Rupa, the sweet-faced little girl pictured here, was sold into slavery by her mother…for less than 20 American dollars. This is common in India, a country where girls are considered a burden to the family. Rupa, being a girl, could fetch her mother some money. At six years old, the child was a good deal: old enough to be a virtual slave, young enough to push around.
A rich family bought Rupa. Her day began early, but not to attend school. Instead, she had to clean the entire house, wash clothes, make beds and wash dishes. She ate cold and stale leftovers, and that was on the good days. Her heart full of fear, she learned to hear little but the call of her owners. She was beaten mercilessly for the slightest infractions such as spilling a little milk, or maybe someone was just in a bad mood. As punishment she was locked in the bathroom, deprived of food for days. Sometimes it was just easier to pour boiling water on her hands.
Yet, somehow, Rupa was rescued and put in a Christian orphanage. Still lonely, scared and insecure, she bravely fended for herself. Her entire life experience, of horrific rejection and abuse, presented her with only two choices: be the victim, or be the oppressor.
Up to this point, Rupa’s story is a litany of hopelessness. But then the Lord Jesus Christ came into her life through a so-called “Happy Club” at her orphanage. That’s the nickname the kids gave to the J127 Orphan Initiative* from David C Cook. Here’s what happened.
At first Rupa would intentionally disturb the club and get into fights. As mental health experts now understand, abused children become bullies and, in adulthood, often become abusers themselves. But that isn’t the way of Christ. As months passed, Rupa slowly grew close to her auntie, Elizabeth, who led the Happy Club. She told Elizabeth about her life as a slave servant. She grew close to Elizabeth and told her details of her experiences. She shared pain that she’d buried for so long. As time passed, she felt safe, sheltered and loved.
Rupa is now ten years old, in the second grade. She still belongs to the Happy Club. In her orphanage, as in most Christian orphanages in India, there’s little money, barely enough to feed, clothe and educate the children. The Orphanage Initiative comes alongside such homes with programs designed specifically for traumatized, abandoned, and abused children with no families to take them in. In three weekly sessions, they grow spiritually, learn insights from Bible study and develop practical life skills.
Rupa became a Christ follower, giving her a clear choice other than being a victim or oppressor. Instead, she can live at peace with herself and others. She faces a much better future today, as a caring and nurturing person. Perhaps she will someday be a mother herself, completely different from the twisted person that, sadly, was her own mother.
Rupa is indeed living proof of Colossians 1:13.
He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
David C Cook underwrites much of the Orphan Initiative* costs, and raises the remainder from generous donors. In addition to lesson materials, leaders of the clubs, called “aunties” and “uncles,” caring adults from local Christian communities, receive special training and a small stipend. The clubs are completely unlike classroom learning. In the clubs, children form close personal bonds and receive intimate love from their leaders that becomes similar to that of healthy families.
Be part of this life-giving program. We encourage you as you think long and prayerfully about your giving. Your gift can change lives.* It is thrilling to watch them trade their brokenness and pain for new life in Christ. Take an orphan’s hand in yours and give generously with your other, as together we rescue children from the dominion of darkness.
Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.