Abandoned by her children, widowed several years, and with no family to speak of, Laxmi became an orphan at age 60. It’s a sad story with a miraculous, joy-filled ending.
A concerned Father found Laxmi and adopted her into His family. For the first time in her life, she is loved beyond measure.
After her husband passed away, Laxmi summoned the courage and determination to raise two daughters and two sons. She built a house as well, and like any good mom, helped each of her kids find the right spouse. As Laxmi grew older, her children urged her to sell the family home. She consented and gave each one a share of the profits. Never once did she doubt her children’s love.
Laxmi thought her children would care for her in her latter years, after all that’s traditional in Indian culture. However, they began avoiding her – not calling, not visiting, and retreating into their own families. She suspected each child pushed the responsibility of care onto the other. Eventually, this bewildered matriarch was forgotten altogether.
Laxmi is from a Hindu family and grew up with prejudice toward Christians, many of whom are part of the lowest caste. But now destitute and alone, she accepted a job as a cook at a Christian orphanage outside of Hyderabad, the largest city in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Primarily Hindu, the region is also home to a large percentage of Muslims. And in recent history numerous riots between Hindus and Muslims have broken out, destroying homes and lives throughout the area. Civil unrest and drought conditions in the region fan the flames of poverty; Hyderabad has 1,476 slums with a total population of 1.7 million.
Laxmi looks after and cooks for forty girls and boys at the orphanage. Many of the children have lived on the streets or are from the slums with parents who can no longer care for them. Laxmi is fortunate to have found work in such a poor region. And she is fortunate to have found shelter in a country where women and girls are at risk of exploitation and violence, and elderly women are especially vulnerable.
A J127 Club began at the orphanage in May 2012. The program, based on the scripture James 1:27, provides whole life discipleship for children reeling from the aftermath of trauma, or at risk of further harm.
The Club is under the direction of Uncle Nirmal and Aunt Esther – Christians from a local church who shepherd the children through the healing process. (Auntie and Uncle are terms of respect and affection in India.) The curriculum is child-centered and active. It uses a variety of means to help children open up about their pain – and then provides space for the Holy Spirit to heal. The Action Bible is used extensively, along with games and songs, which bring the curriculum alive.
Laxmi sat with the children during club time. She leafed through the The Action Bible, listened to the stories and enjoyed the laughter of the children. The stories began to speak to her heart. She realized the Christian God is one who loves unconditionally and who cares for the needy. Laxmi asked Jesus to be her Savior.
Aunt Esther is helping Laxmi learn the Bible since she can’t read. Aunt Esther shows her the story in the The Action Bible from that day’s club time. Laxmi goes over it again and again; she is hungry to learn more about Jesus. She also encourages the children to follow all they’ve learned in the club.
She has begun to trust, open up her heart to forgive, and let go of her past.
Many in the world don’t have parents. And yet, all of us are orphans in God’s sight, separated by sin and out of reach from His love. Confessing our sin and trusting in Jesus bring us into the family of God and into a relationship with a loving Father who walks beside us. This is not a spiritual platitude, but a bond more real and more satisfying than any on earth.
Laxmi says of her new Father,
I have stopped praying to my gods, I only pray to Jesus. I am no longer an orphan. I am blessed because I am no longer alone. God is with me always.
God is using the J127 program to heal broken hearts and cure spiritual poverty. It benefits not just orphans and children at risk – it changes the lives of the aunties and uncles who lead these clubs (many of whom have come out of trauma themselves). And it also impacts all others involved in a child’s life, women such as Laxmi.
When you join in this movement to care for hearts, you’ll be helping to usher many more orphans into the family of God.
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.