Some time ago a Hindu gentleman was asked, “Who is a Christian?” He gave an answer that was both very simple and surprising. A Christian is someone who gives of himself.
I know many Christians may not agree with this answer but this is true. God gave us His Son not because we were rich or worthy or highly educated but because He saw our helpless state of sin. Jesus Christ, while on the earth gave us the greatest command to love our neighbour as our selves. The question that each one of us reading this book needs to ask is, How am I to love my neighbour as myself?
The answer is, by giving our time, money, health and above all showering them with the love of Christ. But we Christians in our Christian race to reach heaven are so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. We are so focused on getting to heaven that we forget to look and see what is happening. Often we forget the purpose behind God calling us and setting us apart. God has called us to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free. From the very start, we believe that to be a Christian is nothing other than to give oneself for the sake of Christ. God so loved the world that He gave us His Son. That was the first act of self-giving. His Son was given to us because He wanted to be one with us, like us in every way except sin. He wanted to pass on to us the opportunity to give ourselves to Him, so we could turn our love for Him into living deeds.
As I got into the ministry, I decided that I would give my time, health and wealth for the poor and oppressed in the society. I would express my love to the Lord by loving them and being their hands and feet.
Whenever I went to Mumbai (Bombay) I visited the slums and saw many boys and girls wandering through the streets not knowing who their parents are and where they would spend the night. If you ever pass through the streets of Mumbai, you will see children doing all kinds of awful jobs just to feed their hungry stomachs. Though child labor is banned in India, most of the restaurants and shops employ children under the age of 18. The employers are keen on employing these little children because they can be easily exploited, made to work for longer hours and paid very little or no wages. But not all children are lucky to get menial jobs to fill their stomachs. Not all are born with good health and many of them are victims of chronic illness. The question is, what do these children do to feed themselves who are too small or sick to work? They are not blessed with caring and loving parents whose priority is feeding their children. The sad part is not many kids know who their parents are or where their house is.
Mumbai is one of the largest and fastest growing metropolitan cities in India. Industrially and commercially with thousands of large factories, Mumbai is a thriving city in a modernising India. But with economic growth comes the people who flock to the cities in hope of finding work. And the city of Mumbai cannot support their demands. Therefore the city’s slums are a grim reality. With thousands of slums and the estimated 12 million slum dwellers, Mumbai is having one of the worldÌs largest, if not largest slum area growths.
If you happen to visit the railway stations in the major cities of India, you will find these children sleeping covered with mud and dirt on the pavements and on the railway platforms. Most of them stink terribly and are blanketed with flies. But they are not aware they need to have a shower and put on clean clothes to keep off flies. For them being blanketed with flies has become a part of their lives and they are not concerned about keeping themselves hygienic. If you tell them to take a shower, the question they ask is, Who will give us clothes to change? So most of these street kids hardly take a shower or change their clothes. Since these children live in such grubby, unclean and unhygienic environments, they have various types of skin diseases and other chronic illnesses. The most pitiful sight is when these children loiter near the restaurants waiting for the customers to throw their leftover food into the trash bin so that they can all grab one bite each. Seeing the plight of these innocent children with no future, I was disturbed and my heart was heavy. I knew many of these little girls would turn to prostitution and the little boys would become drug peddler and criminals. I was burdened to do something for them. I often imagined myself standing before the judgment throne and God saying to me,
“I was hungry and you gave me no meal
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink
I was homeless and you gave me no bed
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes Sick and in prison, and you never visited.”
(Matthew 25: 42, the Message)
I shared my concern of starting an orphanage for these helpless children with my friends, Randy and Mitchell. They were instantly filled with great joy as they too shared the same thoughts that I had and were about to bring the same to my attention. Without delay, they prayerfully donated some amount of money for this noble cause and thus we started the Sathya Nikethan, an orphanage at Mumbai for children. We reminded ourselves that todayÌs children are tomorrow’s citizens.
With much prayer and determination to create a better society, Sathyam Ministries opened its first orphanage in Mumbai on February 17, 2004. Sathya Niketan or “Shelter of Truth” was inaugurated just on the outskirts of Mumbai, mere miles away from what is known to be the largest slum in Asia. On the inauguration ceremony of Sathya Niketan, many government officials and elite in the society honoured us with their presence and assured us of their moral support for this noble cause. Pr. David Mills from California, USA honoured us by dedicating Sathya Niketan for the glory of God. Today Sathya Niketan is a witness of GodÌs faithfulness to the poor, fatherless and the needy.
At present Sathya Niketan is a home for 50 children. Sathya Niketan is definitely home for these children because they are blanketed with love and care by are dedicated staff who spend their days and nights with these adorable little children. We hope to provide these children with good health care, the best education possible, nutritious food and above all with love and compassion. We try to provide not only physical care to these children but also spiritual. We have constructed a permanent building for the orphanage in the newly owned seminary campus.
These children are hungry for God and love. These children are gems because they give us a lot of love and joy by accepting us. They are grateful for the shelter they have. They have no complaints with the food provided and are happy with the clothes they wear. For them every broken toy is a treasure that they cherish. Above all, they appreciate the little things we do for them.
When I see these innocent children, the smiles on their faces, their enthusiasm to study and involvement in extracurricular activities, tears trickle down my cheek. It is the tears of joy for these children who have been pulled out of the clutches of poverty, drugs and other abuses and given new life. And when I see these children I am assured that our efforts are not in vain but will produce better citizens for the country and bring glory to His name