It was pure chaos.
On a warm summer night in southern India, ITMI’s Paul and his wife, Molly, were in the heart of one of the toughest slums in the city with their 23 children.
Youth of all ages from the slum in southern India were shouting at the makeshift stage, their hands waving high in the air. There were thousands of them, packed into every crevice and cranny.
On a previous occasion in this same slum, leaders from Paul’s church invited the locals to a similar outreach. It ended with a gang of youth threatening to throw stones at them!
But this time...it was different.
Molly, who typically avoids the spotlight, had told Paul earlier that day, “I want to share the gospel tonight.” Molly doesn’t speak the local language.
Remembering the threats, Paul tried to protect her. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea…”
But Molly insisted. This is what the Spirit was leading her to do. With the threatening gang on hand, Molly took the stage.
ITMI's Paul and Molly, India
“Look at your palm. Can you count the lines?” Molly challenged from the stage. Listeners of all ages quickly engaged with her.
“Do I count the small ones?” some shouted back, as others shouted how many lines their hands had.
“I can’t count!” others shouted.
“Maybe your neighbor can help!” Molly suggested, fielding the barrage of questions easily.
It was pandemonium. Reigning the crowd back in, Molly proclaimed, “The God I believe in and trust and walk with knows every hair on my head.”
Then, slowing every word for emphasis, she said tenderly, “He knows every line on my hands.”
“She got a big response,” Paul remembered. Some of the audience teared up.
Paul wrapped it up. “Do you want this big God to be your friend? We are not here to bring religion. Do you want to be able to talk to this big God about your problems?"
“You did a good program,” the gang members roughly admitted afterward.
This story of the Holy Spirit’s work through Molly and in this slum is amazing. But it isn’t even the real story.
So, what’s the real story?
The real story starts five years ago, with a pastor and church planter discipling other men in his church to be leaders. As Paul discipled leaders in his church, they began reaching out to one of the toughest slums in their city.
Women sit by the paths in the slum.
Things were slow at first. They partnered with another organization to offer eye clinics. Then later, general medical checkups.
Building on the openings they created with these clinics, they began offering soccer programs for the youth.
Eventually, the kids’ lack of help with schoolwork came to light, and Paul and his leaders opened a tutoring center. Every school day from 5:30-7pm a tutor teaches science and math.
They also saw the need for clean water that slum residents could safely access, and had several boreholes installed right within the slum.
The small, one-room tutoring center for the children in the slum.
Many residents no longer had to leave the slum by crossing dangerous railroad tracks to fetch water.
Some of the leaders began going to the tutoring center on Sundays at 3pm to teach a Sunday School. They teach Bible verses, skits and Christian songs.
Last Christmas, Paul and Molly and their children (all 23) visited the slum with gifts and food.
This also became one of the 8 places the church offered a VBS program each May.
Open air VBS closing program in the slum.
This year, they learned about “The Armor of God” and many attended the closing ceremony at the end of the week.
These programs are well received by the children, who aren’t the recipients of programs designed for them or much attention from adults in general.
VBS is well-received by the children of the slum.
But. It isn’t all rosy.
There are gangs and prostitution throughout the area.
An organized extremist group that is based just a couple blocks away doesn’t approve of their influence in the area.
Still, Paul’s church will continue to press into the needs of this slum, particularly, the need to know the big God that knows the lines on each of their hands and each hair on their heads.