The Lord often provides me with a big, fat dose of reality when I
travel overseas. It happened this week in India when I looked into
the frightened face of Divya, a frail 4-year-old girl. Just a few days
ago her poor parents abandoned her in Tanuku, in eastern Andhra
Pradesh, because they already had three daughters. They wanted a son.
So they dumped their child on the side of a road.
When I met little Divya she would not smile no matter how much
I coaxed her. She was traumatized. My friend Raja, who found her
and took her to the girls´ home he runs with his wife, said Divya
had not spoken in four days.
"She usually cries herself to sleep at night," Raja said. "She
doesn't understand what is happening."
There are already more than 30 girls living in Raja´s house - and
all of them have similar stories. Some were orphaned when their
parents died, but many were abandoned because they live in a
culture that devalues females. Two of the girls were found alive in
trash bins when they were infants.
Raja has also found a few dead baby girls in roadside trash piles.
Pigs had eaten parts of their bodies.
This week I spent time with Raja, his wife, Padma, and the girls,
and I toured the three-room house in Tanuku where they all live.
More than 10 girls share each room. They sleep on mats. They
have access to two toilets (but no hot water for baths), and they
all have lice.
Raja and Padma have two young children of their own, but they
manage to feed the orphaned girls rice and vegetables every day.
They serve meat only once a week, in very small portions. They
trust God to provide for the girls´ school fees. They also teach
them the Bible and take them to their Pentecostal church on Sundays.
Last Sunday afternoon after church, we took all the girls to a water
park in Tanuku. The admission to the park was $2 U.S., but that
is too much for most poor children in India. These girls had never
even seen a swimming pool.
They giggled nervously before dipping their toes in the water. Some
were frightened of the slides. But before the afternoon was over
most of the children were splashing each other and playing games
in the pool.
Everyone but Divya, the girl who had been abandoned a few days
ago. "She was very scared, and she even tried to run out of the
water park," Raja told me. "But when we brought her back, she
just sat alone."
But because there is so much love and security in Divya´s new
home, she finally cracked her first smile the day before I left
Tanuku-and she joined in singing a song about Jesus with the
Her wounded heart is already being healed thanks to Raja and
Divya´s story reflects what is happening in India today. Even though
women and girls suffer unimaginable cruelty and rejection, and
even though millions still suffer in indescribable poverty, the gospel
is spreading at an accelerated pace. India´s new believers are not
only planting churches and evangelizing unreached areas but they
are also showing Jesus´ love to orphans, widows, lepers, prostitutes
and people of the lowest social caste.
Every time I come to India I get a much-needed shock treatment.
I realize how spoiled I am. I repent for whining and complaining
about stupid material things that don´t matter. After only a day
here, I suddenly sense a new gratitude for running water, flush
toilets, hot showers, a comfortable bed, reliable electricity and
And even after this attitude adjustment, I still am haunted by my
encounter with Divya. She totally messed me up. I can´t just go
back to my comfortable suburban bubble knowing that little girls
like her are being left on roadsides. Her pitiful cry was my
I believe God is calling all of us to renounce our self-absorbed
American prosperity religion so we can hear the cries around us.
Let´s stop whining and be thankful. And let´s open our hearts to
receive His compassion for the millions of Divya´s who need our love.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon