India: YOU MUST BE A CHRISTIAN
India: Esther—You Must Be A Christian. As we stepped into the back of the auto-rickshaw, the driver asked, “Where are you coming from?”
“We are coming from under the bridge," I replied. Eyes wide, the driver turned around and said,
“You must be a Christian. No one else would dare go down to those filthy street children.”
His words replayed in my mind. There are nearly half a million street children in India, each with a tragic story, but all with the same result: abandoned, malnourished, uneducated, and often sleeping in a cardboard box or under a piece of plastic. At night, they rummage through the garbage in search of enough food just to survive. Girls are especially vulnerable.
I knew God was calling my husband, Peter, and me to trust Him and do more... but what? The taxi driver's comment increased my burden for these children. I cried out,
“God, what do you want us to do? What does it mean for me to truly live as a Christian?”
Two years later, I sat witnessing God’s answer to my cry. I gazed across the room at 63 beautiful children living in one of our Alpha Homes, laughing and calling out to us, “Mom! Dad!” One of those who became my daughter was Swapna. She tragically watched her mother die after a water truck pinned her against a wall. Swapna was just five years old at the time. Three years later, her father also passed away. Suddenly, she and her younger brother found themselves orphaned and alone. Heart broken by their story, Peter and I adopted them both.
Like all of my daughters, Swapna is special. She is an overcomer with a quick wit, a fierce devotion to her brother, and greatly loves Peter and me. She excelled in school and recently completed a bachelor degree with honors in nursing.
Sometimes I wonder, what if we had closed our eyes to the plight of the street children? What if we had not obeyed the vision? What if we had not trusted God? What if we had not defeated fear and dared to ask? I praise God that I never have to wonder what might have been.
Swapna is now a nurse who enjoys the attention of her parents, Peter and Esther Pereira. She gave her entire first salary to God’s work. With her second paycheck, she bought her mother a new sari. Peter serves as the ILI International Director for South Asia. Watch Esther and Swapna’s story at ILITeam.org/swapna.