The ChristianMetro team caught up with Albert P.J, the man behind Abhayam, a rehabilitation centre in Bangalore, India for addicts. Alberts tells us his story in this interactive Q&A.
1. Please tell us briefly about yourself and what you do?
I am Albert PJ, born and brought up in Bangalore. I studied in a good school. I was going through rejection in my life. I was an unwanted person in my home. I was searching for acceptance. One day my friends challenged me to smoke a cigarette in class. I was able to do that and so my friends lifted me up and made me a leader. I thought I had found acceptance. I thought the cigarettes gave me acceptance. Soon I graduated, not in studies. But from smoking to alcohol to drugs to more mainliner items. This lifestyle lead me to the street.
My father closed the door on me. For three to four months of my life I lived on the street of Bangalore. While I was there I saw people who studied with me doing well in their life. That was when I asked a question to myself. Why am I like this? Suddenly a song which I learned when I was child came back to me. The song was: ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so’.
I prayed a prayer something like this- nobody loves me, my family, friends, no one… Jesus do you really love me. I felt a peace in my heart. I knew that HE loves me. That moment I burned all the stuff I had in my pocket and went back home. My mother received me in to my Home. That day was the last I ever touched drugs. God delivered me completely. He also gave me a vision to work with addicts. Today I work with people who struggle with any kind of addiction.
2. Tell us about your ministry and how did you start
After my life changed God gave me a purpose in my life to help the people who are struggling with addiction. My wife, Laly, and I were both working with youngsters. We started meeting with people who were struggling with addiction. We prayed for them and tried helping them. We could not do much because we didn’t have resources. We looked for a Christian Rehab Centre for them but we couldn’t find one. One young man whom we were trying to help for few years was murdered. That incident shook us very badly. Soon after that incident we stepped out to go for training. It was a faith step we took to go for the training. We visited a few rehab centres in India and we observed how they function. Four years we worked in one organisation in Calcutta. All this gave us a clearer idea. More than anything else we prayed and ask God to lead us. In 2007 we heard God telling us to comeback and start a centre in Bangalore. And so in June 2007, we registered as a charitable organisation called ABHAYAM and started the work.
3.What’s your vision and how are you working towards fulfilling that in your ministry etc.
To combat this alarming trend of substance abuse, Abhayam will provide holistic development to substance addicts and alcoholics through rehabilitation and spiritual development, integrating them back into society and simultaneously working towards a drug-free world.
4.How’s your ministry/NGO/Organization been a blessing to people?
Our work as a NGO has helped us to reach out to people of all age groups. Over the last 12 years, we have had more than 600 people in our rehab centre alone. All of them have had the opportunity to listen about the love of Christ. About 60% of them are now doing very well.
5.What’s one incident/event that turned your life to what you’re today?
The incident of the death of the young man that gave us an urgency to start a centre where God’s name is lifted up. God is truth and the truth will set u free. The only answer to any addiction is in JESUS.
6.What is your view of God and how does that affect your daily life?
We trust in God and His promises. When God asked us to leave the place where we were, we just obeyed and we saw His leading and guidance every day. When we look back 12 years we can say one thing that “nothing compares to the promise that we have in him”. His promises are our strength and He is leading us. Worship is our lifestyle. And we teach everyone to worship always.
7.How do your faith and spiritual values play a role in your daily life / at work / in your marriage?
FAITH is the key we operate with. Our marriage, daily life, our ministry is all a faith journey which is covered by HIS grace.
8.What do you to keep your relationship going with God / to grow in your spiritual life?
We spend time in reading the word individually and as a group, obey the word, and trust in His promises. As a group we fast and pray every Friday. All the members in home will join for the prayer time. We teach them the importance of prayer and how to put ones trust in God. As a staff team we pray together.
We also have a week of prayer every year. We begin the year with this special time. Again all of us are fasting and praying.
9.How have you been able to witness for Christ at your organization?
We were able share the word of God directly to the members in the home. We tell them what Jesus had done in our life, especially from my life story. We also have devotions every morning where we read the bible and pray. A lot of emphasis on the Word of God and its power.
10.People invest time and energy into developing their career; their bodies and relationships, but often neglect the spiritual dimension of their lives. How do you actively pursue spiritual growth in spite of your busy schedule?
Spiritual growth is our first priority, without that we cannot serve God. Everything else is secondary for us because He leads us and guides us every day. We are handling people with different character, problems and emotions. Only God can reveal things. He gives us the spirit of discernment.
We have scheduled time every day for our spiritual growth.
11. If you were to tell something about your faith in Christ, what would you say?
We just trust in Him, He is our everything. Every day in our life we see His hand working and we have seen He is a promise keeping God. Jesus transformed an addict to a servant of Christ to bring many to His fold.
12.Is there any testimony you would like to share?
The very second person that came to Abhayam was carried into our home by his relatives. His name was James. He had no strength below his waste due to extensive alcohol. He was a catholic and said, “I am not interested in Jesus, so don’t try to convert me”. We said we are only interested in seeing you get out of your alcohol problem. He would feel like using the toilet but could not get up and would mess up his bed. Our team would clean him and change his bed and wash all of it. He began to question why we do what we do. We just told him,“Jesus loves you, so we love you”. James said, “If your love for Jesus is making you do this, then I want to know this Jesus”. That statement transformed his life overnight. In a few days he began to walk. He stayed with us for about 7 months and then went on to do a short term Bible course and is involved in full-time ministry.
Every day is a miracle. Once we need to pay the rent amount, we didn’t have any money. We know the house owner will call in the morning because that was the last day. We didn’t want to ask anybody but we prayed for a miracle. By afternoon we got a call from a personal secretary of a person whom we know. He asked me to come to his office. When I went, he gave me a cheque. It was ten thousand rupees, the correct amount to pay the rent. We were curious to know how he decided to give us that money. Once I met him in a meeting and shared about the ministry and what we are doing and gave him a pamphlet. When he was thinking about which Ministry to give this money to, our pamphlet fell from the table. So he decided to give the money to us.
This is just a small incident we are sharing but this ministry is a faith-ministry. God prepare people every month to support us, not the same people but different.
13.How do you fund your ministry?
Difficult question to answer because for 12 years we shared with many people but the one whom He calls will support us. We just have a few friends supporting us. No other source of any other support or funding. It is a struggle. Laly and I still do not take a salary. So we find it very difficult to manage when we have to pay our children’s fees or a sudden hospitalization.
14.How can someone support your ministry?
You can send us a Cheque in the name of “ABHAYAM” or bank transfer.
15.Which is your favorite Bible Character and favorite book in the Bible?
My favorite book is Philemon. And my favorite Bible Character is Peter.
Albert is married to Laly and they have two children. If you wish to contact Albert, you can email him at email@example.com