Shining in the SlumsRich Stigall
In 2006, a faithful, small group leader at Bethel Gospel church, gave his life to pastoring people.
Pastor Gopi’s first assignment was to plant a church at NTR Nagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Coming from the urban core, life at NTR Nagar was slow at first, which makes sense because very few people lived there. Gopi prayed for God to bring some sheep for him to shepherd.
The answer came through a government relocation initiative, which moved thousands of people from the slums to housing projects. Built where? NTR Nagar – on the doorstep of the church (symbolically, of course, because there was no building for years).
Pastor Gopi soon had more than he could minister to, and he gave it all he could. Medical camps. Clothing distribution. Adult literacy programs. Sharing water from the well they dug (the only reliable water source on the government’s complex), and most importantly, sharing the Living Water of Jesus Christ.
Today, NTR has two services, 200 members, and is growing, but this is not the end if the story. There much work still to be done.
As the government moved thousands of people to a remote place with few jobs and little water, life is difficult and can be dark, which makes the light and love from Bethel Gospel NTR shine even brighter.
What’s the next step? Honestly we’re not sure, not that we didn’t try to define it. Jake and I lobbed in American ideas and questions for more than an hour tonight. We suggested a community “outreach ” where we bring kids into the church after school.
For their “outreach,” Pastor Gopi’s church has 12 teams that go into their neighbors’ homes to help meet daily needs. “Outreach” that meets people where they are, where they are comfortable, and helps them deal with their current problems? Yeah, that might work. Frankly, we were humbled by our time with Pastor Golpi. He’s an Jesus-following servant leader.
So, their ministry is exactly where it should be: in the hands of the local pastor, supported by Mary Priscilla (GO India’s amazing leader), led by the Holy Spirit, shining in the slums.