Dr. Ananthi Jebasingh
The full audio interview my dear friend Leslie Littrell captured for me is so beautiful, I wanted to share it in original form, as well as in a condensed, written form like the others. I would love to hear which format you like the best, to inform future interviews and posts.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and where you grew up?
I grew up in the Southern part of India. My family had been a Christian family for generations and many had given themselves up for full time service to the Lord. My father had a transferable job, so we moved often. I studied early in a school with good Christian teachers where I grew in the Lord. But later, we moved and I joined a school that was not a Christian school and slowly compromised my values. When my father died suddenly that brought me to a very big turn in my life. I realized the vanity of life. And at the same time, my mother arranged for a marriage for me. She found a man that was a preacher, he had committed his life to serve the Lord and reach India for Christ. I did not want to marry him, but the Lord spoke to me from Isaiah 55 and that changed my mind and heart. That changed my whole life.
How did you come to serve the children of Good Samaritan School?
That was a calling from the Lord. I was more interested in education because I couldn’t go for ministries with my husband, but I couldn’t just sit. So, I thought studying would be better. I joined an international university in New Delhi to do my research degrees. When I finished, I translated the book on the founder of Trans World Radio, Paul Freed. He gives an account in the book that his father was sitting in a swivel chair, telling a man about Jesus. The man called Paul Freed’s father a liar. He said if you really believed that the only way to get to heaven and have eternal life is through Jesus, you wouldn’t be sitting there in a comfortable chair with a comfortable salary. You would be going out and telling people. That same day Paul’s father submitted his resignation letter. He went on to be a missionary and so Paul grew up telling people about Jesus one by one. Paul later started Trans World Radio to reach more people. When I translated this story, I knew I wanted to work for the Lord.
I was praying one day to the Lord, asking Him to use me. As I was praying there was a knock on the door. It was a little boy wanting food. I gave him something to eat that day. He kept coming back every day asking for food. I began to worry that I was turning him into a begger, so one day I turned him away and told him not to come back. As I walked away from the door I began to weep. I felt God asking why I had done that. I felt I had made a mistake and began praying, asking the Lord to bring the boy back. The next time he came, I agreed to feed him, but only after I had taught him first. Many other children then started to come with him. I would teach them, them feed them. Eventually my garage was full of children and we needed more room. I went to the slum commissioner and asked for a place to teach the slum children. He gave us a room in the public toilet complex. I could not believe it, the only place he could give us to teach the children was a toilet complex. God made me humble, reminding me that Jesus was born in a manger. We taught 600 children there in the toilet complex for many years.
How would you describe the mission you are called to?
It is unique in that we take the least of the least, the poorest of the poor, the downtrodden, the hopeless. Children that are wasting their time. We take them and make them, not I but the Lord, we are impacting the whole generation of India. We teach them about the creator for so many years. When they go from school and face struggles, they are not alone. The Lord goes with them.
We are impacting more than the children. We are impacting the community. We are sharing the marvelous things God can do in this life. We have today a big school, with digital classrooms and high standard labs. It didn’t all come in one day. Slowly God has been bringing it up as one of the leading schools in New Delhi. I’m really happy about that. Not proud, but humble and happy to see what God is doing through the school.
What is one of the biggest challenges you faced along the way?
Every day there are demands. It is a standard school, we are under the government. We are also a Christian school. We are trying to follow what the Lord wants us to do and what the government wants us to do. That is a challenge.
Getting qualified teachers is a big challenge too. We pray for that. We have the poorest of the poor so we need to be able to serve those at many different levels. Those at the highest level as well as those that are really struggling.
Are you ever tempted to turn back?
Not as far as I know. :) I work without salary, so sometimes I have to take another job at night to meet the needs of my family. But God has provided every little need. I just think, and God answers.
What keeps you going?
The Lord. Nothing else. The word of God. Every day it’s like fresh bread given to me. And the Spirit of God leading me. That is my sustenance.
What can others do to support the work of the Friends of the Good Samaritans?
The biggest challenge is getting sponsors for the children. Some schools wait for the money to come in and then accept children. We bring the children in and then look for sponsors. That is how we have ended up with so many children! We are giving the other means of support, but need people to take the financial support through sponsorship. To take the children into their hearts as we take them physically up.
Is there anything you haven’t shared that is bursting inside you?
I want to tell people how blessed it is to sponsor a child. But I hold it back. I wait upon the Lord to bring sponsors. That is what is bursting inside me. Blessed is him that gives and him that takes. It blesses you tremendously more. But it blesses the child. The satisfaction that flows into your heart blesses you abundantly.
What’s the most powerful experience you have had with God?
When my mother had arranged for my marriage. I was so angry. But then God gave the verse from Isaiah 55 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and the hills will burst into song before you.” I didn’t understand this at first. But now, as I walk in the tribal areas and the children coming so happy to see me, I think of this verse. How God has spoken long time back, and is fulfilling now. So, I will just say to everyone, if the Lord is calling, don’t hesitate. He has a big, big plan for your life.
Who else’s story would you like to be told?
Those who helped me get this school started, Laura Marie Thompson and Jess Correll. When I was baffled and didn’t know how we would get all we need, they were so committed to prayer and to the work.
Photography by Hannah Brewer