Dharwad, Monday, Aug. 20, 3:53 pm (8/20, 3:23 am)
We stood by our massive pile of luggage, just off the train in Dharwad, and Hayley spoke my heart: “I like this a lot better than Mumbai.”
This is much more “countryside”, sort of tropical/dirt road beautiful. Josh waited with the luggage, Tessa and Carice jumped on the back of motorcycles, and the rest of us piled into Arun’s Toyota Quallis for the short ride to their Joyful Children’s Home. The building was erected last December, and work is still going on.
Some of the girls who are on holiday from school greeted us with flower leis. They are piercingly beautiful, with shy smiles. Shobha is a light-hearted hostess who made us feel quickly at home. Arun returned to get Josh and the luggage, and we had a chance to meet the girls.
Hayley made it easy to forge a connection. The girls have studied English, and introduced themselves. They asked Hayley what grade (or “standard,” as they call it) she was in, and she asked them their favorite subjects. They taught us a few words in the Karnataka state language, but I’ve forgotten them already.
These girls, a total of 67 of them, call Arun and Shobha “papa” and “mama”. They have created a home for these children to live in. Again, like at Bal Asha, the demeanor of the girls makes it so easy to see they are well cared for.
It’s hard to put into words how at ease, how much at home, I already feel. It’s difficult NOT to quickly jump to the conclusion that we should find any way possible to join this ministry.
We had an amazing meal-I love Indian food! Rice and a lentil stew preapared “Indian fashion”, as Shobha said. Spicy cauliflower to add. Outstanding!
Arun and Shobha spoke some about how they met and started this ministry. I think she said Acts 18 was an important part of God’s call to them, a part where the Spirit called them to speak the gospel loudly to the people who live there. Rather than raise money to build a home and then start the ministry, their trust in Jesus led them to sell everything they had, move here from Northern India, and begin their ministry first. Their faith is deep-their integrity a matter of pride. It took them three years to get permission to build this new home, because they refused to join the 99.9% of the other building in India and pay a bribe to officials to get a permit. It’s easy to see how God is tangibly blessing their ministry, yet they also clearly speak of wways that they will not be compromised by people’s gifts. They will only expand when they have the right people to be “papa” and “mama” to more children.
We’ve spent the afternoon at the lovely guest house they’ve prepared for us (this used to be the children’s home before the new building was built). Showers and games and rest and journals feel good. We’ll rejoin the home at 5:00 pm, helping girls with homework. At 6, Arun will describe their ministry, and at 7:30, we’ll join them in prayer with dinner at 8.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave to visit the temple, which is the center of the cultic prostitution these girls were born into. Arun, in his discussions with Josh, encouraged us to be in prayer and preparation before our visit. Here, he says, the spiritual realm-for good and for evil-is very present. Lord Jesus, we are yours. You are greater than any spirit in our world, and we place ourselves completely in your care.