Shanti’s story starts in Sultanpur village in India’s crowded capital, Delhi. She was the first of five children, born to a vulnerable Hindu family at a time when riots had broken out in the city. The family moved to Ambernath in Mumbai to escape the crisis—but it would be a long time until Shanti’s situation improved.
As the eldest child, Shanti soon realised that she would share in the burden of caring for her younger siblings. She had the responsibility of helping her parents and had no choice but to work as a labourer so that her siblings could attend school.
Life in Ambernath brought its own challenges, and Shanti knew many women who had turned to tobacco and alcohol in their desperation. She slowly grew addicted to these things herself and, for many years to come, would depend on them in an effort to escape from reality.
At the age of 16, Shanti married her husband. She continued to turn to tobacco and alcohol while experiencing domestic violence from her husband and in-laws, but these things no longer provided the escape she needed. Unsure of what to do, she fled from home.
After some time, Shanti rejoined her husband and they moved away to the slums of Mumbai to pursue a life on their own. She started following a Hindu goddess, who she spent hours praying to and fasting for, but she continued to experience addiction and emptiness.
At this time, Shanti also started to build a relationship with her new neighbour. The neighbour would visit her each day, telling her stories about the God of the Bible, but it was foreign to Shanti. She didn’t want to listen.
When she became pregnant and continued to struggle with addiction, Shanti’s neighbour became concerned for her. She encouraged her to attend a prayer meeting and, to her neighbour’s surprise, Shanti agreed. She was interested to see how her neighbour would pray.
Throughout the meeting, Shanti carefully listened and observed as the others prayed, sang and spoke with hope about their God. As the meeting continued, she felt as if their God was speaking to her. She decided to attend church regularly, but was afraid of sitting through a service without tobacco or alcohol.
As she came to know and love their God as her own, He helped her to become completely free from addiction. A great sense of peace washed over Shanti, and she says that she has never experienced addiction again.
Shanti now has three children, and with God to guide her, her outlook on life has significantly improved. Hosanna Ministries came to know Shanti and her story when the ministry started working with children living in the slums of the suburban Mumbai region. Shanti’s children are enrolled in the Hosanna Ministries’ Emmanuel Education Centre, where children from the slums are given free tuition and snacks.
While Shanti has a story of hope to share, this is not the case for many others. An estimated 6.5 million people live in the slums of Mumbai and, many of them – like Shanti’s family – have not experienced the hope of Jesus.
Through partnering with projects such as Hosanna Ministries, people like Shanti and her children are given the opportunity to go to school and receive vocational training to prepare them for in-demand jobs. Please pray that more people would experience the hope that Shanti now has in Jesus.