Wednesday, November 9, 2011

...for the least of these

This afternoon I pulled out my calendar to assess all the events we have coming up over the next week, fortnight, and month. Almost all of these non-recurring events involve some sort of meal or, at the very least, a snack. So I pulled out a card and jotted down a shopping list for things I needed to purchase so I can contribute my food to the table.

After church tonight, list in hand, I headed to the Rouse's that sits conveniently between the church and my home. I handed my daughter the shopping list and she called out everything I needed as we wandered up and down the aisles. I ran into a few people from church who had the same post-church shopping idea that I had. My hands were busy filling the cart, but my heart was elsewhere.

My heart was in India.

Finally we gathered everything on the list and went to the checkout. The cashier scanned all my items. "$29.10 is your total," she said.

As I swiped my worn card through the machine, my heart lurched.

Not a single thing in those white plastic bags were for sustenance for my family. Everything in those bags were ingredients for dishes to take to events.

For the same price of everything in those bags, I could provide food, clothes, shelter, education, medicine for an orphan in India... for a month.

I struggled the whole way home, with waste and abundance, with responsibility and compassion. Words of the day kept floating back into my mind... Beth Moore warning us about being sucked in by our culture of self-indulgence... Caleb speaking tonight about willing to be uncomfortable in order to be Christ to others...

Not that the blue pen marks on my calendar are bad things... they're good things. They're permissible... but are they beneficial? Can I in good conscience even call them beneficial when children are starving, children are freezing, children are stolen, children are torn from their innocence?

I pictured the big brown eyes, the white smiles against the dark cheeks, the brilliant colored salvar kameez. The photos that I've studied over and over, memorizing faces. The voices I can hear in my head from watching the videos my husband brought back over and over again. Hearing their sweet voices say, "Wanda namalu!" with their thin hands clasped in front of them. And I couldn't help but feel wasteful, selfish.

I'm writing this today to share with you some ways that you can help. Please prayerfully consider supporting a ministry in India that rescues children. Christ is our great Rescuer, and we have been given power in His name and a challenge to walk as He walked. Should we not be a rescuer to those who need to be rescued?

I'm sure there are some reading who are thinking, "I already donate to {organization name} so I don't need to do anything else." Please, please prayerfully consider this before making any final decisions. According to UNICEF, India has the highest percentage of malnourished children in the world. And just look at these trafficking statistics for India (this is only for minors - CHILDREN! These numbers do not include trafficked women!).

"In 1998, between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese girls, some barely 9–10 years old were trafficked into the red light districts in Indian cities, and 200,000 to over 250,000 Nepalese women and girls were already in Indian brothels.[3]

According to UNICEF, 12.6 million children are engaged in hazardous occupations.[4]

In 2009, it was estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide for sexual exploitation, including for prostitution or the production of sexually abusive images [1]

Only 10 % of human trafficking in India is international, while almost 90 % is interstate. Nearly 40,000 children are abducted every year of which 11000 remain untraced according to a report by the National Human Rights Commission of India.[5]"

40,000 children abducted every year. 11,000 remain untraceable.

If you think you can't (or shouldn't) consider this cause, think about if this was your child (or if you are childless, think about a close loved one - a nephew or niece, godchild, brother or sister). Think about if it was your child who was starving to death on the streets. Think about your son having to sleep in a pack of 15-20 boys on the street to protect themselves from sexual predators and thieves. Think about your daughter being stolen or sold to the highest bidder to be raped repeatedly before she reaches double-digits in age and is considered used up.

What if your child was one of the 44,000 abducted... and became one of the untraceable 11,000?

Think about it. And think about what a relatively small contribution from you can do.

You can rescue that child. You have the power to be his or her rescuer.

3 Ways to Help Orphans in India

India Partners operates much like Compassion, except their sponsorships are concentrated solely in India. For $30 a month - less than the cost of one meal out at a restaurant for a family of 4 - you can rescue a child. Provide him or her food, education, medicine, shelter, clean water, clothing. Protect him or her from the destruction that comes with poverty.

My husband has been to India twice. He's slept at the orphanage, kicked a ball around with the children, seen how it operates first hand. I've met Babu when he visited the States in 2009. I've shaken his hand and heard his testimony with my own ears. I've cried as I've listened to him tell about rescuing girls from prostitution rings. And my heart has ached as I've listed to how he only receives money for 200 children, but he stretches it to take care of 300.

If we're going to talk religion, then this man is living out the religion that God finds pure and faultless. You can also sponsor a widow through India Partners.

(Some of the girls with the new "mattresses" brought to them.)

Asha House is another Indian ministry set up solely to deliver Indian children from poverty and trafficking. I've committed to sell 30 bags for Asha House as part of a group of 30 people selling 30 bags. If we each sell our 30 bags, it will raise $18,000 for Asha House. Asha House is currently in New Delhi, with a new orphanage being opened in Calcutta.

These are the bags I've received to sell. The photos do not do them justice. Each bag is hand sewn, hand painted, and/or hand embroidered by Indian women who live at Asha House. If you see a bag you like, please leave a comment (make sure your email is linked so I can contact you) and we will work out payment and shipping.

(please ignore my grody couch and focus on the beauty of the bags)

Please consider purchasing a bag. These were hand sewn by women in India who have found shelter, either for themselves or their children, in Asha House. The bags are $20 each (I will find out a price for the scarves and mini-bags), and every cent goes right back to helping get Indian children out of poverty or sex slavery. These would make a wonderful Christmas gift (the bags are STUNNING in person!), and the value of what will be done with your money far exceeds the $20 purchase price. Please consider getting one for yourself and/or for someone you love as a Christmas present.

(Sidenote: I'm working to get Babu connected with Asha House - wouldn't it be wonderful if the young women and widows could make bags to sell free-trade to raise money for Orphan's Faith Home?)

Compassion is one of the largest child rescue programs in the world. There are currently 93 children on Compassion's India list waiting to be sponsored. Compassion costs slightly more than India Partners ($38 per month) but is still well worth the investment in a child's life.

(Pastor Babu and one of the orphans)

I know we're in a tough economy right now. I know money is tight for everyone. And while I can't tell you what to do with your budget, I can tell you my own convictions. I can tell you that I don't want to come face-to-face with Christ one day, and Him ask me was that budget so tight that I couldn't have fit one child in there? I can tell you that I probably spend close to that much on soft drinks each month, and that's an area I can (and should) cut. I can tell you that in the grand scheme of things, $30 a month is not an exorbitant amount of money. It's cutting out a few tiny indulgences throughout the month, indulgences that I don't need to begin with. It's saying no to the mentality of our culture that says we deserve to self-indulge. It's saying yes to the Savior who says that whenever we feed or clothe the least, we've indeed done so for Him.

(My sweet hubby, sweat stains and all)

I know this is a lot to take in (and it's a looooong post, too). Please consider helping. Maybe you already have a heart crisis, an injustice so big it keeps you awake at night. Maybe your heart is in the horn of Africa, reeling from the famine there. Maybe your heart is in the Middle East, grieving for children whose families have been torn apart by the wars and unrest. But if you don't have a place that keeps you up a night, consider making a part of your heart's home in India.

These photos represent the life you could offer a child that is currently on the streets of India... or worse. Please consider becoming the hero that so many Indian children so desperately need.

All images belong to my husband, taken by him during his trips to India in 2006 and 2007.


Penny said...

Hey, T, I want one of those bags! I know just the person who needs it. =)

And let me know when you get the prices for the scarves!

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