India (MNN/GFA) — Some people spend their entire lives trying to escape poverty. For those fortunate enough to get out, not many would want to return. But that’s exactly what one Gospel for Asia preacher did.
Pastor Marty grew up under a bridge in the slums of Mumbai, India. Like most slum children, he grew up playing with friends and experiencing the joy of childhood amidst extreme poverty.
But soon, the reality of Marty’s struggles settled in. His father, a severe alcoholic, would waste what little money his family had. He soon died, forcing Marty and his brother to find work.
“I remember searching through garbage bins just to find small pieces of bread to fill my stomach. This was my childhood every day,” Marty said in an interview with Gospel for Asia through a translator.
Marty found a ray of hope when a pastor began preaching in his village. He gave his life to Christ and began developing a relationship with God.
But the ray soon disappeared as Marty’s struggles worsened. Now with a family of his own, Marty struggled to provide for his wife and son. When his son fell seriously ill, Marty lost all hope.
“I couldn’t care for my family’s basic needs,” Marty told GFA. “I wanted to kill myself.”
All along, members of the local church had been praying for the boy’s healing. And when his son miraculously recovered, Marty praised God.
“I cried to the Lord, ‘Use me for Your glory,’” he told GFA.
And he meant it. Marty enrolled in Bible college to become a pastor, but he never forgot the suffering of his childhood.
After graduation, Marty returned to the slums, where children lacked education, clothes, and other necessities. Now, he is sharing Jesus and meeting the same needs he himself once faced.
Through the support of GFA, Marty started a Bridge of Hope center on the top of his home. Kids receive a free meal, an education, and they are shown Christ’s love. And the ministry is growing–Marty had to request extra help to meet the increase of students.
“It gives me great joy in the Lord to see how He is drastically changing lives,” Marty told GFA.
The slums of South Asia face great need, both physically and spiritually. Nearly 25% of the urban population in South Asia’s major cities lives in the slums. Open sewage, illiteracy, and disease are just part of the problem. Parents struggle to find work, so many turn to begging, prostitution, or alcohol.
That’s why Gospel for Asia has stepped in. Since 1999, GFA has been providing free medical clinics and helping to educate people on basic hygiene and preventative health measures. Workers provide reading classes for adults and hold Sunday schools. GFA also trains and equips missionaries to expand the message of Jesus throughout the slums.
You, too, can help GFA fight poverty and share the hope of Christ. Pray that GFA workers would effectively meet physical needs and share the Gospel. Pray also that those struggling through poverty would be open to the message of Jesus. Help meet these needs by donating to GFA’s slum ministry fund.