They sleep side by side on the cement floor, as many as 59 in one room. What they own individually could barely fill a shoebox. Yet they are the richest children I have ever met, and their smiles light up the room. Our American kids with their iPhones in hand, wearing the latest designer jeans, and eager to get their first car when it’s time to drive, are woefully impoverished in comparison.
This is one of the reasons I go to India every year, just completing my 18th ministry trip there since 1993. The founder of the ministry I work with, a man named Yesupadam, is based in the city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Raised an untouchable, he almost died of malnutrition as a boy, eventually becoming so embittered with the caste system that he signed his name in blood and became a Maoist Communist at age 11.
By the time Yesupadam was in his 20’s, he was a staunch atheist, a violent man, and an alcoholic. But he had an epiphany of Jesus, encountered God’s love, and became a committed Christian. Since then, this former untouchable has established several orphanages, built a children’s school, several pastor’s schools, an old folks homes, a nursing school, a junior college, a training center for the disabled, and one hospital so far. (Plans are currently underway for a larger hospital that will also function as a medical training center. Contributions are warmly welcomed.)
Grads from the pastor’s schools have planted 1,000 new churches in previously unreached tribal areas (think mountains and jungles and tigers and monkeys), often at great personal danger. Not a few of them have been beaten. Some have been martyred. (I have met some of the widows, and they remain totally committed in their faith and have forgiven their husband’s murderers.)
On this last trip, a medical doctor accompanied me, doing some medical work for the kids. He is also a videographer, and he offered to do a documentary of our days there, which included spending time with the kids in the children’s home, a total of 59 girls and 81 boys ranging from four to 15. I wish every person in America – especially our young people – would have the opportunity to meet these precious little ones.