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This past January I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel across the world to North India. I’d always heard of India, enticed by their delicious cuisine and beautifully colored garments but I had never added it to my list of travel destinations. It seems palm trees and clear blue waters had claimed their rightful positions on my top five list. It wasn’t until Courtney established One Life to Love in India that I began to wonder what India was truly like.
She’d told me of the high poverty rate in India and the many kids living in the slums that she wanted to save. Courtney had also told me about the kids she had brought into the home and how their lives had drastically transformed after only a short time of living there. Every story, tugged on my heart strings a bit more than the last and I became even more curious on what is was like over there.
I had been planning to make a trip to India for awhile and this past January turned out to be the perfect time. Being on the Board of Directors, I knew a lot about the orphanage before arriving in India but actually being there was totally surreal. I had the opportunity to stay at the orphanage with one other board member for one week.
We stayed in one of the rooms at the orphanage along with 2 boys from the home, Dipu and Ravi and their caretaker, Sima, oh and Happy, the family dog. Every morning we were woken up by the sound of Happy playfully running around and Dipu entertaining her, bouncing his favorite tennis ball that we later found out he always kept handy in his pocket, while stating one of his favorite American phrases, “Good boy Happy.” Happy happens to be a girl which made this statement even cuter! We could also hear the joyful sounds from Ravi, who has been unable to talk since birth but his joy shines through his bright smile and laugh.
Dipu and Ravi only understood a few words in English but love truly has no word barriers. We were able to play games with the boys, go to the park and enjoy meals together. It was an amazing experience. We also went to the store to purchase clothes for the boys and Sima, toys, and learning activities. When we presented Dipu and Ravi with their gifts, they were ecstatic. Their smiles lit up the room and they were so thankful.
Before we had given the boys their new clothing, we gave Sima her clothing and she humbly asked us if we had gotten clothing for the boys also. This really touched my heart. I felt so content knowing that Dipu and Ravi have such a caring woman watching over them. She told us that she prays for the children every day and that we would soon have a house full of boys! The home is filled with such love and that is just what these kids need.
I am so grateful I was able to experience firsthand how the children at the home are living and I feel blessed to call Courtney, the Director of One Life to Love, one of my best friends. She is an inspiration for people to follow their God given dreams and change this world. I pray that God fills One Life to Love with children that are looking to be loved and appreciated because I know that they will surely find what they are looking for.
February 5, 2014
Today is a beautiful day, one that I am sure we will remember forever. The day we admitted our first three children into the home. I was so excited when we got the call from some parents to “please come and take” their children. I got in the van along with my two fellow servants, Gracy and Chandan and I felt so excited and grateful to God, while yielding to whatever was in store.
My excitement did not fade, but my urgency and heartbreak for the people increased as we journeyed to the slum. It never gets easy to go out in Delhi, because there are scenes of suffering wherever we go.
On the way I saw a boy no older than 8 years, standing ankle-deep in waste, digging for some “treasure” to supply food. I saw small girls 6 and 7 years old cradling their younger siblings, hair disheveled and bodies emaciated.
When we reached the entrance of the overcrowded slum, a dog lay in the middle of the street, both its hind legs broken, struggling to drag himself to the side of the road out of the path of oncoming traffic. People walked by disinterested. Just a few feet inside the entrance of the slum, 3 and 4 year olds were waiting in line to fill their small bottles with the water that literally trickled from the water supply tap that supplies water for hundreds of people.
My heart aches, and I want to cry and I want to help everyone and everything. I cannot bear to see suffering. When I see suffering, my mind breaks down and I wonder “why why why” until I can figure out “how how how” to bring relief. If there is no HOW then I find myself up in the night praying because sleep won’t come easily. My life is so small, in length and foolish according to common ideals. But I can say with my full heart that I would rather spend my life lighting a candle in the darkness than frolicking in the light in apathy.
Please meet our three boys:
Ravi (5 years) pictured with one of our servant leaders, Sudhit
Vishal, 16 years, is severely mentally handicapped.
Anil: 16 years, is a happy camper 🙂
A few yards into the slum, we reached Vishal’s home. Before actually reaching the front of their home, Vishal’s father came toward us. “Please take him today,” he asked. We told him that he should first come and see our home, and then if he was willing to admit his son then we would take him. But he refused. “I don’t need to see your home. Just take him now.” Our hearts were broken and we tried to hide the reactions of shock and heartbreak from our faces. “Ok, we will take him.”
Vishal’s father was satisfied, and pulled back the curtain of their home. There was Vishal’s mother, standing in a space smaller and more congested than any closet I have seen. When she shifted a little to the left, I saw a long thing leg. Vishal was curled up behind her, crunched into a small cabinet-like space. Seeing us, he gave a shy smile. He got ready and came with us, without shoes on his feet. His parents explained that he has never worn shoes.
Then we moved deeper into the slum to reach Anil’s home, barefoot Vishal following us. On the way we stepped over garbage and cow dung as we maneuvered by small children playing, pull-carts, potholes, autos, and rickshaws. When we reached, Anil was all ready to go. His mom even got his hair cut for the occasion. Anil’s mother had tears in her eyes. She even confessed, “Out of all my children, I love Anil the most.” Anil’s father however is severely mentally disturbed and constantly threatens Anil’s mother to lock him in a closet and get rid of him. She wants the best for Anil and her hope is that he will be completely healed. God can do anything!
Ravi and his parents met us at Anil’s home. They were somber yet indifferent to the situation. Ravi’s mother had just given birth to a baby girl, yet another “burden” on the family. They were ready to give up Ravi in order to relieve their burdens and hopefully have their son restored to health so that he can one day work and support his poor parents. Ravi, a joyful little guy, gave a big laugh and shook our hands, happy to see us again.
During the medical checkups with a doctor in a local government hospital, Vishal was overcome with joy. The doctor asked him to sit down, so he immediately squatted on the floor. With some coaching, the doctor got him to sit in the chair. He was so excited because, as his mother explained, it was the first time he had ever sat in a chair.
After all the medical checkups were done, we all shared a meal together, and had a time of prayer, the parents slipped away, unnoticed by the kids. At this point, we all breathed in and breathed out, in awe at this miracle of God. All we could think was, “Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God!” “We need you God, we need you God, we need you God!” And He is with us, guiding us and leading us every moment with His precious children.
As we sat with the kids that night, Gracy, one of our Servant Leaders, sat down next to Anil. She helped him drink his tea. He took a big gulp and Gracy wiped the saliva from his mouth, telling him, “I love you so much and I will continue to love you so much,” with tears in her eyes. She was so happy, thankful to God and absolutely ready to take on the challenge of caring for these children, all so that they will be healed and transformed in the name of Jesus!
Thank you so much for praying for us! We need your prayers now more than ever. Since receiving these three boys, our phone has been ringing constantly with parents and guardians asking us to please take their special needs children. We want that Vishal, Anil and Ravi will be completely transformed by His love. But we also want their parents to have an encounter with God through their children. Please pray for the kids and their parents.
And remember our servant leaders in your prayers. All are working so hard and have dedicated their whole lives to caring for these children. And their hearts are set on taking in more kids and opening more homes like this for children in need. The need is great, but our God is greater!!
Thank you for praying and supporting us!
We could not do this without you ☺
“Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
For He has delivered the life of the poor…” -Jeremiah 20:13
From the Hearts of children come the most honest, enlightening and inspiring words, actions, and thoughts. I love my time in the USA traveling and sharing and meeting different people with a common heart of compassion for needy children in India. But when I meet children who are just as compassionate, if not more, I marvel at their potential of bringing positive change to our world in the future. And I pray that compassion and love is nurtured until they are fully ready to set out and shine their dazzling light all over the dark places of our world.
Nearby my hometown there is a remarkable young girl named Ellie. Her family has supported me and prayed for me since the time I started working in India among street children. They have a common heart for orphans and even have adopted children of their own. It is obvious that God has blessed Ellie with the awesome and powerful gift of compassion. She has an unbelievable heart for the “kids in India”. For her birthday, Ellie didn’t ask for the latest toy on the market, cool clothes, fun games, or other things kids usually ask for on their birthdays. Ellie asked that in lieu of gifts, her friends and family give her cash and gift cards so that she could buy things for the kids in India.
She was so anxious to give these things to me to bring back to the kids in India. I was so happy to finally meet up with her a couple weeks ago at a fundraiser for One Life to Love. The photo you see above is of me with Ellie as she shows me all the sweet gifts she got for the kids.
When I think of Ellie and other children like her I think of the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus to feed 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-21. The disciples must have laughed when the boy offered that meagre meal to feed such a large group of people. But Jesus saw the sincerity of the boys giving heart. I believe that boy shared in Jesus’ compassion for the multitude, and rather than fill his own belly, he wanted to help the others whom he saw at that moment as more important than himself.
It makes me think. God doesn’t look for grand gifts and incredible donations. He is pleased with those who give out of the purest compassion and desire to help with a faithful and willing heart to be used by Him to impact the multitudes. I am sure, absolutely sure, that Ellie’s gifts will impact the multitudes.
Thank you Ellie, from all the kids in India!
These are the keys that will break the chains of oppression for 30 abandoned, abused and exploited children in India. These are the keys that will unlock the doors to their hearts so that they may be washed of all the abuse and words of hate and to be filled with promises of a hope and a future; faith in an unconditional love from an unlimited God.
These are the keys to our new Home for orphan and abandoned special needs children.
We struggled to find a Home to start our Home for abandoned special needs children. I literally searched all over Delhi in every area to try to find the perfect home. I had the picture of what I envisioned for the Home in the forefront of my mind…I dreamt about it and it drove me crazy sometimes as we searched and searched and nothing added up. I think our realtors were ready to strangle us by the second month. When I thought something was right, something would go wrong. On a few occasions, I thought we found the perfect home only to be let down because the owners were not willing to rent their homes to special needs orphans. I started to feel tired. But I never gave up hope. I thought, “Wow, I am learning a lot in the past couple months running around looking for houses.” And I was learning a lot. Maybe that is why God was giving me the experience, but I was still concerned about finding a house. Because without a house we can’t start our work with special needs orphans.
So, “Where am I going to find a house Lord?” I continued to ask. And God revealed to me that I wasn’t going to find the house but the house was going to find me. And that is exactly what happened. When I had only a few days before my schedule return to USA, I thought, let me just try one more time. I called my realtor friend and he showed me an apartment building that was beautiful but not practical for a special needs children’s home. Another disappointment. As we were leaving the building I saw a two-story yellow house with a “For Rent” sign on the balcony. We called, and the owner came over to show us the house.
When I walked in the front door, I saw a cross and a large photo of Jesus in the foyer. My realtor said, “Your God is here.” And I was moved almost to tears, “Yes. My God is here.” The house was perfect, totally within our budget, and best of all, God is there. It was like Jesus was welcoming us home with arms wide open. The cross still remains where it was and we do not have any plans of taking it down. It is a constant reminder to us that this is God’s home, and He is with us and He has great plans to transform the lives of every child who comes through that front door.
Here it is. Our future Home of Hope and Healing for abandoned special needs children. We consider this home holy ground and we commit it to God and believe that He will do many miracles here in the days ahead!
As we sat in a circle that first night in the Home, we began to pray and sing praise to God. Psalm 20 was heavy on our hearts. When we read verse 4, “May God give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed,” we took it as a promise from the Lord. He has already begun to grant the desires of our heart and make our plans succeed. He will make all things beautiful in His perfect time. We wondered at the possibilities and the miracles that lie ahead of us.
Then we moved on to verse 5, “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God…” Wait a minute. This is our desire. Verse 5 is the desire of our hearts- that we would shout for joy over their victory; that we would see children healed; that we would see children develop and overcome some of their greatest challenges; that would see them be victorious over the common lie that they are conditioned to believe from birth: they are a curse and their lives are worthless. We want to see them come to realize the Truth: they are loved unconditionally by God who created them with a greater purpose. And when all these things happen (which we believe they will) we can lift up the banner of God and praise Him for who He is!
Verse 7 continues, “Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” We are going to face many challenges, difficulties, victories, and triumphs. But we will never put our trust in anything but the Lord- He will see us through, because He loves us and He loves those children more than we could ever imagine. And we have such peace and joy and excitement in this fact.
I cannot thank God enough for providing this Home. I cannot thank Him enough for raising up sponsors and supporters on the other side of the world. It is a miracle, and He is a God of miracles. What a privilege to witness His miracles first hand!
I am writing with a heavy heart. A few days ago I posted a photo on our Facebook page of a young girl named Priya. I was walking down the street one day when I felt a tug on my leg. I looked down and was horrified by what I saw. My heart sank and my whole body went numb. Here was little 8-year-old Priya sitting in the dust, covered in filth, her legs mangled and incapacitated.
She asked me for money. I knelt down to talk with her. I asked about her family and where her parents were. Her responses were robotic and I immediately understood she was well-trained. By well-trained I mean the crook who is exploiting this young girl has coached her on how to answer such questions with enough sincerity that any average person would take the responses as truths. But since I have experience with street kids, I could easily understand that Priya is a slave and her master has threatened to do unspeakable harm to her if she reveals this truth.
As I spoke to Priya and her big brother it was painfully clear that they not only needed help, but they longed for help; they longed for someone to hear the cries of their heart. All I could do at the moment was offer them the little food and money I had. But I am not satisfied and I am never satisfied with such giving because I believe it does not cure the sickness. I long to see these kids healed and transformed by the power of God’s love.
As the temperatures drop I am beginning to feel a heavy burden on my heart for children like Priya and her brother. Will they survive the harsh winter? I can literally feel God’s heart break when he sees these little ones suffer. Many people cry out, “Why God?! Why?” but I choose to ask myself, “Why Courtney?! Why?” In asking myself this very question I am moved to action to do whatever I can so that these children will experience the love and care that every child deserves and so that others might also catch a glimpse of Jesus in those kids.
We are praying every day for God to open a way for us to provide a Home of refuge and transformation for abandoned and exploited special needs children. Please join us in praying. Your prayers and support are priceless to this mission. I also ask you please share our Facebook page and invite your friends to ‘Like’ our page so we can get the word out and harvest more support for children like Priya and her brother.
Again, I want to thank you for your prayers and support for children like Priya and for all of us here who are trying to reach them. We always pray for you and thank God for you 🙂
I wrote this story in an email dated back in January of this year (2013). Today I am sharing this with you because I am heartbroken that our dear Surendar has been transferred to a facility for mentally challenged children; a facility that is known for its lack of care for these unwanted children. Back in January, I saw God reach out and touch Surendar’s life, transforming him slowly and giving him hope for a brighter future. God gave me a great love for this boy, and others like him. I have not given up hope, and I will continue to trust God for a miracle. I trust that God will make a way for Surendar to get the chance to live in a loving home and experience the fullness of God’s love and grace yet again. Please remember Surendar in your prayers today…
January 27, 2013
Something remarkable happened the other day and I wanted to share with you. A new boy came to our home Sunday morning. The police found him on the roadside nearby. He is maybe 14 or 15 years old and severely mentally handicapped.
When he came through the door I could see his condition was so bad. His face, hands and feet were severely swollen, probably from the cold. He was covered in dust, human waste, and garbage. His hair was actually dripping with lice and at the top of his head was a festering wound. He could not walk without the help of two of our staff members who each held one of his arms, because his feet were badly swollen, probably from frostbite. The staff sat him down for the church service and he nervously looked around, occasionally murmuring, “Give me money,” in Hindi.
After church, our staff announced to the children that this new boy would be staying with us for some time and that he needed a lot of help and care. Then we all laid hands on him and prayed for him. After that he was bathed, his head was shaved, as it was infested with lice, and the religious threads were cut from around his neck. Then he was given new clothes, socks and a cap. That day he was very uncooperative and did not even make eye contact, but we all continued to pour out love and prayers upon him.
The next morning, he had breakfast and was given a bath. Then we sat him in a chair next to me for morning devotion. Suddenly, as our children sang Yeshu Tere Liye (Only for Jesus) the boy began to smile and even laugh, revealing the cutest little dimple on his left cheek! It was as if he started to realize that he was in a good place. Or maybe he felt God’s presence! After devotion the children crowded around him asking his name. He was trying to speak, but could not remember his own name. After a few hours one of our boys was asking him again and he finally told us, “Surendar”. Our children are so excited to see this transformation taking place right before their eyes, and I feel the same excitement.
My heart is really broken for this child, thinking, “Who is he? Where is his mom and dad? Has he ever been loved or cared for? How long was he alone on the road for? and How did he get to this point without even one person reaching out to help?” It is so hard to even fathom that we could allow our children to get to this condition. There are thousands and thousands in Delhi alone who are in the same condition as Surendar, or even worse condition. But God chose Surendar as well as 49 other boys to come to our Home. What an awesome opportunity to have a hand in God’s work of pouring out His love upon His precious children like Surrendar to transform them, to literally lift them from the ashes! Praise God!