An excerpt from a World Race blog by Ken Betancourt. Read full blog here.
These children’s faith is so great. In the evening right before leaving, a small boy approaches me. He says “Please pray for my mother. She has much pain in her body.” At the time I thought his mother was nearby so I tell him “one of the sisters can pray for her”. I ask him if he wants prayer and he say’s “of course!” As I’m finishing the prayer he starts to whisper “my mother, my mother, please pray for my mother”. Then I realized that he understands that God can hear our prayers whether we pray for them in person or in spirit!
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16).
A recent team of World Racers had their parents come visit while they were with ICM. Here is one WR mom’s experience in the village. Read the full blog here.
Our first day of ministry with our kids was at one of the slums, basically a small 10 or so family neighborhood that was literally built out of “trash” in the middle of the trash dump. When we walked in I saw two young boys playing a game with rocks, they were so happy, just playing like any other little boys their age would be, and God quickly told me to love on these people, but not to pity them. He continued to show me how happy these people were, with nothing, they were happy, this was their normal and they knew nothing different. They were so hospitable, they brought out their beds and best blankets and mats for us to sit on, they so wanted us to join them and they wanted us to be comfortable. Their homes that were made of trash were so very clean, they took great pride in their homes, the children were clean, wearing clean clothes, with clean hair that obviously had been styled. It was a joy to see how little these people had but how hospitable they were to us. We prayed with them, gave them rice and toothbrushes, told them testimonies and played games and sang songs with them.
This was a part of awareness training given to all ICM volunteers in 2013. This series of posts will focus on the demons that India is facing, and has been facing, for many years.
Especially in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, daughters are viewed as a burden, not a blessing. The dowry system forces a girl’s family to pay the boy’s family a large price at the wedding. Horrible, horrible things can happen if the girl’s family refuses to pay. Also, girls are never a good source of income. They cannot support themselves, and, until marriage, are completely reliant upon their families. Especially in the villages, modern ideas like a woman working respectfully and even literacy haven’t caught on.
As a result, women are actually afraid to give birth to female children. They will often kill them. Oftentimes, this is encouraged or even forced by the mother and father-in-law. Because of this entire attitude, India’s female-to-male ratio, especially in rural areas, is as little as 6 to 10 (only 6 females for every 10 males born), according to the 2011 Census.
In 2013, ICM campaigned throughout Andhra Pradesh among the volunteers, villagers, and especially those who help with birthing. ICM tried to bring awareness of this issue and why it is wrong. We will continue to educate, bring awareness, and show the love of Jesus to these areas. It is our hope and prayer that one day the killing of girl children will be stopped altogether.
The Inheritance Scholarship Awards Programme was held at the head ICM office in Ongole, under the leadership of Mr. James Rebbavarapu, ICM Director, on the 18th of February. Thirty-seven children and their guardians attended, along with the chief guest, Mr. I. Prakash Kumar, Assistant Joint Collector for the Prakasam District.
So far, ICM has distributed 492 scholarships to poor children, who earn them through exceptional performance. Each student is given 3,000/- rupees (around $50 USD) annually to help give them access to an education that would be impossible without this scholarship.
Education is vital in stopping the vicious cycle of poverty in India. Many rural and persistently poor do not see the value in education. It is expensive and doesn’t put rice on the table today. Many simply cannot afford it when they are struggling to feed their families every day. However, an educated child can not only make a more reliable income in the future, but they can also feed their entire families through this income. Instead of simply repeating the life of their parents, they can change the entire status of their family line.
Mr. Prakash Kumar encouraged the children to use the scholarship properly and only for their studies so that they will come up with a bright future. He also commended and thanked ICM and Mr. Rebbavarapu for their support of child education.
On January 27, 2014, ICM showed love to 350 poor and street children who attend school by giving them good shoes. This was a late Christmas for these children, many of whom have never had a good pair of shoes. It happened at ICM headquarters at Gandhinagar, Ongole, under the leadership of Mr. James Rebbavarapu, director of ICM.
One of the costs of poverty is that items like shoes are neglected. Poor children do without or wear very cheap or worn shoes, only when necessary. This distribution helps close the gap between what the rich can afford and what the poor cannot afford. The children were given the same good shoes as the rich children can buy. This made them very happy and also shows them that they are just as valuable as their wealthy schoolmates.
The chief guest was Mr. M.S.S. Ashok Babu, Deputy Superintendent of Police. He praised ICM for their kindness and care for these poor children. Mr. Rebbavarapu added that ICM always tries to fill the needs of the most vulnerable, especially children, in society. He said that education and health were one of the most important physical needs.
The programme was led with songs, games, and cultural activities for the children, who enjoyed the event very much.