Indigenous Pastors: Anil*
Anil was a rebellious child who never enjoyed school. He grew up in a non-believing family without anyone to teach him about what Jesus says is right and wrong. Anil was involved in street fights, dropped out of school, and chose to live like the prodigal son shared in scripture (Luke 15). Anil didn’t plan to change his life, but God did. One day, a pastor gave him a Christian tract entitled “Prison.” Anil started to contemplate the choices he had made, and as he did, realized that he was bound by his addictions and quest for worldly pleasure. God used a small tract that inspired Anil to turn from his old ways and toward a life of freedom in Jesus Christ, and his life started to change. He is now passionate about taking the message of the gospel to young people and challenging them to enjoy real freedom.
Despite strong family opposition, Anil sensed a calling to ministry; to make a difference in the lives of others in the name of Jesus. He has been persecuted for preaching the gospel; banned by the government from visiting certain villages. He has been attacked and robbed because of his faith and ministry. But Anil never gives up, because he has such a great passion to influence unreached young people in India. Anil believes that the church in India should be self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating in the true sense of indigenous ministry. He feels blessed to be part of Life Light Ministry, as he loves being mentored by leaders like John and James who pray together for him and others.
Anil’s vision is to start a Bible school for Marathi-speaking youth. He desires to help them learn to enjoy the true freedom found in Christ and not the false “freedom” the world advertises. Every new life that Anil leads to Christ, he sees as himself gaining a year that he lost in pursuing the world rather than pursuing Christ.
NBCH Children’s Home: Deepak*
Deepak is a 16-year-old orphan who lost his parents at an early age. At age eight and nine, he and his brother were living on the streets. Deepak got a job as a truck boy just to feed himself. A truck boy is an assistant to the truck drivers whose main duties are to clean the truck, prepare meals, wash clothes, and perform other chores. Truck boys are often referred to as truck drivers’ wives, as they are often forced to have sex with the drivers. Deepak experienced this and was often threatened and beaten by the drivers. Eventually, Deepak was able to escape and located his brother who was working for another driver. When a relative of Deepak learned of his situation, they brought him to the New Beginnings Children’s Home.
Following intense counseling to help heal the wounds suffered from his traumatic experiences, Deepak found a new life at NBCH. Now a part of the NBCH family, his nightmares have ceased and he sleeps in peace. Although he struggles in his studies, he experiences support instead of criticism. As he learns to speak English, Deepak enjoys farming, working on cars, playing cricket and soccer, and wants to serve other children at Life Light.
After four years at Life Light, Deepak is the leader of his group, helps care for the younger children and is a great help to the staff. Deepak continues to love his time at the home; if it were not for New Beginnings Children’s Home, one can only imagine the situation he would be enduring.
NBCH Children’s Home: Leena*
As the first-born child in her family, Leena’s father was very angry to learn he had a daughter. The three children that followed were girls as well. Leena’s father believed it was his wife’s bad karma that she could not bear him a son. Leena’s father eventually abandoned Leena and her family in search of a wife with “better karma.”
Leena’s mother felt forced into prostitution in order to support her family and begin to develop issues with alcohol. One night, Leena awoke to see her mother choking her little sister. Leena noticed her other two sisters lying still, unsure if they were alive. Leena’s mother then turned towards her. Suddenly, Leena screamed at her mother, offering to fetch a drink of water. Her mother stopped, and only stared. Leena gathered up her three sisters and carried them out of the room, knowing they all were dead.
The next day, after learning what had happened, Leena’s grandmother brought her to New Beginnings Children’s Home. As a Hindu, she was concerned about Leena learning Christianity, but knew it was the safest place for Leena. At New Beginnings Children’s Home, Leena likes to help the young girls because it helps her not to miss her little sisters quite as much. She also enjoys learning English and hopes one day to be an English teacher. Leena now sees Jesus as her father and her mother, since she is separated from her earthly parents. Leena now has hope because of New Beginnings Children’s Home and what she has learned about Christ and His love for her.
Blind Lady in Leper Colony: Gayatri*
Gayatri is a 56-year-old woman suffering from leprosy, the disease that has claimed the lives of her entire family. She has never been married and since she no longer has a family, she has no one from whom she can ask for help. Gayatri makes a living by begging on the streets.
As a result of leprosy, Gayatri lost her eyesight as a child. Malnourished, she did not respond to medication. Life as a leper is extremely difficult; they are outcasts of society, unable to secure even the most common of services or courtesies. Sadly, Gayatri must compete with stray dogs for scraps of food and is often bit as a result.
It’s hard for Gayatri to value herself when she knows how others see her. She is often scorned, told that she was struck with leprosy as a result of her sins, and is enduring God’s punishment.
One of the pastors with Life Light now regularly visits Gayatri and the rest of the people in the leper colony. He prays with Gayatri and provides food for the lepers. Gayatri said, “The praise songs give me peace in my heart. My life changed once I heard about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He cares for us. When he was on this earth, he spent time with us and healed us.” Even though Gayatri can’t read or write, she enjoys listening to stories of Jesus. “Now I know I have hope when I die, she said. “I am not happy with my life, but I know everything has a reason and my life after death is going to be much better than this.” Gayatri said she feels loved and accepted when she is among other believers. She said she doesn’t feel ashamed of herself and doesn’t think she’s a dirty person when people come to shake her hand.
Gayatri wishes to thank those who pray for her and the rest of those in the leper colony. She wants to thank those who provide food and the opportunity to worship God.
Faith-Seed Planting: Alka*
Alka is a 26-year-old single mother who ran away from her abusive husband. The victim of an arranged marriage at age 14, Alka had no idea what marriage was supposed to look like. 15 years her senior, she didn’t know the man her parents had chosen only because he wasn’t seeking a large dowry.
Alka’s married life was terrible. Her husband was an alcoholic; routinely coming home drunk, beating and raping Alka. She couldn’t escape as her parents were very poor. Returning home would bring shame upon her family and ensure that her younger sisters would not be able to find husbands.
Alka continued living this way for 10 years until one day, unsure as to why, her husband took her to the doctor. A nurse warned Alka to flee because her husband was planning to have a kidney removed in order to sell it. Alka took her daughter and ran, never looking back. Alka returned home, but did not want to be a burden on her family.
Alka says that a local pastor who works with Life Light has been a great help. He has prayed with her, counseled her, and encouraged her. The pastor provided her a sewing machine, which she says has changed her life. She worked hard at sewing, learning from a tailor who fed and cared for Alka and her daughter. Working 18-hour days cleaning and practicing her craft, she continued to improve, and two years later, Alka started her own business. She now provides for her daughter and her parents and in addition, has provided jobs for two other young women who are enduring similar situations.
Alka says, “I believe God listened to my cry and sent His people to help me by investing in my life through the donation of a sewing machine. I use this machine as an evangelical tool to reach others. I get the opportunity to connect with other women and encourage them through my testimony.” Now, Alka is financially independent and is giving back to her church and community. Alka loves the story of Ruth in the Bible and is thankful for how God is working in her life.
* Name changed to protect safety of the individual