Friday, September 12, 2008
Early January 2005: I joined a team of 17 Liberty students on a trip to India. For most of us, it was our first time to visit the highly populated Hindu country, and little did we know the impact India and its people would leave on our hearts. We flew into New Delhi and made our way south into Rajasthan by bus, visiting schools, churches, hospitals, leper colonies, and orphanages all founded or sponsored by a ministry called Hopegivers. We were all profoundly moved by the faith of the saints in India and deeply stirred by the physical and spiritual needs that were evident on every street corner. Yet perhaps what changed us the most during our short trip to this beautiful land were the little beacons of light called Hope Homes that penetrated the darkness with unbelievable force.
These Hope Homes are made up of orphaned, abandoned, and impoverished children from India and its bordering countries and are teeming with life like I have never seen before or since. Many of these children sleep 4 to a wooden slab bunk bed or with a mere blanket on the floor because there are so many of them and not enough beds. Everything they own in the world can fit into a little trunk only slightly bigger than a shoebox. Their meals consist of rice with some kind of Indian sauce or spice with the luxury of meat only every once in a blue moon. But do not be fooled, these are the happiest, most vibrant, most joyful kids I have ever met in my life. They know what it is to be in want, but they know even more the reality of having their daily prayers answered by the hand of God. In their youth they have experienced hunger, cold, thirst, disease, death, and persecution, but the light in their eyes is evidence that their hope does not lie in their circumstances, but in the One whom they believe to be loving and holding and guiding them through it all.
I was (and continue to be) greatly affected by the faith of these precious children, and went back to India the following year to spend Christmas at one of the orphanages. The images of their smiling faces are forever etched in my mind, and the sound of their laughter, their songs to Jesus both in English and Hindi, and their fervent prayers to the God who has shown Himself faithful to them are ringing in my ears and melting my heart to this day. I have not been able to forget these little ones that make up the "orphan army," and have been praying for the last 3 years that the Lord would make a way for me to somehow be a voice for His children in India. That prayer was answered about a month ago when I was contacted by a Liberty grad who now works for Hopegivers and asked to link up with their ministry and champion their cause wherever I go. Turns out, they had been praying for me for quite sometime as well. It's amazing how the Lord works, and Jacob and I are now planning to visit India as well as the new Hope Homes in Haiti before the year is out. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to visit Hope Homes on a regular basis and to share the stories of these children that have forever changed my life. I have a feeling I will be talking about what the Lord is doing through this ministry long after my music is said and done. If you are interested in taking a short-term mission trip with Hopegivers to India, Haiti, or Malawi, Africa, want to get involved by supporting these kids, or just want more information on their ministry, visit hopegivers.org. You won't regret it.