A local resident, pastor and missionary who was born and raised in India is now officially a U.S. citizen.
In late July, Rod Kodavatikanti of Chenoa took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Office in St. Louis.
“In 2020, I actually applied and the pandemic stopped a lot of stuff and thank God, it’s done now,” said Kodavatikanti.
Kodavatikanti was able to be a U.S. citizen after he married his wife, Laura, several years ago but has been working on Project Nehemiah Ministries since that time and he needed to maintain his Indian citizenship to finish what he was doing. He waited and had been praying about it since.
“I feel like it’s the right time,” he admitted.
Since the ministry is established, he could move on. The process for U.S. citizenship is easy if one is properly prepared, according to Kodavatikanti. He studied a big American book and was prepared to answer questions dealing with reading, writing and civics.
“I had this test phobia,” noted Kodavatikanti.
After completing the test, Kodavatikanti was told they would call him back as it takes about four to six weeks. He got the call that said to come and applied for his American passport.
Kodavatikanti came here in 2004, a month before his wedding. He and Laura started Project Nehemiah, which they describe as a calling.
“My first mission trip after I came back from India in 2006, I saw my own country in a different view,” admitted Kodavatikanti.
After the short-term mission trip, the couple started praying to do something about the situation or what God is calling them to do. They have gone back to India to rebuild and restore people’s lives.
“I feel like we need to give glory to God,” added Kodavatikanti. “Our calling is building people.”
While they like to preach, teach and counsel to others, the ministry has been expanded to include King’s Kids home which is an orphanage in India and caring for windows and the poor.
“We want to be there for them. It’s not me, it’s definitely God.”
Kodavatikanti grew up in India so he knows how hard it is to get something as simple as drinking water.
“We used to go as groups to get drinking water and come back, a mile each way.”
Their focus is on the poorer areas of India as the ministry has turned into something much bigger than simply preaching and teaching.
The Kodavatikantis also operate Crossroads Café and Crossroads Customs on Route 24 in Chenoa.
Rod was a guest on the Route 24 Radio show Tuesday morning, Aug. 23. Listen to the entire show here: www.route24radio.com/podcasts.