Sharing Jesus With the ‘Slumdogs’ of Mumbai

by | Apr 28, 2009 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Before Slumdog Millionaire made the world’s largest garbage dump famous, Biju Thampy was feeding the children who live there.

The Deonar garbage dump in Mumbai, India, is certainly not a glamorous location for a movie. The first thing that hit me was the smell—an awful combination of urine, rotting food and toxic fumes. But what made me nauseous was watching dozens of skinny Indian children forage through the mountainous heaps of trash looking for their next meal.

Welcome to Mumbai, a city of 24 million made famous last year by Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. The lead character in the movie, a boy named Jamal, grows up near the vast garbage dump (reportedly the world’s largest), watches his mother die and then is coerced by a mafia boss into begging for rupees with other love-starved orphans.

“I used to ask God why people suffer like this. Finally I came to the place where I stopped asking questions and started being the answer.” -Biju Thampy

If you are wondering whether the film was an accurate portrayal of the poorest kids in India, ask Biju Thampy, 37, an evangelist from south India who moved to Mumbai in 2006 with his wife, Secunda. They came to the city after hearing about a child in the slums who was drinking milk from a dog. Today Biju and his Vision Rescue team drive two school buses into the Deonar dump to feed 800 kids six days a week.

“I used to ask God why people suffer like this,” Biju told me as we drove through the narrow dirt roads next to rickety, one-room houses made of tin and scrap wood. “Finally I came to the place where I stopped asking questions and started being the answer.”

With his education and excellent English, Biju could be making lots of money in India or anywhere in the West. But after seeing the needs in the slum his heart broke. Today Proverbs 24:11 is one of his life verses: “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, oh hold them back” (NASB).

As Slumdog Millionaire proved, images of poverty can be powerful. I asked Biju what he had seen in the slums of Mumbai that moved him to action. He quickly rattled off a list:

** He often sees children walking in open drains full of sewage. The kids have no access to health care.

** He once saw a sick woman lying on a sidewalk. She had been thrown out of her small slum house because of her illness. He also saw a boy lying dead in a road after he was run over by a bulldozer. “Life here feels very undignified,” he says.

** He recently led an abused, AIDS-infected prostitute to Christ. The girl owed money to her pimp, so Biju asked him how much it would cost to free her. The answer was $18. Biju paid the money and the girl enjoyed serving Jesus before she died.

** Biju sometimes sees children without hands or eyes—and he knows some have been maimed on purpose, just like the boy in Slumdog who was blinded with acid by his owners. “Some parents also send these disabled children out in the streets to beg,” he told me.

** In 2008 Biju began taking teams into Kamathipura, Mumbai’s famous red light district, to pray for the young women there. He learned that the prostitutes sometimes give their kids alcohol to drink so they will sleep while they service their customers. Today the Vision Rescue team has opened a day care center for those children.

Last Thursday I boarded the Vision Rescue bus and watched as about 40 children learned to write simple Hindi phrases on chalk boards. These kids get some simple education and Bible lessons before they are fed a hot lunch of rice and vegetables. Once a week they also get eggs, bread and milk. I prayed with the children and then looked outside the bus to see dozens more waiting their turn.

Biju feeds 800 kids a week, but there are millions of children in this slum. I wondered if that was discouraging, but Biju lit up as he told me about a six-year-old boy named Raj who was rescued two years ago.

“He was skin and bones, and he had run away from home because his father killed his mother and was beating him,” Biju said. “He had a wound on his head. He came up and asked me, ‘Can I go with you?'”

Biju was able to take Raj to the city of Goa, where his sister Beena runs a children’s home. When he visited there recently, Raj told Biju that he wants to be a pastor when he grows up. “That makes it all worth it,” Biju says. “What keeps me going is knowing that one child at a time is being saved.”

Biju is now teaching all the young people on his team to care—not for the crowds, but for the one. “God is leading us these days to focus on the one sheep that is lost, and on the one lost coin. Jesus cares about the one.”

In Slumdog Millionaire, an orphan who grew up in Mumbai ended up winning millions of dollars in a game show—plus he found fairytale romance with the girl of his dreams. That was a movie, and not a likely scenario for the kids at the Deonar dump. But because one man felt the heart of God for this harsh place, it is much more likely that many of these kids will discover the life-transforming love of the Savior.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. Below are some photos of Vision Rescue’s work in Mumbai. Go to www.visionrescue.org in for more information about Vision Rescue. Click here if you’d like to help contribute to their work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Have We Departed From the  Simplicity of Christ?

Have We Departed From the Simplicity of Christ?

Recently I heard a pastor say the following: "When I was pastoring and saw little fruit, I began to call those with potential to reach others for Christ to our home and to mentor them one on one. That's where massive growth happened in the people." Local pastors and...

Take the Fight to the Enemy, Before He Strikes at You

Take the Fight to the Enemy, Before He Strikes at You

Read Time: 3 Minutes 7 Seconds “When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold,” (2 Sam. 5:17). When David heard that he was under...

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Read Time: 3 Minutes 56 Seconds God is good. And He has a good plan for each of our lives. No matter what may be going on right now, God’s plan is unfolding. In the meantime, Romans 12:12 tells us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,”...

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Read Time: 2 minutes 26 seconds The term "gaslighting" has gone viral across social media this year and Merriam-Webster chose it as their word-of-the-year, saying searches for the word spiked 1,740% in 2022 alone. We're breaking down what the Bible has to say about...

RECENT ARTICLES

WATCH: Vlad Savchuck: Life, Health and the Bible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZdzLoS3wCM During a recent visit to @HungryGeneration, Pastor Vlad Savchuk asked Bill Wiese to comment on his personal experience applying the Word of God to his own...
Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Read Time: 4 Minutes 2 Seconds When I first became a believer in 1970, my mother was one of my first “converts," giving her heart to Jesus as soon as I shared with her the beauty, the power and the opportunity of making Jesus the Lord of her life. However, my father...

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

Read Time: 1 Minute 32 Seconds The last six years have been the best of times and the worst of times. I’ve seen more death, destruction, disease and devastation than I care to remember. I’ve also seen the hand of God move in extraordinary ways. Indeed, sometimes I...

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Read Time: 3 Minutes 41 Seconds I was remembering a time when my husband and I were praying over friends who had been in a situation for many years that had caused deep trauma to their souls. As we were praying for them, I became aware of an angel standing over them...

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds Do you believe the Lord is concerned about your emotional and spiritual health? He is. He wants you to know how to improve your emotional and spiritual health to be resilient in turbulent times. One of the most powerful things you can...

Pin It on Pinterest