March 19, 2009

I feel like a little goldfish that has been swimming around in circles for years!

Dear Friends,

Today marks the first week since we have arrived in India. I feel like a little goldfish that has been swimming around in circles for years and now has been dumped into the middle of the ocean. I’ve seen things here that made me say to myself, “Yes, you did see this; it was not make believe, and it was not a horror flick. It’s really happening right before my eyes in plain view.” Most of these events I’m referring to seem to be focused around children.

There’s a sense of “What can one little organization do to alleviate this pain?” But since we’ve arrived, we’ve heard of scores of different ministries doing incredible acts of service. For the orphans, it appears they are the “forgotten people of India,” without a face, without a voice, without parents. Jesus said, “If you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me; you’ve done it to my brother.”

I am so proud of what God is doing through Lee and Praveen’s ministry, ALC. They have taken up a call that very few want to address, let alone work in. These kids have nothing to give in return, except gratitude. There’s no doubt in my heart that God is well pleased with those who invest in children. These are the children who will change the face of India as they connect with God through ministries like ALC. I can’t imagine what these young orphan kids, touched by God, will do in the name of Christ. There’s a scripture that says those who are forgiven little, love little, but to whom much is forgiven, love much. These kids have lived through more hell in their short life than most Americans do in a lifetime.

When I first met these groups of kids, I was drawn to two older boys immediately. Praveena baptized one with the name of Moses; his brother’s name is Joshua. These two stand out above the others; not in height, but in every other way. Lee told me the story of these two boys: At the beginning of the story, they were eight and ten years old. They were raised without a father, by a mother who was a professional prostitute. This is not five-star hotel prostitution, mind you. This is back-alley prostitution, with children present, etc. One night, most likely like any other night, the mother’s client brutalized and killed her in the boys’ presence.

These kids don’t pay money in a theater (like our American children do) to see crimes perpetrated on others, go home and crawl into a nice warm bed, possibly having a nightmare about what they saw, then wake up the next morning for breakfast. These boys had to watch their only contact on earth killed right in front of them. All the sounds, smells and emotions of one traumatizing moment! How do you think they slept that night? What do you think their following morning consisted of? They were alone until we picked them up. They battled these demons all by themselves until God gave us the opportunity to stand with them and fight the good fight of faith for their lives. They will become our future warriors in Christ, because He has healed much.

These orphans are shunned by society because there are such deep emotional scars and wounding. How do you begin to deal with the hurt and pain in these children’s lives? It’s only in Christ that they can find wholeness.

But how will they know that unless someone tells them? This is true discipleship. This cost the lives of God’s people. It’s the laying down of our lives that disciples these kids. There’s no other way around it.

In America we send our kids to school, we receive them into our warm homes, they have computers, all the new gadgets, hear the new songs, watch the new movies, play the latest video games. And after they’ve played, they go into their rooms, get into their beds with a pillow and a blanket and go to sleep. What do the orphans of India have? You cannot even imagine. I’ve seen commercials on television, watched James Robison’s reports from Africa, and I’ve seen Lee’s pamphlets. But until I got here, I really had no idea. One of the most common statements I’ve made since being here is that I have nothing in my life to compare this to. We know kids are resilient. Those of us, who as children, have gone through rough times, have made it through. But in India, the only hope these kids have is Jesus.

Why am I saying all of this? For one, it’s a revelation of what I’ve seen. As the old saying goes, why reinvent the wheel?

ALC has a well-oiled ministry machine. They’ve got it! The kids will come. The potential is beyond measure! Lee recently purchased two acres of land and is in the process of building a home for orphan boys and girls. If you were to take the homeless in one city in India, it would make those who were in the stadium after Katrina look like a Christian family camp. I watched the homeless children here put out their blankets in the evening and position themselves for the night. Sometimes they don’t move for hours on the hard concrete sidewalk.

Isn’t it amazing how God has put so much stock in the tithe and the offering? We as healthy American Christians struggle with this. Yet, that’s exactly what it takes to keep this type of ministry machine moving down the road and picking up these orphans. Without the gifts of God’s people like you, it would literally break down. What could Lee do by himself? As Paul did, making tents during the day and doing ministry at night.

Church, we need to find something to rally behind, something that would challenge us to go beyond the tithe and reach into the blessing. It’s in the offering that God pours out a blessing that there’s not room to contain. The tithe is required of us; it’s a spiritual no-brainer. He’s blessed us with 90 percent and only asked for 10 percent. The offering is where God has tapped into our hearts.

What is your heart saying about these children? Is it saying, “I can afford to give more?” I can go without….you fill in the blanks. The truth is, we haven’t had a vision for this. God said, “My people (I repeat; it’s His people) perish for a lack of vision.” Our lack of vision is allowing these children to perish, to go untouched. This ought not to be. This will change—as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Will you join me?

Pastor Mike Cantwell - Harvest Christian Center, of Redwood City, CA.