October 29th, 1999, a super cyclone hit the coast of Orissa, India, killing more than 10,000, and leaving many hundreds of orphans. Several churches sent funds by us to help the storm victims. Ken Shoop, Lyle Starnes, and I visited Paradeep, center of the storm damage, in Jan 2000 to investigate how best to provide relief.
While traveling to Paradeep, we read horror stories in the newspapers and magazines about how orphans were being taken with deceit by agents posing as welfare workers, and being sold into prostitution in Mumbai, and into slavery in some Arabian nations. Orphans only ten years old were being forced to work at hard labor in order to have food to eat. Other orphans were living under trees, wandering in streets begging food, and living in the train stations by begging food.
Recognizing the urgency of providing care for the helpless children, we immediately began to made arrangements to furnish care for as many orphans as possible. Within ten days we had rented a house and had 21 orphans in the care of P. Steven Jyothi. Steven lives at Puri, which is near the storm area. I have known and worked with him since 1983. He has training in social services, and had earlier registered a social welfare trust with the Indian Government. This made it possible to fund the project through that trust. Soon we had 52 orphans under Stevenís care.
Churches and individuals provided funding for the orphan care and necessary buildings. The church of Christ at Stevenson, Alabama provided $24,000 toward the land and building. Several other churches joined the effort. Now we have completed paying for the land and building, and just received $15,000 from an individual to complete the needed addition to Grace Home. The building is designed to add a second floor, and the $15,000 will be used for that purpose, beginning in Jan of 2003.
The children are being taught in our own school operated by Steven with the help of qualified teachers who are not being paid adequately because of our limited funding. The childrenís bedrooms are being used as classrooms. We want to build a school building on property we already own nearby Grace Home so that we can operate an English Medium school and collect tuition from outside students. The government school in that area is not good, and we want our children to learn about Jesus as they study. Building the school building will enable us to have an outreach to other children in the city, and provide some operating income. Also we want to provide vocational training to the orphan children, as they get older.
It has been a tremendous blessing to see how God has provided for these children. We can do so little, but God is able to bless abundantly above our imagination. The children are doing well in health, development, and study. They are learning about Jesus, and singing praises to His matchless name.
We need to raise $20,000 for the first seven classrooms for the school. This will enable us to have 180 students enrolled in kindergarten through the fifth grade. One year later we will add the second floor to the building and increase one grade per year through the tenth class. We will also add vocational training.
We need to raise $500 additional monthly income to pay the teachers salaries. Perhaps God wants to provide this help through you or your congregation. Please pray for the children, and tell your church leaders about this need.
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