Meet Piyas Dey and his wife Sharbani. They live in Kolkata, India. We have a long relationship with Piyas, Sharbani, Jaisheree (one of the pastors there), and their team.
First, we'll provide you with a little information about India and where the money we raise will go...
Percentage of Christians in India: 2.3%
Our Special Offering will go towards: Supporting nine churches and staff, Providing food for 640 underprivileged children daily, Sending 600 kids to school
Amount needed: $34,000
Click the categories to learn more about Piyas and Sharbani (and Jaisheree and the team) and the work in India...
Piyas and Sharbani Dey, along with their son Pushpam, have a heart to see India transformed by the power and love of Jesus Christ. Piyas was born and brought up in a Christian family in the remote village of Uluberia in West Bengal, India. His father was kicked out of his house for becoming a Christian; despite immense torture and persecution, he never compromised his faith. Following in his father’s footsteps, Piyas accepted Christ in 1989. Several years later he felt the LORD calling him into full time ministry. During his quiet time one day he was reading Isaiah 49:6, “I will make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth,” and he heard God ask him to give his life to serving people in ministry. Piyas enrolled in seminary that same year.
Upon graduating seminary in 1997, he served in various roles as a pastor and with a nonprofit in India. Though everything in life was going well, Piyas felt God had something more for him. He sensed that God asking he and his family, along with a colleague to leave their comfort zone and begin a new work of starting churches and caring for the poor in 2010. Though it was an incredibly difficult decision, they decided to be obedient; from that day on, they have seen the Kingdom advance in many ways.
Besides being a Senior Pastor and church planter, Piyas has founded a nonprofit that holistically walks beside the poor, hurting and broken people of India and leads them to Jesus. His ministry includes planting nine churches for Ethos, leading three schools, five vocational training centers, and two orphanages!
Written from Brandon Steele's Perspective
I wanted to share one the most influential parts of visiting the team in India for me, which was visiting the slums in Salt Lake (also known as the Khalpar slums). Piyas and Jaisharee are the two Senior Pastors of our partner churches in India. They met while working at Compassion International and have been kingdom advancers for a long time. They were aware of the slums and the sadness that was all around them and while working at Compassion, the Lord urged them to not just give their money, but gives their lives to serving these people. The people in the slums are the poorest of the poor, they live on government property where they live in fear of their make-shift homes being destroyed by the government. Their homes are made of tarps, bamboo, really anything they can find. Piyas and Jaisharee started loving on these people and identifying how to help them and the word “holistic” is the way I would describe it. They feed 750 children one meal every day. The kids would not eat a healthy meal if they didn’t get this. They would eat the leftovers that are found in the dumpsters or sometimes their parents are able to make enough money to bring home food, but if P & J didn’t feed the children, they wouldn’t eat. The food was simple: a small bowl of chicken and vegetable soup, two slices of white bread and a banana. They make the kids eat the food in front of them so that the parents can’t take it from them. We got to serve the food one day and every kid said thank you every time we put something on their plate.
So, our people there are serving the children by feeding them, but they are also sending them to school. Since education is not free like it is here in the U.S., many of these kids can’t afford to even go to school. Our churches pay for all of these children to receive an education. They also hire tutors to come to the slums in the afternoons to help teach computer skills and english, because these are not taught well in the schools and if the kids want to get jobs one day, these two skills are a requirement. But, what they’re doing is bigger than just the children. One of the sad realities is that the parents of children in the slums have to leave their children unattended and unprotected during the day while they go to work. This means that many of the girls are taken advantage of and the boys get into trouble.
The churches decided to hire seamstresses and beauticians to go into the slums to train the women how to sew so they could make money. But, they also can do this from their homes, so they don’t have to leave their children, but they can raise and protect them themselves. It’s holistic. They also planted a church in the middle of the slums, dug a water well and brought in some toilets for the whole community. All three of these things are improving the people and their quality of living. They are being fed, trained and taught the scriptures. One day Nana taught the children the story of Jesus calming the storm and every kid knew the story. We realized everything about their lives were being cared for. This is one project, the Salt Lake Slums. I saw and felt the goodness of Jesus in that place and realized how much our simple generosity is changing lives. We are literally, just by giving our money, feeding kids, protecting and educating them, empowering women and sharing the gospel. Talk about an investment that pays 100 times!
A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
Written from Nana Muir's Perspective
My return from India has brought a whirlwind of emotions. During our time spent with our brothers and sisters, I was challenged, encouraged, and strengthened. As I reflect on the churches we spent time with and their leaders, my heart swells with love, joy, conviction, and expectation as I see their faith and willingness to share the Gospel no matter the cost.
The majority of India (95%) remains unreached — meaning they have never heard the Gospel of Jesus before. During my time there, it was easy to be overwhelmed by the darkness. I remember one day walking through the heart of Kolkata to a Hindu temple. We passed thousands of people standing in lines to pray to their gods and give them offerings. People were bathing in a pool purifying themselves before they could approach their gods to pray. Starving, sick, and dying people lined the streets while elaborate makeshift temples were being constructed for people to give their money to.
In moments like these, I began to feel helpless I couldn’t do more, guilty for the privilege I was born into, angry at the injustice, and grief for the physical and spiritual poverty that seemed to surround me. In the midst of this, I felt like I heard the Lord tell me, “Look for the light.” I was reminded of John 1:5 which says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
And as I began to look for the light, I saw the presence of Jesus amidst these people...His people, whom He cares deeply for. So, for the rest of the trip I decided that I would look for the light. And let me tell you, the fingerprints of Jesus through His faithful followers are everywhere. By far, the clearest way I saw His presence most clearly was through His faithful workers. One of our purposes for visiting our church family overseas was to help encourage and equip their leaders (His faithful followers!).
We spent a few days training and worshipping with 45 church planters from the Kolkata region and beyond, followed by another three days of gathering all of their churches together for a retreat. Seeing the faith of the church planters boldly leading their churches was incredible. They are dedicated to the Word, prayer, fasting, and sharing the Gospel.
For our brothers and sisters in India, many of them face persecution for sharing the Gospel and becoming Christians. They take the commands of Jesus seriously and are willing to face persecution and trial for the sake of the Gospel. Because they really believe the Good News is exactly that: GOOD NEWS. They are eager to share with the many people in their lives and communities who have never heard it before. During my time with the churches, I often heard statements such as:
“I don’t care if I am persecuted, I will bring the Gospel to my village.”
“Even if my family forsakes me, I will still choose Jesus.”
“If we don’t feed the children, they won’t eat. God has given them to us so we can care for them and share Jesus with them.”
“God has placed a great dream on our hearts. And even though we don’t have the funding, we will be obedient anyway and trust He will provide.”
“I am willing to suffer and even die for the Gospel, but I want to make sure there will be others to share it when I am gone.”
I was amazed by their faith. We ended up spending much more time learning than we did teaching. There’s so much we can learn from our brothers and sisters. They are starting churches in homes, slums, villages, and more. They notice those who are overlooked. They serve as advocates, counselors, teachers, and spiritual mothers and fathers. And because of this, because of the work of the Holy Spirit among them, His church is spreading like wildfire. Despite physical and spiritual poverty, the Lord is using our brothers and sisters in India to expand His Kingdom in mighty ways in unexpected places.
God is placing incredible vision on the hearts of these leaders. Dreams for how to help lead the next generation out of poverty. Dreams for how to equip and empower women and men. Vision for future church plants. Ways to creatively share the Gospel. How to raise up new believers and disciple them into Kingdom advancers. And they are doing this right now. Thousands upon thousands are being affected by the outpouring of the Gospel through these churches and their tireless work to bring the Good News of Jesus into their country. For whatever reason, God has chosen our church to walk alongside them in this endeavor. Not only to help provide financially, but to both teach and learn from them. I consider it an incredible and honor and privilege to help play a part in the advancement of the Kingdom in India.
While in any culture or country we can look at the injustice, poverty, and corruption and see darkness, we must choose to look for the light. In 1 Peter 2:9, we are told that as the church we are to be, “...a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
2019 TRIP RECAP
Written by Caity Shinnick on behalf of the team that travelled to Kolkata in September
A team of 8 people travelled to Kolkata to spend 5 days on the ground training nearly 40 local church leaders in the ways of Freedom Prayer. A trip recap has been written, and while it's lengthy...it's full of incredible stories of how God is moving in the local church, Piyas, Jaisheree, and more. You can find our recap here.
We hope you have been inspired as you read stories about the work in India. If you'd like to give towards our Special Offering, go here and make sure to select "Birthday 2019" as your designation.
For more information about Birthday Sunday, go here.