It was hard to believe there could be so much beauty in one place. But there they were—twenty-one little girls in bright fancy dresses—all waiting for me to take their photos at the Jaffna Girls’ Orphanage in Sri Lanka. All are orphans or unwanted children—but they’re getting lots of love now, and in part because of compassionate Heaven’s Family sponsors.
This update contains brief reports of my November trip to war-torn Sri Lanka to minister to orphans, refugees and pastors. It also includes a report of Chuck King’s November trip to Ghana. If you only have a minute, at least scroll down through the photos. You’ll see some beautiful people—all dearly loved by Jesus. — David
Sri Lankan Sisters
Sisters Piriya and Thayani Inthirakumar were found begging on the streets of Jaffna by police. Their father had disappeared, which is an all-too-frequent occurrence due to the on-going civil war in their region. Their mother sent them out begging, and the local judge decided she was not fit to parent her daughters, and ordered that they be placed in Jaffna Girls’ Orphanage. Although Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, this Christian-run orphanage has an excellent reputation in the area.
Most every night as they fall asleep, the twenty-one girls at Jaffna Girls’ Orphanage can hear artillery fire in the distance, as government troops fire upon Tamil separatists. But they know that the Lord is watching over them. He has provided a lovely house for the orphanage rent-free, and I was blessed to leave the director with $1,500 for some renovations and to purchase beds for twelve of the girls who were sleeping on the floor. Currently, five of the twenty-one girls are sponsored.
Orphan’s Tear also assists two other orphanages in Sri Lanka which I visited, including one on the war-torn and tsunami-afflicted east coast. You can see all the unsponsored children at Orphan’s Tear.
The Christian Refugees Fund at work in Sri Lanka
Arumugam Shanthi’s husband was murdered sixteen years ago. Since then she has worked hard to raise her four children, doing the work of both mother and father. Not only has this Christian family endured persecution from Hindu fanatics who drove them from their village, but during the 2004 tsunami, they lost their house, boat, fishing nets and just about everything else. Eventually, their house was rebuilt by a Catholic relief service—only to be destroyed in the crossfire between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil separatists.
Last year, Heaven’s Family provided food relief for Shanthi’s family, along with a number of other Christian families in her village. We also provided funds for a village well and two fishing boats. I was so blessed last month to visit a number of those families while in Sri Lanka. And I was thankful to be able to entrust $6,000 to two pastors who are working with a total of 106 Christian families that are facing the same circumstances. Those funds will be used to provide food necessities. Much more help is still needed. We want to hear Jesus say one day, “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.”
You can view a slideshow of some of the refugee families you’ve helped.
Two-Hundred Pastors and Two Languages
The Books for Pastors Fund at work in Sri Lanka
Our three-day conference for two-hundred pastors from all of Sri Lanka’s nine provinces was a success, but it wasn’t easy. Because some spoke Tamil and others spoke Singhalese, we needed two interpreters. One translated my English into Singhalese, and a second, who didn’t speak English, translated the Singhalese translation into Tamil. By the time they were finished translating something I said, I sometimes forgot what I was talking about!
Each Christian leader received a copy of The Disciple-Making Minister in his or her language. The remainder of the 2,000 printed copies will be distributed to Christian leaders all over Sri Lanka, as well as around the world to the Tamil diaspora. One female church planter was honored by the conference participants to receive the very first Tamil copy. She has endured being stoned and beaten for preaching the gospel in a hostile region.
The Disciple-Making Minister is now being distributed all over the world in fifteen languages (so far). In November, 5,000 copies were printed in Kenya for distribution to pastors all over East Africa. This month, English copies will be distributed to 2,000 Bible school graduates in the Indian state of Kerela.
More Grace in Ghana
HF/ Shepherd Serve & I Was Hungry
While I was in Sri Lanka, associate Chuck King was serving in Ghana, West Africa. He ministered at four pastors’ conferences over a period of two weeks and reached 420 pastors. All of them were overjoyed to receive a copy of The Disciple-Making Minister, as Christian books are rare and unaffordable to most Ghananian pastors.
Using gifts to our I Was Hungry division, Chuck also gave $1,000 to support four very poor grade school children for a year to attend a Christian school. There they will receive a good education and a daily meal. Elizabeth (pictured above) and Bridget (pictured below) are two of the children who were helped.
As 2007 Comes to a Close…
Thanks to you, 2007 has been Heaven’s Family’s most fruitful year yet. And as you probably know, 100% of every contribution received for Orphan’s Tear, I Was Hungry, or The Heaven’s Family Mutual Fund, is sent to its designated recipient(s) overseas. If you’ve sponsored an orphan, helped build an orphanage, supplied food for a widow or refugee, or contributed to any special fund, nothing has been taken for administration of what we’ve received. All the administrative costs have been paid for from the general fund of Heaven’s Family. We count ourselves blessed to serve you in this way as you serve the least of these among Jesus’ family.
As 2007 comes to a close, may I ask that you consider making a gift to the general fund? It’s from that fund that we pay our printing and postage costs, travel expenses, bank and wire fees, office equipment and supplies, and our employees. We’re doing what we can to keep our administrative costs low. All our offices are in my home (and are provided free). Our highest-paid employee will make less than $30,000 this year.
Although giving to the general fund is not very exciting, without the general fund, there wouldn’t be anything exciting about the ministry of Heaven’s Family! Thanks so much.
Back to Asia
As you are reading this, Chuck and I are in Myanmar, which has been recently making news for its military junta’s brutal repression of peaceful pro-democracy marches. With us is a team of 13 others, and together we’re serving indigenous missionaries and hundreds of orphans. Your prayers are so appreciated.
P.S. Please don’t forget our Christmas gift cards available at Orphan’s Tear and I Was Hungry. They are a wonderful way to honor a friend or loved one and serve the poor among our spiritual family. The deadline to order them is December 15 if you want them in your mailbox or a loved-one’s mailbox by December 25th!