Many of the world’s children have a rough start in life. Poverty, abuse and neglect rob them of a sense of self, a vision for a future, and a grasp on the present. Their age and limited life experience offer no frame of reference for the suffering they experience.
Madhuri used to be one of those children. Hungry and dirty, she wandered aimlessly through her village. Neighbors sometimes took pity and fed her out of their own poverty and limited resources.
With a mentally ill mother, who eventually died, and a father who left her alone for days at a time, Madhuri lived on her own until the age of 7. A concerned Christian stepped up and brought her to a home for orphaned tribal children.
Now age 12, Madhuri has lived at the orphanage for four years. She struggled her first years at the home. She remained a wanderer, kept to herself, and made little effort to connect with others. She failed at her studies.
In December 2011, David C Cook launched a J127 Club* at her orphanage. This 3-year discipleship program is based on James 1:27, “True religion that God accepts is to care for orphans in their distress…” While the facility feeds and clothes children like Madhuri, we equip the local church to care for the “other half of a child” his or her soul.
One tool used in this unique program is called The Action Bible – each child is given a copy. It’s 750 full color pages – 215 action packed stories – hand-drawn by renowned Marvel and DC Comics artist, Sergio Cariello. (The Action Bible has now been transformed into The Story of Jesus, a compelling 16-page evangelistic booklet reaching millions of children in some of the most impoverished, closed countries in the world.)
The Action Bible caught Madhuri’s eye. She pored over the pictures and read the same stories over and over. She loved the story of Noah. Through his tenacity in the face of opposition, she understood she didn’t have to worry about what others thought or said about her. Madhuri learned how to reach out and get along with others through the lives of Abraham and Lot. She blossomed under the double-edged Sword of the Spirit.
With the new academic year came new children. Most of them didn’t speak English. Madhuri took it upon herself to tell Bible stories to the new kids. She now says, “Though I don’t have a loving a father, God has taken his place. I know I can trust Him and come to Him for anything I need.”
It’s one thing to hear stories such as Madhuri’s – it’s another to see them firsthand. Recently Sergio Cariello and his wife Luzia traveled to India with a team from David C Cook to witness the impact of the The Action Bible and the J127 program. Sergio met hundreds of children, who in spite of horrific backgrounds, were filled with the joy of the Lord. They sang, danced, recited lessons, shared treats, and clamored to shake the hands of guests and get special autographs for their Bibles. Sergio led a Pictionary-like game at each orphanage – a highlight for everyone.
The children gathered in a squirming, giggly line and were advised to draw one simple squiggle on one page of each sheet of giant poster paper. Sergio considered each squiggle and used it to craft drawings of Bible heroes, goofy people and animals, and funny scenes from everyday Indian life. The children were riveted to the scene, all shouting guesses about the nature of the picture. Their laughter and joy lit up hearts and filled the walls.
Sergio then taught a simple lesson based on the game:
“Just like a scribble, what you have may seem like nothing. What you have to present to God may seem like nothing. But then Jesus touches the scribble and brings about meaning and worth. No matter how small your scribble is, the Master Artist, Jesus, can turn it to something big if we allow Him.
You are a drawing. You are Jesus’ idea. You are His story. He wrote you. He thought of you. Just as I drew The Action Bible, He drew you.”
At the end of the trip, Sergio and the team knelt down while small children laid hands on them and prayed long, fervent prayers in Hindi. The group spent time with children like Madhuri, who from the world’s perspective have little reason to be joyful. Yet these kids have been rescued, nurtured, and presented with a God who is in the business of making beautiful art from ashes.
The J127 initiative feeds the other half of the child. Will you feed a child’s soul by sponsoring a club? You may also make a one-time gift. Thank you for being part of this movement on behalf of children.
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.