diverse ministry to Youth
Ms. Janet Joy
Janet: Aunty, Could you tell me a little about yourself? How is it that you became so passionate about reaching out to the community?
Gayatri: Janet, right from the time I was a kid, I was passionate about social work. I would gather the neighbours’ kids, cook something and then we would sell it. With the money raised, we would give it to the leprosy home close by. I just loved it! My parents encouraged me to reach out to the poor. I think I was born with it.
In the 1980s, when I was doing my Masters’ Program at the Delhi University, I heard about a social organisation and I really wanted to be part of it but couldn’t. I, later came across another social organisation which was headed by my friend. And I really dreamt of doing something in an organised way.
But I didn’t live in the future and so whatever my hand found to do, I did. My husband and I often came across a mentally unstable / deranged lady on the streets, during our walks. I would tell my husband, ‘Poor thing, she is not meant to be on the road’ and eventually we helped her regain her health and find her family.
Janet: Wow, that’s powerful. KHIDMAT has been serving the community in more ways than one. Can you tell us about the kind of work you have been doing?
Gayatri: Yes, 6 years ago, God spoke to me to start the organisation by the name of KIDMAT which means TO SERVE. A few ladies from Church and I got together , registered the organisation and immediately got to work. We started with reaching out to the slums. I knew God wanted us to reach out to those on the streets.
Juvenile Home- We have weekly programs at the Boys’ Juvenile Home and the Girl’s Juvenile Home. Seeing how well we were doing, the government requested if we would take responsibility of the orphanage too. So, we have assigned teachers to go these different homes.
Janet: How was the dream of working with Juvenile delinq-uents birthed?
In the 1990’s my husband got a job transfer to Lucknow from Noida. Every morning after my husband left for work, I would be in my room - which I called the Upper Room.
My hunger and thirst for the Lord just increased - with my husband away at work, I literally spent the whole day in God’s presence. I could not get enough of the Bible. I could not get enough of prayer. In the midst of all this, the one thought that kept coming to my mind was ‘JAILS…JAILS … JAILS’.
I read a lot about jails. I would open a book in the church library and although the title of the article was different, I would read something about jails in it. A long lost friend, wrote me a letter one day. At the end of the letter, she said, “P.S:When I was in jail you did not visit me”. I said,” God, what are you trying to tell me? Is there somebody in jail that I don’t know?’
For a period of time, I used to write for the Times Of India. I covered on the Lucknow Zoo. One day, I went to the I.G. prison and requested, ‘Sir, give me permission, I would like to write on jails.’ He said, ‘Madam, nobody is allowed in the jails.’
I came back home disappointed, I said, ‘Lord, I don’t understand’. But the thought kept coming back- JAILS..JAILS ...JAILS. One month later I found out in the newspaper that the IG got transferred. I approached the new IG for permission, he also said the same thing and I was denied permission. I came back and prayed about it, but forgot about it in a couple of months. But later, through my work at the American Language Institute, God miraculously opened doors and made it possible for me to take hundreds of students to the jails. Much of the work was covered by the media and God began to open many doors.
Janet: Wow! That’s beautiful. Tell us how you got involved with the Juvenile Delinquents?
Gayatri: Few years ago I was fasting and praying when God started talking to me about ‘Justice’. God told me that injustice pains Him. My reply to God was that I was neither a law student nor did know anything about judiciary’. After some time I started teaching in YWAM and floated this idea with Br. Jeo. I told him that about the juvenile homes, how satan targeted them and my desire to do something there. We didn't decide anything as it was just visual planning.
In January 2016, a couple of friends came to stay with me. I felt we had prayed enough and it was time to do something. I knew God was directing me. We had stopped doing much for five years during which time God was maturing me for a different program now. That is when we spoke to the Juvenile Superintendent. He didn’t know anything about my background and I told him that we wanted to introduce moral science, games etc. He simply said ‘no’ but asked us to come. We were not prepared. He told us that the court had to give us permission since the jails come under the Judiciary Board headed by the Supreme Court judge and the high court judges. He told us not to worry and that he'would get us the permission.
I spoke to Br. Jeo- the local YWAM superintendent about it and he said that an excellent teacher had come who specialized in stress management, time management and personality development and how he would also teach on the father heart of God, repentance etc. I myself was ready to take the rest of the personality development topics. On 27th January we had a program, started with some ice-breaking games and from the next day we began to work. Within 15 days changes happened, even the magistrates were surprised to see the changes. The very appearance of these boys changed – even to our surprise, because the Holy Word was working in them. I believe we just walked into Jesus' finished work, and we just stood there faithfully. Miraculous changes began as the kids started joking, laughing but through it all we were trying to hide God, but we cannot hide Jesus for long. They were intelligent kids and knew that it was all about Jesus, they wanted to know more about Jesus and wanted to have their lives changed.
Janet: That’s beautiful Aunty. God is definitely at work. Can you tell us one story of transformation from your work there?
Definitely! I will share one story from the first batch. I called upon a good friend who is also a theatre actress as she wanted to be a part of this work. It was also my desire to see her talents be put to good use for these young people. I told her that theatre is the easiest way to change personality. She did a workshop with these young people and she said to them, ‘I want everybody to stand up and tell their story as to why are you here? No lies, everyone will tell their own story and then I got them to do role play of their crimes. I told them “If you have raped somebody, somebody else will be the rapist and you'll be the victim. When you act out as the victim, you'll get to know both sides of the story”. Everyone was shy and not forthcoming.
A 16 year old boy stood up and shared his story. He had shifted to Lucknow from a village along with his family. They lived close to a polytechnic institute and he got involved with a girl. Things got from bad to worse, I think he raped her but he didn't say the word. Her family lodged an FIR so the police got involved. The police picked him up along with two of his cousin brothers and all the three are in jail. He said that he never believed he had done anything wrong because all he did was take revenge and according to him ‘no revenge is wrong’.
Later he went on to confess that KHIDMAT started visiting the jail and attending their classes she realised that he had done wrong. A class by KHIDMAT was taught on how we can make history – this boy realised that he could change his life and make it worthwhile. He came to know about God and realised that God loves him – that changed his whole thinking.To quote his words, “Today in front of everyone I’m acknowledging that I have committed a crime, I pray to God that even if I'm hanged to deaths, my cousins should be set free”. Following this the young boy came to me and said, “Thank you very much!”.
The jail superintendent came to me and said that we had done such a good job. He expressed that the orphanage was in a bad condition and requested us to begin work there as well. I made my friend, Rochael take charge of the orphanage and within 15 days we noticed changes in the kids. I used to visit these places with my kids and church members 10 years ago but had stopped going. It seems as if God is taking me back to possess the land. It seems like we were walking over the land for 10 years and now possession was taking place. The authorities have invited us to work in the girl’s juvenile home as well. We are looking forward to doing so as we were praying about it.
Janet: I know the government has recognized your work with an award, can you tell me about it?
Gayatri: Last year – 2016, November 14th the government got all the orphanages and juvenile homes from across the state under one roof in a big complex for a two day event which included various programs and competitions. People were practising for this event for two months, but the Lucknow people informed us about it only 5 days before the event. So we started practising day and night with songs like Nachoonga Gaunga.... We even got the Dua Ka Ghar band to play for us. Everyone there was performing Bollywood songs. Although we got very little time for practise and preparation, our kids won a prize.
The Principal Secretary called and spoke to us and on the second day we were recognised and appreciated with this award. She called us again and gave us the surprise information that our NGO would thereafter have the title of, “Friends of the Government” and also the added responsibility to take care of these homes. The boys juvenile home and the boys orphanage at Mohan Road; and the girl’s juvenile home at prayag narain road and report directly to her.