husband, but a lot of relatives disapproved of me switching religion, as well. I did not give up my faith.
I went to church every Sunday, even though I couldn’t understand much English. Banso translated the service for me,
I took the word of God to a few of my friend, and they started attending the church too, at Aston Parish, like me, their English was not that good either. I approached Rev. Keith Sinclair who was the new incumbent, with view to starting a bilingual service, at first and then Punjabi fellowship (Asian fellowship) for the new Asian believers, which he agreed to and fully supported the Asian fellowship idea. after consultation with the then, PCC board members (Early 90’s). First of its kind in the Aston Borough.
After being illiterate all my life, I learnt to read and write both English and Punjabi through Adult Education. I started evangelising, in people’s homes, businesses, shops, bus stops; seized any opportunity to share the Good News with anyone who listened to me. I would read the bible during every spare minute I had, and then tell my husband what I had read.
In the early days he did not attend church, but however regularly asked what the sermon/talk was all about at the meetings. He became a believer, Amen.
I had a regular core of new believers whom I visited almost weekly ;Resham, Mitto Satiya Surinder and many others in their homes, they; too committed to God and witnessed to their families and friends.
I was totally dedicated to the church, and the Asian fellowship.as it grew I bought musical instruments, Punjabi /Hindi bibles, and songbooks by the suitcase full from India, because it was cheap there, to give out to anybody interested. We also printed our own song books. My concern was not just the spiritual side buta also the physical side and needs of the new member and I made the pakora, samosa and provided lunch, weekly. Whatever donations were offered by the Asian attendees I would put aside in the savings account for Khothran fund.
My joint confirmation, with Gian, in 1993 done by the Right honourable John Austin, bishop of Aston.
At this point I wanted my mother, who lived in India, to know Jesus; the true and living God. She converted, and gave her life to Jesus; at the age of 90 plus, as did Mittu, Mejo and many others, who were all subsequently baptised.
I went to India many times, miracles and conversions happened prior to the church being built, I put a large cross on the Khothran house, used for worshipping, and the villagers were curious about the goings on. By the grace of God the numbers of believers grew and our family house became too small to accommodate everyone.
One night I had a vision of a storm. It blew the ceiling off completely and I saw thunder and lightning, through which a voice said ‘Sito you will build my church’ True story.
I shared my vision with , Rev Keith Sinclair. He, along with the clergy, the PCC and congregation gave their full support for me to build a church, in Khothran.
I went to India and bought some land from my best friend Surjit Kaur with my own money. I sold all my gold. The whole church and my family were behind me and started fundraising.
My husband and I went to India to find an architect, one vouched by the Bishop of Chandigar, a design for the church was selected. Giyanow and Resham went to India too, to pray and witness the foundations being laid for the church in 1998. My brother and sister in law; Mittu and Mejo both worked very hard and oversaw the project. When the church was two third finished, the roof was on, but no plasterwork had been done, the builder said he made a mistake on the original quote. He demanded more money. A dispute started.
He stopped working on the church, and threatened me, and my husband with court proceedings. I said to him Brother; “It’s not my money. All the money has been donated and we’ve raised it with a lot of hardship) don’t do this”. I quoted to him, by letter the story of Ananias and Sophia. One day, we received the news that he died after reaction to medication, creating more problems for us. He was a sole builder. His widow demanded more money to carry on the work through her young, inexperienced son. Solicitors were involved. I went to India in October 1999 with Banso to sort the dispute and terminate the contract. The contract was ended after a payoff settlement. I truly believed God’s hand was in this.
Meantime, Madan Paul, an evangelist, held weekly meetings at our house in Khothran and by the grace of God the number of worshippers kept growing.
Due to ill health in 2002, completing the remaining work on the church seemed like an overwhelming task for me. I questioned God many time, as to why he had given me this huge responsibility, I chose you because I knew you would complete the mission, was all I kept hearing. I prayed, everyone at Aston Parish, and other churches prayed for its completion. Then, I asked my eldest daughter Surrinder; “should I die please; finish the work on the church for me”. She went to Khothran to find a new builder, to carry out my wishes, using her own money.
My husband went at Xmas for the first service in the Khothran church 2002. I went at the beginning of 2003 to inspect the almost finished church.
The final opening of the church was 29th October 2003. Aston Parish Members attended the opening day.
I fully trusted God then, and I still trust him now to carry on His work. “My request as always is that the Lord will prepare the harvester to gather for Him all the glory and praise. Amen”
May He bless everyone, who participated in the fulfilment of this mission?
My prayer is for the continual support for the future of Khothran church.
Jai masih thee.
Mrs Sito Kaur.