Thomas Ravi Mollhagen began life as Manda Ravi Babu, born into a family of the lowest caste in a village in South India. The people of the lowest caste in India are known as the untouchables, and they are not even supposed to have a god. Thomas was 4th out of 5 children; 4 boys and 1 girl. Thomas quickly learned that his family struggled to have enough food. From before he can remember, Thomas tried to help provide enough food for his family by catching fish, stealing fruit, gathering leftover rice from the fields, and any left overs he could find on the ground at the vegetable market.

Rescue, Disciple, Reintegrate

Thomas also learned how to herd sheep from his oldest brother. Thomas enjoyed learning from and working with his oldest brother, but sadly his oldest brother died at the age of 12 from a cobra bite. Though very young, Thomas was then responsible for the sheep all by himself, while his parents and older siblings had other work to do. Thomas enjoyed being a shepherd boy, but he was often getting himself into trouble. One time monkeys were antagonizing one of his lambs, and Thomas wouldn’t stand for it, so he chased after the biggest monkey up in a tree (something you shouldn’t do). It then became apparent the monkey was chasing Thomas rather than vice versa, and Thomas was being pushed out onto the edge of a tree limb by the big monkey. Suddenly the branch broke and Thomas fell into a pond below. He did not know how to swim, but thankfully a field worker saw what had taken place and quickly rescued Thomas from the pond. Laughing, the man said “little boy, you sure do have guts going after that big monkey like that, but you better learn quick because next time you won’t be so lucky.” Thomas still bears a scar on his face from falling from the tree with that big monkey.

Thomas’s parents continued to struggle to have enough food for their family. His sister and remaining older brother were in and out of children hostels when their parents didn’t have enough food. Eventually at the age of six, Thomas and his younger brother, Raghu, were turned over to a private orphanage. His parents saw this as a chance to get the boys adopted into an American family. Shortly thereafter, the orphanage lost its license, and the boys were placed in to the state system. They were moved around through 5 different orphanages. Thomas quickly grew to despise the conditions and treatment given to them there. He was a number in a warehouse of children. At the age of ten he prayed to the God he had heard about at the private orphanage: "Get me out or I am going to run away". Within a year, November of 1992, Thomas and Raghu (renamed Peter) were adopted to Betty Mollhagen of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Though Thomas was out of the orphanage, his struggles were not over. He went to the States only knowing ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in English, but he had their meanings mixed up. He was placed in 5th grade without an English as a second language program.The other kids often made fun of him and Thomas began to use his fists to communicate. He frequently got into trouble in school. Thankfully God placed two men in Thomas' life who became great mentors for him and helped him learn English. As Thomas learned English, he realized he was good at making people laugh and could make friends easily. He soon became very popular and known as the “life of the party”.

Fast-forward to December of 2005. Thomas had finally obtained his USA citizenship, his brother Peter had made contact with their birth-family, and Thomas had come to a final brokenness and given his heart over to the Lord Jesus. While praying at a local university, Thomas told the Lord “I will go wherever you want me to go.” Thomas thought he would be sent to Africa or South America, but when he opened his eyes there was a large “Pray for India” sign. He had never seen it before. He thought "Oh no, Lord, not back there?!" India was a place he never wanted to return to because he remembered the poor treatment he received there from everyone due to his status as being from the lowest caste. He told his mentor what had happened and his mentor immediately responded with “I’ll buy you the ticket to India”. Thomas decided to travel to India to re-unite with his birth-family and help out the private orphanage where he was first treated kindly.

Re-uniting with his birth family after 20 years was such an incredible experience! Not only was he seeing them again after so much time away, but he was also overjoyed to learn that while they had been separated, his parents and sister had come to know and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, just like he had. He spent some time just getting reacquainted with them and catching up. He walked the streets where he used to play as a child and herd sheep. Thomas’ sister, Vijaya showed him around. While they were walking they came across the trash cans that they used to search for food in as small children. Thomas wanted to get it out of his system and looked around one last time. Something caught his eye, and upon a closer look he noticed two dead babies that dogs where eating. He became very upset and looked to his sister “Call the police, or do something!” Vijaya, with a solemn face said “Brother, look around you. This area is a huge brothel. Injustice happens here all the time. There is nothing you can do.” Discouraged, but determined, Thomas thought it was time to do something. So he traveled to Hyderabad, back to the orphanage he came from, to try help them. To his dismay, he learned the orphanages had been shut down. They had been accused of taking Hindu babies and selling them to Christians. Foreign adoption had been shut down in the state of Andhra Pradesh the year after Thomas and Peter were adopted. Dejected, Thomas decided to return back to his parents' house, not knowing what to do for the rest of his time in India.

While boarding a train to go back to his parent’s home, Thomas noticed a little girl holding her baby brother. He inquired of the girl why they weren’t in school and where their parents were. The little girl replied that their parents had died of AIDS and their relatives had disowned them because they too were HIV positive. She explained that she obtained food by begging in the train station. Thomas gave them food and was wanting to talk with them more, but the train started moving and the little girl jumped off with her baby brother. Thomas’ heart sunk. He began asking God why these things happen, and why there was so much heartache for these children. Thomas took out his Bible and began reading in James. The first chapter was not what he wanted to hear - trials, tribulations, caring for orphans and widows. He continued to read and it was James 2:14-18 that God used to get his attention. That passage states “what good is your faith if it is not accompanied by action?” Thomas' heart began beating hard in his chest. He knew the Lord was talking to him. He said “Okay Lord, I hear you, give me 5-10 years. Then I will care for people here and do something about their physical needs. I will go home to the USA, finish college, make a lot of money and then return to India to help people with that money.” Just as he was saying this to God, he heard a little girl crying to her mother “But Mommy, I’m hungry now!” Suddenly Thomas had flash backs to his childhood, of eating out of trash cans and the children he had recently seen still eating out of those same trash cans, and then the two children at the train station. The children are hungry NOW! They don’t have 5 years, five months or even five weeks; they are all in need now, there is no waiting to help. Thomas determined “I will start now”.

The next morning he started his day with this prayer: "Good morning Jesus, this is your son Thomas reporting for duty. Who shall I meet today? Where shall I go? How shall I glorify you? Show me the way." He rented large cooking vessels and bought a lot of rice and vegetables. He began cooking and feeding the local villagers. Hundreds of people came and he ran out of food, but many people ate that day. He began to do the same thing, day after day. While on one of these outings, a woman came to Thomas, dropped two children at his feet and said “I have AIDS, my husband died of AIDS - these children will be better off with you than me”. Then she left her two children with him and disappeared into the crowd. Unsure of what to do, Thomas took the children home to his parents. Word got out, and by the end of the week they had seven more children from similar conditions. Knowing they were being called to care for these children, Thomas' father mortgaged his house and Thomas maxed out his credit card so they could rent a building and lay up supplies. By the end of the following week they had a total of 21 children to care for. Unfortunately, at that time Thomas had to return to the USA because his visa had expired. Upon arriving home, he secured a job, worked hard to pay off his credit card debt, and continued to send money to India to care for the children’s home.

During his time in the states, he found people who were interested in helping him help these kids. Through this support, he was able to return to India to be there in person for the children. As Thomas continued to faithfully serve in India, he began to desire a wife, but was tired of the dating scene. He prayed, “Lord, I’m sick of chasing girls. If you want me to get married, please bring her to me”. Meanwhile back in Grand Rapids, a young woman named Dana Blakemore was praying “Lord, you know it has been my desire since I was a child to serve you in a foreign country, where would you have me go and what would you have me to do? Guide my feet.” Shortly thereafter, Dana learned about the children’s home and was on a plane to India 3 months later.

Though it was not love at first sight, it was definitely friendship at first sight. Thomas and Dana enjoyed serving together at the children’s home and in villages. Dana, with her nursing license, was the hands and feet at medical clinics, while Thomas was the voice rattling away in English and Telugu. By the end of Dana’s three weeks in India, a strong bond was formed between her and Thomas, and both were wondering if anything would come of it. Long story short, they were married about a year later and moved to India two months afterwards. Dana now fulfills the role of the children’s home mother and nurse, as well as the communicator in keeping the team and supporters in the USA informed as to what is happening there.

Many have come forward to partner in this remarkable mission. There are around 50 beautiful kids in the children’s home. God has given Thomas a big vision for these little ones and equipped him to uniquely understand where these children are coming from because he lived it himself. It is evident that India is in big need of change -- there are so many desperate people and no value or sanctity of human life. For there to be real change for these people, they must come to have a personal relationship with their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. They must begin to understand His love for them.

That is what Faith in Deeds aims to do - to disciple these children in the Bible, the Living Word of God, giving them truth and knowledge that will change not only their hearts, but those in the communities around them as well. Tom & Dana teach the Word and then ask the children “how do we live this out in our village?”.

There is still much work to be done. Please join us!

Thomas Ravi Mollhagen Part 1

Thomas Ravi Mollhagen Part 2

Meet the Kids

The presence of the FID Childrens Home, and the process of the discipleship of the children who reside there, lends to an overall system of social development within the community in which it serves.


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Ada, MI 49301

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