I was four months pregnant with Annabeth and Jackson was two-and-a-half when Curtis and his best friend flew to the other side of the world to see Ralph's ministry for themselves. Jerrell's wife was more pregnant than I was and her firstborn was even younger. What sounded like a good idea became a rather difficult reality. I remember seeing Kay at church and I could tell she had been crying that morning, just as I had been. What were we thinking?
Toward the end of that trip, Curtis called me from India. By that time I was really, really ready to see my husband. The call kept dropping and I felt frustrated, but he continued to call me back. "Ralph wants to talk to you," he said. I was nervous because I don't normally talk to other men on the phone and what would he say to me? "Amanda," hear this in perfect English with an Indian accent, "I want to thank you for sending Curtis to India while you are expecting a baby. The girls have been praying for you and Kay and the children by name every day."
The girls? Have been praying for me? For me? I wept. These children who have lived very difficult lives were investing in us with their precious prayers. And how much must our Lord love them and be eager to respond to their faith?
The burden of my husband being gone was suddenly a privilege.
We'd recently discovered that our baby was going to be a daughter, which gave Curtis a new and tender perspective on what he saw. And what did he see?
A red light district that consisted of prison-like buildings constructed for the sole purpose of sin and enslavement. Illiterate women who had been conned into leaving their impoverished families for a good job and a better life in another city, only to find themselves trapped in prostitution. Children who roamed the streets by day and slept under their mothers' defiled beds by night. Children who would enter into the sex trade at age 6. Mothers so desperate to escape that they would sell their own daughters to brothel owners for their freedom. He saw death, hopelessness, and hell on earth.
All praise and glory and honor be to God, because that is not all he saw. He saw mothers who, by God's grace, said, "If you really want to help us, please help our children." He saw a ministry that rescues vulnerable little girls from eventual destruction. He saw girls living in a family setting who were nurtured, educated, strong, healthy, protected, and brought up to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. He saw joy and innocence in their faces. He heard their laughter, their worship to God and their prayers. He heard them call him Curtis Dada, which means brother, and me Amanda Didi, which means sister.
Over the last two years God has been knitting our hearts closer and closer to this ministry and to our little sisters in India. It has given us unspeakable joy to take part in what God is doing there. It's like God pulled up two chairs for us and said, "Here's a front row seat. I want you to see what I'm doing here. It will amaze you." We have truly been amazed.
I'm so excited to tell you that this fall, Curtis and I joined the board of directors of this wonderful, God-centered ministry. I cannot explain the joy I felt when I received a picture of some of the girls gathered together in front of a sign that said, "Dear Curtis Dada and Amanda Didi, thank you for becoming a part of our family. We love you."
Aren't they so beautiful?
Already, what this ministry has done for our faith and our souls has exceeded what we could ever do for them.
There is much more to it than what I have said today, but I will take my time in sharing it with you.
The reason I've waited this long to say anything is because we were looking toward today, December 10, 2010, and the launch of the ministry's new name and web site. The ministry (formerly Charasia) is now called As Our Own, which celebrates their passion to care for orphans not as orphans, but as their own children. Ralph shares his vision for the name change here. A more extensive site will be up and running this spring. You can also find As Our Own on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for sharing our joy today.