Longing to breathe free
By Jen and the Urban Development Project (UDP) staff | India in South Asia
Last year a terrible blanket of dark, choking smog engulfed the city of Delhi in India—the worst smog in 17 years. The Diwali firecrackers and crop burning in neighboring states, compounded with exhaust and fumes from millions of vehicles and factories, led to an almost week-long shutdown. One CNN article declared alarmingly, “Fresh air in New Delhi does not exist at the moment!”
There’s another kind of choking, suffocating imprisonment that many in India know well: the trap of drug and substance abuse. Few escape; those in its grip breathe the choking smog of bondage, one desperate puff after another.
Pastor Shravan*, a former addict, has been in that place of bondage. And his life mission is to prevent anyone he can from staying in that dark, destructive place. This Bible-believing pastor recently met with workers from the Urban Development Project (UDP?), which helps connect and train churches in the slums to meet the needs of their communities. Pastor Shravan’s goal: to join forces against drug and substance abuse in his city.
Through connections of UDCP?, Pastor Shravan began to follow up on leads of adolescents struggling with drug addictions. In one encounter, he planned to meet an eight-year-old boy named Kamal*. Kamal lived in a shanty in one of the slum colonies of Northwest Delhi, where cardboard shelters, dilapidated homes, and makeshift tents crowd up against each other.
After searching for Kamal’s home among the slum dwellings for two days, Pastor Shravan finally found it—but Kamal had disappeared.
“He’s not here,” Kamal’s mother told Pastor Shravan. “He’s probably out somewhere getting high on fluid or petrol and won’t return home until late tonight.”
The disappointing search for Kamal led Pastor Shravan to many other boys who spend their time doing odd jobs and stealing to satisfy their urge to get high.
The common thread that runs through all their young lives is a longing to be free once again. Before the lies and deception of drugs snatched their dreams, their imagination and yes, their freedom.
In the days that followed, Pastor Shravan tried to take the boys he’d met to the local de-addiction centre, but many didn’t want to go, and their parents couldn’t offer much support. But Pastor Shravan is not easily deterred. He continues to follow up with the boys to build healthy relationships with them over time. He has yet to meet Kamal, but he presses on in his efforts and in prayer until he sees a breakthrough in the lives of these children.
“I want each of these boys to know that his body is a temple of the living God, and it is not theirs to destroy,” he says. “My dream is to see these boys live and breathe free once again. I want them to know this living God and to serve Him by helping those who are also struggling with the same things.”
Pray with us
Pray for the children of Delhi who are caught in addiction—that God would free them and make them whole again.
Pray for Kamal, that God would reach him and break through the addictions that hold him captive. Pray that God would lead Pastor Shravan to this precious boy and offer him freedom through the living God.
Pray for Pastor Shravan—for spiritual and physical protection, for “God encounters” with boys who need healing and who need Christ, and for a mighty ministry that sets many in Delhi free from bondage to addiction.
Pray that boys will want freedom so badly that they will be willing to go to drug rehabilitation centres, and that their parents will fight for their young children’s lives.
Pray for the ministry of UDP/C?. Pray that UDP/C? will touch many lives and expand its ministry throughout the city and country, and that God will create healthy, multiplying connections between local workers like Pastor Shravan and people who can benefit from its services.
Cry out to God on behalf of the slum children of India like Kamal. These children often have no schooling and little parental supervision and protection, and are vulnerable to many evils: rape, abduction, sex trafficking, drug addiction, exploitation, violence. Ask God to send Bible-believing workers into these hard areas to provide safe places for these children, to teach them trades that will keep them off the streets, and teach them about Jesus.
*Names have been changed.