Sunday, September 07, 2008

Belated Beloved

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw th light of day, I had holy plans for you: a prophet to the nations - that's what I had in mind." Jer 1

One week ago today I did not celebrate my birthday. Instead I was somewhere 30,000 feet above the world making my way to India. V did alert the flight crew and they did provide a First Class chocolate - but it carried no fanfare or cards or presents in the cramped confines of economy class.

When we were deciding on the choice of dates for departure V asked, "are you sure you don't mind traveling on your special day?" Obviously, I did not - and considered it a privilege to make such a small sacrifice to be in the next place God had an assigned task for me to complete.

Today was our last day of programs. We began the morning at a small village church where I actually delivered the sermon (on Isaiah 53:1-5). We had the afternoon to get our finances for the trip in order and then we made our return to Goodman Orphanage; home to 13 precious children (10 girls and 3 boys). We arrived after dark but could see the shadows of the children awaiting our arrival at the gate.

We slowly got out of the car and were met with the traditional shower of marigold petals. It was only when we were inside the gates that I saw the sign stretched across the orphanage. "Happy Birthday from Goodman Orphans".

I had to hold back the tears as all thirteen children came forward with handmade birthday cards expressing a variety of birthday wishes: "we love you" "thank you for your visit" "God bless you". And of course they sang several choruses of "Happy Birthday to You". Believe me, belated did not minimize the abundance of blessings.

The first day of our arrival, Pastor J told us they recently had taken in a small girl who was begging and picking up food out of the village streets. He sadly said, the dogs and the ravens chased her for the small amounts of sustenance she was able to collect. He said, "sisters even though we do not have the money to take in another child we could not let this happen to the girl. We had no choice but to help her." He went on to explain her mother died and her father disappeared. No one in the village would take her in so night and day she just roamed the muddy pathways in search of scraps - less than a "rag picker" for because of her age and her size she would not survive long enough to make money from what she collected.

He told us her name, but said, "you can pick a new name for her". I of course spoke up and said "you can call her C..." to which V replied "but you could also call her V...". Pastor J laughed at our contest. I then explained my name means "encourager of women" but V piped up and said "well MY name means victorious". Pastor J said "then we will call her Vicki Charlynn" and she will be a victorious encourager!" We laughed at the thought and honestly thought he was just going along with our back and forth "name calling".

But tonight after the choruses were sung and the cards presented - the other children said "and here is V... C...". A beloved child rescued from starvation, abandonment and death, shyly offering only an occasional grin. A great birthday present indeed!

In the six days of programs - we have ministered to over 1700 village men, women and children. Many heard the Gospel for the first time. The Harvest here is daunting, but the faithfulness of the workers is inspiring. We will be back (before my next birthday) to sow, to plant, and to reap along with our brothers and sisters here in the fields of India.

May God bring the increase in your lives as you participate in the great commission -to the ends of the earth.

He is on His way
And so are we