Her Eyes Are On Jesus

1 Comment

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

anita 1


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









From Our Heart

Leave a comment

 “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

Our team is made up of people with differing personalities, giftings, and backgrounds. Put together we make up a strong team. Today I want you to hear the heart of each of them.

We served today with a ministry who provides a way for women to make a wage that enables them to leave the sex trade. They told stories of changed lives and the hope of “the stories for which we wait.” I come to India with a desire of sharing God’s love and encouragement for those whose salvation and rescue story should not have to wait. – Barbara Brennan

Words can’t describe what it means to be able to spend time here in India. So much about it is so special to me. Being around women who I consider my hero is definitely on the top of the list! -Stephanie Blyth

It has been a challenge to travel with a group that is amazing and unknown to me. I felt God wanted me to come and two beautiful Indian ladies have touched me with their love of God and their husbands. Each lives a life dedicated to changing lives for Jesus. I loved meeting Anita and Mita. -Ellen Gant

IMG_0187We spent the afternoon with a group of ladies that are still working in the sex trade and living in darkness. To sit at the feet of these women and tell them that there is a God that says they are His beloved? There are no words to describe this honor. I love this country and these people. I want to be so poured out in India that they have to carry me on to that plane. -Brenda Debor

I am so thankful to be able to come back to this amazing country. A piece of my heart belongs to India. I love being able to come back and continue friendships I’ve made and make new friendships that’ll last. I love seeing what God has in store each time we come. -Danae Patterson

There’s something about the people here that won’t let me stay home. How can I stay in my comfort when the need is so great? There are times I feel rewarded and times I don’t but it’s not about that. It’s about saying, “yes” because He has already said, “go.” To be allowed in the presence of women whose lives are riddled with hardship and even danger is one of the greatest privileges I’ve known.- Kay Smith

This trip to India has been an amazing experience. The children are so precious and the ladies are so sweet. There are so many needs and I will continue to pray for the people I’ve met. -Sherry Contreras

We are on our last ministry day here. We intend to leave every drop of love, energy, emotion and strength with the people of this city. our hearts are forever changed.

Remember You Are Loved

Leave a comment

img_2509-1There are people that make an indelible mark on your life. When you spend time with them they not only change your perspective but they fill your heart with joy. The last two days our team had the rare and unique opportunity to spend uninterrupted hours with women who face insurmountable poverty and have found their livelihood in a small red light area outside the city. In tiny one-room flats no bigger than many of your restrooms they raise children and earn a living with no more than a piece of fabric for privacy.

Destiny is an NGO that works to educate and teach these women that they were made for more. It is no simple task and the work can be exhausting and unrewarding for long periods of time.

Remember you are loved, He says to them through smiles of acceptance and words of encouragement.

With much chatter and big smiles the ladies experienced so many firsts. The looks of awe and giggles of relaxed, peaceful joy was music to our souls. None of them had ever stayed in a hotel much less a resort. Think having a bathtub is just a regular thing? How about having never seen one? They even wondered why they were given rooms to share with only one other person, the floor in a big room would have been fine. There were buffets of fancy foods and more outdoor games than they could even get to. These days were a just a moment to breathe and be away from the demands that are placed on them in the life of a sex worker. In these precious moments the noise of stress quiets so they might hear,

Child, remember you are loved. Just like I loved Rahab, I love you. You are brave, you are courageous, you need only to rest in Me. I am big enough for all of your struggles. I am.

Our team went to work caring not only for the women but for their children as well. From crafts to custom perfume to exercise to jewelry making to s’mores at a bonfire, all of it worked together to help them feel His love. They heard about Rahab and the God of Abraham and how He found value in her life and used her to change history. They listened with great emotion as they heard a testimony from one of our team of how God carried her through the darkest time in her life. It was hard for them to understand how she could be so open and we explained that it is God’s story lived out in us that compels us to share it.

Daughter, remember you are loved. I have sent My Son to show you. The love you see in my followers is real and it is for you.

The impact of their questions was heavy. “Our gods require so much from us. We have to do so many things to show our devotion. But your God, He sends you here to show us love, how is that?” “This story about Rahab is over 2000 years old, how is it that we have not heard this before?” Everything we shared, every touch, hug and laugh was an opportunity for them to experience the His love.

Remember you are loved.

As I write this the work in the red-light areas is beginning. My prayer tonight is that each of the women and children with us for the last two days will remember the words of God that they are perfectly loved.  Never stop praying for hope to arrive at their curtained doors. Pray that the seeds planted this weekend will come back to them in the dark places.  Pray that the efforts of heroic NGO’s like Destiny will continue and that the strength that can only come from the God above all gods will carry these heroes.


Ellen Gant with a baby who is loved by the community. She was born to a mom in the trade who left her and moved away. The community of women are raising this baby together.


Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: