Amol has been instrumental in founding the Place of Refuge home for orphaned and abused children. Loosing his own father (an elecrtician) to a fatal shock 14 years ago no doubt has been a compelling thrust for his heart to minister to fatherless children.
Amol comes from a home where his mom was Christian and his dad was Hindu. At one point, Amol began the process of becoming a Roman Catholic priest, but God has had His hand on Amols life and began drawing him to Himself. A visiting pastor to his region shared a bible with Amol who began studying the Word of God and became convinced that Jesus was who He said he was. Amol gave his life to Christ.
4 years ago, Amol was invited to be apart of the SCP work in India. He says that the values emphasized through SCP resonated so deeply with his vision all along which was to take Jesus everywhere. “SCP brought words to what I was already doing…..a true Acts 5 model”.
Her childhood was anything but stable. Gia’s dad came from affluent Bollywood and all that implies. Her parents ran away and had a court marriage when they became pregnant with Gia, considered aborting her. Gia was delivered into a family with intense clashed between her mom’s catholic family and her dad’s muslim background. Neither side of the family accepting of the marriage or welcoming of Gia. Even as a toddler, Gia remembers the carousing, drinking, orgies, gambling and fast living in her home that were the backdrop for her childhood.
From the ripe age of 4, Gia remembers feeling demonic presence in the house. Her fear would intensify whenever the muslim call of prayer would take place. When she was 5 years old, Gia remembers standing at the window when the call for prayer went up. She remembers crying out “I want to know the truth. I want to know the Truth”. At that moment, she had a vision of Jesus standing beside her and the fear was washed away. “I understood immediately that there was power in the name of Jesus. Not in the Koran. Not in Islam. Not in Allah.” For the first time that night, she had no fear of the dark and sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit with her.
And while she carried Truth with her, Gia’s life was about to go from bad to worse. At 6 years old, Gia was thrown out of the house by her father. Her mom, finally tiring of his chasing after other women, walked out on the family. The society places value on boys over girls, so Gia’s dad kept Gia’s little brother and turned her out on the street telling her to go find her mother. “I felt no fear because I knew Jesus was with me. I felt joy and freedom to follow Jesus with no Islam in my life”.
Indian kids grow up with a kind of street-smart that is inconceivable to us in the west. Gia found her mom and lived with her. When her mom got a job teaching at a Christian boarding school, Gia was provided with the opportunity to get a Christian education.
As a young adult, Gia met her future husband Aun. Her dream of a white wedding in a church was not an option. Aun at this time was a Bohra Muslim and it didn’t take long for their unequally yolked religions to wreak havoc on their marriage.
Gia laments that she had two abortions during this time. Not wanting to bring children into the mess of her marriage, she was deceived into thinking that she was protecting her babies by ending their lives. And yet, even with so much devastation, broken relationships and woundedness, God had a plan for redemption and to use Gia’s testimony for good in her life and for Gods glory!
Desiring to honor God with her marriage even as bad as it was, Gia prayed fervently for her husband, fasting and asking God to bring him to Himself. Gia says “I learned to be quiet and just pray”. Humbly and with his permission, Gia would pray for him when he had ulcers and migraines….and immediately he would be healed. In time, Aun committed his life to the Lord and God blessed them with 3 children, Nathaniel, Nathan and Abigail.
Aun and Gia moved 17 times in 25 years of marriage – evangelizing neighborhoods wherever they went. 5 years ago, they were introduced to Saturation Church Planting. Before this time, their frame of reference for church planting was constructing a building….which didn’t resonate with their hearts. With tears in her eyes, Gia shared how influential SCP has been to them to be able to equip their people with the values of intimacy with God and how to use their giftings and grace story. She describes it as transformational.
“SCP brought words to our doings” says Aun.
They elaborated that SCP provided authentic relationships with leadership who offered direction and mentoring and a safe place to grow.
The concept of “church planting” became transformed lives for Christ rather than a constructed buildings to gather people.
Out of this home, God has used these willing vessels as key instruments to see his Church flourish. Aun and Gia, knowing that travel is impossible for the people in the Bandra slums in Mumbai, have positioned themselves among those people. They live on the outskirts of the slums where they can daily interact with these people and minister to them. From their congregation that meets in a shack down a sketchy alleyway, they have raised up women and men who have gone back to their slums and planted churches. Additionally, these passionate believers have taken Christ back to their villages of origin and seen them evangelized for Christ.
Joy and Tabitha have been apart of the Saturation Church Planting India team since its inception. This Godly couple has faithfully modeled the values of SCP in the way they have creatively and intentionally addressed the needs in their community and used that as a platform for their witness. They took me to the neighborhood where they pastor a church. Many in their congregation are from the impoverish community around them. Homes are dilapidated. Families are broken. Alcoholism is rampant. Abuse occurs frequently.
We were guests in the home of one of their church members Antoinette who has been a believer for 20 years now. In addition to raising three children of her own, she opens the doors of her tiny home every evening for 30+ young children to come for tutoring. The home is a modest 12×8 foot room that she tutors in, a tiny kitchen, and a rusty ladder that leads up to a loft where the family bunks together. Because many of the parents in the neighborhood are illiterate, Antoinette has the sole responsibility of helping them complete homework tasks.
Joy and Tabitha stopped in her tiny home to encourage her and pray for her and for her alcoholic husband who often beats her and recently caused her a traumatic brain bleed. And still, she smiles and serves and exudes the joy of the Lord.
Antoinette graciously offered us cold juice as we sat cross legged on the floor in her home, door open inviting a breeze to keep the stifling heat at bay. Neighbor children peeked around the door frame giggling at the white woman in the neighborhood. Antoinette kindly introduced her neighbors. Privacy is a commodity that no one can afford with paper thin walls and no locks and bolts. Her life is an open book and her home has an open door. And the presence of Christ is evident to all who are graced with her smile that shows contentment in the Lord even in the midst of such a troubled life! God is taking the broken pieces of her life and using her as a vessel to minister to those around her.
Joy and Tabitha also took me to a facility they have acquired to offer sewing/tailoring classes for young girls in the surrounding predominantly Muslim community. 30+ school drop-outs between the ages of 13 and 20 come to learn a trade that will be marketable and potentially provide them an alternative to working in beer bars or prostituting themselves. In a society that devalues women, it is imperative they have means for helping support the family. A woman from Joy and Tabitha’s church trains the girls and equips them with the skill and knowledge to begin a business of tailoring on their own. A current need is for sewing machines to provide girls with whats needed to branch out on their own and begin a business. Machines are $100.
In addition to setting them up to be contributing members for their families, these girls are also being mentored and witnessed to. Their day opens with prayer before sewing classes start and some of these girls have begun coming to the church and taking the truth back to their own homes. Meeting this need for young girls has opened the door to be a witness to the Muslim community.
Tabitha and Joy have a vision to do much more among the people they have been called to share Christ with. Tabitha is a doctor with a vision to open a dental clinic which would operate on a sliding scale. Orthodontic care is not readily available and is generally too pricy for those less affluent. Under her vision, she would be able to charge fair prices to the wealthy and then offer dental care to those who cant afford it at a steeply discounted rate.
Additionally, they are in the beginning stages of opening a micro business. Scripture embroidered on pillow cases, pouches and T-shirts will be a way to send the Word into homes and to generate employment opportunities for even more in the impoverished community. Meeting these basic needs opens the door to relate to needy people and to develop relationships that set the stage for them to encounter Christ.