Prem Dham is a special place. It is a home filled with street children, runaways, and those from poor families. It is also a refuge for adults and children who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill. Jesus loves the least of these through caring believers in this community.
Human life is not valued in many places in the world. As you can imagine, it’s worse for those who are disabled in some manner. In India, a combination of deeply rooted poverty, superstition, and certain Hindu beliefs has created a well of suffering for those already at a disadvantage in life.
The orphanage director at Prem Dham takes to the streets in search of those cast off by society. He finds elderly women, no longer of use to their families, on the side of the road. He picks up the disabled abandoned in train stations, fields, and local villages. Some people are dropped off in the driveway of this dusty complex. The director says the Lord guides him to the needy. No one is turned away.
Christopher and his wife Sheena host the Love Club at Prem Dham. It is part of David C Cook’s orphan initiative. There are 7,000 children in 240 Clubs in India. Christians from nearby churches lead the Clubs. They are trained by Cook staff in India to use a whole life discipleship curriculum specifically designed for children who’ve faced trauma—or who are at risk of trauma.
Recently, Christopher communicated a beautiful story to us about the power of the J127 Club at Prem Dham. The police found Jai wandering the streets five years ago and brought him to the orphanage. It was clear he was mentally disabled. It was also clear he had suffered untold abuse at the hands of others on the streets. Like many other orphans in India, Jai had no birth certificate. And since he didn’t communicate, the orphanage leaders could only guess at his age.
Christopher has led the Club for two years now, but he never saw Jai. Four months ago, he spotted him in the corner of the room where the Club is held. He looked to be about 18 years old. A few weeks later, Jai inched forward and sat in the circle with the other 30-plus children. Although Jai is older than the other children, he was readily accepted.
Jai couldn’t understand what was going on, but he still tried to participate in the games and craft time. He began to make eye contact with Christopher. After some time, he began to speak through sign language.
From Christopher: “I visit the home quite often for different purposes. Every time I see Jai he asks me, ‘Is it time for the Club?’ When he’s told it’s Club night, he springs into action. He makes sure the chairs are arranged and he gathers the children from all corners of the orphanage. He’s the last one to leave and helps clean up.”
“Everyone is surprised at the changes in Jai,” says Christopher. “It’s unbelievable… he’s become a new person! He is still deaf, but otherwise he communicates normally. When we have a visitor, he tries to understand whom they’ve come to meet; he is keen on directing them to the right place. There is always a smile on Jai’s face, which no one had seen before.”
A few other special children have started attending the Club. Christopher and Sheena are filled with joy to see them participate and they shower them with love and affection. “God is doing amazing miracles at the Love Club,” says Christopher. “Please pray that the J127 program will breakthrough to the most damaged children. These children need hope and a shot at a normal life.”
The Love Club is very special, and at the same time, Christians throughout India are called to care for the marginalized in their cities. Pray for them!
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.