“You are not mine; we found you at the railway station. Go away, you’re a nuisance.” These and other words cut young Sunitha deeply. Untold abuse, both verbal and physical, led her to take desperate action: She approached an orphanage director at church and asked if she could move into the home.
The director consented and Sunitha fled from her troubled situation. Her mother cared little that her daughter moved out. It took great courage for Sunitha to make such a decision, especially at the tender age of 12. At the children’s home, she accepted Jesus as Savior, and grew strong in faith. God became her Father and said, “You are mine. I sought you out. I sing over you with joy.” This brave young girl found the loving care she desperately needed; then she went on to college and eventually married.
One day God spoke to Sunitha’s heart about children from desperate situations. He wanted to reach them as he reached her so long ago. At that moment, a ministry was birthed to children living in slums.
Today, Sunitha and her husband, Vikram, care for children in one of the bleakest villages in India. They serve as Auntie and Uncle – terms of respect and affection in India – for the Shining Stars J127 Club. They shepherd 21 boys and 20 girls through a three-year whole life discipleship program, customized for the rigors of Indian life.
The Shining Stars Club does not meet in a typical orphanage. In fact, they do not have a building at all. The club is held outside in a courtyard.
Food is scare in this region; children often have to settle for one meal per day. Most don’t attend school but spend their days picking through garbage for recyclable material. A large dump spreads a persistent stench throughout the neighborhood. Children are often sick, and many families are homeless. Wet trash and mosquitoes exacerbate problems during the monsoon season. Additionally, club leaders face opposition from radical Hindus who oppose the Christian faith.
The disease, garbage, poor sanitation, homelessness, and desperation discourage most people, including Christians, from serving in this community. Sunitha and Vikram are the Lord’s beloved heroes. Please pray for them in this challenging mission field – and lift up children whose only hope rests in Jesus.
Sunitha and Vikram have requested prayer for two Club children:
Sravani’s mother set herself on fire after she discovered her husband’s affair. Her father left the village to start a new life in the wake of her death.
Her two youngest siblings found shelter in orphanages. Sravani lives with her grandmother, and picks through rotting garbage most of the day. Their hut is small with a roof made of gunnysacks. (The dwelling does not hold up during the rainy season.) Shravani counts the hours until Club time. She shows up early. She has already read her Action Bible cover to cover, and is on a second run through. Her favorite characters are Noah and Moses. She has learned about the concept of forgiveness through her J127 Club lessons – and has forgiven her mother and father.
Nadia, age 9, comes from a poor Hindu family. Her father is a stone crusher; her mother picks trash from the dump. They also live in a shack. Her father dislikes Christians and Nadia is verbally abused for defying him by attending the Club. She tries to come to every session. She has learned to pray – she loves to pray to Jesus – and always asks to offer the closing prayer. Nadia prays for her family, that they might come to know Jesus, too.
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.