We are just coming to the end of our third day here in Chennai and our second day of interviewing some amazing families with their beautiful children.
As Phil wrote yesterday these families live in a very small one room home with on average 4-6 people sharing, but yesterday I met children from a family of 11 members – grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. This is not unusual!
One of the things that completely amazes me is how these people are always so well turned out, they look very clean and well presented; I just don’t know how they manage to do it. No-one has a toilet or running water in their home. – some say “in my home” but this means a bucket that they carry somewhere to empty. They have to use a shared, public facility and on occasions you wouldn’t even want to walk past these buildings, let alone go inside to use them. We even saw one lady who seemed to have set up her home on the wall outside the toilets where she was sleeping.
Apart from the conditions these families live in, there are additional heart-wrenching situations for so many of them. Lots of the men here are alcoholics and spend a good proportion of their very little income on drink and then come home to beat their wives and, on some occasions, their children.
Today I met a young teenage girl who told me that last night when her Dad was drunk he hit her and then made her sleep outside. When Sharon said she was sorry that she had been through that, the young girl smiled and Sharon asked her why she was smiling when she had been hit and her response was “I am smiling because I have Jesus”. The faith of these people is amazing that they can still smile through such awful circumstances. Unfortunately that young girl’s story is just one of many. A number of children asked me to pray for their drunk fathers and told me that they were scared of their Dads.
An average monthly income for most of the families in the slums is between £20 and £50 and this can be after working extremely long hours, especially if you are working as a house servant. One family of 7 with a monthly income of £20 asked for prayer today as they cannot afford to stay in their home. Kevin and Deborah told us that their rent would be £50 a month!
Whilst these stories are hard to hear, I interviewed one family and when I asked the mother if her husband drank she replied that he used to, but then he started attending the church, became a Christian and has now stopped. It is so encouraging to hear that and to see how God is moving amongst this community of people who love Jesus so much and are constantly praying for breakthroughs. That is not an isolated story. God is moving here!
interviews include height/weight checks
Tomorrow we will be interviewing a smaller number of children before attending the Friday lunchtime service at the church and then we will head on out to pray for people in their homes. The opportunity to do this is such a privilege, because people are so welcoming, but more importantly they are longing for you to pray for them. It reminds me of when you read about Jesus in the Gospels going through the towns and villages and laying hands on the sick and people coming to ask him for prayer. There are so many friendly people sitting outside their homes and as soon as they see you they have huge smiles and want you to pray for them.
Please pray for us that as we go tomorrow that we go in the power of God’s Spirit and that He gives us wisdom and discernment as we pray for these people. We long to see changes in their circumstances, whether it be to overcome alcoholism, financial poverty, sickness or something else, and we cannot do it, only Jesus can.
Thank you for your prayers.
With love Sharon, Phil and Karen