Bombay Teen Challenge: Redeeming Lives. One Life at a Time.

Sanjay: One Story, One Life

This is my story.  I was born in the red light district of Mumbai on October 1st. My mother is from Nepal and was promised a job in Mumbai, but it was a trick. She was from a poor family and was only 14 years old.  She wanted to be able to earn some money for her family. When she arrived in Mumbai, the promised job was not what she was told, but was that of a sex worker.   She had me when she was very young, and then had my sister, Lakshmi, when I was 2 years old. I have no idea who my father was/is; I may never know.

My sister and I grew up in the red light district.  It was all we knew.  When my sister got to be about 6 years old, men were starting to notice her and my mom told me that she was going to have to send her away to a hostel, so that men could not touch her. However, because that would take all of her money, she told me she would have to send me away to live in the streets, because she could no longer take care of me. This was very hard for me.

I was 8 years old. I can remember it being monsoon season, and being too afraid to lay down on the streets to sleep, because I was afraid I might drown. So would sleep standing up.  I was so very hungry all the time, and so alone.

When I was eight years old I was staying on street, a Muslim family allowed me to stay with them, and the guy was a drug dealer and he was a sort of ‘don’  of that area and that man taught me how to sell the drugs and taught me how to deal with cops. They expected me to do this for them, so at the age of 8, I also started taking drugs; very heavy drugs.

I continued with my life this way on the street. Just  as I turned 18 I was put in a jail,  because I did half murder (I cut a man with a knife)  for 6 months and later on that Muslim family came and bailed me out. Then I again started sell their drugs and dealing with cops daily. Through the years, I saw many of my friends die because of an overdose of drugs.  Even then, my condition was also weak and that time Uncle Devaraj came and told me Jesus loves you and my reply was, “Go, man, do your work, but don’t bother me.” Uncle Devaraj went and my condition was getting worse and worse due to drugs and then I contracted a disease called T.B and it was spread over 80% of my body. The doctor said to me that I did not have much time to live.

I felt there was no hope for me to live and I was really sick, and so I came to Bombay Teen Challenge because there was no place else to go. As I lived at Teen Challenge, I saw many people praying to God and I saw them and I was thinking they are making people Christian and I was not ready to accept it because all the time I spent with the Muslim family made me feel not sure about Christ.

Then one day everyone was watching the movie The Passion of the Christ and I also saw it. After the movie ended, I came to my room and said to God, “If you are really there and the living God, then please save me and I will trust you.”  That was my prayer.  After 6 months, I went for a medical checkup and something happened which was unbelievable.  All the doctors got shocked when they saw my report. They said it was a miracle, you do not have any kind of disease. Six months before TB was in 80% of my body and now it is not there at all. It is a miracle that happened. Hope came into my life then because of this and I got saved and then accepted the Christ.

I went to Bible College for 6 months in year 2010. Another opportunity to go to states in 2012 arrived, and I went as part of a worship team traveling through different cities in America and Spain.  One of the gifts God has given me is that I am a singer.  God gave me this voice that can sing almost anything.  I love worshiping and singing to God. 

Something amazing that happened is that I got a wonderful family there who take care of me so well. They are the Walden family. I used to love chocolate cake a lot there and Susie mom use to make chocolate cake every day (See Susie’s story about the chocolate cake).

Today I have only have one hope and that is to minister to and help rescue the people who suffered like me and in the red-light area.  I have a dream to be married and have children and to have my own shop in Badlapur and perhaps do some counseling, like my mom (Mom calls me Dr. Sanjay, because I always have good counseling for her).   I have learned to be patient, because I have had to wait for almost everything in my life.  I am still waiting, but I believe God has been faithful to me.  For so many years, for most of my life, I have felt so alone.  Now, with God, I am never alone. But also, my family that God gave me – they say we are family forever, and that I will never be alone again. God has been faithful to me like that.

love you mom this is my story

Your son,


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A Note from Susie about the Intersection of Sanjay Through Bombay Teen Challenge in My Life

dated August 8, 2012:

Today, I wanted to share one of the most profound things that happened to me while the music team from Bombay Teen Challenge was here. There have been so many more things than this one, but this one served to allow God to reach deep within my heart, and inspire and strengthen me in my life’s work.  I am forever grateful for this beautiful intersection of God, Bombay Teen Challenge, Journey to Hope, and Sanjay, and the collision of the ‘hurt and the healer’ in all of our lives.

There were many evenings during Sanjay’s stay in our home when I came home from a long day of counseling, and did my best to redeem the time with Sanjay. Sanjay said to me one evening, “Susie –Mom, you are smiling but your eyes are sad and burdened from your day’s work – I am praying for you.” Then he declared that on Monday, August 6th, he was going too fast and pray for my counseling, and was going to come with me to the office to continue to pray there throughout the day.  I thought¬….what a great idea…after all, Devaraj had come when we first opened and prayed over our office space (he said he had to pray really hard and long because it was such an old building – hundreds of years to claim power over!) and so we made the plan.

On Sunday night, August 5th, he began his fast at 7:30 p.m. We woke up on Monday morning, and went in to the office. Because he is such a big guy, I knew I would have to introduce him as folks came in.  I decided to just say what he was doing, why he was there, and let God do the rest with my clients.  Many of my clients are believers, but many are also insurance clients, so they are coming to me first because I am a provider for their insurance more than because I am a Christian therapist. After I introduced Sanjay, I brought them in, we had our session, and at the end of each session, I expressed that Sanjay would like very much to pray over them in Hindi. Every single Monday client said yes! So, he came in and we had a time of Hindi prayer over every client.  It made for an amazing day in counseling for me.  Not just because he was there, but his mission and his determination to support the counseling ministry created something in the clients and in me.  It did not end there, either. 

I told Sanjay that I would take him to eat at any place for dinner Monday night. And he chose Guru and then chocolate cake, so we went and he had an Indian feast. As we were leaving, I asked Sanjay why chocolate cake? He said he has loved it since he lived on the streets.  There was a bakery in Mumbai that baked chocolate cakes, and if anything went wrong with a cake and they couldn’t sell it, they would put it on the edge of the trash, and Sanjay would eat it there.  When he said this to me, I knew that I was about to go home, no matter how tired I was, and make him the most amazing chocolate cake I have ever made!  And I did. And he ate nearly all of it.  So, I have made it my mission to keep him supplied with chocolate cake whenever possible!

Sanjay came in on Tuesday and prayed with my first two clients and came back on Wednesday and prayed for a client at his request.  I made a decision to invite every single client from our practice to their concert on Wednesday night, and the amazing thing is that 15 of them came.  Sanjay shared his testimony that night, and I walked him around to everyone who came to the concert.  This week, cards have come in to the office expressing thanks for caring enough to pray for them. God has proven himself to be so amazing in this matter. 

The difference that this made in my life is that it gave me such encouragement and strength in counseling.  There are days when my job is very heavy and sad, and heartbreaking.  For this week, I experienced the power of others praying with us and for those we are called to care for at Journey to Hope.  The verse that I have claimed for this experience is Exodus 17:10-12….”As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage.  But whenever he dropped his hands, the Amelekites gained the advantage.  Moses’ arms soon become so tired he could no longer hold them up.  So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on.  Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset.”  I am so very thankful for Sanjay, being Aaron to the work of Journey to Hope during this week of counseling.   I have often said that while these precious souls from BTC do not have much in the way of material wealth, they have the confidence of their prayer life, and they wield it with authority and power.  Thanking God for all of them today. When they come, we want to bless them and love them in every way, and yet, everytime, the love and blessing they pour over me breaks me, humbles me, and draws me closer to Christ.  Who would have known that God was sending me much needed strength for my journey through this Sanjay – strength to raise my arms another day.  And another son. To God be the glory! Amen

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