In the rural areas of the Telegu states there are many, many orphans. As churches are established, usually starting very small, just a few converted families, the needs of orphans and widows related to those church, or known in the village, become apparent. Initially in the church, often the Pastor will take one or two into his own family. In a church in Tanuku, the minister and his wife had as many as 15 children living in their home, which they treated as an extended family. Mostly, the church will seek to find separate place for the children, and put the children under the care of widows who the church will support. The children will become part of the church.
Legal adoption of children.
As the number of orphans that become a concern of a church grows, there becomes a need for a larger facility. Sometimes, where the number of churches are related to a common leadership, the orphans of several churches are brought together in one place. Here there needs to be and more helpers to take care of the children. As this stage, it becomes a serious ministry of the church, and has to be properly managed, with legal adoption of the children, and care of their well-being, their food, their clothing and their education. Spiritually, they are part of the church, but engage in their own prayer and worship daily.
An example of this is by a church in the Khammam district. There is no way that churches in the rural areas could fund a purpose built children’s home. The need became apparent to us when the number of needy children, living on the upper floor of the church grew, to over 20. The church leader had a clear vision of a purpose built home for 24 children, with widows looking after them. Garston ‘caught’ this vision, and the outcome has been a two story building housing at present over 100 children and three supporting families on an acre of land 1000 metres from the church.
Semi-orphans and Street kids.
Although, the children are generally described as orphan, some are children who have lost both parents. Some are semi-orphans whose remaining parent can’t support them, or on re-marriage the new partner will not accept them in the family, and still others are street kids, often abandoned by their parents at the local railway terminus. Generally, children are taken into the home from the age of 4 or more, and stay until they are 16.
A day in the life of our children.
In the children’s home in Khammam district, now running for over 10 years, a ‘normal’ home life is not reproduced with this number of children, but the children are well brought up in this setting. Those who live on the site to care for them are Christians from the church, and the Pastor and wife know each child by name and their background. The children worship together at 5.30am, and manage prayer and worship themselves if no adult leader is available. They go to local schools, fees paid through the home. After play time when they return to the home, they do their homework in age related groups, who have moved on but come back to help the younger children. The children are part of the church, attending worship and taking part in crusade outreach meetings.
When they finish local school at the age of sixteen they leave the home, finding a job, or joining the church team of young men in the church, being trained for evangelism a week to evangelise in a local village. If they have shown themselves to be suitable, the church then supports them in a bible college to train to be a Pastor.
Garston’s funding of the children home and ongoing financial support.
Garston has funded this children’s home from the beginning, both the building and the ongoing costs as far as it is able. Initially, we sought sponsorship for the child, with extra finance to establish a business selling milk, locally. Later, when that became unprofitable, the cows were sold and with the proceeds we bought three fields in which to grow rice, two crops a year in good years. The sponsors enabled this work to be established. The local church provided ongoing spiritual input and oversight of children. The church financial support for the children has grown also, but are ongoing needs in this home of transport of the children to get to school, and provide water purification plant and there is a need to finish the building.
The need for finances
In many other churches, the need to care for orphans is not diminishing, but the quality of provision for the orphans depends upon available finances.