A pearl in a field.

I’ve been on something of a blogging hiatus since arriving in India 8 days ago. At first, my writing was slowed by exhaustion bordering sickness, but as the days have gone by, it’s been the sheer pace of events and the extraordinary expenditures of emotional and intellectual energy that have kept me from writing.

India has thus far exceeded, no, confounded my expectations. The breathtaking beauty of the Himalayan vistas and the gut-wrenching serpentine paths required to reach them have produced in me a state of near intoxication. 

Despite the Sikkim State Travel Commission’s claims to the contrary, the roads in this part of the world are not safe and pleasant to traverse. Imagine, if you will, the sensation of driving to the top of an 800 story parking garage paved with railroad ties. Now replace the walls of the parking garage with sheer cliffs and 1,000 foot ravines, and throw in a few hundred lorries filled with rocks careening towards you, horns blaring and tires skidding. Then make it rain every once in a while.

This is, I must say, not a trip well-suited for the faint of stomach or weak of heart. A three hour drive in this terrain is as exhausting as a 12 hour drive on a U.S. interstate. Thank God I’m not the one driving. This is what we’ve done for the last week. Every day.

Marebong, Lopchu, Ranka, Rorathang, Pedong, Cheebo, Gangtok, Darjeeling, Siliguri. We've seen 'em all.

The views alone are probably worth it. I mean, I can see the Himalayas from my hotel window. That is, quite objectively speaking, pretty cool. But I’m not here for the postcard panoramas -- the real beauty to be found in Northern India is in its towns, its villages, its churches. As we’ve traveled throughout West Bengal and Sikkim, skirting Nepal, Bhutan and China, we’ve seen villages without schools, hospitals or jobs. In these villages, most families are so poor that they can barely feed their own children, much less the orphans in their midst.

That doesn’t stop some of them from trying. Tiny churches across the regions have become by default drop-in centers, daycare facilities and even orphanages. We’ve met the pastors, have joined in their worship services, and have cried out to God for the resources to help them care for these precious kids. Apart from the people of God, these kids, who face a life of abject poverty and exploitation, have no hope. No means of transformation. No bootstraps to pull on, no safety net to catch them if they fall.

And that’s why we’re here. We’ve seen what can happen when God’s people work together, when rich brothers and sisters in places like Goshen, Indiana and Montreal, Quebec reach their hands out to their poor brothers and sisters in places like Battambang, Cambodia and Doi Saket, Thailand. We’ve seen kids -- homeless and hopeless, filthy and forlorn -- transformed by the love of God into healthy, happy and hopeful children who are destined for excellence, not exploitation.

And we want more.

It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be cheap. But each kid living as an orphan in a remote mountain village in Northern India is as precious to God as your child or mine. We’ve seen the need, we have the strategies and the experience necessary to save dozens – maybe hundreds of these kids. How can we turn away?

Jesus told the story of a man who found a pearl of immense worth hidden in a field; the man sold everything he had to buy the field and take possession of the pearl. We’ve found such a treasure in the mountains of West Bengal and Sikkim, and with your help, we’d like to lay hold of it.

More – much more – to come.

The view of the Himalayas from my hotel room in Kalimpong.A singing performance at the Grace Children's Home in Kalimpong

Trinity Grace Church in Kalimpong

Nepali ethnicity kids in West BengalTraffic in Kalimpong


Kids in Pedong

Pastor Ambr and Ratha, potential Asia's Hope children's home directorsA child along the road to MarebongThe rough, rough road to Marebong. We actually had to get out and push. When the car could go no further, Seth, Nandu and I hiked for 45 minutes up and down 45 degree slopes to reach the village and pray for the pastors there.Tea trees on the hills near Marebong

Tea pickers in the hills of near MarebongMarebong

Tea pickersDrop-in center at a church in Gangtok

Construction workers along the road from GangtokBuddhist prayer flags

A school at a church in RorathangRorathang

John McCollum4 Comments