I am Devanandam Junapudi, a pastor and indigenous missionary from Guntur, India that has worked for the 24 years in the Andhra Pradesh, rendering the Lord's service among the oppressed classes of the Indian people. Most of these communities are populated with idol worshipers who live in ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our outreach efforts have resulted in winning many of these oppressed people into the kingdom of God, by faith in Jesus.
I work with my wife, Jessie, as a missionary team to offer assistance to orphans, widows, the leprous, and elderly people.
I am from a poor Dalit family in a remote village called Lodidalanka, located in the Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh, in southern India. My mother raised five children with great difficulty because we were very poor and often had nothing to eat. We lost our father when we were just children, leaving our mother was the only breadwinner. She worked as a coolie (unskilled laborer) from early in the morning till late at night and was paid a small daily wage of 15 rupees. This amount was too little to adequately feed our family. We had a very hard life, often going without food and drink.
When I was five years old, I became seriously ill and my mother gave me up for dead. I was badly neglected, lacking food, clothing, and health care. Because of this dire situation, I was admitted to the Home of Mother Theresa boarding house. While living in this home, at the age of eight years old, a man wearing a long robe woke me up from sleep in the early hours of the morning. This happened to me twice. The second time I went running and crying to my warden to tell him about it. My warden told me, “Jesus came to you and he has chosen you for his work.” I believed his words in my heart that day. Jesus came a third time, placed his hand on my head, and said, “I love you, my son.” Then He left. From that time I began praising, dancing during the worship times, singing songs, and playing the drums.
At the age of 12, I returned home from the orphanage with the joyful expectation of seeing my mother. I found her very sick and close to death, living under some trees. She was desperately poor and destitute, without food, water or anyone to care for her. I quickly discovered that this was the condition of my whole community. I grabbed a bowl and began begging for food for my mother, going door to door. To my despair, nobody cared or gave me anything. Hopeless and discouraged I inquired at the home of a wealthy Hindu man who agreed to give us some food but wanted to know who I was first. I knew if I said that I was a Christian, he would seriously harm or kill me. If I denied being a Christian, I would receive food for my mother, but it would be denying Christ – and I could not do that. The Holy Spirit gave me the strength to proclaim Jesus Christ in that man’s house. He immediately took my bowl, and throwing it away he began to beat me badly. He went into the house to find something to kill me but ran away and went to my village and my mother. The villagers heard and came to see what had happened to me. They were very sad and began to pray for me and my protection.
Let me tell you a little about my people. The Dalit communities are the poorest of the rural poor and “untouchables” in India. They belong to the lowest social order and as such are oppressed and exploited. They are despised and hated for any and every reason made to live on the outskirts of towns and cities. These dwelling places lack basic infrastructure, drinking water, education, and basic medical treatments. The Dalits are not allowed to sit and eat with the higher classes in public places. In some restaurants, there are two drinking glasses – one for the upper classes, and one for the Dalits. In most places, the village barber will not cut the hair of the Dalits nor wash their clothes without receiving severe punishment.
Dalits typically live in areas that are frequently flooded. Their houses are little more than huts made of dried palm leaves, bamboo, and dried tree trunks. These materials are cheap but are easily damaged by sunlight, wind, and rain. The huts are often destroyed by natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, tsunamis, or even just heavy storms. Dalit communities lack basic ablutions and are forced to defecate in the open fields, a practice that causes health, hygiene, and sanitation problems. Waterborne and water-related diseases are common among the Dalits, causing high levels of mortality and serious illness among their children.
Fewer than 10% of Dalits are literate. They are often not able to send their children to school due to the severe levels of poverty they must endure. Of those who do attend school, the dropout rate is high due to social restrictions. The higher classes will not tolerate their children studying with Dalits causing great discouragement among the unfortunate children. The political system is controlled by the rich and influential Hindus who work against developing the Dalit communities. Their political voice is stifled and ignored.
All these problem situations greatly disturbed me so I started looking for a solution through prayer and reflection. I became so troubled, I decided to commit suicide. I went to the top of a mountain to throw myself down and end my suffering once and for all. I closed my eyes and uttered a prayer as I was about to jump. Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me. “My son, my son, I love you. I’ll be your God and you’re my chosen one for my ministry.” I was strengthened and a feeling grew inside me, filling me with grace. Such is the power of Jesus. As I cried, the Lord showed me Jeremiah 1.4-5: “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’” (NIV). It brought me much joy and I accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in holy tongues. God was my refuge and my strength. He was preparing me for his mission to the unreached millions. From the time I was very young, my mother began fasting each week, praying that God would call one of her five children to full-time gospel ministry. Her prayers were being answered.
I returned to my village and shared this divine message with my pastor and mother. When my mother heard my testimony, she was strengthened and healed instantly by the power of the Holy Spirit. We praised God with my entire congregation. My pastor and mother sent me to Hyderabad for Bible training and I was commissioned to become a full-time missionary. I studied for one year between 1995 and 1996 and was then ordained as a pastor on March 27th, 1996.
After my ordination I started evangelizing door-to-door and village-to-village, sleeping on the side of the road or under the trees. Widows, orphans, street children, and beggars all started to follow me everywhere I went. I asked God, “How am I to take care of these people? I do not have food, clothing, or medical care even for myself.” For one whole year, I preached the gospel with only one pair of pants, one shirt, and no shoes. God spoke to me and said, “These people are your family and your church.” Those who followed me would beg for food and feed me, and when I received anything from other sources I would feed them. For a long time, we lived like this from day today. We worshipped and praised God together under the trees where we slept. These years were difficult times – I was beaten nine times because of the gospel.
The Lord has enabled me to make many disciples since my ordination and raise up pastors who are dedicated to our mission of bringing the message of Christ to the millions. Many of our missionaries and believers still gather together and worship under the trees and beside the roads. They are marching ahead, however, to make disciples of all nations. They are growing in strength and it is a joy to see them grow stronger in the Spirit and in faith.
Today I am fulfilling God’s vision as I continue to testify. The scripture says that “some do not have the knowledge of God” (1 Cor 15.34). Some 2.7 billion people in our generation still have not been reached with the gospel. What answers are we prepared to give to the living God when he asks about the blood of these multitudes on our hands? This is my personal call. I entreat you to cross a bridge with the gospel – from Western preoccupations and transient pursuits to the lost multitudes of India who are still un-evangelized. The mission of Restoration Ministries is “to reach the unreached of India with the gospel of Jesus Christ and fulfill the Great Commission – through recruiting, training, sending and assisting qualified laborers to win the lost and plant local churches in partnership with the body of Christ.” Primarily, Restoration Ministries seeks to fulfill its mission by raising up indigenous Missionaries in India who can take the gospel to their own people, unhindered by language barriers or cultural distractions.
The Slums of Guntur
There are two slums in Guntur town under our care and support. The livelihood of the people living here comes from every day picking up the garbage on the roads, separating the plastic in it, and selling the plastic to earn money. The income from this is so low it is very difficult for them to feed their children or themselves. When they contract any illness or medical condition it is impossible for them to pay for doctors or hospital visits. Daily their kids go on the roads going house to house, begging and searching for somethings to fill their stomachs. This type livelihood is very deadly and very painful.
Very few people in our country want to help the poor with any kindness or generosity. The few who will help are selective to who they will help depending on their social class, creed, and religion discrimination. Everyone in this society wants their family to be richer and have an increased income. Most are not willing to give up their riches to help others and there are no programs in place to help the poor. This is why the poverty levels keep increasing instead of decreasing.
India is full of superstition, sorcery, and idolatry. It's awful that 85% of people live in this hopeless state of faith. Most of the people in India do not like to follow the Bible or worship Jesus Christ. Instead they would rather persecute those who are Christians.
Now the present government is planning to bring a bill establishing Inia as a Hindu country where only Hindus should be free. The law is to condemn anyone in this country who preaches the gospel and invites people into Christianity to be punished through their anti-conversion law. We need Christians all over the world to stand with us and pray that this never happens.
Since time immemorial we have been praying for the children of these slums to be fed and educated. Please pray with us in the matter. We can feed and educate if someone would give just $2 dollars a day to help a child. Please pray for a way to help one or two of these orphans, or even a family that lives in the slums. 100% of your donation goes directly to our Feeding Center Project. We at the Restoration Ministry, are accountable for every single dollar and our books will be open always for you to show we are trustworthy.
I hope you are satisfied with my story and will be pleased to help us in our mission.
If you have any questions about this project please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God bless and prosper you for your kindness.