A Church that Stands for ChildrenRich Stigall
This week Jake and I had the opportunity to worship with our brothers and sisters at Bethel Gospel Church (BGC) in India.
Almost 30 years ago, Pastor Sudakhar planted BGC in the slums of Amberpet. In a country where there are 3x more orphans than Christian (yes, you read that right), BGC is all in!
They were caring for orphans, widows, the HIV-infected, and others who are so close to God’s heart LONG before GO Project booked our first ticket to Hyderabad.
Their orphan care ministry in particular was launched 10+ years ago. Shortly after it was announced, one couple from the church came to Sudakhar and said, “We are all poor, and we are members. Why bring others from outside the church in? Why not help us?” (It’s easy to stand in judgment of such an honest question, not seeing plank in our own American eye. Oh, how we have it in this area!)
Pastor Sudakhar wouldn’t let his congregation fall into the trap of thinking the mission of the church was to serve them, but they (the Church) were to serve others! They were not victims. They were givers! They were not destitute. They were wealthy in the Kingdom of God!
Today Bethel Gospel cares for more than 200 orphans, including 40 at the Father’s House in Sarampet. The couple who was initially against church-based care? Today, their lives are radically different. They are leaders in the orphan care ministry, experiencing the blessing that comes with caring for the King’s kids.
Later this year, BGC’s orphan care ministry will expand again, as the second Father’s House (Hyderabad) India will come to life. 32 children will move into their homes located directly above the church sanctuary.
Recently, the congregation was asked this question: “If God is asking you to directly be a part in caring for these children, to pray for them, to welcome them as family, to serve them, to share the Good News of the Gospel with them in tangible ways, will you please stand?”
Scores rose. Not staff members. Servants. Not giving from a worldly abundance, but giving from their heart, from the sacred place that recognizes a personal need filled by the love of Jesus.
After the service, one lady said she would bring food and cook one meal per month so the House Mommas could have a break. A gentleman said he would play guitar with the the kids, teaching them songs, bringing music to their homes. A teenage boy said he was excited the kids were coming, but didn’t know what he could do.
“Just be a friend to them,” was the response.
“I can do that!” he said with a smile.
He will, with the Church, because that is who Bethel Gospel is. They are an adopting church, a friend to the orphan. They are a church who stands for children.
As Jake and I catch our plane back today, our hearts are full. There is so much to share about what God is doing here…and so much more He will do. It’s difficult to wrap it in a nice, digestible package, but we’re working on it.
You’ll be receiving it soon. When you do, please consider it your invitation to get in on the joy and stand with those who are standing for children here in India.