Born poor into a small tribal village in central India,
Sanjay* was left to fend for himself when both of his
parents died within a year. His older half-brothers sold the
family’s belongings and ran off with the meager profits.
Little Sanjay was heartbroken, alone, and furious.
At age 12, Sanjay headed straight to the nearest train
station, slipped into an open train car, and woke up 125
kilometres away from everything he had ever known. He
was cold and hungry, in a strange place where he knew no
one. He ate spoiled food out of garbage cans just to survive.
Nothing but Abuse
Eventually, he found a job washing dishes at a small roadside
food stand. But the unscrupulous owner knew that this
12-year-old boy was a runaway orphan and took advantage
of him. Sanjay was subjected to emotional and sexual abuse.
When he could take it no more, Sanjay fled. Again.
A pattern of new job—new city—new job—new city
developed. Washing dishes, begging, cleaning houses,
field work, selling trinkets to tourists. Sanjay bounced
from one city to another, from one job to another. Each
time, in each new city, he was cheated, taken advantage
of, abused. This went on for the next twenty years—abuse
became the only constant in Sanjay’s life.
Over time, ill-treatment forged in Sanjay a smoldering
intolerance for injustice.
Eventually, Sanjay met and married his wife and started
a family. Their lives were hard but at least now they had
each other. And after a few more years, they discovered a
powerful new source of Hope—one that would radically
impact Sanjay’s life and the lives of those around him.
In 2001, Sanjay finally met someone who didn’t take
advantage of him. Pastor Anup befriended him and over
the course of a year, told him about Christ. Responding to
God’s love, Sanjay and his whole family declared Jesus as
Lord and were baptized
Sanjay, like many new Christians in India, took on a new
name: Joseph. It was a fitting choice for a man who was
emerging from a pit in his own life. And like Joseph, God
was preparing to use Sanjay in a mighty way.
Faith in Action in a Garbage Dump
The family settled into some vacant land on the outskirts of the
city, adjacent to a dump. To earn a living, they pick out rags,
cardboard, glass, plastic; anything that can be sold to a recycler.
It’s filthy, degrading work that only pays about a dollar a day.
As squatters, living on public land in homes made of
plastic, cardboard, and tarps, they had no electricity, no
bathroom facilities, and no drinking water. Families lined
up with their buckets at a government tanker truck that
stopped nearby every other day.
GOD *name changed to protect those involved
STARTING NEW CHURCHES I INDIA