It is quite evident that the theme of this journey has been how much one person can accomplish for the Kingdom, if they are faithful.
Last night we boarded the train after a very long day visiting CICM. We left for Jabalpur later than we should have and still had to pick up our found luggage on the way. The drivers were definitely driving fast and got us there in record time. Driving around India has been an interesting experience to say the least.
Our companion, Harris, made sure we all had beds on the train. I was glad he was with us because I am not sure we would have figured everything out on our own. The night went quickly and we got off the train at about 5:30 AM. A person from CICM, Papoo, was there to meet us. We went to a hotel to get cleaned up and at about 9:00 we started our drive to a tribal village. We were not sure what the day held and, if I am honest, we were not jumping for joy at the prospect of driving at least two hours to spend less than an hour visiting a children’s home only to drive back to the hotel to pick up our things and then drive another three hours to Raipur.
The drive was actually quite pleasant as we traveled through the forest and saw monkeys, deer, goats, pigs and of course, cows. We also passed many small villages along the way. The road became more difficult the further we went and for the last several miles, the road was filled with potholes and we had to drive very slowly. We also had to cross some dry ravines that fill with water during the monsoon season and make the road impassible. We finally made it to a village named Jakadbandha to visit the Christian Bible Home after about 2 and a half hours of driving.
We were not at all prepared for what we were about to see. Before we went inside , Papoo told us the story of these children who numbered over 500. These children had all been abandoned by one of their parents. It is customary in these villages that if a widow or widower with children marries again, the existing children are given away. Every child in that home had been taken there by a parent for that reason.
This hostel was started by Pastor XaXa approximately 23 years ago. XaXa was in jail when he came to know the Lord after meeting another pastor who was in jail due to persecution. Papoo bailed him out of jail when he was encouraged to help XaXa from members of his church. XaXa went back to his village and started the ministry. When Papoo heard of the ministry several years later, he went to visit and has been helping ever since.
When we walked into a large room all we saw as a sea of children. The room was very plain and used for many things to include eating, recreation, studying and presenting information. The children clapped for us as we walked down the aisle to the front of the room. It was pretty overwhelming to see these children sitting in straight lines so well-behaved and obviously so respectful and well-mannered.
They proceeded to recite Bible versus for us as well as sing. We in turn introduced ourselves and provided them with some words of encouragement. Finally, Jim prayed over them. They then took us to see the rest of the facilities. We were shown where the cooking was done over open flames. We were told that the children pretty much eat rice for every meal. They are sometimes given some broth with potatoes to accompany the rice. Once a week they are given chicken and twice a week they are given eggs. We were show were they sleep on mats on the floor where they are at risk of being bitten by a snake or stung by scorpions. We were told that 378 boys sleep together in a room that can only accommodate them all if they sleep right next to each other. We were shown a smaller room where 178 girls sleep on mats on the floor with little or no privacy. We were shown classrooms that have no educational supplies. We were introduced to the teachers and school administrators. We were told that there are at least another 500 students who have also been abandoned but who are being fostered by pastors out in the community until a bigger space is built. We were told that if a child gets sick, it takes a least 90 minutes to drive them to the nearest doctor if they can find someone to drive them since they do not possess a vehicle.
We learned that XaXa has trained 50 pastors out in the villages; ordinary men who have given their lives to Christ and are now helping XaXa provide for these children by fostering the ones who cannot be accepted into the hostel for lack of funds. He has also equipped some of the students whom he has raised through the ministry to become teachers and now they are helping to educate the students.
Their greatest needs are a new building, bunk beds, mosquito netting, an ambulance and a nurse who would reside in the community and provide medical care for the students. When asked how we could pray, XaXa responded that we pray that no child go to sleep hungry, that no child live without education and that no child die before knowing the love of Christ.
It is difficult to explain what we felt while there. We are in awe of this man who has dedicated his life to providing for the needs of these children. We were humbled by his humility and his ability to empower those around him to serve these children. His love for Christ is so evident and what he has been able to accomplish with very little resources is truly remarkable. We were overwhelmed by the enormity of his need.
God is so good. He took a terrible situation, children being abandoned, and turned it into blessing, children coming to know Christ. We know that God works all things for good for those who love Him and this situation is a perfect example.
It was very hard to leave as we all felt that we had not spent nearly enough time there. We fervently pray that God will somehow fulfill the needs of this ministry and that he will continue to pour down his favor on the children and all the adults who contribute to the well-being of these children. Acts 1:8 tells us to witness to the ends of the earth; this community is the perfect example.
In His precious name,