India: Scene Three – A Children’s Home

31 10 2011

Mostly about a Children’s Home (I have purposely removed the name(

After spending four days in old and new Delhi, after this sensory overload; after being angry and sad, privileged and overwhelmed; after feeling heartbroken and helpless, frustrated and fascinated, our ride up to ______ was a breath of fresh air…literally. We were in the Himalayan mountains now, riding the switchbacks in the lush green hills in the cooler, cleaner air, alone on the road and then suddenly bumping along through a village, seeing nothing but trees and rivers, and then a shrine, sheep and goats, and then a temple.

Spirituality and Indian life are inseparable. Here too, in the middle of nowhere, representations and the presence of demons are everywhere; they look down from high places, a constant reminder that they are not alone, not free, they must stop and pay respect. Our driver stopped along one stretch of road to ring the bell, to say the words that needed to be said to the god of his village, and then we could carry on.

Then, an oasis. There isn’t any other word for it.

After dropping our things off at the guest house we set off on foot down a winding little path and before we could see them, we heard them. The infectious sound of children laughing, shouting, playing!! What a foreign sound!

Beyond whitewashed walls and a metal gate we were met by children, each with the same big grin and same polite greeting, “Good afternoon ma’am…good afternoon sir!” As we were introduced, the children would respond, “Nice to meet you” or “How are you today?”

Before I continue, I need to tell you the story of this place. I won’t get it all in, but enough to share the story. Years ago (maybe 40?) a young woman  was growing up in the eastern part of India in a province that has many Christian people. She didn’t know exactly what God was calling her to do with her life, would she be a teacher (she studied for this) or to be a missionary. She felt God calling her to be a missionary.

She moved to Kashmir and began to serve the people and care for needy children. She had a heart to see children educated, and a heart to see them know the love of Christ. Both are difficult tasks in India. She began to work with children and families but came up against intense persecution. She was physically threatened and beaten, and run out of town. By now she was already caring for children and could not abandon them. Some of them were orphaned, some of them came from such poor families that their parents could not care for them (particularly if the children were begin raised by lepers or widows). She took these children and had to get out of Kashmir.

She moved to another area in northern India where again she was threatened and nearly murdered for her faith and the work she was doing. As much as people want help, there are militant religious sects and tribes in India who don’t want anyone “interfering” with their families or their faith.

All along the way, she had a heart of faith that God would take care of her and the children. They had nothing. They never knew how their need would be met. All she knew was that God was calling her, and now the people who were helping her, to be a light to these children and to help them have a life and true hope for the future.

_____ told us her story, and how this children’s home/school came to find itself (where it is located now), its third location after being run out of town again by militant religious sects. She talked about the past 29 years and how many times she just had to be on her knees, praying to God to provide for them, or to help them walk through bureaucracy, to help them find favour with their neighbours, to find partnership outside of India to help them along the way. She talked about how there was a European organization who helped them faithfully but then as that group’s vision changed, how they needed new help and God just continuously provided through a partnership, a common passion that grew through individuals at several Canadian churches who now invest a ton of energy, resources, exposure on behalf of the homes.

_____ is a small, 68 year old woman but I felt smaller in her presence. This soft-spoken, obedient Indian missionary is a force to be reckoned with. At one point a disgruntled man threatened to bring 70 of his militant religious friends onto her compound to destroy her work, and she just calmly invited him for tea to talk. He was spitting angry and refused to come in for tea, and she just softly told him that she was going in for tea and he was welcome to join her when he was ready to be reasonable. He didn’t know what to do with this fearless woman! She has stood up to every opponent, even the police, and God has protected this work on all occasions and gives her His spirit, His words, and most of all, He keeps giving her a heart to lead these children and the staff of teachers and “wardens” (dorm parents).

Beyond the gates of the home she is reaching into tribes of people that no one can reach. If you or I were to walk into one of their villages we would be run out of town! But over the past years of patience and acts of kindness and medical help, she has been welcomed in, and now she is carrying God’s light and truth to those people.

And it isn’t just _____! She has passed on her vision to others and she has a whole staff who have given up so much to live and work here. She has passed on her vision, the things she has learned and there are other leaders in the home now doing what she has done all those years.

It is more inspiring than I can express and I haven’t even told you about the children or the campus yet!

This home (there is another) sits up in the hills above ______. Here a hundred children live in dorms (children also attend from nearby villages), are fed excellent food, attend school, do their chores (you should see them do their laundry, by hand!), worship Jesus, get an education, learn Scripture, study music and dance and art. They play together, and treat one another with such love and respect, the older ones always looking out for the younger ones. There is a garden they tend, a basketball court and an area to play soccer and games. I fell in LOVE with the kids.

The kids are bilingual (some speak more than two languages) and are very talkative and curious and just a ton of fun to be with. They really know how to play, like kids ought to play, and are smart and interesting and open and…well, they are just great. I can’t imagine anyone walking onto the campuses and not becoming completely smitten by these kids.

We only had a few days with them, and as they were celebrating 29 years as a school/family we were able to sit in on a lively, funny, beautiful celebration full of performances and speeches. It was awesome.

And you haven’t heard people worship until you have heard Indians worship, especially kids. They belt it out! And they know what they are singing and to whom they sing. No one tells them how they should worship, you can see it in the little videos we took; little children singing and then just spontaneously, individually, opening and raising their hands. It is so beautiful it makes you cry (and believe me, I cried a LOT on this trip. So tired of crying already).

The goal of all of this is to see these children get an education, be in an environment where they can see these teachers live out the love of Christ, and then to see them successfully graduate and go on to post-secondary education (which _______ pays for). Did you know a year of post-secondary education, including books, room and board costs approximately $2,500! I couldn’t believe it when I heard how affordable it was) and for those who move towards a trade, they help to get them established. They follow up the graduates and are trying to keep them on the right track, connected with good people and churches and support systems. The more I saw it in action, the more excited I became about how they are making such a huge difference in these kids (and their family’s lives, as there are often families connected in different ways).

I loved what I saw here and how seeds are being planted and roots are going down and strongholds are being broken through the patient love, kindness, and teaching that happens over many years. Most of these children come from and go back to homes that worship other gods, and along the way they have many opportunities to compare the faith of their families and come back to taste the living water that Jesus offers, and then they can decide…

So much to say. We SO enjoyed our stay there. I was astounded by what God has done and is doing.

— Teresa Klassen




2 responses

3 12 2012

Found your blog through a Google search of Varanasi. (Don’t ask.)

It’s wonderful to see a work for Christ being done in such a spiritually dark land!

7 12 2012
More Than A Cause: A Community « OneBrownLeaf

[…] I have just read about, I went there. You can read about my experiences on this blog beginning at India Scene Three. I went to both homes and met the children, saw where they lived, played with them, ate with them, […]

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