Before coming on this trip to India we were often asked, "Why are you going to India? What ministry are you partnering with there? What are the needs there?" The following story of Rayudu, although heartbreaking, paints a vivid picture of the ongoing needs here and of the hope that the Shining Stars Centers for Youth Development are offering to the children and families that attend on a daily basis.
Rayudu (pictured above with his sister) was always an excellent student in school and excelled at everything he did. He was known as a child "who always did his best at everything." His parents (top picture) were devout Hindus and Rayudu frequently urged his parents to turn from their idol worship and follow Jesus--a decision he had made while attending a Shining Stars Youth Development Center in his neighborhood.
In January, of 2006 Rayudu (age 12) was scratched (not bitten) by a stray dog. He went to the doctor and started on a regimen of rabies shots, but the doctor did not seem to indicate that the risk for rabies was very high since it was only a scratch. Rayudu's family is very poor and could not afford to finish his regimen of shots--so they did not take him back for his follow up appointments. They did not think twice about it since the doctor did not emphasize the importance of coming back for the rest of his shots.
Three months later, in April of 2006 Rayudu began to act strangely and he was taken by the director of Shining Stars (Peter Wiig) to a local hospital. They mentioned that he probably had rabies and referred them to another hospital down the road for treatment. Upon arrival at the hospital the doctor told them, "He will die, 100%." Upon hearing the news of his impending death Rayudu said, "I am not afraid to die because I will go to be with Jesus in heaven."
Although Rayudu was briefly distressed about his own fate he quickly began to think of others:
- While lying on his hospital bed he placed both of his parents hands into Peter Wiig's and made Peter promise that he would take care of them.
- He collected all of his father's money and asked that it be used for the education of his siblings (like his sister's pictured above).
- He also asked the Shining Stars to promise to take care of his sister's education and help her to study.
- He told his mother that he wanted all of his clothes and body parts given to the poor (though he himself was very poor).
Family and friends gathered around Rayudu until late into the night where they sang worship songs, prayed with him, and said their goodbyes. He passed away at 12:30 a.m. on April 26th, 2006.
His memory still remains with all that are involved with Shining Stars. Within a couple of days of his death Rayudu's parents asked Jesus to be their savior! This is something that we know would have brought Rayudu great joy and is an answer to his many prayers. His brother and sisters are all still involved in Shining Stars and their beautiful smiles light up the room.
Shining Stars has honored Rayudu's request and recently secured funding (through much work & effort by the staff) for all of his sibling's education up through high school. They also receive help daily with their school work as tutoring is a key part of the after school program.
The Shining Stars Centers have taken measures to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again by educating the staff and getting connected with a local agency that provides rabies shots free of charge.
This story illustrates the important role that the Shining Stars Centers are playing in the lives of families here in Hyderabad. They are not only sharing the good news of Christ with the kids and their families, they also serve as valuable resources for many poor families here in the city. Rayudu's siblings are now getting an education they probably would never have gotten without the help of the Shining Stars staff. This ministry is doing a mighty work for the Lord here in India and their ministry is impacting many lives. It is our privilege and honor to serve with them this month and hopefully in the years ahead.