The Keys, the Cross, the House

The Keys
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.

The Cross
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.

The House
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!

Priya

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 🙂

Who is he?

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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…

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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!
***

Meet Vednam

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Meet Vednam.

Vednam is 12 or 13 years old. He loves babies, playing, and dancing. Vednam can’t communicate clearly, but he knows how to pour love and affection on everyone he meets. His body is slightly deformed, but that doesn’t stop him from joining the others during exercise and games. He is also blind in one eye, yet he never misses a newcomer and is always the first to greet them.

Vednam will never be able to do anything of significance or importance to you or me. He will never be able to run a business. He will never be able to manage a company. He won’t get married or have kids. He definitely won’t go to college or earn a decent salary. To most, Vednam is a waste of life. A birth defect. A curse.

Maybe that is why his parents abandoned him on the brutal streets of Delhi. Because let’s be honest…taking care of Vednam is a burden. Sometimes he forgets to go to the toilet. Somtimes he cries for no reason. Sometimes he impolitely throws his arms around others and squeezes them in a tight hug…he can’t make his own bed or food or anything. He is totally dependent and most likely will be for the rest of his life. Vednam will never amount to anything in the eyes of the world.

But in the eyes of God isn’t he precious? Isn’t his life priceless? Doesn’t God look on Vednam with joy? Doesn’t God still love him and desire the best for him? God give us Your eyes. Give us Your heart. Give us your vision for Vednam and others like him.

Amma

One Life To Love Kids _02

Have you ever had a nightmare where you are trying to speak, but the words aren’t coming out? Or trying to yell for help, but no sound will come? I have had several nightmares like that throughout my life, and I can’t forget them because they are so disturbing. I recently realized that I know children who live there lives in this nightmare.
Abb is a 12-year-old boy with severe autism. He has a smile that lights up a room. He is very thin, but seriously adorable. He has a deep voice, but cannot speak properly. He is able to communicate through signs and gestures and makes basic statements. His most common word, “Amma” which means Mother. He always says, “Mein jaunga” which means “I’m going”. And we ask, “Kahan ja raha hai?” (“where are you going?”) He responds, “Amma”. When we ask, “Amma Kahan hai?” (“Where is your mom?”), he stretches out his arm far in front of him and up and back while making a prolonged “oooooo” sound, indicating she is very far from where we are. But he cannot tell us the name of the place, nor navigate how to get there. All Abb knows is that he needs to find his mom.
Yesterday, a local woman came to our home looking for work sweeping our floors or washing the children’s clothes. Whether it was her small thin frame, her dark weathered skin, the large gold ring in her nose, or the bright magenta head covering she wore, this woman must have, in Abb’s eyes, resembled his own mother. When she came through the gate, Abb immediately thought it was his Amma. He quickly realized it wasn’t. What cruel torture to his poor little heart. How it must have sank when he first believed it was his Amma! Then it must have shattered, no it DID shatter, I witnessed it and I scrambled to pick up the pieces, when he realized it was not her.
As I came out to meet the woman, Abb ran to me with tears in his eyes, “Mein jaunga, Amma. Amma.” This time his deep voice was rattled with weak and hopeless squeaks of, “Amma.” He refused to sit down next to me, he was so disturbed at the presence of that woman now. Finally agreeing to sit down between us, Abb held his hand on his head, trying to avoid looking at the woman to his right. I explained to her that Abb thought she was her mom. With her kind heart and gentle nature she said to him, “Don’t worry I will also be your mom.” This helped Abb to recover a bit from the trauma of the situation. But honestly there is nothing that can replace our Amma. Without his Amma, will Abb be able to handle life? He is tormented, knowing his mom is somewhere, remember her love for him, how she used to lovingly place her hands on his cheeks, when she would buy him chocolate and snacks from the shop, how she took care of him. He will remember her, and be tormented by the fact that he can’t tell where she is.
Abb is not the only boy living in this nightmare. A majority of our boys have similar horrors. That same day I sat and watched our children as one of our staff members taught them an action song. I looked over my shoulder to see one of our boys, Nitesh, was in the room alone sleeping. I went in to see if he was ok. “Are you sick? What happened?” Nitesh was reluctant to reply. He covered his face with his arm. After persuading him, Nitesh finally said, “I want to go home…to my home.” I was at a loss for words.
Nitesh, 14 years, has no recollection of where he is from. He doesn’t remember his mom, dad or if he had brothers and sisters. When he was very small, someone must have abducted him, or he was sold. Being that he has polio in both legs, Nitesh was seen as having “great potential” as a child beggar. So, from the time he can remember, Nitesh has worked for a man by begging in the streets of Delhi. Thankfully, last year he was rescued and brought to our home.
So there Nitesh laid, wondering, lamenting about his family. “Where is my mom? Is she searching for me? Is she worried about me? Does she need me? Does my dad cry for me? Does he pray for me? Who am I? Why is my life like this? Why am I in this home without anyone to really love me? Why me?!” I can only guess these were his thoughts.
I have dealt with situations like this many times, as many of our boys struggle with the same plaguing thoughts. But this time was so different. After trying my best to give some encouraging and loving words, I told Nitesh to sit up so I can pray for him. We held hands and closed our eyes. As I started to pray a wave of emotion came over me, and I could barely speak, the tears were flooding my eyes, and my lips were quivering, “God please be close to Nitesh now. Give him your comfort. And wherever his parents are, please comfort them also. And if it is your will that they be reunited, then please bring them here. And if it is not your will, then God please give them all peace in this difficult situation…” were some of the things I managed to pray.
I told Nitesh that I love him very much and will continue to pray for him and his family. I also promised that I will help him with anything he needs in life, as I am his Didi (big sister).
But again I say there is very little comfort I can give compared to these boys’ own mothers. There is nothing like a mother’s touch, a mother’s word, a mother’s presence. It comforts our very souls, it is a connection that only mother and child can understand, a bond that is so necessary to our confidence, growth and overall well-being in life. I am so broken. These boys even sometimes say, “All you staff have your own families. You know your moms and dads. But we don’t know ours.” They are so right. We can’t really begin to understand their emotions, the pain and doubt, worry and fear that floods their hearts.
I do feel very small when I stand in the midst of their challenges and difficulties. I feel insignificant and incompetent. But still I will stand with them, holding their hands, praying for them, doing my very best for them with complete faith in God that He will see them through.

Psalm 27V10

The kids got to go to Big Bazaar this weekend. The staff at Big Bazaar are awesome! They planned a whole day of activities and taught them so much about the store and all the items there. Then they gave the kids a huge discount on apparel so they could choose a pair of jeans and a shirt each. At the end of the day they distributed gifts to all the kids. Our hearts are so touched and the children were overjoyed…they all even sat down and drew up thank you cards to give to everyone at Big Bazaar. One of the boys even gave me a thank you card. RJ is one of our older boys. After his mom died, he was left alone to care for his 5 younger siblings. He always used to worry about his younger brothers and sister’s lives, thinking, “What will they become? How can I help them?” But now that he is in our home he says, “I don’t worry about my family anymore, because I know God and His children will take care of my brothers and sisters.” In his card, he wrote me a thank you note and enclosed Psalm 27 V 10. I am so touched that he chose this verse. “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” I have no words in response, except to thank God. Thank you God for pouring out Your love on this precious child and allowing me to be a witness in it. And friends, thank you for your prayers for these boys…they are truly being answered.

Challenged?

Being with the “mentally challenged” makes me realize how challenged I am mentally. They find joy in the simplest nothings, trust beyond sensibility, laugh and dance without reservation and brush off discouragement like dust on their sleeves. I can seriously spend hours just observing them and wondering at them. I think God wants to teach us all something through their precious smiles and unmatched joy.

My weakness

<p dir=ltr>There are some days that are so busy, so hot, so stressful that at the end of the day all I want is to take a cold shower and go to sleep. But then we get back to our room and water isnt coming. We wait and wait but no water. And it happens that on this day I had to walk a long distance in the dusty galis so I feel itchy from all the dirt on my feet hands and face. But what to do? I try to make the best of the situation pulling out a cloth and damping it with my drinking water to wipe off some of the dust.<br>
I only want to sleep..but the children are wound up and havent seen me most of the day so they want to play a game before bed….how can I refuse. We play and laugh then its time for bed. After they start to wander off in their dreams I finally get the chance to go to bed. Only my bed is occupied. A new staff member came n I guess we didnt communicate well about where she would stay. So I take one of the bunk beds.<br>
As I start to fall asleep I feel the mosquitos biting my feet and arms. Then the fan stops working. I just want to cry. So I pray. “God I need you now. Im ready to lose it.” Then I opened my bible to 2 corinthians 12:10 “when I am weak then I am strong.”
Many people used to say to me, “You are so strong and brave for what you are doing.” But I always laugh because I know I’m not. I’m very weak and feeble minded. And I am very accustomed to my USA way of life. Small things like electricity outages, water shortages, and other small inconveniences sometimes push me close to the edge. But in this verse I find comfort. In this weakness I can boast because it is in my weaknesses that Christ’s power is made perfect.

“Not my kids!”

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I had one of those, “No not my kids,” moments the other day while our Social Worker reported back to us on the parent-teachers meeting held in our children’s private school. “The principal told me the boys have been causing trouble in the school and they are a handful,” she said. “Yea Right! Like what? Tell me one thing they have done!” I replied indignantly.

Well, she said, “First of all, they took all the mothballs out of the urinals and were using them to play marbles….” I couldn’t hold back my laughter… Ok it did sound like something they would do… but to me it’s clever! And it shows creativity!

“Then, some of the boys were taking food out of the garbage and making each other eat it.” “Ew! They wouldn’t do that!” I said. But, they did. ..

“And one of the boys stole a spoon from the lunch room.” “No way!” I said. Yes way…

Ok I guess our boys aren’t perfect angels. But what kids are? I love that our boys have personalities and that they test the boundaries at times. Of course I want them to be disciplined and to make good choices, but I also want them to be kids and enjoy life. Our children come from very very very complex backgrounds full of abuse, neglect, poverty, abandonment…the list goes on with mostly negative experiences. The process of undoing all of these bad habits or effects on their lives will be life-long. We are learning about each one of our boys’ individual needs; no two are the same, and we have 50! So you can understand the challenge we are faced with. But God is in full control, and I am so happy that He loves them even more than I do or any of our staff members do.

And aside from these minor behavioral issues, the school is very happy to have our boys THeir teachers, who are absolutely amazing, just love our boys with their whole hearts. I could not have even imagined some of the developments that have already taken place in our children since they enrolled in this school. This is truly a gift from God for our little trouble-makers :0)