Orphan girls have now moved into an impressive new facility in Itarsi, India, thanks to the giving of just one FCA church. Designed to accommodate 160 girls, the three-story building is part of a group of ministries led by Dr. Matthew Thomas, including a boys orphanage and also Central India Theological Seminary.
“I was in Itarsi to teach at the seminary in September 2008,” says Pastor Paul Vallee of Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta. “One day they asked me to help dedicate an empty piece of land, where they hoped to build an orphanage for girls. As I stood there listening to the various remarks, three powerful thoughts started whirling through my mind.”
The first was, Why can’t some of the richest people in the world help the orphans of some of the poorest people in the world? Nobody had directly asked Vallee for financial help, but he felt drawn to consider the need.
The second thought was that our church family could do this! While his church back in western Canada had its own needs and was facing decisions about land and facilities, Vallee wondered if the coming year should be focused instead on funding something different, a project that held no personal benefit.
That led to a third thought: This could be our church’s “Jericho.” The Israelites were told that in the wake of their first conquest in the Promised Land, “the city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord” (Josh. 6:17). Nobody got to keep anything for themselves. Only when they captured later cities were they allowed to take cattle, furnishings, and other valuables.
“God had promised them the whole land,” says Vallee, “but something was unique about Jericho. God expected it all. I think that the principle of giving to God first is established in the Scriptures.”
So the pastor came home to explore the idea with his elders. They responded positively, and the concept moved along to the church board and eventually the membership. Enthusiasm began to surge. A goal was set: $160,000.
People began thinking of ways to raise money. A church cookbook was created for selling. One of the young adults put on a classical-music concert, raising $5,000. An elderly woman recruited sponsors to donate for each lap she swam in the pool. She ended up swimming more than 180 kilometers (112 miles) over the next few months.
In one particular week, $45,000 came in for the project. People caught the vision and carried it in their hearts. The goal was reached in eight months; total giving from the Red Deer congregation has reached $180,000.
“India is the largest mission field in the world with a very small percentage of Christians,” says Vallee. “Rather than waiting to reach lost adults–as important as that is–our church has gotten excited about transforming the lives of children and training them to make an impact for Christ. God’s Spirit initiated this whole thing, and we’ve been blessed to move along with his leading.”