I brought my rubber garden clogs for this very reason.
I remember very well the warm, sweaty, sunny day I found myself on the other side of the world—in a slum in Asia.
The sights and smells of the slum we visited assaulted me at every step. As I walked through the mud, avoiding piles of trash and keeping a sharp eye out for mice, I was glad to be wearing my trusty rubber clogs. Our guide, Sanjeep, a Gospel for Asia-supported missionary, lead us through a maze of leaning patchwork dwellings. We crossed active train tracks as trains screamed past us at a very uncomfortable proximity. We navigated around garbage heaps bigger than any city garbage dump I’ve seen.
As we neared our destination, I watched Sanjeep disappear through the doorway of a corrugated metal structure slightly bigger than a shed. It was raised three feet above the ground on a foundation of mud and sand bags to avoid flooding in the monsoon season. I climbed up the mud steps to the opening and found myself in a cramped family dwelling. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see the inside was divided into two rooms by a half wall. One large bed took up most of the space in the front room.
Our host, Bharat, husband and father of the family who lived here, urged us all to sit. My husband, our guide Sanjeep, and Bharat’s wife and son all piled on the bed. I shared a plastic chair with Naya, a Sister of Compassion who had accompanied us. She and two other sisters lived and worked in this slum alongside Sanjeep.
Our host, Bharat, greeted us with a thousand-kilowatt smile. He did not speak English, but he communicated eager hospitality and excitement very clearly. As Sanjeep translated for him, Bharat asked if he could share how he came to know of Jesus. His face beamed with eagerness as he began.Bharat had been living in this slum for many years. He remembers when Sanjeep first came to this slum several years ago. Sanjeep had been sharing God’s love for several weeks and offered to pray for people’s needs. There was no interest, however, and many of the men in the slum threatened Sanjeep. He decided to visit another area in the city instead and left the slum.
But there was one man who had been impacted by Sanjeep’s offering of God’s love. At one point, he read a tract about Jesus and was overwhelmed with the love of God displayed through Him. Bharat was immediately transformed. He eagerly shared with his family, who also embraced the Lord’s love.
Bharat was so excited about the new life he had, he couldn’t help but tell others in the slum about Jesus’ great love. Many more people in the slum decided to follow the Lord, and more than 25 people began gathering together for prayer in Bharat’s home.
About a year later, Sanjeep came back to the slum he had been chased from. When he came, he was astonished to find Bharat was already gathering people into his home for prayer. That was the beginning of the church in this slum.
I sat spell bound by the amazing testimony of this brother. Through the power of God’s Word found in a tract, Bharat was transformed by Christ’s love, and a church was born from the passion of his heart.
As we picked our way back home, slipping through the mud, all I could see was the beaming faces of this family who had so little but were so rich. They were rich in gratitude, rich in hope and rich in faith. I took that gratitude, hope and faith home with me and continue to be inspired by it to this day.
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