INDIA – A boy sleeps face down on the concrete platform as a train pulls into the Indian train station. Around the corner, a boy who lost his foot to an incoming train hobbles through mounds of garbage.
The boys’ stories captured the hearts of members of The Ring Community Church in Baton Rouge, La. After a vision trip last year, The Ring committed to partner in prayer and finances with Prabal and Debjani Dey,* an Indian couple who have opened a hostel for railway children like these.
Nine boys and four girls, thanks to the Deys, have a chance for a new life, both physically and spiritually. The Deys’ hostel for boys has been in operation several years; the girls’ hostel opened this year.
The Lord led the Deys to open a hostel for girls when the couple saw two sisters, ages 6 and 10, picking through trash for plastic water bottles to sell. Their father, a rickshaw puller, had recently passed away, and their mother ran away with another man.
“I started crying,” Dey said. He told Debjani that he couldn’t leave the girls, but didn’t know what to do because the boys and girls couldn’t live in the same home.
“Maybe this is the Lord’s plan,” Debjani told Dey. “When you started the boys’ home you didn’t have any money,” she reminded him. “The living God, He can take care of them.”
Railway boys are runaways who, instead of “joining the circus,” join gangs of boys who live in India’s train stations. They travel the country, jumping from train to train and robbing passengers.
The Deys decided to trust the Lord to provide financially for a girls’ hostel. A leather company near their boys’ hostel announced space for sale, but the building was out of their price range.
The Lord provided. Someone donated the money they needed for the first two months’ rent.
Both of the Deys’ hostels are already at maximum capacity, but the Lord has provided for the Deys’ ministry again through The Ring Community Church.
The Ring Pastor Josh Causey first heard about the Deys’ ministry through “His Voice Global,” an organization that partners U.S. churches with ministries abroad.
“For a generation that’s kind of drawn to difficult kinds of ministries, this puts faces with human trafficking, drug trafficking and homelessness,” Causey said.
Hundreds of boys and girls live in train stations throughout India. They are runaways – orphaned or abandoned.
“There are a lot of people who are overwhelmed by the story of the train station and the kids,” Causey said. “The thought of kids living in that kind of reality is so heartbreaking.”
The Ring will raise the money needed to build a new hostel to house more boys and girls.
This spring, Causey and Adam Yglesias, an elder at The Ring, traveled to India to help the Deys view land for the new hostel and brainstorm ways to become financially sustainable after the newest hostel is built.
Causey also encouraged the Deys on his visit. “Don’t be weary in doing good,” Causey told Dey. “You’re a light here. … You may not see it, but we see it.”
Members of The Ring wanted to fly to India to help after Causey shared the stories of the boys and girls from the Deys’ hostels.
“Of course you hear that stuff and you instantly want to jump on a plane and go,” Causey said. “We’re telling them no, this is not a ‘jump on a plane and go type of thing.’ This is a chance to begin to pray for them, give financially to this.”
For hands-on ministry, Causey points his church members to the needs in Baton Rouge.
“There are poor kids in our city, there are abused kids in our own city, there are similar issues that we can be hands on [with],” Causey said.
The Ring started hosting a soup kitchen for the homeless of Baton Rouge. Soup kitchens don’t serve meals on Sundays, so Causey and his congregation committed to a rotation to serve breakfast every other Sunday.
Causey sees a direct connection between the homeless ministry in Louisiana and the ministry to the railway boys and girls.
“It’s been good for our congregation to be made aware of something that’s so far away and then be forced to transfer that back here,” Causey said. “It’s also very stretching for them to pray for a ministry that they may never step foot in there.”
Causey says that the best way his congregation can help the railroad children is through prayer and financial support. So instead of spending thousands of dollars to fly mission teams to India, they’re sending that money directly to the Deys.
“There’s no mission trip hype,” Causey told his church. “You may not meet these kids till we’re walking a new earth.
“But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be praying, giving and going and supporting what they’re doing. It’s been a real refining kind of thing for our congregation.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Anderson is an International Mission Board writer based in Asia.)