Another great day in IndiaRich Stigall
From Joe in India
Another great day…
Our plan from the outset was to pilot local church based orphan care in three different contexts: (1) rural village; (2) within the city slum; and (3) within a government slum relocation site.
Today we visited the third pilot site.
The government is trying to resettle poor “slum dwellers” from the heart of the city to the outskirts of the city. They’re putting in what we’d call “projects.” Row after row of five story concrete buildings, with each floor having four basic single family apartments. Thousands of people are relocating here, and many thousands more to come.
Right smack dab in the middle of where these tenements were planned, our local church partner planted a church several years ago. As the building and relocation started, the church began hosting medical clinics for the community. The local government leaders greatly appreciated that, and the church found favor. Such favor that the government built all of these buildings around the humble little cinder block church, and let it stand as the community center. A miracle considering that Christianity is not favored in India (about 2-4% Christian). So there it is today, right in the heart of the relocation project. (Top photo: prayer for Pastor Gopi and his family)
The church (this view from a nearby apartment building’s roof) is really thriving. Many of the “worship leaders” are children. A seven year old boy plays bongos in the worship band. He is seriously talented. Not by kid standards. By any standards. Women in the community have rallied to the church, devoted their lives to Christ, and have become servants of this community.
Our hope is to buy four of the apartments for local church owned orphan care, which is a great need. And to expand the church’s orphan prevention capacity, i.e., expand the community clinics, start an after school program to help care for kids on the brink, ask Dr. Sujai to begin an HIV/AIDS clinic through the church, and help with an adult literacy program. This will all carry a very minimal financial cost, and will greatly empower the church body to increase what they’re already doing.
This last photo really tells the story of the Orphan Paradox. This is Pastor Derek Hazelet from Long Hollow giving and receiving. What you see in his smile – the fullness of God’s love – THAT is what this is all about. Such love cannot be kept within. It fires out in all directions.