“Let’s put together care packages for the families in the hut slum community,” I suggested to the YWAM Chennai leader.
“I was thinking the same thing!” he said, excited.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this hut slum was one of the worst in Chennai. It formed when the government tried to clean up the streets. They displaced hundreds of people and sent them to start a make-shift village of huts. There is no running water. Electricity is sporadic. Many of the slum-dwellers are criminals, wanted for crimes like murder and rape. Sexual perversion is rampant and child abuse common.
I wanted to rise to the challenge of reaching these people! Our team had been there before, praying for the people and sharing a message of God’s love. Now we were excited to show them God’s love in a practical way.
Soon the small rooms where we lived were filled with “Operation Care Package.” Assembly lines to fill bags with rice, sugar, chili powder, oil and soap sprung into action. Before long, we had enough packages for more than 200 families.
The hardest part was secretly transporting the goods into the village without being mobbed by people. We trekked in with full backpacks and luggage—still conspicuous, but it worked!
We divided into teams to hand-deliver the goods to families, one at a time. As we gave, some were thankful while others just grabbed and asked for more. When we delivered the last package, we walked through the slum one last time. We wanted to see if anyone wanted us to talk or pray with them.
One woman with a huge smile motioned us to come inside her hut. Her name was Esther and she was a Christian.
“Seven years ago, a group like you prayed for me. When I was miraculously healed from a stomach tumor, I decided to follow Jesus,” she said. “I have been praying for my families and others ever since.”
We prayed with Esther again. Before we could leave, she generously gave us some of the food she had just made. I was struck by the evidence of God in her life, by the way she had treated us and by her countenance.
We were glad to see that the gospel had already arrived in the slum. Esther was proof! The YWAM Chennai leader told us that giving the care packages would help this hard-to-reach community become even more open to the gospel in the future. And with the gospel will come real change, just as we had seen in Esther’s life already.