Friday, July 16, 2010

Written on His Heart

Peter with Nagarani and Dhayakar – two of the children who accepted the Lord

This past week, The Justice League team (Victoria, Peter, David, Megen) left the congestion and dense population of the city for Bommakal, a village of 1200 people located about 170 km from Hyderabad. We soon discovered that we had exchanged the smog of the city for intense heat and humidity and dirt roads that, while not congested with traffic, had to be shared with amazingly large and unconcerned herds of livestock. These roads also took their toll on our vehicle; the faithful old sumo fell prey to a punctured tire the second night we were there, which required an emergency tire change (including at least 4 attempts at jacking up the vehicle, which only proved successful when the entire team lifted the gigantic sumo high enough off the ground to properly position the jack) on the side of a deserted road at 11:00 pm.
When we first arrived at the afterschool center and met the kids we would be working with this week, our response matched theirs: reserved. Having just finished an amazing week with the kids at Ashirvad (see previous posts), it was hard to keep from making comparisons between the two groups of children. While the Ashirvad kids had been overflowing with love and enthusiasm toward us, which they expressed in amazingly good English, these village kids seemed shy and hesitant to interact with us. To further complicate connecting with them, they spoke virtually no English. At our nightly team prayer times, we asked God to open our hearts to love these kids without making comparisons.
We had decided to begin the week with an experiential activity that would allow us to present the gospel to the kids. As I shared and asked questions, I noticed that their response was usually “I don’t know,” but I assumed that they were still feeling too shy to venture an answer. Based on what we had been told about the kids, we were under the assumption that all of them were familiar with the gospel and that about half of them knew Christ as their Savior. We continued to emphasize the gospel, but it wasn't until our third night in Bommakal that we found out that these statistics had recently changed. The afterschool center had taken a year's break from its programs and had only reopened a few weeks before we arrived. Our host in the village told us that nearly all of the students were Hindu and that this was their first involvement with the afterschool program or the church.
That night, our team went back to our lodgings stunned and overwhelmed by what we had just learned. No wonder the kids didn't know the answer to the questions I had asked them about the gospel. No wonder they were shy and still learning how to love and be loved. Our team of four went up on the roof of the church where we were staying and sat in silence as we remembered the eager pairs of eyes fixed on us as we shared those words of life, those serious faces that appeared to be listening as though their lives depended on it. And we realized that, in fact, their lives did depend on it. It had been difficult at our previous ministry site to look into the beautiful faces of the kids at Ashirvad and realize that despite their happy smiles, unless God does a miracle, they will die a difficult and early death as a result of AIDS. How much more heartbreaking to look into the equally gorgeous faces and bright eyes of the kids at Bommakal and realize that, unless God does a miracle, they are headed toward an eternity in hell. And so, sitting there on that rooftop in an Indian village, we began to pray. We prayed for the souls of those kids who, we realized, we had come to love every bit as passionately as we had loved the Ashirvad kids. We prayed for the church there that makes up such a tiny percentage of the population of the village and for God to use those believers to lead the kids to Him. And we prayed for our remaining time in the village – 1 ½ days seemed so short suddenly. We felt that what we had to offer was so little, yet we knew that the same God who fed 5,000 people with one boy’s lunch was able to take our small offering and multiply it for His purposes. We had no idea when we offered our last days in Bommakal to God how He would choose to use them.
The day before we left the village, we decided to give the kids an opportunity to respond to the gospel. We led them in making simple origami hearts and writing the names of people they loved on the hearts they had made. Then we told them if they loved Jesus and wanted to invite Him into their hearts, to write His name on their hearts. Peter shared with them that the love they have for the people they wrote down is tiny compared with God’s love for each of them. He asked the group to close their eyes and anyone who wanted to pray and receive Christ as Savior to raise their hand. To our astonishment, 24 students raised their hands! As one of our team members said later, those hands weren’t just raised – they shot up and they stayed up the entire time Peter led them in prayer. In fact, we had to remind them to put their hands down when we finished!
We went “home” that night and climbed the stairs to the same roof where we’d sat and prayed the night before. Again, we were stunned and overwhelmed – overwhelmed by what God had done and stunned that He had allowed us to be a part of it. We realized that God had done a miracle and that we could now look into 24 pairs of bright eyes and know that these beautiful, amazing children are now sons and daughters of God and that we will see them again one day in heaven.
Before we left Bommakal, each of us made an origami heart identical to those the kids had made. Each heart is covered with names, written in different colored markers, some in English, some in Telugu characters – the names of the children of Bommakal. When we drove away, we took those hearts with us as a testimony to us of the way God taught us to love those children and a reminder that 24 of those children also have their names written on His heart and in His book of life.


  1. These are cherished experiences. Praise God for all you are learning there! I too, am learning thorugh this trip - thanks for sharing. God is faithful!

  2. Praise God for the response of these precious children! Praying for the rest of your time in India.