There are over 100 million orphaned children in our world today. India has more than 18 million children living on the streets. The orphanages are filled with abandoned children. Many special needs children are left to die, and some orphanages have mortality rates as high as 20%.
I was one of those children in India until our Heavenly Father, chose me to be adopted into a forever family here in the United States. Today I am one of twenty-four kids in my family, of which all but three were adopted. The orphanage that I stayed in was called “Palna” which means “The Cradle.” It is called “The Cradle” because there is a small cradle in front of the orphanage where mothers can abandon their babies safely. The mother will ring a bell and a guard takes the baby inside the orphanage. I was born with a major birth defect called bilateral cleft lip and palate. What is cleft lip and palate, you might ask? Well it is the separation in the roof of a baby’s mouth, which can extend into the throat and out to the upper lip and nose. Bilateral means there are two separations instead of one.
A baby born with cleft lip and palate faces many issues from the moment it is born. The biggest issue a newborn baby faces is that it has to struggle to get enough milk because most of what it eats comes out the separations in the palate and nose. In foreign countries, many babies with this condition do not survive, but in the United States we have great medical resources to help cleft lip and palate babies.
In my case, my cleft was so severe that the doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital suggested that I learn American Sign Language because I would never have the ability to speak with clarity. Well, God had another plan! My parents were not ready to settle for that diagnosis, and they knew that God could work miracles in my life. After all, He had already moved a mountain to bring me into my new family. When I was still in the orphanage I didn’t have a last name, just a first name because I was an orphan. Now that I’m a believer, I know my name is written in His book and that I will someday be with Him. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I sometimes look at the freedom we have in America and compare it to other countries. Some countries are not allowed to worship Jesus Christ, and if they do they are either beaten or killed. Some don’t even know that there is a Savior because they have never had the opportunity to learn about Him. Christians in India were persecuted and suffered greatly because of their belief in Jesus Christ. In India, only 2.3% of the population are Christians. That doesn’t sound like many, but when you do the math it’s actually 24 million believers. Christianity is India’s third largest religion. The rest of the population is Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and many others.
In December of 2004, I made a decision to follow Jesus Christ and I was baptized. I know that I am not a perfect person, but that’s why Jesus came and died for us. He wanted to give all of us a second chance to be able to be with Him when our time is up here. I am so thankful that God brought me here to America so that I could learnabout Him and to have opportunities to show and teach others about Him. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Panama with team members from Here I Am Orphan Ministries. We visited several different orphanages. Sure the kids loved the stuff we brought them, but I think they enjoyed us being around them, holding, hugging, playing and teaching them about Jesus Christ. I think that the best things we did were the things money couldn’t buy. We also prayed with each child individually and I was amazed that the teachers and other orphanage employees came up to be prayer for as well. You see, not every orphaned child will know an earthly father, but they need to know that they have a Heavenly Father who is there for them always and loves them deeper than we can comprehend.
You may think that we don’t have anything in common, but the reality is that we are all adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. So if you are a believer in Christ, you are my brothers and sisters in Christ.