She lives in the heart of one of Kolkata’s Muslim areas just steps from a large mosque where thousands of men pray 5 times a day. The Imam can be heard over the loud speaker.


Nieces who greet us at the gate to bring us to Auntie Anita


Daily the families gather water from this corner of the compound

We entered the gate to a small compound of 5-6 one room flats. There is one water source shared by all that is turned on by the city twice a day. Residents must daily gather enough water to cook, bathe and do laundry . There is one small bathroom for all of the families to share.  Colorful laundry is hanging out to dry. Teenage cousins greet us at the gate and they are excited to bring us to Auntie Anita.anita 2

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The brightly colored one room flat

Anita Anwar lives with her husband, Shafique, in a one room flat with a turquoise door. Her belongings are carefully stored and everything is in its place. A bright purple armoire sits against turquoise walls. A Bible is placed carefully on a small shelf just above the bed. The cleanliness and order didn’t surprise us at all, knowing our Anita. We sat down on the bed which doubles as a seating area for guests as well as a kitchen table. Today we were three women, sisters in Christ, who gathered for lunch and conversation.  Sitting in her home we feel so at peace and so welcomed. Anita is the perfect example of fierce gentleness. She has a boldness that would rival any great evangelist but a gentleness about her that can warm even the hardest of hearts. We recalled that just days before Anita had shared her life story with our group.

Oh soul are you weary and troubled?  No light in the darkness you see?

Shafique and Anita are nestled right in the middle of this compound filled with their family who are all Muslims. Their light here is unmistakable. But it wasn’t always that way.


Family members who stopped by to say hello

Before they knew Jesus their lives were filled with struggle and heartbreak. Shafique was full of anger and drank to excess. Anita was fearful of him. His violent temper a far cry from the man we know today. They had two sons and one daughter during those pain-ridden years and there were times that Anita was ready to end her life.  The abuse and sadness overwhelmed her. One day she closed the children in another room and intended to pour oil on herself to catch fire.  Many times she walked in front of a bus in the busy streets in order to end it all. But God had other plans for Anita.

There’s light from a look at the Savior with life more abundant and free.

Her son, Zeeshan, seemed to be chronically sick and one day he grew gravely ill. They found themselves at a nearby Catholic hospital. The doctor wanted him admitted. With little money and a very sick child she didn’t know what to do. His illness had never been this bad. She felt alone and scared for her son.  As she sat in the hallway of the hospital short on answers and hope she buried her head in her hands and cried.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face.

With weeping eyes Anita looked up from her hands and her eyes met the eyes of a painting of Jesus that hung in that Catholic hospital and in that moment this Muslim mother cried out loud, “Jesus, heal my son.”

Zeeshan began to show signs of improvement. Anita took him home and watched as her son quickly lost all the symptoms. He was healed and no longer in danger. She knew it was Jesus. She said, “Where can I get this Jesus? I want Jesus no matter what”

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Anita’s faith grew strong over the next few months but she wasn’t out of danger. Shafique was still drinking, angry and abusive. He heard her praying one day and told her to get out. It was either Jesus or him.  Even her in-laws said that whatever happened to her she deserved and they were encouraged to ridicule and shame her.  She took the children and  moved to another flat where she held a house Bible-study on Tuesdays. This was the day of the week that Shafique had off of work. “He’s going to come one day” was her hope and prayer.  Every day she would go to Shafique’s while he was at work and clean the house and make food, leaving before he arrived home. One day he came home early. Terrified, she began praying quietly without knowing what was to happen to her next. Shafique came around to face her with tears in his eyes and begged her to forgive him. Her consistent faithfulness and kindness had brought him to a place of repentance. He attended his first house church service the next Tuesday. Over time he was able to accept the forgiveness of Jesus and place his trust in Him.

Through death into life everlasting He passed and we follow Him there; Over us sin no more hath dominion for more than conquerors we are

Today Shafique and Anita pour their lives out to the community around them. Their priority is to share Jesus with others. Anita meets with Muslim women weekly and teaches them practical things along with stories and truths from the Bible. The transformation in each of their lives is a witness to those that knew them before. Their lives are not easy but they are filled with a joyful peace. In humility they share whatever they have without a longing for material gain. Their eyes are fixed on Jesus.DSC_0564

Our teams in Kolkata would not be complete without Anita, Shafique and their daughter, Zeenat.  But even more, our lives would not be as rich without their friendship. To know them is to see Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace