Chaitanya is just 13 years old and from a Hindu background, yet he grasps biblical truths that elude most adults. Chaitanya’s relationship with Jesus involves dirty socks and a resolve to serve his friends.
Chaitanya is fed and well cared for, yet he and his fellow orphans bear the scars of emotional and physical hardships that no child should ever face. The drought and other harsh economic conditions in his rural area drive farmers deeper into poverty and, ultimately, despair. Many of the 200 children in his orphanage were abandoned by their families or are survivors of parental suicide, commonly from drinking fertilizer.
Hopelessness may define this part of central India, but Chaitanya is still your classic teen, goofing off with friends and playing games. And like a typical teen, chores, especially those involving laundry, do not come naturally. This is the main reason why adults in the orphanage were shocked to discover Chaitanya hand-washing the dirty socks of 20 of his friends.
Note these aren’t your average socks, worn once then tossed into the laundry basket. These belong to children living in a dry and dusty terrain filled with countless insects, wild monkeys, snakes and pothole-marked dirt roads. It’s likely these socks are the only pair they own, many ragged and worn.
So what caused Chaitanya to serve his peers in this way? He had just been in a J127* meeting – part of the orphan initiative at David C Cook – on servanthood. The discussion involved the passage of Scripture where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. Chaitanya, out of love for his roommates, and a desire to model his Christian faith to the younger children, took the unusual initiative and washed their socks.
There is more to the sock story, however. Chaitanya demonstrated an understanding of the heart of Jesus, sacrifice, humility, and the type of character that often takes many years to build.
Through the J127 “Jesus Fun Club” children like Chaitanya develop coping skills to deal with tragedy and to grow and flourish spiritually, emotionally and physically. Because of the violence and economic poverty, these kids suffered, they treasure every club session and the chance to find a different way of life. In fact, “aunties and uncles,” Christian adults from local churches who lead the clubs, recently reported that several of the children read their entire Action Bibles more than 25 times! While Chaitanya and his fellow orphans are lacking in material wealth, they are rich spiritually.
Jesus not only wants his children fed and clothed, he also desires to see them healed, well equipped to face life, and filled with hope for the future in a relationship with him. Sponsors like you make it possible for the J127 lay counselors to receive training, curriculum and modest compensation so they can commit to long-term ministry among these hurting kids. The clubs provide children with the spiritual discipleship and loving care necessary for them – or for any of us – to navigate through life.
It is our hope children like Chaitanya will stir your heart to join in this work. You can give once or sponsor* a “Jesus Fun Club” and follow a group of children in a specific club in India as they develop new lives in Christ.
*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.