The Starfish Project
The New Hope School was started and is supported by Pastor Rudra Singh of the New Hope Church in Kolkata, India. Pastor Rudra began his ministry there in Kolkata after realizing that he had new hope in Jesus Christ.
The Starfish Project is a project of the Staurolite Foundation. The Staurolite Foundation was founded by Mike and Cheryl Smith, with the help of the folks at Powell & Leon,LLP, after a February 2012 mission trip to Kolkata, India. Mike was privileged to participate in this with Oakwood Baptist Church in New Braunfels, TX. The purpose of the Starfish Project is to support the New Hope School which is located in a slum area called Udayan Polly on the outskirts of Kolkata.
The New Hope School is providing hope for children who previously have had no vision of the possibilities that Jesus Christ offers them nor of any hope of living beyond the slum where their family resides. There are many success stories in the short existence of the New Hope School. Two stories of transformation are below.
Debasis and Subasis are two boys aged about 10and 11 who attend the New Hope School.
Their mother lives with 4children. When their father found his wife had seizures , he left their mother . Their mother can not do any work and is dependent open her own mother . Debasis and Subasis have two sisters also. Debesis and Subasis were scrap gatherers. They collect empty beer bottles, drink left over beer and sell the bottles and get a little money to survive.
Rudra and his church members met with them in 2008. They encouraged them to come to the New Hope school. The boys did not know even what a school is. They began to come to school, began to learn the English alphabet, rhymes and many more things. They left their old work as scrap gatherers and concentrated upon their study. Transformation began. They were using slang language, slowly they reduced it. They had no hope. No ambition of their life. The New Hope School gave them a new vision and new ways to think differently, to create hope in their hopeless life. They began to learn about Jesus Christ, learned how to pray in Jesus name. They became seekers of Jesus Christ. Before they sang other songs, to Hindu god, now they sing “This is the Day”, Father Abraham had many more Christian songs. Now they are doing very well in their studys as well as other activities. Before they came to the New Hope School ,they did not know how to think beyond their own current situation in the slum, but now Debasis want to become a police Inspector and Subasis wants to be a business man. This is a real transformation.
Nita and gita are two girls about 13 years old. They, like all the others in this area are extremely underprivileged and have no hope of a better life and no knowledge of Jesus. The girls have been a part of the school since its beginning in the later part of 2008. They have received teaching and personal care for the volunteer teachers, Mita, Raju, and Santu. The teachers have seen transformation happen with these two girls. They no longer want to worship idols, nor do they wan to cheat others and tell lies, which are common character practices of those in the Udayan Polly slum village. In January, Saraswati Idols, the goddess of knowledge, were being worshiped by the villagers. Nita and Gita’s family participated in this festival. During this festival on a certain day all are expected to fast and wait until a fixed time, set by the priest before breaking the fast. When the time arrives, again as set by the priest, all are expected to throw flowers on the idol and put fruits before the idol, then ask for blessings from the idol. Nita and Gita’s parents gave them money to buy fruits and flowers for the idol. They knew that Nita and Gita were participating in the fast. The girls left their house with money and went to a restaurant to get some food and fill their stomachs, then came back to the idol festival location. Standing before the idol with empty hands, no fruit nor flowers, they asked forgiveness to Jesus. “Lord Jesus, please forgive us. If we will not stand in front of this idol then we will get a beating from our father.” The very next day when they came to the New Hope school they shared these things with Mita, the headmistress and asked to offer a prayer of forgiveness to Jesus.
Now you can praise God with Rudra, Mita, Raju and Santu, for the conviction they have! They have been taught and obviously learned that idol worship is a sin. This is a small step toward transformation that we can all rejoice. We will all be able to rejoice when we see total transformation through the power of God.
These two stories came from Pastor Rudra, I have made minimal changes for language issues. Pastor Rudra ended the note with these words, “Together we can; Together we will. Amen”
The school as it exists today in no way resembles any school in the United States. Yet, these people and this school are making a huge difference in the lives of children. The New Hope School is approximately 40 feet by 25 feet constructed out of masonry walls with a pole roof. This past year they have been able to add a concrete floor, after 4 years of working on tarp covered dirt. The inside walls are painted with murals of animals to brighten the atmosphere. There are estimated to be 900 children who reside in this particular slum, less than 100 are currently having their eyes opened to a new vision for their lives. This new vision is introducing them to Jesus Christ and to the possibilities of a future with an education.
The children now wear uniforms, sewn by ladies of the Udayan Polly slum, in sewing classes taught a couple of times a week in the school building. It seems in India, if you do not have a uniform, then you are attending a real school. The children have some curriculum materials, previously their only “books” were handwritten by the teachers in small notebooks. The teachers are being paid a minimal salary monthly for their work. The teachers have received assistance with transportation issues to get to and from school. A motor scooter and a couple of bikes for the teachers, the uniforms, the curriculum materials, and the material for the uniforms have been provided by the Staurolite Foundation.
While I am confident there are many more such schools across the globe who are in need of assistance, this is the one the Good Lord has lead me support. I am writing to enlist your support.
In the words of Pastor Rudra, “Thank you so much for your prayer support. Because of your prayer support we could achieve this goal. We have a long way to walk and many things to achieve. Our hands are feeble but God’s hand is Able. Amen.”
Please be in prayer of how you can help. We need to raise $50,000 to purchase land to build a permanent school. A permanent school will have the opportunity to give more children in the Udayan Polly slum area New Hope. The school will be used for church services and activities.
And while we know, the hope we have in Jesus Christ is not due to any work of ours, I will end with the words of Pastor Ray Still, “ …it can’t hurt any when you show up at heaven if there is a little child from a slum in India, holding Peter’s hand who says, “yes I know them, they helped me.”
Michael T. Smith
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?