“Keep away from our children, stop luring them in!” Patma’s father shouted as he shoved The Action Bible into the hands of the teacher leading the J127 Club. He took Patma’s hand and pulled her along down the street.
It’s not just Patma’s father’s dislike of Christianity that’s distressful and painful to her, he’s also an alcoholic who terrorizes the family.
Adi is Patma’s classmate and best friend. She too has an alcoholic father. Their plight is not unusual. The rural village where the girls live is located in Andhra Pradesh, a state known for the highest liquor consumption in India (“India’s Biggest Drinkers,” The Hindu, August 23, 2014). Villagers make little money working in cotton fields and as day laborers, but liquor is cheap, often made from tree sap.
An abundance of cheap alcohol, unemployment, and poverty are a dangerous brew, and families like Adi’s and Patma’s go days without food. Both fathers often beat their wives in drunken rages. The instability and abuse also make women and children in this village vulnerable to trafficking, prostitution, and sexual assault.
In the midst of sad, dark lives, the Hope Club, part of David C Cook’s J127 Orphan Initiative, is holding up light and a way out of despair.
Patma and Adi attend the Hope Club. It’s here where they were introduced to a loving heavenly Father, and continue to grow in faith, all while learning invaluable lessons on character and life skills. For a brief time in the evenings they and their friends have a safe place to sing, pray, make friends, play and share their hardship with caring adults. The Hope Club is a refuge.
“Many children in our Club come from similar backgrounds,” says Uncle Maridass, the Club’s teacher. “They love to spend time here, and don’t want to leave out of fear of a drunken father or of the unknown. Every child has a heart-wrenching story.”
After the incident with Patma’s father and The Action Bible, she rarely attended. Turmoil at home kept Adi from participating as well. These are the type of developments that discourage Christians ministry workers such as Uncle Maridass. “As a teacher to these children, I have felt small and helpless,” he says. “We give up on the Lord because we think a drunken father cannot change and these poor kids cannot possibly find true joy.”
Fortunately, Uncle Maridass serves a mighty God—and he knows it. “We recently focused on a J127 Club lesson on integrity through the life of Daniel,” he says. “His story teaches us to be faithful in all circumstances and God will pour out His grace. I am glad we have an almighty Father to prove us wrong. He has not given up on us. “
Just recently Uncle Maridass noticed Patma and Adi in the Club. He approached only to overhear them praying for their fathers. “My heart was deeply touched,” he says. “I moved away before they could see tears coming from my eyes.
“That day I realized that J127 Clubs are not just for children, but also for teachers and caretakers. I am learning to trust even when I witness great brokenness and hurt. It’s not our battle but God’s to win. All He wants is for us to be faithful soldiers.”
Please keep Patma, Adi, Uncle Maridass, and all of the children in the Hope Club in your prayers.
Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.