Dhinanath couldn't tear his eyes away from the scene before him. A car had quickly pulled up only a few meters in front of him and his colleague. He saw one of the car doors open and a young woman tumble out. Unconscious.
GFA-supported pastor Dhinanath and his wife, Lydia, have been serving the Lord in the red-light district since 2008. They prayed and fasted for God to give them the opportunity and honor to minister to women trapped in a world of sin.
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Pastor Dhinanath's heart is to see women working in the red-light district freed from that life and given new lives in Jesus Christ. He often ministers to the women, letting them know how much God loves them. Some go to him for prayer and counseling.
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Pastor Dhinanath and Lydia don't minister only in the red-light district. They also provide oversight to small worship communities located six to nine miles away.
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Though Lydia is very limited in what she can do to minister to the women in the red-light district because of safety concerns, she will often go out with her husband to meet new people and share the hope found in Christ.
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This is a small glimpse of the red-light district where Pastor Dhinanath ministers. This row of houses has multiple rooms, which are usually hired by pimps and former prostitutes for prostitution.
To protect the women's safety, we cannot post any photos of them.
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When Pastor Dhinanath first began his ministry in the red-light district, the leader of the prostitutes asked him to "please do something for the children of these ladies because they are almost without proper guidance." So he and Lydia began a Sunday School. Not all the children who attend the Sunday School have mothers who work in the red-light district; some have families who work as daily wage laborers, rickshaw pullers or trash pickers.
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Some local Bridge of Hope children attend the Sunday School and help lead and teach the Sunday School children new songs and dances!
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The children pay close attention to Lydia while she tells them Bible stories and moral lessons. Coming from homes where illiteracy, indifference or drunkenness are common, many of the children have no other exposure to moral teachings.
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Apart from ministry in the red-light district, Dhinanath pastors two other fellowships in nearby communities. Here he teaches believers and nonbelievers from God's Word.
Through his ministry, many men and women are coming to know the love of Christ for themselves.
It was early. The Bridge of Hope center had no children within its classrooms. Dedicated men and women arrived to set up the place. Very soon, every nook and cranny would be filled with eager and hungry youngsters…some of whom came from a very dark background.
Children at the Bridge of Hope center near a red-light district are now given the chance to hope and dream about their future. So many children in this impoverished area don't know the importance of an education. Today, this is being changed one child and one family at a time.
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Boys and girls are treated equally in the Bridge of Hope center no matter where they come from or who their parents are. Even though most people in their community hate or look down on prostitutes and their children, Bridge of Hope staff members see them as precious and love them despite what others may say or think.
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Children at the Bridge of Hope center know their teachers love them. Because of this love, they contribute to their lessons and pay close attention in the classroom. The teachers not only help the children in their studies but also are significant role models in their students' lives.
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After classes are taught, the Bridge of Hope students line up to wash their hands before mealtime. Many of these kids, due to the lack of parental guidance, had little to no hygiene knowledge prior to coming to the center.
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Nourishing, hot meals are served to every child in the center. Because of the center's locality, most of the children come from impoverished families. This means the meal served on the weekdays may be the only substantial meal they will have all day.
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Every morning, the Bridge of Hope teachers and staff meet at the center before the children arrive. These staff members are genuinely concerned for and love the children enrolled. They want to see breakthroughs from the cycle of poverty and gently bring to light the horrors of prostitution that threaten to ruin these young lives.
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Kien has been serving with Bridge of Hope since 2004. He oversees this center. Through the way he serves and loves the students and staff at the center, you can see he has a big heart.
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Jemi is a single woman in her 30s. She has been a tutor at Bridge of Hope since 2012. She is grateful to be part of watching children's lives be transformed under her and her co-workers' love and care.
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Kien, Jemi and other Bridge of Hope staff travel each day to their students' homes to visit and encourage the families.
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Kien and the teachers explain to the parents how important it is that their children receive encouragement in their homes so they can keep up in their studies and excel in life.
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When Bridge of Hope staff members visit families, they are able to be a beacon of hope in some of the gloomiest places. They offer love and compassion to those who are hurting, trapped in prostitution or deep in poverty.
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Kein had never before seen such heartbreaking circumstances in children's lives until he began serving in this center near the red-light district. He is always willing to take in another child who needs help.
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These children can become doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers or business owners. Through the care of the staff and the education these kids are receiving, they have true hope for the future!
Priya's life story is one of grief and tragedy yet also of incredible generosity and hope.
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This is an old photo of Priya and her husband. They were well-off and had a stable income and healthy children. Then Priya's husband died from kidney disease, and she lost everything. Rejected by her family as a widow and deep in poverty because of medical bills, she tried to earn her living as a maid. Then an accident crippled her and damaged the mental stability of her two grown children.
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Priya spent nine years in her tiny hut, cooking whatever food she and her children managed to beg, buy or receive as gifts from kind neighbors. Isolated and helpless—yet still responsible for two mentally unstable children—she became bitter at life and the hardships she endured.
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This crude stool was all Priya had to help her move around in her home.
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Priya's daughter manages to help her mother with some daily tasks, such as fetching water in their slum neighborhood.
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A team of Sisters of Compassion serve in the slums surrounding Priya's home. They minister to families daily, listening to their troubles, praying for them, helping in any way they can and offering hope in Christ.
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The children in these slums grow up with very little parental guidance, as fathers and mothers must work long hours to scrape together an income. The Sisters of Compassion started a Sunday School to help children learn good morals and healthy habits.
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During their time of ministry, two Sisters of Compassion met Priya in her home. The woman's sad plight touched their hearts, and they began visiting her regularly and bringing her groceries when they were able.
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The sisters helped Priya and her children understand how much God loves them. They helped clean her home and provided buckets, mats and other necessities for the family. They also introduced her to a local GFA-supported pastor, who began visiting Priya's home.
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Joy entered Priya's home again. Priya and her children welcomed their new friends and felt peace from their words. After feeling abandoned by society, Priya began talking to Jesus, asking Him for help in her daily life and learning more about His ways.
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When Priya received a tricycle through a GFA-supported gift distribution, she could finally escape the tiny hut she was trapped in for so many years. With the help of her daughter, she can now visit friends and go to church to worship with her new church family.
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Although her financial problems are still great, Priya longs to be able to give back to the Lord through her tithe, in gratitude for the many blessings He has given her.
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When Priya visits her pastor or attends church, he and other believers gently help her inside.
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Priya's new church family demonstrates their love—and God's love—for Priya in many practical ways. Besides providing her with a tricycle and regular gifts of groceries, they have given her a warm blanket, clothing, mosquito nets and plastic roofing for her leaky home.
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Although Priya has endured much suffering, she now carries a hope within her and the knowledge of a God who loves her eternally. Every time she uses her tricycle, she remembers that Jesus cares and is worthy of trust and love.