“If I live, I will come back to get my children. If I don’t come back, you know what happened to me.”
With these words, Abdul* placed an infant baby girl, Bhavya*, into the arms of Pastor Raj*. He took one last look into his son’s eyes. Nine-year-old Nadeem stared back at his father, a million questions written across his face, but neither spoke.
At World Orphans, our deepest longing and our greatest joy is to see families stay together. We partner with families to ensure that children are receiving what they need. We partner with churches to equip mothers and fathers to better care for themselves and their children. The heart of our efforts is rooted in the belief that preserving families is important, sacred, and powerful work, and yet, we also know that family preservation is not always possible. In situations of abuse, neglect, or devastating loss, children are sometimes left standing without anyone in their corner.
In these situations, people like Pastor Raj and his wife are closing that gap and stepping into that corner. They’ve developed the team and the space to accommodate children like Nadeem and Bhavya—children who otherwise might no longer be alive.
Nadeem’s mother died when he was very young. His father remarried and had another child, but his new wife also passed away not long after giving birth. Amid unfathomable grief and gut-wrenching loss, Abdul began frantically selling everything they had. It seemed there wasn’t enough money to go around, and this was his best chance at feeding the children. And then, things took a turn for the worst—
The details are unclear, but Abdul’s relatives wanted to kill him. Grieving, poverty-stricken, overwhelmed, and suddenly a murder target, Abdul did the only thing he knew to do.
A friend told him, “If you can find a church, they may be willing to raise your children.” He continued running and searching for a church along the way, but it was a long journey and it seemed there were no churches in the vicinity. Then, just when it seemed all hope was lost, Abdul found Pastor Raj’s church—a building seemingly located in the middle of nowhere and yet exactly where Abdul needed it to be.
With the knowledge that keeping them would only endanger their lives, Abdul left Nadeem and Bhavya in the care of Pastor Raj and his wife. They took the children in and were eager to get Nadeem enrolled in school, but the school wouldn’t accept him. He struggled to properly care for himself after years of turmoil, and the school feared that it was a sign of poor intelligence. But Pastor Raj wouldn’t accept that as answer, and he demanded that the school accept him.
If you met Nadeem today, you’d never imagine the grief, violence, and loss he was forced to overcome as a young boy. At 18 years old, Nadeem enjoys playing the keyboard, leading worship, and working with the younger students in the after-school program. The school that once tried to refuse Nadeem admission recently begged him to stay when they heard he was considering switching schools, as he is now one of their star students.
Over the last nine years, Nadeem has been cared for physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. His demeanor speaks volumes about the progress he has made.
Nadeem’s father never returned; he was never seen again after he left his children with Pastor Raj. While we pray the best for Abdul, we fear the worst. Yet, in the midst of this heartbreak, we are captivated by the love that drove Abdul to Pastor Raj’s doorstep—the love that so desperately wanted to keep those children safe that it surrendered them. Doesn’t a love like that leave you breathless?
Abdul’s legacy will live on in the lives of his children—children that have been consistently cared for and attended to through the church.
*Identity changed for protection