A Place to Call Home
Ashray ran his hand through his dusty gray hair, uncertain of what to do next. His wife lay swathed in bandages, whimpering in the corner of the plastic and mud shed they called home, while their two youngest children nervously tried to avoid her.
"If I stay here, Ashray thought, at least I can take care of my family today. But if I go, maybe I can find work . . ." He sighed; his shoulders slumped.
A quick glance at their meager food supply made up his mind for him: There wasn’t enough to last through the night. With a heavy heart, Ashray turned to leave his wife, Lajita. He wondered if things would ever change as he set out in search of some free food, a few rupees from a stranger or perhaps a job for the day.
Hope Begins to Grow
Life hadn’t always been this difficult for Ashray, but it had never been much better either. He and Lajita had always been poor. Ashray had begged his brother for a small space behind his home to build a shed so he and his family wouldn’t be homeless. However, the shed was too small for them, so Ashray and Lajita made the difficult decision to send their eldest daughter away to live with a relative. With all this, they barely managed to eke out a living.
Life took a turn for the worse when Lajita fell into a narrow trench, twisting her spine and breaking her hip in the process. After months in the hospital, doctors sent her home with no hope of recovery. Her injuries left her bedridden for years, often needing help just to make it to the bathroom.
One day, Ashray crossed paths with Gospel for Asia pastor Gunalan, a man who lived to share the love he had received from God. For years Pastor Gunalan had ministered in Ashray’s village, gaining a reputation as someone with a deep and genuine concern for those around him. Pastor Gunalan listened attentively as Ashray unloaded his burdens, and encouraged Ashray with words of Jesus’ power and redeeming love.
Ashray walked away from that conversation a changed man, with a new lightness to his step and hope growing in his heart.
On Their Feet Again
For years, Pastor Gunalan and the believers from the local church poured love on Ashray’s family, visiting them often and caring for their needs. Sometimes they brought food and provisions, but they always brought light and encouragement to Ashray’s drafty home. They especially prayed for Lajita’s wellbeing, and soon she was able to sit up on her own.
When Ashray had an accident and was hospitalized for a month, the believers took care of his family. When Lajita became ill, they paid for her medicine. When their two youngest children needed help to go to school, Pastor Gunalan provided the funding and supplies.
Pastor Gunalan and the believers even collaborated to build a better shed for Ashray’s family to live in. Some provided tin sheets, others donated their time, and many of the women mixed mud and cow dung to seal the walls against the wind.
The more time Ashray and Lajita spent with Pastor Gunalan and the believers, the more peace invaded their hearts. Soon they were praying to the Lord and seeing Him answer their prayers.
One morning, Lajita surprised the congregation by walking, unaided, all the way to church. It was difficult to know who among them had the biggest smile when they met her at the door.
Life in Ashray’s household continued to improve step by step until the day Ashray’s brother approached him. His family had grown, he said, and he needed the shed Ashray lived in. He told Ashray he needed to find a place of his own. Ashray and Lajita faced the prospect of homelessness once again.
When Pastor Gunalan and the believers heard about their plight, they didn’t waste any time. They pooled their time and resources, found a piece of land, and built a new, two-room home for their brother in Christ.
A few days later, Lajita bent over a small dung-fire stove in the main room of her new home, cooking a meal for her family. She could hear her two youngest children laughing through the wall as they took a break from their schoolwork.
She heard a shuffling noise and looked up to see her husband silhouetted in the doorway. Beside him was the figure of a young woman—their eldest daughter. After all these years, they could finally welcome her home.
Through the love of a pastor and the ministry of His people, God provided a way to bring this family back together.