Some of them have lost both parents. Others have only one parent who is unable to support them. (In some cases the one parent was ostracized by his or her Hindu family upon becoming a Christian, leaving them in even greater financial distress.) Some of them are children of pastors in the tribal regions, where there is no formal education available, where disease is often rampant, and where it is very difficult to raise a family.
All the kids, including the very youngest, start their day with prayer from 5:00-5:30 AM, washing up from 5:30-6:00, then doing Bible study from 6:00-6:30. With this, they stand head and shoulders above many (or most?) of the ministers in America in terms of daily spiritual disciplines.
They attend the ministry’s school, a school which has become so highly regarded by the local government that official testing is done there for students in the region, and many of the kids have gone on to higher education upon graduation. Quite a few are now engineers and nurses, others are studying to become doctors, and some have become pastors. And every single child who was raised in the children’s home has continued in their faith to this day.
I spent some time talking with the teenage girls one night while the younger ones were already asleep on the cement. They were bilingual (Telugu and English), and with their long braided hair and totally modest, brightly beautiful Indian dress, they were the picture of innocence. Is there any place in the world that could be farther from Jersey Shore? Could you find a greater contrast between them and the Teen Mom reality TV show?
Each child has a cubby hole on the wall, in which are all their possessions, including clothes. Yet you will never meet a more joyful bunch of kids, nor will you find any that are more content.
Unlike many children in India, they get three good meals a day, they get love and care and nurture, they get solid academics combined with solid biblical teaching, and they learn what really matters most in life. They are so much more rich than most of us.
One of the teenage boys told me with a great big smile that he had been living there – sleeping on that same cement floor in another room – for ten years now, and you just know that his future is as bright as the glimmer in his eyes.
Our American kids, sleeping in their comfortable beds, awash in the latest technology, and enjoying the latest episode of Glee, should be downright envious.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a nice bed and a soft pillow, there’s something woefully wrong with the superficiality and carnality of our culture. Let’s learn some lessons from these super-blessed Indian orphans. As Jesus once said, “Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15, NLT)
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.