Recently I was visiting India and was very impressed by what I heard of a beautiful ministry of compassion. I asked Lynn Fernandes to write it up for my blog:
Around December 2007, a few of us from Living Word Church, Mumbai, India, felt sovereignly lead by God from a verse in Is 58:7 ” …is it not to share your food with the hungry, to provide the wonderer with shelter, to cloth the naked, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.” In short, to do something for the poor.
There were so many poor people around us. Where were we to start and how were we to go about doing what we felt lead to?
Feeding of the Poor
We started off one Wednesday in December 2007 with 18 packed lunches and went looking for the very poor who had no means of sustenance. We thought the railway stations in crowded Mumbai were the best places to start from. After a few weeks of going there we realized we needed to get to a group that was located at one place. We found such a group of men at a non-descript beach called Mahim in Mumbai city.
We encountered a motley crowd of impoverished men, high on drugs and alcohol, deeply wounded, rejects of society, clothed in rags, who had nowhere to live. They spent their days and nights on the beach and ventured into the city to try and make a quick buck. These rejects of society came from all parts of India in search of employment.
By the grace of God we felt this was the place we were supposed to reach out with the love of Christ. Within a couple of months and with a few more hands we were packing 180 to 200 boxes of lunch every Wednesday. We shared the food and the love of Christ and the gospel with them. We also prayed with many of them.
Binding their Wounds
Our interactions with them softened our own hearts and loosened our purse strings. Money kept flowing in from the church members as they heard what was happening. We were touching the lives of those who had nothing. We discovered that some of them were AIDs patients in their last stages. Some needed hospitalization and others needed treatment for medical ailments. We even had to cremate one man whom we had hospitalized and who sadly succumbed to his condition. We soon had to have our medical van visit the place on a weekly basis to administer medication to those who had no means of access to medical help.
We had opportunities to pray with many of them and a couple of them even started attending our meetings .
Divine Encounter – saved from suicide
During one of these Wednesdays we had a lady running to us from the shoreline. She was shivering and shaking and wet from the waist down. She proceeded to tell us that, as she passed us on the way to committing suicide by drowning , she felt something telling her to get out of the water and meet us. She was an executive in a company and had reached the end of herself. She was depressed and fed up of life. We prayed with her, shared the hope that comes from the gospel and subsequently led her to the Lord. We have been in touch with her since. She is well, alive and back with her family, but unable to come to church because of the usual constraints.
Out on the streets we were challenged a lot to do what Jesus would. At one time there was a man with wounds all over his chest, bleeding profusely as he lay on the street helpless. Like the others, we passed him by and then realized we had to do something. So two of our guys lifted him up, put him in a taxi and took him to a municipal hospital where he was treated.
A new site
Our work in this area came to an end as the police had to safe guard the coast line after the terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26 November 2009. Almost immediately God lead us to a street outside a cancer hospital. The poor from all states of India come in with their sick members. While the individual is in hospital those accompanying them live on the street. It is heart-breaking to see the suffering and plight of these poor people.
We help them out with food, clothing and occasionally medicine. This group of people listen eagerly to the gospel and call on us to pray for them. Last week (10th of November 2010) a lady walked up to us and told us how four months back we prayed for her husband who had a tumour in the brain. They specifically asked us to pray that he would not need an operation. She said the tumour has gone and he did not need an operation. She acknowledged that it is all because of Jesus. On Sunday, 14th November 2010, one of the family members from the street visited our church. We spent a lot of time with him and are assisting him to get a job.
We thank God for leading us to carry His heart for the poor and for the strength and labourers to do His will. Money for this work has come from the volunteers themselves and from other church members. Every Wednesday is exciting.