A package tied up with a pretty bow...A couple in love riding off into the sunset...The prodigal child returns home…
Everyone loves a happy ending and we love sharing the stories of hope and restoration that the Lord is writing through His church. Sometimes though a different story must be told; one where happy endings seem impossible.
Our brothers and sisters in India are living that story right now. They are deep in the trenches of persecution, hardship, disappointment, sickness, and loss.
Over the past year, our church partners in India have faced increasing scrutiny and opposition. The conditions in India are not favorable towards Christianity and there are strict regulations on churches and ministries, including our partners and their orphan homes. As a result, they have to jump through endless hoops to be able to continue their work. They have also been unable to host teams from their US church partners resulting in both sides of the partnerships missing the relational closeness they desire.
Recently, despite the church’s diligence to meet all the regulations, the officers gave them just 48 hours to shut down one of the orphan homes and to place all of the boys with relatives. No consideration was made for the boys’ safety or for those who have no living relatives. In an instant, our joint efforts to slowly and strategically reunite families and launch Home Based Care were dashed. There was no time to prepare the boys or the families for this drastic change. The church took action though and found a way to comply with the orders and to continue to support the boys and their families.
Yet, more challenges arose. The economic empowerment training for farmers and pastors that World Orphans had been helping them plan for over a year was canceled the week before it was scheduled to take place. Three of the trainers had their visas denied. Though disappointed, the church has trusted God and embraced an alternative plan.
Sadly, the hardships have extended beyond those that can be fixed with a bit of flexibility. One pastor had a severe heart attack followed by a bypass surgery. Another pastor’s father took ill and barely survived. Sickness both acute and chronic has struck several of the children requiring trips to the hospitals, new medications, and even the destruction of bedding and household supplies to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
Through it all, the church has remained on its knees praying fervently and providing all they can to assist in everyone’s recovery. Yet, tragedy struck, not once, but twice. Two beautiful girls passed away. Just months apart, Suvi* succumbed to diphtheria and Meera* to complications from HIV. The caregivers, children, and church members are grieving.
Romans 12:15 instructs us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
This is a time for weeping. We must join our brothers and sisters in their sorrow and hardship. We must pray for comfort and healing. We must pray for God to work mightily in India and for Him to guide us all through the obstacles as we seek to reunite families and launch Home Based Care.
This is also a time for rejoicing. We rejoice in knowing that Suvi and Meera trusted Christ and are now joyfully worshipping Him in Heaven. We rejoice in knowing that eternity with Him is far better than any earthly happy ending.
*Names changed for the protection of the church.