Two of our church members, Jeff Collington and Richard Drew, went on a trip to India in October 2008. They went at the request of an Indian Christian called David Lima to see the work he was doing in Odisha, one of the poorest of all the 29 states. After a long trip, they arrived at Vishakhapatnam, where all illusions and preconceptions were dispelled; it was life at its most basic, wall-to-wall hardship and poverty. This was a part of India most people never see and nothing really can prepare you for it. David was caring for some orphans, all living in one room and living hand to mouth. The connection and visit was so evidently in God's plan and after Jeff and Richard's return, He moved in the hearts of the church in Peacehaven. What has happened over the years since then is nothing short of miraculous.
Today there is an impressive purpose-built building which is now “The Home of Life” for over 50 beautiful children from 5-19 years old. Some of the original 6-7 year olds are now are now college students and learning English. When you are with these beautiful Christian children you just fall in love with them and you are made so thankful that such a place exists for them. To hear them laugh, sing and pray brings joy to your heart, although some of their back stories will break your heart. For example, the 2 youngest children, at just 5 years old, were from different villages and both lost their parents in a hurricane. A few weeks later they were taken in by David and now their life, family and future is at the home. In a sense these children have nothing, but in another sense they have so much. The home is a place filled with love, joy and purpose and God has given them an amazing provision. The team that God has put together there are an incredible group of believers who have laid down their lives for the children.
A Miraculous Work
There are a few things that strike you when you visit there. Firstly, you realize what an amazing connection God gave between David and the church in Peacehaven all those years ago. Secondly you sense what a privilege it is to be a part of it in any measure and what a worthy cause it is to support. And then also, you see what a miraculous work of grace it all is. God has used a little church on the South Coast of England to go, to build and to support that mission there. It's a work of great grace.
It is estimated that it costs about £25 a month to support one child (food, clothes, shelter etc). If you or anyone you know might be interested to “support-a-child” please contact us and we can give you more information. Thank you and god bless you
In addition to “The Home of Life” there is another work that we have called O.P.E.N. Ministries, which stands for Odisha Peacehaven Evangelical Network. David and others on his team visit the tribal villages in the mountains, preaching the gospel and planting churches. Today they have 11 churches with about 400-500 people altogether. Most of the villages are Hindu and some Christian. The Canadian Baptists in the 1900s reached many of these villages, but in many cases, though they have a white church building and call themselves Christians, many of them seem to have lost sight of grace. After preaching in one village, the leaders said to us, though our translator “no one told us that salvation is free”. It’s in that moment we realised there is such a need for teaching for these precious men in these mountain tribal villages. There are many villages to reach and much work to do.
In one such village, Hukumba, there was a delightful little girl by the name of Sujata that Richard met on the first trip. She’d been playing in the jungle and had fallen from a tree and broken her leg. The local ‘doctor’ had set it in a mud cast braced with bamboo, but the bone hadn't been aligned properly. God put it on Richard’s heart to help and arrange for proper treatment, an operation and calcium supplements to follow. She would have certainly been left a cripple otherwise, but today she is a beautiful teenage girl with full mobility and so much thankfulness in her heart.
The Leper Colony
David also ministers to a leper colony in the area. In Indian culture, they are truly ‘the untouchables’, totally abandoned by society, friends and family. Due to the disease they cannot find work and begging is their livelihood. When you walk around the leper colony you find yourself just trying to hold it together. You cannot help be so broken when you see these precious people, most now Christians, living in the worst condition imaginable. They honestly have nothing. Since the first visit from the church here we were able to get them the medical treatment they needed so they are all actually cured of the disease today, however still show the effects and are therefore still outcasts of society. Each year we go we take funds to buy supplies, food and blankets. One lady there said to us in tears and thankfulness “the things you bring are so helpful and will last some time, but the life and love of Jesus that you bring will last forever”
I'll stop there although there is much, much more I could say. We are not naive enough to think any action on our part can make any great difference to Orissa in general. However, targeted help can make a big difference. We have chosen to financially support the orphanage and the leper colony through David. In time, we also hope to raise some supporters for the church planting needs also. We feel called to provide such help as we can, and are confident God will be faithful to touch the hearts of others to be a part of it.
If you feel that you’d like to help, whatever you send will make a huge difference in the lives of the children and we can assure you that every penny will end up on the ground in India. If you send a cheque please make it payable to PEFC [India]. We also have a church paypal account and direct debit options. At no additional cost to you, if you are a taxpayer, the church as a registered charity can claim back basic rate tax from the IRS. All that is needed is for you to complete a Gift Aid declaration. Please email us for any more information. God bless you
132 South Coast Road Peacehaven, BN10 8RD Tel: 01273 587732 Main office (am only) firstname.lastname@example.org