#113. The Toilet Complex School

 Photo by Erin E Photography

I am a Christian in India, a country where only 3 percent of the population is Christian. I was raised by Christian parents in Tamil Nadu in Southern India. In 1981, my husband and I moved with our three children to Delhi in northern India. There I was a professor at the university. After this, I began to pray that God would show me how to serve Him. In December of 1989, it began. At the time, I was living in an apartment not far from a large slum of 25,000 people. One day a little boy knocked on my door and told me he was hungry. At first I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to give him food. But I felt God urging me to not only feed him but also to love and teach him. Every day he came to our apartment and I would love him and give him something to eat.

One day he brought nearly 25 children with him. I asked them why they had come and a little girl said, “We are hungry.” I thought perhaps I was making all of them beggars and I wasn’t sure I should give them food. I shut the door and walked inside. Then God started speaking to me. “We are hungry.” It grew in volume. Louder and louder, the words were banging in my brain. I began to cry and fell on my knees asking the Lord what I should do. And then I waited for the children to come back. After some time, the little boy came again. I took him in and told him he should not be a beggar. I told him he would learn with me for half an hour in return for a hot breakfast. A week later, several mothers from the slums came to our apartment with their children to admit their children into my school! I was very hesitant at first. I lived in an apartment complex, and I thought I had no right to bring the children into the complex because of the other people living there. But the children pleaded with me, so I agreed to teach them for some time.

One day one little boy was absent for two days; when he came back he didn’t know anything. He had forgotten everything I had taught him. I made him stay back with his sister after the other children left. I asked his sister what happened and she lifted his pants and I could see the marks around his legs. His sister told me that their father suspected he had stolen something and tied both legs with a rope and hung him upside down in their hut for a whole day. That really shook me. This was a real turning point for me. I told the Lord I would not leave the children. I felt like God could use me to help them.

A few months later I was teaching 100 students from the slum in my garage. I realized this wasn’t safe when one of the children was hit by a car waiting to get into my garage for school. He was unconscious and not breathing. I instructed the children to gather around him and we prayed that God would heal him and give him life. Praise God, his eyes opened and he stood up.

I went to the slum commissioner and asked if I could have a place in the slum to teach the children. He said I could use the room in the toilet complex which was meant as a night shelter for the homeless. I was shocked he would say this because it was not a decent place for a school. The man was asking me to do something I could not do. But then as I was looking at him, I didn’t see him anymore, but instead the manger scene came to my mind. I felt God asking me, “If I could come down into this place to save you to give you a hope and a future, will you now refuse to go inside this dirty place to give these children new life and a new hope?”

I said YES to teaching in the toilet complex. The stench was horrible but the children had a place to learn. By and by we used not only the toilet compound but also put tents there to accommodate 600 children in morning and afternoon shifts of school. The volunteer teachers taught them the Word of God and to pray. We also taught English, Math and Science, and Hindi.

More and more children came to the school and we desperately needed a new building. God sent help. In the early ‘90s, a man from the U.S. came to visit me. He was interested to see the work I was doing. When he went back to the U.S. he shared the story of our school at an elementary school in Kentucky. He asked the third graders to pray that God would give the children in the toilet school a new school building. The third graders prayed faithfully at school and also at home with their families. And God answered their prayers.

A father of one of the third graders came with a group to India and the day they were scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal, he said he would rather go to the slum school to see the children his son had been praying for. The whole group went with him. They wanted to help and provided the funds for us to buy the land for a school. Then we needed money for the building. On Saturdays, the teachers, students, and I fasted and prayed for a building.

Meanwhile, another third grader back in the U.S. was praying for our building too. His mother sent a check for $800 from a fundraiser at their church. This was the first money we had received towards the building. We thanked the Lord and asked Him to multiply it. Then other people provided help. A college student came from Kentucky to teach at our school. I asked him to help me write letters to people. His family got involved in funding, and in 2004, with the help of his family, we established a non-profit. Between the help from this family and other ministries, we started building the school. It was completed in 2005.  Shortly thereafter, the government gave approval for graduates of our school to apply to any college or institution. In 2016, 1,500 children were enrolled. To date, hundreds of our students have graduated to become change makers in India.

I was praying to serve the Lord, and He guided me in mysterious ways and showed me the part I should take. He showed me how to help thousands of children who otherwise would not have had a future. The Lord calls but He doesn’t end at a call. He walks alongside or in front of us. He never leaves us alone. And when He calls, His provision is sure. At times, I did not leave matters in the Lord’s hands, but whenever I did, He resolved it in a beautiful manner, in a way in which I couldn’t even have dared to imagine or think of.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. — Joshua 1:9  

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

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