Laxmi is named after the Hindu goddess of fortune, love, and prosperity. However, due to her family’s misfortune and her gender, Laxmi has spent her life fighting being labeled as bad luck.
When Laxmi was two and a half years old her father was killed in an automobile accident while working in India. Severely affected by the death of her husband, Laxmi’s mother became mentally unstable and began suffering from night blindness. Because they occurred after her birth, Laxmi’s highly superstitious family blamed these hardships on Laxmi being a jinx.
After her father’s death, Laxmi’s mother sent Laxmi and her three siblings to live with their uncle. He was able to provide the bare necessities for the family, but Laxmi still describes life there as a financial struggle. “My uncle sent my brothers to school but later when I grew I was not to go to school because my uncle thought that it was not necessary for a girl to attend school, and moreover he did not want to waste extra tuition fees on someone else’s child.” Laxmi says, “So, I was sent to look after goats and collect grass for my uncle’s cattle.” When she was 8 years old Laxmi’s uncle wanted to send her to an orphanage to reduce his expenses. “One evening when I came back with the goats (ServLife Children’s Director) Udaya was there to pick me up to take me to an orphanage, but I was scared and I cried a lot. I did not want to go because what would a girl of 8 know when somebody comes to take her from where she called a home?” Laxmi describes. Fortunately, this scary experience was a turning point in Laxmi’s life.
Director Udaya saw that Laxmi did not want to go to the children’s home. Wanting to keep her family together, he decided to fill their real need. He set up a scholarship for Laxmi’s education and enrolled her in a local school. After 7 years of support, Laxmi is now 15 and studying in grade 5. Life is still sometimes a struggle. Laxmi’s conservative Hindu family makes her sleep outside the home during monthly menstruation because at that time women are “untouchable.” There is very little to go around and ServLife is supplementing Laxmi with other needs such as clothing, as well as providing her scholarship. But despite all this Laxmi is thriving. “I am getting those things that I need which the ones around me are supposed to give me but they cannot and would not provide.” Laxmi says, “I know there are people praying for me, ready to encourage me and still supporting me from far far away and I have a God who knows that I am not bad luck.”
Situations like Laxmi’s are why we are committed to propelling justice and building global community to care for and educate children. If you would like to support a girl like Laxmi, visit our child sponsorship page.
Posted on February 27, 2015 |
A guest blog from ServLife HOPE Fund Director Sam Lemmons about his and his wife’s work with ServLife’s micro-finance program.
The HOPE Fund micro-finance program had its start in Nepal six years ago in a remote village in East Nepal. I just returned from my first trip there and I was truly blessed to see what God has accomplished through the ServLife church planter and through the HOPE Fund.
This fund started with $1,800, and with this small amount, 46 loans have been given over the last six years. I was able to interview some who had just received loans as well as others who had been some of the first to receive loans.
Our first interview was with Bhim, who received his first loan in 2008. He used the loan to start a furniture making business including acquiring training and equipment. Before the HOPE Fund, he had no land of his own, no way to start any type of business for himself, and no collateral to get a conventional loan. His family had no money and they were struggling to even survive. Bhim is now proud to be a landowner, has built his family a nice house and has sent his children to school. He even sends money every month to his daughter who is in medical school. He has a thriving business and is truly one of the best examples of what we want to accomplish through the HOPE Fund: fighting poverty by empowering individuals to create wealth to change their family’s status and to feed and educate their children. Bhim’s situation has completely changed and he completely believes in Jesus!
Pastor Bhakta (left) has done an amazing job in this village, changing lives through Christ’s love as well as through the numerous micro-loans that have allowed hundreds of people to come out of extreme poverty. They are now living transformed lives that include kids being fed and sent to school. Those who had no land now are landowners and thriving in their community.
Having seen the results of loans that were given out six years ago, the fruits speak for themselves. I feel so privileged to have seen what has been accomplished, and know that even years after I depart Nepal, the HOPE Fund program we have shaped will continue to change countless lives. Praise be to God for his grace and love he has for all of the peoples of this world.
If you would like learn more about the HOPE Fund and how you can support if visit http://servlife.org/what-we-do/fighting-poverty/
Posted on February 20, 2015 |
Luke 12:29 and 31 read, “So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things. Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” The things I worry about feel desperately important. And yet Jesus basically tells me, “I got this. You focus on heavenly things and I’ll take care of the human things.”
My response to Jesus’ invitation here is often to let go, then grab it back. Over and over again. But when I truly shift my gaze to the heavenly realm I find new purpose. True purpose and focus. And with it comes peace that often doesn’t make any sense. That purpose and peace leads to mission. Jesus continues in Luke 12, “Be generous. Give to the poor… The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
Thank you for embracing that mission. Your focused gaze on heavenly things, along with your open-handed generosity has made a deep impact on God’s kingdom. You have helped start churches in villages with no church. You have rescued children with no parents. You have empowered families with no steady income. Thank you for investing in the treasures of God’s kingdom.
May we let go of our daily worries and embrace the mission of generosity. May we fix our gaze on heavenly things that truly matter, and may God grant us peace and purpose.
Posted on February 13, 2015 |
Christmas may be over, but its blessings are continuing to ripple out among the community of our ServLife partner in India. Our partners in Raxaul, Bihar face a lot of pressures from the predominantly Hindu community in the area. Bihar is one of the hardest areas for Indian Christians to live and work. Less than 0.5% of the population in the area is Christian*, and those who are often face persecution. Our India Director, Albert Das, has faced personal threats of violence multiple times from parties who want him to cease sharing the gospel and doing his work in the name of Jesus.
However, Albert refuses to relinquish the passion God has given him for his work. Beyond his work training pastors to plant churches and caring for over 30 children his children’s home, he also welcomes kids from the surrounding community to the ServLife International Missions School to receive an education at little or no charge. Many of these children are from Hindu and Muslim families, but are welcomed as brothers and sisters by Albert and his family.
This past Christmas, as he does periodically throughout the year, Albert invited the families of the Missions School children to join in a Christmas celebration at the children’s home. 70 children and many parents from the surrounding area gathered to play games, see skits, and sing together. Albert and his family shared about the reason they celebrate Christmas and later all the children received gifts and everyone shared a meal together. Albert shares, “it was a great time of fellowship with the community.”
Many of the families of the Hindu and Muslim children ServLife helps educate are reluctant to engage the gospel because of societal pressures and intolerant climate in the area. Nonetheless, many of the parents attending the Christmas program told Albert that they had “never experienced such love and were excited to hear the story of Jesus Christ.” Albert plans to visit these families in the coming months to continue to share Christ’s love with them and help them in areas they are concerned with, such as adult literacy and hygiene education.
Please pray that as Albert and our other partners continue to shower their community with God’s love that lives will be blessed and hearts will be opened to the good news of Christ.
To support a child in ServLife India Missions School visit our child sponsorship page.
*Source: “Population by Religion in Bihar”. Censusindia.gov.in.
Posted on February 6, 2015 |
Abisekh is vibrant, even for a toddler. At almost three years old, he is very small for his age, but is still full of energy—chasing his adopted siblings through the house and keeping every one of them wrapped around his little finger.
Looking at him today, no one would ever guess at the journey that brought Abisekh to ServLife’s children’s home in Kathmandu, Nepal. Abisekh’s mother passed away when he was only 26 months old. She suffered a heart attack due to complications from a medical treatment for swelling in her leg, possibly a result of poor medical infrastructure in the remote area of west Nepal where they lived. Being the only child of his parents, Abisekh was left with his grandmother while his father sought work to support their family. Unfortunately, tragedy struck again when three days later Abisekh’s grandmother also passed away suddenly. This was understandably very difficult for Abisekh’s father, losing two close family members and caregivers for his son so abruptly. He continued to look for work and struggled to care for Abisekh on his own, wanting to keep his beloved son close, but found the strain of both providing for their family and looking after Abisekh to be too much. He went seeking aid, and a friend in Kathmandu referred him to the ServLife children’s home.
When Abisekh first arrived at the children’s home he was underweight and malnourished. He had not yet learned to speak well and did not like to move or play much. The full time staff and the other children at the home accepted him as their son and brother and began build up his strength with proper healthcare, nutrition, and love. Now, his new family says that Abisekh pretty much runs the house. His older sisters dote on him, and he is always the center of attention. He has gained weight, is speaking in full sentences and running and playing like a normal 2 year old. This happy ending to a difficult journey would not have been possible without the staff and children at the children’s home, along with Abisekh’s ServLife sponsor in Indianapolis. Thanks to their diligent care, generosity and love, Abisekh is full of life.
If you would like to support the life and journey of a child like Abisekh visit our child sponsorship page.
Posted on January 23, 2015 |
Nepali pastors serve their communities in many ways beyond preaching from a pulpit on Saturday morning (in Nepal the Sabbath is celebrated on Saturday). They are taking seriously the directive Jesus set out in Matthew 25 to feed the hungry, house the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit those who are sick and in prison*. Pastors are giving up their homes and churches to families who lost all they had in last spring’s landslides. They’re walking or bicycling for miles to visit prisoners, pray for the sick, and care for their congregations. These pastors have a passion and a mission they live into every day. Pastor Man Kaji is one of these men.
Pastor Man works in a remote yet beautiful hilly region of Nepal. Pastor Man has seen God work in miraculous ways in the region, curing physical and spiritual ailments and reconciling people to Himself. One of the greatest transformations Pastor Man was part of happened to a man called Bharat.
Bharat had been trapped in the drug trade. He experienced horrible addiction and also began selling drugs in order to support his habit. Bharat’s wife and three children understandably suffered because of his vices. When Bharat was put in prison because of his involvement in the drug trade his family was left without a father and provider. They knew they had to find something to deeply change Bharat’s life. Having heard of the situation, Pastor Man went to visit Bharat and his family. He shared the gospel with them and told them about the power a relationship with Christ has to change a life. Bharat and his family opened their hearts to God with Pastor Man’s guidance, and began the process of reconciliation.
Now, a year later, Bharat and his family are attending Pastor Man’s church regularly and are proudly telling others of the transformation they have seen in Bharat’s life. A relationship with Christ helped Bharat overcome his addiction and change his life. Pastor Man was willing to go where God called him, to visit the prisoner, and God performed miraculous transformations as a result.
If you would like to support Pastor Man or pastors like him who are doing this important work, visit our Pastor Sponsorship Page.
Posted on January 17, 2015 |
At the end of Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he leaves him with one final instruction: Protect what has been entrusted to you. Paul’s instruction does not come from a place of fear or worry or insecurity. In fact, the majority of the letter is just the opposite. Paul encourages Timothy to be bold, to shut down false teachings, to hold firmly to his faith, to pray diligently, to nourish himself with the Bible, to pursue Godliness, to encourage and teach others, and to persevere to live and teach the same things. Pursue righteousness, love and gentleness. Teach generosity. And finally, “protect what has been entrusted to you.”
These seven words have been sinking into my heart and creating deep resolve. To protect my family. Protect my heart. Protect my staff. Protect the children. Protect the pastors. Protect families in extreme poverty. Protect the future and growth of ServLife. Not from a place of fear, but from a bold, missional place of health and growth.
Your support of the pastors, children and families in India and Nepal brings protection of their present realities: empowering church growth, education and care, and quality of life. It also lays the groundwork to protect their future, introducing a life that was not possible without your investment. Thank you for your generosity and commitment to these pastors, children and families.
May we protect what has been entrusted to us. May we live lives of bold faith with a love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Amen.
Posted on January 9, 2015 |
A Guest Blog By Jim Seeds
In late 2013 our small group attended a ServLife open house and afterwards decided to sponsor a child. Since then I’ve been intrigued with God’s work ServLife performs in Nepal and India…supporting planting churches, providing care for orphans and micro financing families so they can be self-sufficient. For me Romans 12: 9-13 is at the heart of the matter: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
In Kathmandu, Nepal and Raxaul, India I observed these verses in action. Children disadvantaged at birth, left behind with no family to care for them or poverty so severe the parents could not provide, living joyously in the Lord. These children are loved by their caretakers and are gaining an education so they can break through social and economic barriers most of us would not survive. They love each other as family—eating, playing, working and going to school together. They love the Lord with a passion that challenged me as I considered my own praise and worship. All they see is joy and are so happy for how they’ve been blessed. Many of the children, while cared for so well, really don’t have a lot. They have minimal clothes and belongings. What they have, they share freely. They work hard and rejoice hard.
While in Kathmandu we saw first hand new pastors in training, strong in faith, praising God when they have so little and being joyful for what they have. I observed prayer unlike any I’ve seen or heard before. Joyful praises lifted on high with magnificent voices growing louder and louder as they pray from a soft murmur then to a crescendo. Heartfelt praise, trusting in the Lord and giving their all for our Savior. These men and women of all ages are going into the villages of remote Nepal to serve God and to help bring hope and salvation to the poorest of poor. They are going willfully, lovingly and faithfully to bring Jesus to their country.
Our mission is far from done…. The opportunity is so large it boggles the mind. How many children needlessly are forced into slavery or sex trade? How many non-believers can feel the hope and deep love of God? How many families could become self-sufficient and afford to feed and educate their children?
I’ve been touched for life by the people I met. I want to be there for them not just with my wallet, but really be there for them: To visit them as often as I can, to share the opportunity with anyone who will listen and to carry them in my heart and prayers every day.
Posted on January 2, 2015 |
As we celebrate Christmas this month, I am reminded of Jesus’ humble beginnings. Born in a barn to an unwed mother and laid down in an animal food trough, he was hardly ushered into the world like a king. As an adult he was homeless, had to borrow donkeys for getting around, and I imagine wore out countless pairs of sandals traveling from city to city. Jesus had a deep compassion for the poor and marginalized, and before leaving this world told his followers that “whatever you [do] for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you [do] for me.”
I could not even begin to comprehend extreme poverty until my first trip to India a decade ago. Having visited remote villages many times now, I still struggle to understand how someone can make a living on only a dollar or two a day. But there is hope and joy, and God’s light is breaking through the darkness. Your gifts and investments have gone so very far in India and Nepal. It is having an exponential impact and hundreds of children, villages and families are being supported, educated, empowered and loved.
Thank you for joining Jesus in his compassion for the poor and marginalized. Your support has grown the church, rescued children and empowered families facing extreme poverty. Your love and generosity is changing lives, and we are extremely grateful. Thank you.
May we become more and more like Jesus in humility, compassion, generosity, grace and love. May God continue to bless us and bless through us.
Posted on December 19, 2014 |
Late this October a team from Indiana went on a journey of learning and discovery. The trip’s purpose was to allow the team to open their minds and hearts to what God is doing in Nepal and India, and to afford the opportunity to build lasting relationships of support and encouragement with ServLife partners there.
When the team hit the ground in Kathmandu, Nepal they quickly discovered that each had specific gifts and talents that would enable the group to achieve their goals. While some of the group members were gifted pastors who spent time encouraging the staff, others showed love and affection to the children in ServLife programs. Some of the team taught in the pastor training school, and others led a VBS program for the children. Everyone engaged and used their individual gifts for the collective purpose. For instance, Executive Director Adam Nevins led the trip, kept everyone on track, and along with Pastor Todd Fisher helped the team process along the way. In addition, Lola Fisher and Olivia Sellke made the children at ServLife homes and schools feel loved and at ease while Noah Pappas and Jim Seeds and made sure that everyone was always smiling and having fun with their unique sense of humor.
After leading the VBS program for 150 children in Kathmandu, the group split, with half traveling to Raxaul, India and half to Nepalgunj in west Nepal. In Raxaul, the group led another VBS program for the orphanage and education sponsorship children there. It was the first trip where the team was equipped with comprehensive VBS materials, donated by Group Publishing. The children loved the memory verses, games, and object-lesson toys that came along with the curriculum.
Meanwhile, in west Nepal, the other half of the team visited Christian communities in remote villages to support them and their ServLife-trained pastors as they plant churches in areas unreached by the gospel. Pastor Todd Fisher encouraged the pastors and communities and was often called upon to present twice a day, preaching and teaching nearly 20 times throughout the 11-day trip.
The team re-convened to celebrate the graduation of 14 pastors from the training school in Kathmandu. It was the perfect culmination to a trip with the purpose of encouragement and building relationships. The team went home tired but exhilarated, knowing that they had made an impact on the lives of the people they met, and began lifelong friendships with them. “I’ve been touched for life by the people I met. I want to be there for them not just with my wallet, but really be there for them. To visit them as often as I can, to share the opportunity with anyone who will listen and to carry them in my heart and prayers every day,” Jim Seeds shared.
Want to see more pictures of the vision trip? Visit our Facebook page!
Want to learn more about how you can participate in an upcoming trip to India and Nepal? Check out our trips page!
Posted on December 12, 2014 |