for HSLDA members
Second HSLDA Essay Contest
Category 1 Fourth Place

Hope for the Future

By Hannah Moughon

"Help me, child-stealer! Steal me away from those temple women!" Seven-year-old Preena threw herself into the arms of Amy Carmichael clutching with a child's despair.

Only moments behind, a noisy mob crowded around Amy's door. "Give the girl back!" one woman demanded. "We bought her from her mother when she was too poor to care for her."

"Preena has claimed my protection," Amy calmly responded. "I cannot refuse her, but I am willing to buy her from you."

After several minutes of haggling, Amy and the temple woman finally settled on a price, and when Amy handed it over, die crowd reluctantly dispersed.

Several days later, Amy questioned Preena about her former life. The things Preena said were shocking: what had previously been only hideous rumor transformed itself into astonishing reality. She told about how young girls were sold to the temples - either because of poverty or a vow - and how they were "married" to the temple gods, only to become prostitutes for men who came to worship.

Amy knew something had to be done, so she took a leap of faith and in 1901 founded Dohnavur Fellowship, which is still operating a century later.

If I were given $50,000, 1 would use it to further that work. But before detailing my plans for the money, let me show you around Dohnavur.

Unlike most other homes for children, Dohnavur Fellowship is not an orphanage; rather, it is a family. All members take the name of Carunia, which is Tamil for "lovingkindness." And rather than being cared for in a indifferent environment, the girls are assigned to "mothers" who care for them, educate them, and teach them about salvation. At one point the Carunia family swelled to over 1,000 members, and it shows: the establishment covers some four hundred acres with sixteen nurseries, besides a variety of other compounds.

In 1948, the Indian government outlawed the practice of girls serving as temple prostitutes - but that did not completely eradicate the problem. Besides that, India is an extremely poor nation. According to a recent estimate, the population density of India is 791 persons per square mile, while that of Japan is 862 persons per square mile. Despite this difference, India's average income is $400 per person, while Japan's is an amazing $36,600 per person. Why this difference? Four-fifths of India accept the Hindu belief reincarnation, which teaches that the soul of every dead person is born again either into a human, an animal, or an insect. Because of this false conviction, millions of Indians give to animals the food that should be theirs and their children's. The destitute poverty, utter neglect, and heartless abandonment that result from these false beliefs account for several children entering the Carunia family every year.

The highlights of the Dohnavur year are the feasts: four, to be exact. First is Amma's birthday. (Amma is Tamil for "mother," referring to Mother Amy.) There is a feast for lepers, and Christmas is a festive celebration too. But the most popular event is the Meeting of Vision. This is a three-day camp in which Christians and non-Christians alike come to hear the Gospel message, or re-catch the vision of living the Christian life victoriously.

If I were given $50,000, 1 would invest it in the markets that would yield the most profit. Then I would raise my own support to go as a missionary to India, and for the next two or three years I would live among the Carunia children. As it approached time for the older ones to leave, I would have gotten to know the most promising children among them. I would divide the $50,000, along with its profit, among them to be used either as scholarships in pursuing higher education, or in paying their ways to other service opportunities.

Although God has blessed Dohnavur Fellowship abundantly, He promised long ago in His Word to pour out His blessings so profusely that we would not be able to hold the riches. This $50,000 would be a fulfillment of that promise: it wouldn't be used to pay building or schooling bills, because those are already met; rather, it would offer the next generation a brighter start on life.