Local teaches gospel overseas via Skype

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Palakol, India is just over 9,000 miles from the Camellia City—half a world away and a good ten-and-a-half hours ahead of the local community’s clocks. For one local couple, however, this town of almost 60,000 souls, densely packed into less than two square miles, has become a virtual second home.

Janice Box and her husband Charles, who is the minister of Walnut Street Church of Christ in Greenville, have found themselves overcoming obstacles of distance, language and culture to “go forth and preach the gospel to all nations” using the miracle of modern technology. Both Janice and Charles teach Indian residents through monthly lessons via Skype, using an interpreter to overcome the language barrier.

“I had been teaching a preacher training class in India online, and there was a request to have my wife do something along the same lines in a Bible study for the women in the town,” Charles explained.

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Janice, known as “Sister Jansi” to the 20 to 30 ladies who typically attend her class, is no night owl. But the sizable time difference between Palakol and Greenville means Janice stays up until 1 a.m. or later teaching the class, which starts around 11 p.m.–or whenever the students are all able to make it to the meeting place.

“These ladies all walk to the lessons, and we don’t want then to have to be on the streets after dark. So late night our time, is mid-morning their time, and it’s better for them,” says Janice, adding with a wry chuckle, “Sometimes Charles has had to fix me a big cup of coffee to keep me going.”

Because she must rely on an interpreter to translate from and to the local language of Telgu, the lessons do take longer. And at the conclusion of each lesson, each of the ladies wants some one-on-one time with Sister Jansi.  “It’s only a few moments but it means so much to them,” Janice says.

The Indian students’ willingness to overcome their own obstacles and the keen interest they show in the subject matter  impresses both Janice and Charles.

“Each and every one of them, 100 percent, come with their own Bible,” said Charles.

“And they turn to every Scripture passage mentioned in the lesson. When they read aloud during the lesson, every one of them stands to read,” adds Janice. “It’s like a mark of their reverence for those words.”

She also recalls one day when it appeared her students were visibly sweating under their colorful saris. “I asked how warm it was there and the interpreter told me it was 105.8 degrees Farenheit in that old tin building they use. And they have exactly one fan to stir the air. Can you imagine how many people would endure that here? But they all did.”

Charles says some of the women are really good Bible students “and they all love Sister Jansi.”

“She puts a lot of time and effort into putting these lessons together and just trying to be a positive influence on these people.  Most are poor and live hard lives. But they overcome their troubles and come because they truly want to learn.”

Janice herself had to endure a tremendous obstacle in late February of this year. During a visit with her son and his family in Elba while Charles was away on one of his yearly mission trips to Guyana in South America, a freak accident occurred.

“One minute I was just pushing my cart through Dollar General in Elba shopping for some things for my grandson and I suddenly heard glass breaking and shelves tumbling.”

Janice didn’t realize that a drunk driver had plowed into the front of the store, striking her so hard the impact sent her flying almost 30 feet before she landed. “All I remember is coming to there on the floor and screaming for help.”

Charles was unaware of just how potentially serious the accident had been until he arranged to return home early and saw his wife. Janice had suffered a concussion, a puncture wound that caused tremendous pain, and “the worst bruises I have ever seen, from head to toe, literally.”

He shares the surveillance video from Dollar General, stored on his cellphone. It’s like watching something from an action movie, only the viewer knows this near-tragedy was all too real.

The couple say they have forgiven the drunk driver and pray daily she will make changes in her life for her own sake and those of her children.

“She has expressed remorse . . . we know we have to forgive if we ourselves want to be forgiven,” says Janice. “Our son, who is a minister there in Elba, has also visited her and invited her to come to church.”

Now almost fully recuperated, Janice was recently able to return to the computer in the couple’s home office and teach a lesson once again to her Indian Bible students.

“People have told me I was lucky I wasn’t hurt a lot worse. I say I wasn’t lucky, I was blessed.”

The Boxes also teach students via Skype in Guyana and they have had a request to start a Bible study class in Uganda in Africa. And Janice is also eager to return to her Bible study classes with the women incarcerated in the Butler County Correctional Facility.

“You never know when or where you will be able to do good. We really do need to do whatever good we can, whenever and wherever we can, while we can,” says Janice. “Even though I don’t think I will ever physically go to India, I feel as if I am there with my students.”

“This is an amazing time we live in,” adds Charles. “I am now through modern technology able to preach to more people in a day than I did in a year when I first started preaching. One thing we know. There are a lot of good people everywhere—all across this world.”