Since 1998, Waxahachie dentist Dr. Robert Cox has made 10 trips to India to lend his services to the natives there who are in desperate need of dental care.

But the trip isn’t all about dentistry – Cox has traveled with a group from Waxahachie First Baptist Church along with other groups in the United States in conjunction with the Tom Cox (no relation) World Ministries based out of Mountainburg, Ark.

The mission group, usually comprised of groups numbering from 35-70, fly nonstop from Chicago to Delhi, India, followed by a 500-mile bus trip into remote areas of the state of Andrapradesh and particularly in the city of Bobbili, a city of about 300,000.

“The people in southeast India are rural people and are also poor,” Cox said. “During our trip, which was 17 days, spanning from late January through the middle of February, we had about six different focal cities and broke up into teams. First Baptist Church here in Waxahachie supports 15 children in an orphanage, three elders and one pastor. We’ve also built seven churches during the past 13 years.”

The group serves the people in the remote area of southeast India with medical, dental and eye treatment in conjunction with evangelists, physicians and registered nurses from the United States.

“We were a part of nine ministry teams in the area of Bobbili – we had the privilege of going out and holding evangelistic services and this year we held several street services,” he said.

Cox noted the friendship he made with a 14-year old boy from Bobbili named Anil Dev Dutt, who, being able to speak English, served as his interpreter while he, along with his son, Dr David Cox, a dentist from Weatherford, Texas, was treating dental patients.

“Anil traveled with us quite a bit, and just by observing our work, he decided to go into dentistry himself,” Cox said. “He is now 27 years old and has graduated with a degree in dentistry and he and I work side by side.”

In the villages Cox and the ministry teams visit, they hold clinics, working throughout each afternoon but they do much more than just medical services.

“We take the opportunity to counsel with (the patients) and present the gospel to them,” Cox said. “And many have accepted Christ while we were over there.”

Cox explained how the program came about, saying that a Baptist group from Canada (Canadian Baptist Ministries) came to India in the early 1960s to do evangelistic work, but were eventually ordered by the government to leave the country.

“It was in 1988 that they permitted missionaries to come back into the country and this is when Tom Cox Ministries began their work,” he said, saying the ministry has a compound in Bobbili that contains an orphanage with a boys dorm and girls dorm, a church and other ministries, with plans to begin a seminary for native pastors in August 2011.

“Josh Powell, who is a PhD, will bring his family to Bobbili, where he has committed three years to working and teaching in the seminary,” he said.

Cox says it is rewarding and fulfilling to participate in the annual mission trip.

“These people have lived with virtually no medical care of any kind,” he said. “In the villages where we visit, we mainly do tooth extractions, which provide pain relief for them.”

The group started out utilizing primitive utensils and treating dental patients in lawn chairs, with a clinic and up-to-date equipment since built. The evangelistic results are what brings a smile to the faces of the teams that visit in southeast India.

“This year, there were 1,298 professions of faith in Christ  – and this is not an estimate, these are actual recorded names,” Cox said. “The native pastors will work to follow up on those decisions.”

The churches that have been established throughout the area have all adopted the name of the downtown Waxahachie congregation, being named Second First Baptist Church of Waxahachie, Third First Baptist Church of Waxahachie and Fourth First Baptist Church of Waxahachie.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.