After two months of serving apart (Bond in Nepal and Heather in So. CA), we were reunited at the airport in India earlier this month. We broke the unwritten cultural rule in India with our public display of affection…sorry we just couldn’t help it! We weren’t given much time, as we were reunited on a Sunday afternoon and we were scheduled to start teaching the following day at a conference.
There were 20 Pastors and Leaders that had gathered from all over Northern India to come for a week of teaching and training. Jetlagged but ready, we stepped onto our patio on Monday morning and we were surprised to see two children.
What Meena Means?
We were introduced to Meena (6 years old) and her brother Rakesh (8 years old) or at least that is what they told us, as they don’t know when their birthday is or their last name for that matter. Meena was unkept, afraid, skidish and in need of love. In addition, she was scared because she had never seen someone with a white face before. We learned that her parents are mentally disturbed and the kids had been neglected and abused. Their uncle took them to the pastor in their area pleading on their behalf. As Pastor Kuldeep was preparing to board the bus to come to the conference, he purchased two extra tickets for Meena and Rakesh and they traveled 8 hours to where we are working in the mountains.
As we thought through the next steps for these kids, there was one bed in the boys hostel, but the question remained…what will happen to Meena? Everyday for a week while the conference was taking place, I would tell her, “I love you Meena” and try to get close to her, but she wasn’t having any of it. It was obvious that she had never experienced love. It was heart breaking. Rather than try to strive and make plans on our own, we prayed and cried out to the Lord on behalf of this precious little girl. At the end of the week, the principal and his wife of Sainji School (who were attending the conference) agreed to take her in and we were in awe at how the Lord provided.
The following week during our school visit, Meena stepped forward from the crowd of children with a new haircut, clean school uniform and a smile from ear to ear. Looking up with outstretched arms, Meena wrapped her arms around Heather’s neck for the first time. It was as if this little girl was finally ready to receive the love that we desperately wanted to lavish on her.
Meena means a life that matters and is the demonstration of just how much our heavenly Father loves each one of us. Sadly there are hundreds of thousands of children in India just like Meena who sleep on dirt floors, go to bed hungry, and don’t have a loving parent to tuck them into bed at night. Can we help every child? The answer is No! Working in partnership with Promise Child, we often ask ourselves…can love bring hope for a child today? The answer for Meena is YES!
“For the Promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:39
It is an amazing transformation that takes place when one child is loved, told that they matter in God’s eyes, is given the chance to go to school and experiences the love of Christ. Join us in praying for Meena and for her brother Rakesh who is having difficulty adjusting to his new surroundings. Pray also for the ministry workers who care for these children day and night.
Multiply: The Difference is Two, Four, Six, Eight
With over 1.2 billion people, India has the 2nd largest population in the world after China (compared to 316 million in the USA). The problems are massive, the needs are overwhelming, the task is staggering, but the mandate remains the same….”Go therefore and make disciples.”
So what if it wasn’t just us. What if we invest in two others who speak the language, live in remote villages, and have a heart to share their faith but simply lack the training? What if it wasn’t just 2, but 10 or 20 and these men obeyed the call to plant churches and pastor, teaching the Word of God to their own people? What if these women ministered to widows and orphans and shared the Gospel wherever they went? We see the 12 disciples in the bible who were fishermen and tax collectors and they turned the world upside down. This was the message at the “Go Therefore” Missions Conference that we were apart of this month.
The burden has never been greater in our hearts to teach, train, invest and share biblical teaching with Indian nationals. We know that when hearts and lives are touched by the Gospel, problems can be solved, needs will be met, revival takes place and a society is transformed. This is the vision we see throughout Asia. We see a generation of men and women who are rising up to live a life dedicated to the mission that Christ laid out in His Word and you are a part of it. Not only are you investing in us with your financial support and prayers, but you are also apart of the lives of each man, woman and child that we encounter and pour into each day and for that we are forever thankful!
The Battle Continues
In recent weeks, we got word that new blood tests showed that Heather’s dad (Bud) had a cancer relapse after two months. The leukemia has returned and he has been hospitalized for another round of intense chemo, which has now been completed. He will remain in the hospital while his immune system is at an all-time low for the next week or two. They completely wiped out his system in an effort to kill the cancer. As he regains his strength, please pray that he would be totally healed from cancer for good and that he would find comfort through these trying times.
With Love From India,
Bond and Heather Gaona