Forming a Family in India
Five years ago in a country far away, God began a work in my life and in the life of our church family that can only be described as life-changing.
In January of 2014, my eldest daughter approached me about going with her on a trip to India as she wanted to accompany her husband on a Toyota business trip there. I thought that sounded great, but I didn’t want to do a tourist thing - I wanted to go to serve somehow and be obedient to what I felt the Lord had been calling me to for some years. (I had had a passport for 7 years and hadn’t used it yet!) She was of the same mind, so we set out with service in mind.
As it turned out, one of the Indian companies that works with Toyota in Chennai was able to arrange our outreach time and even provided Indian guides for us. They coincidentally turned out to be Indian Christians, young men and women. On that trip, we spent about three hours in a small Christian orphanage. That is where we truly began to understand that we had been sent. We became convinced that it was the Holy Spirit’s leading that had propelled us to embark on this journey. In those short three hours we spent with the children and pastor there, the Lord began to knit our hearts together and cement a relationship that has become a blessing to all of us.
In subsequent trips as we returned to India, we were able to see the fruit of the labor of our Christian family in Fallbrook, CA, reaching out to our Christian family there. We have worked with the pastor as he reaches out in his community with ministry to the blind, lepers, and handicapped. We have seen the children grow in the love of their “Jesus Papa” and become young ministers of the gospel to others in surrounding villages that we’ve visited. To these children, their family in Fallbrook is very real – they pray for us daily just as we pray for them, they are encouraged and built up in their faith, and they know Jesus is real because of the loving sacrifice of His people here.
The vision of the pastor who started the orphanage is to change his country for Christ – starting with these children - giving them hope, healing and safety against the cruel worlds they came from. Their stories are heartbreaking and they are outcasts even as the lepers are outcasts.
We returned home that year overwhelmed by the need and by what we learned of the culture there that burdens so many. I talked with our clergy and brought the needs and the hopes of this pastor for these small children and for their country to our vestry. We started with prayer and began by adopting all of the children in prayer, each willing family of our church taking home a picture and name to remember. I believe every single family in our church adopted a child and I mean adopted! They so opened their hearts to these children that they call them their own, remember their birthdays, send gifts and letters and correspond with the pastor about their welfare. Next we began fundraising for a much needed bathroom and shower facility. The money was raised within 2 weeks and we were able to send it to them as an Easter gift. And as their well began to dry up, we again raised funds and they were able to drill a new bore well.
And it’s like dropping a pebble in a pond – the ripples keep going out. Since that first trip, there is a whole new culture of prayer and Christian outreach at Toyota. As we sat at dinner and shared the story of our ministry days, the Toyota folks began to get excited and after they returned to this country, the Christians at Toyota came out of the woodwork. They began meeting for prayer and sharing. And they adopted children for prayer and began supporting the orphanage. A couple went with us the next year and as a Christian on the fringes, Greg was totally overcome by what God is doing in that place. He was moved to generously donate most of the money for the pastor to purchase the orphanage property outright when it became disputed with rental agreements. More importantly, Greg’s life will never be the same – he met a Jesus He never knew on that trip.
The impact this has had on our church family is tangible – we have all grown as we’ve wept for the children and the awful things that have happened to them, as we’ve become so aware of world mission in a very personal way, and as we’ve read the letters of the struggles in that country to openly be a Christian. As the cross was torn down during a church service by government authorities and threats were made to take the children away, we prayed. As the authorities came and bulldozed the front of their building without warning, we prayed. As the extreme heat and drought threatened them, we prayed. As monsoon rains and flooding ripped the roof from their home and threatened their lives, we prayed. Our personal and corporate prayer life has deepened. The generosity of our church family has been overwhelming, and we are bonded in a new and deeper way.
We have always been a church who has looked to support and reach out to our local community, but this has broadened our ministry to include the forgotten, abused and abandoned in another land. Now, five years since that first visit, we send funds monthly to the orphanage that come from our members as well as those in other churches and friends who have caught the vision of this outreach. We remain committed to be encouragers and supporters of that small but mighty band of children who call Jesus Lord.
Right now we are making preparations to return this winter to see what God has done in this past year in their lives. We know that we will need to keep a lower profile, as persecution against Christians has increased. But we will rejoice to be with our family again and will take the love and gifts from our church family with us. How blessed we are to be called children of God and share in His amazing plans for us all.
Connie lives in Fallbrook, CA and attends Christ Church Fallbrook, part of the Diocese of Western Anglicans. She has been married for 43 years, has 3 children and 7 grandchildren. She enjoys babysitting her grandchildren and teaching Sunday School.