From Dust to Glory

The sun rose over the north Indian plains and brought life to the small villages and towns that dotted the fertile lands of the Punjab. A young mother held a newborn baby in her arms as she looked out of her open door. Extreme poverty was all around her: an open sewer ran by the house, and people were crammed into tiny dwellings with no hope of ever seeing any improvement in their lives. The mother looked towards the sky and uttered a prayer to a god – any god – that her baby boy would not have to live his whole life in the midst of such deprivation and degradation. The boy, named Ashok Kumar, spent his childhood in this poverty-stricken area, which became even more intense when his father died, leaving a young widow to take care of her children alone.

Like many young men of that time and place, Ashok contemplated on the two main options to get away from poverty: joining the communist party or a life of crime. On top of this, Ashok’s religious experience at the time consisted of idols, adoration of the spirits, and the idea that all gods were a passage to enlightenment. However, a marvelous event changed his family’s life: a team of missionaries arrived in the area to the good news of Jesus Christ, and Ashok’s mother converted to the saving faith.

A new hope soon came into the family. The mother began to disciple her son, and her son let go of the dreams of wealth that would come from a life of crime. Years later, that same child became a man, and had the new name of Andy Kumar. He devoted his life to assisting those who brought the message of the God and Father of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, to villages, just like his own, around the world.

Andy then moved to Birmingham, England for an arranged marriage to a young woman in the local Indian community. He found himself in a foreign, unfamiliar country with a wife and extended family he had yet to meet. Despite getting to know her for some time, Andy’s wife passed away just months after the birth of their only child, a daughter. The long nights of doubt and mourning nearly broke his spirit and his faith, but once again he was presented with an opportunity for a fresh start.

He moved to Chicago and secured a entry-level job in the travel industry. It was then Andy met Naila, a beautiful Pakistani-American woman who he eventually married. His daughter had a mother once again, and the newlywed couple also had two sons of their own. During this time, a dream began to form in his mind. He thought about his homeland and the images of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, which brought a smile to his face. Could he create a business that would send out missionaries to people just like those who served his own family? It seemed impossible at the time. He didn’t have a business background and capital funding, and yet the dream developed into a vision.

A vision was cast from the Lord, and with fear and apprehension, Ashok and Naila opened a bank account and put a phone in the front room of their home. City Express Travel was born in the early 1980s. The duo started to contact churches about low-cost missionary air fares, and more than 30 years later, thousands of short-term workers were sent around the world to bring the message of an omnipotent God, and He has given reconciliation to sinful people by the Blood of the Cross of Calvary.

Hi, I am Andy Kumar, CEO and founder of City Express Travel, and I am excited to be a part of this company. Because of a few brave individuals on a mission trip, sharing the gospel made a huge difference in my life, and brought hope, healing, and joy to my family. My dear mother introduced me to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I was attracted to her Christian faith after witnessing a great sense of joy and peace in her turmoil-filled life. I was impressed with the simplicity, yet profound story of “the love of God so powerfully expressed through the cross of Jesus.” I accepted Christ in my heart and started my journey of Christian faith, all because of a few Canadian Christians who came to India on a mission trip to share the Gospel of Grace.

When we started City Express Travel in 1986, I had no idea we would be involved in sending over 100,000 short-term missionaries all over the globe. It is humbling to realize the role we play in rebuilding lives in many parts of the world.

My personal story and faith in Jesus Christ is the reason why get such fulfillment and satisfaction from arranging mission trips and group travel over and over again. Thank you for your kind support. Please let me know how we can assist you planning your trip. We’ll handle all the complex travel planning details, so you can focus on achieving the “big picture” of your mission.

Over the years, City Express Travel has grown into a successful international travel agency. Today, the company features a team of skilled travel professionals, and Andy and his family now live in the suburbs of Chicago. The tiny hut, open sewer, and life surrounded by extreme poverty and crime seems more like a distant memory. Andy’s new goal is to continue work with those that travel to the dark corners of the world where little children and adults look to a god – any god – and show them the Light of Christ.

On MissionFinder, we have over 1,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Does your church or organization need help organizing mission trips? Check out our partner site, Their easy to use software will help you manage all the details for your short-term mission trips and team members online. Unlimited Trips. Unlimited team members. Easy online fundraising pages. Try it free for 30 days. Learn more here.

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