A Visitor Reports . . .
We had the good pleasure of visiting the Henry’s and McFarland’s this past January. While we enjoyed many beautiful and historical places in India, our most treasured experiences were the worship opportunities we had at a village church, a house church and on the campus of the Bible college. It was at the Bible college where we felt blessed beyond measure.
People have asked us, “Out of all our experiences, what was the one thing that made a lasting impression on us while in India.” What follows is the short version of that “one thing.”
Our first morning on campus, we were on our way to Jay’s home for breakfast. As we were admiring the plants and flowers along the way, we came across a little four-year old child named Sunshine (name changed for protection). She had been waiting eagerly to greet us to say “namaste” which is a traditional greeting in Hindi. So we took the time to get acquainted with our new young friend.
During breakfast, we learned more about little Sunshine and how she and her mother ended up at the campus. Life can be difficult for women in India, especially when they don’t come from a Christian background.
The culture in India requires that the bride’s family pay a dowry when she gets married, so Sunshine’s family did not want her. Since Sunshine was seen as an expense, neither she, nor her mother, were wanted by any family member. Sunshine’s mother was physically beaten and abused; we saw the scars on her arms and head. Her back, we are told, is also badly scared. One day, her mother in-law was going to burn both of them alive.
By God’s grace, they were able to escape and found temporary refuge with an older relative in exchange for cleaning, cooking, laundry and taking care of the household. However, the old woman soon died, leaving them homeless once again. They could have stayed with one of that woman’s sons but then Sunshine’s mother would have had four households to cook, clean, do laundry for and take care of. That was a physically impossible task that eventually would have lead to more beatings.
Sunshine and her mother, both severely malnourished at this point, found their way into the hearts of the people at the Bethlehem Bible College. They now have a place to stay where they are loved, cared for and can live without fear. Sunshine’s mother still shows signs of malnutrition and fatigue but is slowly getting better. Sunshine, however, is a little ball of energy. She is at every worship service, interacting with all the other children on campus and now has many moms and dads with the staff and students. Oh yeah, she loves saying namaste. Pray for Sunshine and her mother as they begin a new life in a Christian environment.
Sunshine's new family!