The village of Falgunjoy is in East Satnala in the far northeastern Indian state of Tripura. A company of Seventh-day Adventist believers meet here, in the small frame house of one of the members. They have Bibles and a few hymn books, and they love to sing songs about Jesus and heaven. However, they had no musical instruments to guide the singing.
Then the company’s leader had an idea. “I could cut a 10-inch piece of blue plastic pipe, cover the ends with dried skins, and wrap it all together with roughly tied leather thongs,” he thought. “Maybe that would make a drum so we could help the people sing the songs together in the correct way.”
When my wife and I visited the village about a year later, the drum was already showing the wear of multiple songs being sung again and again over hundreds of worship services.
“We sing for Bible studies. We sing for Sabbath School. We sing for church. And we sing whenever several of us join together to praise God.”
The Falgunjoy church is a busy group, leading Bible studies several times a week, sponsoring a small school for the village children, and hoping to build a new church near the fish pond.
We listened to the singing, and sang along when the song was a melody we knew. “Jesus Loves Me.” “Shall we gather at the River.” “Redeemed.” Songs we all know, filled with messages of salvation, forgiveness, and hope. The drum? It helped keep the tempo, and when the leader played it, everyone sang with more energy.
When the singing ceased, I asked the leader if he would be willing to sell me the drum so I could take it home and tell their story. He called a quick meeting of the members who were present, and they debated my request loudly for several minutes. Finally, the leader told me they did not want to sell the drum.
“It is not perfect.” He held the drum out for me to examine. “When I made the drum, I did not have enough of the right hides, so I made one drum head of goat hide and the other of cow hide. The cow hide side is good, but the goat hide side is not so good. It makes a hollow sound. I do not want to sell you a bad drum. I am sorry.”
“Besides,” he added as I returned the drum to him. “We need the drum so we can sing praises.”
“What would it cost for you make a new drum?’ I asked.
There was another discussion, then he told me the price. “At least 350 rupees.”
“How long would it take you to make it?”
“I could get the hides at the market, and the pipe too. Maybe a week.” He was silent for a moment, thinking. “But it would take some time for the leather to cure into a great-sounding drum,” he added.
“Would you take 700 rupees ($10 USD) for the old drum? I would like to carry it with me and show my friends in America how you sing praises to God. They would love to hear your drum.”
“Yes. We will accept 700 rupees for the drum,” he declared, “if you will play it for your friends and tell them how much we have loved using it to praise God here in our village.
We exchanged the drum and the money, and I placed the new treasure in my carry-on luggage, wondering what the customs agents might say about my taking home a “bad drum.” I also smiled at how some church members back home might feel about my new instrument.
Actually, it’s not a “bad drum” at all. In fact, it has a nice sound, not hollow or plastic-sounding, but with a good boom. In fact, it does a very good job of helping Pathfinders, youth, and adults of all ages sing songs of praise.
Both drum heads are engraved with the name of their church, and the village they call home. In the center of each are two powerful words, “Jesus Lord.”
I think He sings along.