Hulda Buntain
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BIO

In 1954, Huldah and her late husband, Rev. Dr. Mark Buntain, agreed to travel to India and serve in Calcutta for one year. That year turned into a lifetime of service to the people of Calcutta and its surrounding communities. Together, they established a holistic inner-city outreach consisting of more than 100 schools, over 700 churches, a daily feeding program for 25,000, and a full general hospital that has treated 2.2 million people and provided free care to 880,000.

After her husband passed on in 1989, the Calcutta mission appointed her Chairman and Senior Pastor of the church. Since then, she has continued to faithfully serve the people of India as she travels around the world raising funds. In 2005, Huldah founded Calcutta Mercy Ministries to support the comprehensive ministry her and her husband built over the past 53 years.



THE HISTORY

“Anyone who ever prayed with Mark Buntain would never forget it; he was a weeping prophet whose heart must have been continually hurt with the pain of India.”

In 1953, Mark heard the Lord tell him he would go to India. Fifteen months later we received a letter asking us to go to India for one year of evangelistic services.


Mark and I both came from families of ministers. His father pastored a large church in Winnipeg, Canada before moving to Toronto to become the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Canada. My great grandfather was a Presbyterian minister in England and my grandfather a minister in our church in Vancouver, Canada. My mother and father lived for many years as missionaries in Japan before my father returned to Vancouver to pastor the church after my grandfather’s death.


I made up my mind that I would never be a minister’s wife. But, God had different plans for
my life. I met Mark after my grandfather invited him to speak at our church in Vancouver. I still resolved never to marry a preacher, but eventually he won me over.


In 1954, Mark, my mother, and I headed for India aboard a ship departing from New York. Upon arrival a number of weeks later, we began services every night in a large tent on an open piece of strategically placed land. But, monsoons soon made it impossible to continue tent services. We found a large hall to rent above a nightclub on the main street, a miraculous discovery in such a congested city. Many joked that it was “hell downstairs and heaven upstairs.”


The First Church
The congregation grew at our nightly services and we soon decided we needed to construct a church. However, in a city of 14 million people only 7 miles long and four miles wide, land was a premium. The only property available was where we held the tent meetings, but a Muslim family owned it and refused to sell. Mark continually visited their family and built a strong relationship until one day the grandfather informed Mark, “My family is not in favor, but I am going to sell you the land.” Two years later, the first church to be constructed in Calcutta in one hundred years was dedicated on Christmas Sunday, 1959, on that very property.

Compassionate Ministries
One night during a tent service, a beggar walked in and screamed, “Preacher, feed our belliesand then tell us there is a God in heaven who loves us.” He spoke to our hearts and inspired us over the following years to develop a series of compassionate ministries all across the city of Calcutta.

Mark loved the poor. It didn’t matter if they wore tattered clothes, were alcoholics, drug addicts, or lived on the street. He loved them and ardently believed that helping them fulfills Christ’s commission and follows the example he set.


The First School
After 1959, the church had phenomenal growth, but we were concerned about the poverty
stricken families and their children without education. Yet, we didn’t have the money to obtain land or construct a school. One day, Mark received a phone call from the hospital. His Muslim friend had become very ill and wanted to see him. As Mark kneeled by his bedside, the elderly man faintly whispered, “I have told my sons, if I die, to make sure you have the first option to purchase the property behind the church to build your school.” A few days later his sons called and offered us the purchase of the land. However, we had no money and a limited amount of time to make the decision.

Mark called a prayer meeting. I stayed home to take care of Bonnie. That night I received a
phone call from Mark’s sister. A good friend of Mark’s told her he sensed something was notright in India and asked her if Mark was ill. I explained the situation and informed her of Mark’s prayer meeting that evening. When my sister relayed the information to him, Mark’s friend, a prosperous businessman, immediately told us that he would donate the money to purchase the property for the school. After the purchase of the land, the Reverend Jim Long (Sr.) and family was sent to relieve us while we traveled in the states to raise funds to build the school. God helped us meet our goal and we returned to Calcutta to construct our first school, which we dedicated in January 1964 with 200 children enrolled.


The Miracle Story
We wanted to extend our compassionate ministries for the poor of Calcutta, but the questions remained “where” and “how?” Mark noticed a vacant cemetery being used as a soccer field near the church and school buildings on one of Calcutta’s main streets. After inquiring, he discovered it was an old British cemetery that had not been used for over 100 years. Miraculously, the city granted us a ninety-nine year renewable lease for the nearly four square blocks of land.

First, we needed to construct a hospital. The moment digging started we hit a huge problem – a lake of water. Calcutta is only 12 feet above sea level. The contractors informed us we needed to place pilings before beginning construction. Convinced it was an attack from the enemy, Mark gathered the staff together around the pool of water and explained that we did not have enough finances for pilings for this huge building. As they held hands, Mark cried out loudly, “God, give us another miracle. Push the water back and allow us to move forward with the construction of this hospital.” He then pulled a small Bible out of his pocket, wrapped a rope around it, andlowered it into the water. Mark prayed, “If we ask anything in Your name, You will hear us. In the
name of Jesus, stop this seepage of water.”

To the amazement of everyone gathered there, the water receded and the seepage stopped. I will never forget the astonished faces of the contractors. God honored Mark’s faith. They poured cement as the water dried up and construction proceeded as scheduled. Today, the basement of our hospital is the driest of any building in the area. During the heavy monsoon rains when other basements are flooded, not a drop of water can be found in the basement of the hospital. The construction of the hospital is an amazing story that’s too long to enumerate, but suffice it to say that God performed one miracle after another in answer to many prayers until the building was finally completed. Donations came from numerous, unexpected sources. It was overwhelming to see how God answered our prayers. On March 17th, 1977 the 120 bed hospital opened its doors to the city of Calcutta. Today, the hospital treats over 100,000 patients a yearwith 40% receiving free treatment irrespective of caste, creed, or religion.

After constructing the hospital, we built a large school complex and nine-story office building on the property. Today, the school is the Assembly of God Church School and the office building is known as AG Towers. The office building houses a medical clinic, pharmacy, nursing school, church offices, in addition to renting space to other companies to provide income for the hospital, feeding programs, and other charitable ministries.

The Mark Buntain Memorial Assembly of God Church
Mark died in June 1989 of a cerebral brain hemorrhage. The media reported that over twenty thousand people attended the funeral service as well as hundreds standing on roofs of surrounding buildings and the street in front of the mission.

Mark had just signed plans for our new church that Friday and passed away on Sunday morning. This was the last building to be constructed on our mission complex. Again, it would take pages to record all the miracles that followed. In short, God helped me complete this mighty project. While in Germany a few weeks before his death, Mark said God spoke to him about evangelizing the unreached areas in the states surrounding Calcutta. I wish he could have lived to see his prayers become a reality. Today, Calcutta Mercy Ministries is responsible for ministries in eleven states with a combined population of 230 million people.

Today and On…
When I look over the growth of our ministry over the last 52 years, I am reminded of Ephesians 3:20, “God is able to do far more than our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and ever our prayers.” Today my daughter, Bonnie Buntain-Long, is the Executive Coordinator of Calcutta Mercy Hospital and her husband, Jim, serves as President of the hospital board. I continue as President of the Calcutta Ministries and Founder of Calcutta Mercy Ministries. It is always gratifying to see pastors, doctors, nurses, teachers and workers in all departments of our ministries, many of which were poor children who attended our schools, with no hope of a future life. However, with education, training, and hope in Christ, they have become strong national leaders in our mission.

Little did we know what God planned for our lives when we arrived by ship in October, 1954. I will never forget our first week in Calcutta. Many people warned us it was a hopeless city, but we believed that nothing was impossible for God. Over the years there was much discouragement and the devil fought hard to hinder the progress of our ministries. But through God’s help, the Calcutta Ministries have culminated into one of the world’s most comprehensive Christian inner city outreaches.

I am often asked how we were able to accomplish so much for the Kingdom of God:
We took it one day at a time. We worked hard and we did our best to listen to the voice of the Lord, knowing that He was the One who sent us. He was the One who performed the miracles and He was the one who sustained us.

- Huldah Buntain

 


 


 
 
Rev. Dr. Huldah Buntain
Founder, Calcutta Mercy Ministries
 





 

 


 

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