The 18-month-old baby lay alone, wailing, on the train tracks. He cried uncontrollably for his mother, but she and his father had already walked away, leaving him in the path of a train due to arrive any minute.
If the train hadn't been running behind schedule that day, the baby's life would have ended. Instead, a 58-year-old widow who walked by saw the little boy. She lovingly grasped his hand, took him home and raised him as her own son.
Even though his own parents had abandoned him, the boy was given the name Champak and grew up with the care and provision of his adoptive mother. The widow's neighbors also showered him with affection, always greeting him with hugs and kisses.
When the time came for him to start his education, Champak's adoptive mother enrolled him in a school run by Christian missionaries. The believers he met there told him Bible stories about Jesus and His plan to redeem all humankind, sparking Champak's interest in Christ. Champak even hoped to become a missionary himself in the future. But though he grew up with a knowledge of Christianity and even memorized Bible verses, he never entered into a relationship with the Lord or learned how to apply what he had learned.
Choosing between Love and Rebellion
When he grew older, he started working for his neighbors each day after school, running errands for them or cutting grass. He always gave his earnings to his mother.
But in his early teens, Champak befriended youths drawn to pleasure-seeking, feeding into a growing attraction to money. He began skipping school so he could work during the daytime. Straying from his childhood innocence, he started keeping back some of his earnings for himself.
When his mother found out he was deceiving her, frustration and anger gripped her, and conflict ensued. Instead of submitting to her, he ran away from home.
He started working in hotels as a servant and spent his extra time drinking alcohol with his friends. But his self-seeking lifestyle didn't provide the acceptance and love that he craved. Still hurting from his birth parents' rejection, he had now estranged himself from the adoptive mother who raised him, and when he faced a difficult situation, his friends deserted him too.
Childhood Thirst Revisited
Frustrated and lonely, Champak began longing for the unfailing love of Christ he had learned about growing up. One day he decided to visit a church. There, he met Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Ruman Chopra.
Pastor Ruman reminded Champak that Jesus loved him despite his unfaithfulness and offered him a new life. Champak realized that although others had abandoned him, Jesus would never leave him or forsake him. That same day, Champak chose to follow Christ.
In the following days, he told Pastor Ruman about the desire he had since childhood to serve God. When he heard about Champak's wish to commit his life to Christian service, Ruman offered simple advice: Study God's Word thoroughly and share the Good News with others.
A New Path Chosen
When Champak told friends and neighbors about his interest in enrolling in the local GFA-supported Bible college, they derided him.
"You are not very educated," they told him. "No one will admit you to that college."
Their words were partially true. Champak had neglected his schooling during his wayward youth, but instead of being rejected from the Bible college, he was accepted—and he thrived there.
Instructed in his own language among other believers devoted to serving Christ, he soaked up the Word of God, practiced applying it and learned from the examples of experienced ministry leaders. Because the college was not too far from his hometown, he could also visit his adoptive mother from time to time.
Champak recently graduated and now serves in a slum area where he had started a fellowship of believers during his final year of Bible college. Near a railway station, this slum is reminiscent of the neighborhood where he had grown up in the care of his adoptive mother. His story of rejection started on the train tracks, and now he imparts Christ's hope to people living near the railway.