Let me begin by saying I love pretty much everything about India. The spicy food served by loving hands, the hospitality, the acceptance of mustaches, the loud music, even the chaotic traffic makes me smile. But let me tell you my favorite thing about India—and why I believe India will be blessed beyond measure in the years to come…
The Future Looks Bright for India
Though India is home to some of the finest minds in the world, is the world's biggest democracy, and is an up and coming economic superpower, I have huge expectations for this country's future for another reason. It’s because of the hundreds of rescued orphans I've met during my month in India as well as the mighty men and women of God who are rescuing and raising them to be successful, responsible, productive adults. I have every confidence that these once-helpless children will grow up to be changers—village, state, country, and even world-changers.
When you meet children like 12-year-old Ramesh from one of our Andhra Hope Homes , who confidently explains in perfect English that he wants to become a doctor so he can serve the poor, you understand my excitement. When you meet pastors like Doni, who left a lucrative job in Los Angeles to begin his Hope Home in Tamil Nadu , you understand my hope. When you meet hundreds of beautiful, smiling faces who were once doomed to a life of hunger and hopelessness but who now want to become nurses, teachers, pastors, lawyers, policemen, and even politicians, you understand my optimism!
So, as I prepare to leave India, I bring back with me a heart full of hope. True, I've seen horrendous sights—thousands of homeless and helpless people mired in unimaginable suffering, endless piles of rubbish, and every kind of dysfunction–but my expectations hold nothing but better days for this land. Thousands of kids are being rescued throughout India and many more are having their lives restored, thanks to the faithful work of Hopegivers-sponsored pastors and leaders.
The Work Being Done is Amazing
I can't say enough about the quality, sincerity, and integrity of the pastors I've met. The way they humbly and passionately go about their work of caring for their church members, their communities, and anyone else in need is no less than completely inspiring and encouraging. It's beautiful to see pastors organizing meetings between pastors of all denominations, buying sarees and rice for widows, providing clean water for neighbors, praying for anyone in need, and even sponsoring local cricket tournaments. Pastor V, one of my guides on this incredible journey throughout Andhra Pradesh, had several people of different faiths show up at his door at all hours of the night during my stay, asking him to pray for them. This is all in a day’s work for a HG-sponsored pastor.
The darkness is slowly lifting from this place, but an inordinate amount of help is needed. In fact, I'm not sure how to sufficiently express the urgency. Every single Hope Home we've visited has urgent needs: holes in the roof, no reliable clean water source, no transportation for school, lack of medicine, clothes, books—the list goes on. Yet every outreach we visited treated us like royalty. They gave what they did not have so that we might be comfortable for the few short minutes we spent with them.
I assure you that, just because they are "used to it," doesn't mean the people here suffer any less. It's hard to find the words to describe how hot India is during the summer; it's something worse than oppressive. But this is reality. This is India. If you have to pull a rickshaw in 110 degree heat to feed your family, then you deal with it. You survive.
Partner as a “Sender”
I got the sense almost everywhere we went in Andhra Pradesh that our Indian brothers and sisters share my sense of enthusiasm for the future, but are simply waiting for God's people to answer the call to meet needs. In a few days, I will have the great pleasure of witnessing 1,200 new graduates receive their diplomas, most of whom will enter the field entirely unsupported. But still they go out in hope and faith, ready to serve the Lord and their fellow man at any cost. Just because there is struggle, strife, lawsuits, beatings, and every kind of intimidation tactic, I assure you this work will not stop…cannot stop, until Christ returns.
You can sponsor a child like Smily , who wants to be a police officer. You can sponsor a pastor like Moses, who recently had his church burned down but has since built strong relationships with his community, including the man who burned his church. You can help patch the palm leaf roof for the children at one home in need . You can travel to these places and meet these people for yourself and see the needs with your own eyes. They exist; they're real people like you and me who feel pain, sorrow, suffering, love, joy, loss, and excitement. These children get toothaches, upset stomachs, and even get into trouble. At one home administrated by Pastor Saul, twelve HIV children have to be taken to the hospital an average of five times a week for medical treatment.
Don't be disheartened by the magnitude of the suffering. Don't be intimidated by the statistics. Don't feel defeated or frustrated by setbacks or bumps in the road. I assure you that our men and women in the field aren't going anywhere. Thousands are ready and willing, but who will send them? Each Bible College graduate takes an oath of dedication to Christ and Christian service to any end.
What are we to do with all this excess comfort we have in the USA? Shall we live fancy-free, without sympathy or a spare thought for our brothers and sisters? On the contrary, I challenge you to do something about what you've seen, heard and read. Get your hands dirty, like Jesus did. Get involved. Even if it's not through Hopegivers, I challenge you to make it your business…to make the suffering of others your burden. I write all of this not to induce guilt, but with a simple hope that more people will help real people who are suffering.
I urge you…be a hero to a parentless child. Be a blessing for a young pastor eager to start a ministry. Buy a widow a dress. Provide water for an arid village. Get some sandals for some kids. Buy a drum kit or a soccer ball. Come here for yourself and encourage the faithful laborers. Make it a priority to get involved! I guarantee you will be greatly blessed.
P.S. We can all pray, and that is the number one most urgent need every pastor I've met has identified.