“I grew up in a Catholic family.
I felt as if I stood in front of an oddity. This is extremely rare, a catholic Indian, because only 3% of Indians are considered Christian at all. Let alone catholic. His voice was jolly and excited. I could tell that life was an experience of joy for pastor John. Whether it was old memories playing through the synapses of his mind or talking about today, he just seemed happy.
Pastor went on.
“When I was 17 my only brother committed suicide.I wanted to end my life as well. Before I ever had the chance to go through with it, a missionary shared the Gospel with me. I wanted more of this Jesus. I wanted to be a missionary too, to tell others of the One who saves. So I decided go go to Bible college even though I knew I might loose my life as well as my parents did not talk to me for three years.”
Instead of sadness, I saw joy. His face beaming, dark skin, hazelnut eyes. This man had came thousands of miles from home because of Christ. I paused and reflected on that. How many of us know what it’s like to cost us something for God? Let alone everything. To lose friend and family… I stood in the presence of someone who had been so faithful.
“I eventually married a nurse. We wanted kids very badly. Doctors told us our only chance was a test tube baby.
But oh, that is so expensive and chances are it might not work. We live in India, there are orphans everywhere. So we decided to adopt.”
A smile grew on my face! I figured finally there is a really happy part of this story. I was still awestruck I was even in this place.
No, not the Starbucks I was sitting in. That’s easy to get too, provided you can afford 32$ cups of flavored coffee.
Awestruck I was in this place. My life.
Just a few weeks ago I was dreaming of India. Today my visa came to me approved in the mail, and now I am sitting across from the founder of ASHA Mission. Pastor Babu John.
“So, how many did you adopt?” I asked pastor John, low-balling the number in my head. Perhaps he adopted like twenty kids?
“Well our goal was 5… Once people in the area found out we were adopting our doorbell would just ring.
We would open the door and a baby would just be dropped off. Soon after this started happening my wife became pregnant and we were so amazed by God’s faithfulness. Indeed he had placed the desire for kids in our heart, started a movement, and then rewarded us with our very own. It quickly grew.
When we reached 29 kids… I knew this was bigger than us. ASHA Mission had started.We grew and grew until 365 kids stayed with us. The most we had ever had. This was when the persecution began. For 6 months though it became very hard. I had to separate from my wive and kids. People of other religious beliefs were trying to kill me for this.”
This story kept getting crazier. John had experienced the whole spectrum of life. Persecution, adoption, suicide, banishment. It was fascinating to hear first-hand how one man in Jerusalem two thousand years ago had started a movement that would push men even today, to give everything.
“You see, I do not care about purely humanitarian acts. They are great but I WOULD RATHER DIE than not share the Gospel. And so the kids I take in hear about Jesus. And because of this many of them want to be missionaries. The persecution began to get so intense, my very life was at stake. I was red flagged so I couldn’t even fly out of my country without being killed. I had to leave to America. Since my wife was a nurse she got a job in Ft. Myers and by the grace of God we have been there since 2006. I was red flagged for two years. But now I am free of the stigma and can go back home.”
John began to tell me the details of his mission.
“As of today ASHA is in 5 different homes, we have 100 kids. Two of the homes are in Calcutta where you will be staying,
This is one of the darkest places in India. Impoverished slums. Temple worship. Prostitution. Leprosy. Even human sacrifice. These kids are brought out of this life and into a life with Jesus.”
It wasn’t all day, a handful of moments. And yet I knew a life had came into my presence that would touch my heart and change me. I was beaming, and I have not stopped smiling since this conversation with Babu.
Our afternoon continued with exchange of unbelievable stories of how our God had provided for us.
I want to leave you with this one last thing. ASHA. The reasons that word was chosen.
ASHA means hope. And I have hope for this place. These are the children of God we are rescuing. I want to watch the God of the universe reach down and show these kids another miracle of provision. I want to watch the God of the universe provide for this trip with just a few weeks time.
I want to capture the faces of these mere miracles and share them with the world. I want God to be my hands and feet. Be our hands and feet and do something bigger with us than we could ever do ourselves.
Please pray with me today for them!
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