[this is Kerthanea - photo by Christine Bailey]

The orphans of Peace Gospel International's Hadassah Orphanage in South India are on my mind today. I cannot stop thinking of them and praying for their protection. Just about the first thing I read this morning was this news update, part of which I'll share here:

"Urgent security situation for Hadassah Orphanage, South India. Children from our orphanage in South India attend a public school about a quarter mile down the road from the orphanage. Last month, a 7 year old girl, classmate to several of our orphans, was kidnapped on her way home from the school, raped and killed. The authorities were able to catch the man responsible and brought him to justice, but other kidnappings have occurred in the area which remain unsolved.

Tragically, it is not uncommon in India for this kind of thing to happen to Dalit children. The Dalit are regarded as India's 'untouchables' and are the victims of some of the world's most grievous human rights violations.

All of our children at the orphanage have been going through an extremely difficult time thinking about what happened to their classmate. We have been in intense prayer for them and have had our native staff spending extra time counseling and comforting them.

This news has necessitated an urgent acceleration of our plans to build a security wall around our 1/3 acre campus. Naturally, the children are frightened and see the plans for the wall as a huge comfort, so it has now moved to the top of our list as our most urgent priority. We urgently need to raise $7,500 to build the wall.

This week we will begin construction on the wall immediately in faith that the funds will begin to come in. Please consider how you might be able to help us raise these funds — even if it's a small amount, it will make a huge impact. Please consider giving something today

The entire news update is well worth the reading - very important, I'd say. As I went through my morning rituals, which tea to brew seemed seriously trivial. Thinking of the horrific crime committed against a seven year old girl, how frightened and grieved those sweet orphans must be, made me sick to my stomach. I began to pray for God to send His angels to protect these little ones.

Peace Gospel International is close to mine and Johnny's hearts. This great organization was co-founded by our friend Kirby, and he and his wife Brett (my matron of honor) are now the administrative directors. Peace Gospel "exists to empower South Asian native missions through micro-enterprise":

-A dairy farm.
-A widow's sewing school.
-Clean water delivery, child immunizations, and education development to Dalits in urban slum areas.
-The orphanage.
-Peace Gospel Bible College.
-And much more.

As you can see, it was not hard for us to decide to sponsor an orphan - Jayaraju. We only have one small picture and a letter with his brief history. His legs are weak due to polio, but he loves art (painting and drawing), singing songs, and prayer. Our kind of kid! He also loves playing caroms, khokho, cricket, and other local games. Other than his mother, he is the last one alive in his family. His father, a good Christian and elder of his Church, passed away in 2000. Jayaraju's mother could not find a way to send her son to school, so she was encouraged to send him to the Hadassah Orphanage. He's been there 4+ years now, and I think he looks healthy, happy, and handsome:

[Jayaraju, the artist at work]

[Jayaraju is on the front-left in the striped green shirt - these two photos are also by Christine Bailey]

I was so excited to find those photos of Jayaraju on flickr! I confess that for no good reason, Johnny and I have not written Jayaraju yet though he's been in our constant prayers. But after seeing those cute pictures, I can hardly wait to write him, apologize, and get to know him as fast as air mail will allow. It looks like he's been in excellent hands which does not surprise me.

Our friend Christine had the privilege of visiting Peace Gospel widows and orphans in 2005. You must click this link ~ there is typical Stine (as I like to call her), praying for others, and check out that gorgeous sari. That is fashion.

Seeing that picture, her photographs of India, pictures from Hadassah Orphanage, and photos from Uganda make me want to hop on a plane with Johnny and fly across the world - to South India, and to Africa, to see the work that the Mocha Club (Christine's job) does firsthand. Hold babies for a few days, weeks. Play with orphans. Spend lots of time with Jayaraju. Meet Pastor Samson (a native and the other co-founder of Peace Gospel International) and his family. Wear my own sari. Watch Johnny play tabla with boys and men from India; learn more African percussion. Do the work of God. Catch those contagious smiles up close and personal. Write what I see. Drink real chai and eat authentic Indian food - for very cheap, says Kirby.

But first, I must get my health in order. Accept God ridding me of more fears - can't have those while flying for several hours to a foreign country. And, I believe we'll have a baby in the near future, Lord willing, so God will have to work out the timing. In the meantime, it's a comfort to know that we can do something - pray, write, and give, for starters.


Christine said...

Jenni, it brought tears to my eyes to recall being there in Peace City. I remember thinking it was a crazy thought, but I wanted to build a house right there and live peacefully with them for the rest of my life. But there are people like us who are called to be here to help raise help for them. I am broken-hearted to think about the sweet girl who was raped and killed. It's such an atrocity. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to go back to India with you one day, my friend.

jenni said...

We will go - just wait.