In July many young people from Poynton spent a weekend recreating and living in conditions resembling those of a slum. On Sunday 10 August, at Poynton Christian Fellowship, visiting missionary, Huldah Buntain brought with her, a genuine ‘slum survivor’ from the streets of Calcutta, whose life has been completely transformed by God through Huldah’s ministry.
Huldah, the founder of Calcutta Mercy Ministries, described how the ministry came into existence. In 1984, expecting to be no more than a year in Calcutta with her husband Mark, they began a ministry which continued on after Mark’s death and which today, 54 years on, consists of over 100 schools, 700 churches and a full general hospital which has provided care for over 2 million people. It was Huldah’s hospital that provided care for those for whom Mother Theresa cared and also where that same lady spent her last days on this earth. Calcutta Mercy Ministries also has a feeding programme which provides meals for 25,000 people every single day in the slums of Calcutta!
One of India’s slum survivors, Robert Solomon, firstly sang with his rich tenor voice, and then told the story of how, when he was a child, the Lord rescued him and his family from a desperate life in the slums and also from the effects of being from a low caste which usually means there is little hope for those born into it.
In an exhaustive search for peace, Robert Solomon’s father looked to numerous religions. When his efforts returned no measurable results, he resorted to alcohol and witchcraft. He was soon gripped in the hold of alcoholism and his family lived in abject poverty and misery. The family - father, mother and five children - was just one of the hundred of families living without hope in the slums of Calcutta.
One day, wandering down Royd Street, he heard some faint but peaceful music coming from a nearby building. Intrigued, he wandered in and found himself in a large auditorium filled with many people singing. Despite his shabby and unkempt appearance, and the fact that he was drunk, no-one prevented Robert’s father from coming in. As he listened, he found himself instantly sober and knew that he had found the peace he was looking for. At that meeting, he surrendered his life to Jesus and returned home a changed man.
Inspired by the change in his father, Robert, his mother and brothers and sisters all followed his lead and gave their lives to Jesus. Robert began attending Huldah’s church school and alongside other children rescued by the ministry, received an education. While at the school, Robert also developed a passion for singing and music.
Robert explained that without Jesus, his slum existence would have meant he was doomed to a life where he would have received no education and his singing gift would never have been acknowledged or nurtured. He, in turn, would most probably have ended up raising his own family in the slums of Calcutta. On behalf of Calcutta Mercy Ministries, Robert now travels widely across the world as an accomplished and impassioned singer raising funds for the ministry, in particular for the treatment of blood disorders such as leukaemia and thalassemia, and for cleft palate surgeries that take place in the mission hospital each day.
Thanks to God and through the ministry of Huldah Buntain, Robert survived the slums of Calcutta and has dedicated his life to see the lives of others in the slums transformed by the love of Jesus.