Children come to orphanages with every imaginable stripe of brokenness. They are created in the image of God, but that likeness is marred beyond recognition by sin. Jesus steals back hearts from the darkness.
Thieving and lying are common among orphans, especially those who once lived hand to mouth on the streets.
Here are several facts about street children:
Fact #1: There are 140 million worldwide.
Fact #2: They tend to be over the age of 12 in developed countries. They’re half that age in developing countries.
Fact #3: Ninety percent of street children numb emotional pain with substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, cannabis, and industrial products like glue.
Fact #4: They are highly susceptible to chronic illnesses, and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Fact #5: Begging, stealing, prostitution, and organized crime are ways street children survive. In some areas, police kill them rather than deal with the fallout from their crimes.
Fact #6: There are 18 million street children in India, more than anywhere else in the world. The India Times reports that 55% of these children have been sexually abused.
Understandably, street kids mistrust adults.
J127 Clubs*, an outreach of David C Cook, are restoring the image of God in street kids and other orphans who’ve faced extreme trauma. Children seemingly beyond hope of any redemption are being healed, given back a childhood, and loved and cared for. This three-year program is based on the scripture,
True religion that God accepts is to care for orphans in distress… James 1:27
Children involved in these clubs are introduced to a trustworthy Father; they are given the skills to weather the storms of life, and the character training to live with integrity. The saints working directly with these children are referred to as “aunties” and “uncles” – Christians, usually a husband and wife, from a local church.
They have a tall order in shepherding these children day in and day out. They see the profound brokenness – they’re confronted with their own unresolved past. They see the spiritual and emotional growth – and they grow themselves. And they revel in everyday miracles.
Take Vijaya. He is 12 years old and lives at an orphanage in Hyderabad, India. Like nearly every child in this facility, he comes from desperate poverty. There are many thousands of street children in Hyderabad; only a fortunate few end up at orphanages such as this one.
One day Vijaya found a 20 rupees note (25 cents) on his dorm room floor. A roommate had been careless with his money, and Vijaya didn’t hesitate to pocket it. When no one was looking, he buried it in his drawer beneath some clothes.
Vijaya’s heart beat wildly whenever he thought about the things he could buy with the quarter. Yet at the same time, there was also a different, unidentifiable feeling tugging at his heart.
Vijaya is one of the older kids at the club; he puts up a special banner at the beginning of the day and takes an active part in the lessons. In February, Uncle Vedamani and Auntie Rajalaximi, leaders of his club, covered a subject dealing with the Holy Spirit and how He speaks to us, lives in us, and guides our daily lives.
As the lesson progressed, the children were presented with several stories where they talked through whether or not the child had obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Vijaya’s eyes were opened. The stories hit close to home. It all started making sense; the nagging tug in his heart must have been the Holy Spirit. Vijaya wasted no time. He ran from class to his dorm room and frantically rummaged through his clothes until he found the 20 rupees. He immediately came back to Uncle Vedamani and told him the story of the rupees note and the Holy Spirit.
Through J127 Clubs, children such as Vijaya are being redeemed from significant trauma and brutal life on the streets. In countries where corruption and crime obscure the lines between right and wrong, children are being filled with the Holy Spirit, and able to discern the truth.
You can be a part of these miracles. You or you and a group of friends or a Sunday school class can sponsor a club*. When you link arms with us in this work, you’ll follow a specific group of children and see firsthand how God transforms lives.
*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.