By Casey Foreman, Back2Back U.S. India Director
I recently read A Great Work by author and pastor, Jon Swanson. This book, read in conjunction with the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament, offers important lessons and insights most of us would miss if we casually skimmed through this prophet’s story.
Nehemiah tells the story of how the wall around the city of Jerusalem was re-built after a period of destruction and exile. It is a story of a bold plan, of divine provision, of hard work by people with different skill sets, of opposition, of perseverance and ultimately – of hope realized. So, too, is the story of the Back2Back India Suzuki Samuel Hope Campus.
After months of planning and construction, three houses have been completed, and more importantly, transformed into “homes,” through the love and guidance of our campus team, as well as the letters, prayers, visits and financial gifts from the children’s sponsors and all the Back2Back supporters. The fourth home will soon be started.
If I were to visit friends’ homes in the U.S., I would expect to see family photos on the walls, nutritious food in the refrigerators, books, computers and videos for entertainment. I would also expect to flip a switch for light and open a tap for clean drinking water. If there are still children at home, I would expect their bedrooms to express their personality and interests, complete with items needed for school and clean clothes ready to wear. If I asked how the children are doing in school, I might be shown a recent report card and hear stories of effort and accomplishment. If visiting later in the evening, I might see children finishing homework or hear bedtime prayers.
Although this is not the life of the vast majority of the 440 million children in India, this is the life you will see if you visit the 28 children living on the campus. The children wake up in comfortable beds, prepare for the day, complete simple chores, prayers, study time and enjoy breakfast. They attend a school that values education and learning and return to the campus for an evening of snack, play, homework time, prayer and worship, dinner, and chores. Though there is a nice routine in place, which offers the children the structure and security they need, the atmosphere of relationship is so visible.
After my most recent trip in December, the lasting impression I continue to ponder is the subtle shift I witnessed between the children but also between the caregivers. The children are now acting like a family, working together without complaining and interacting in a relaxed and joyful manner. It is amazing how much feeling loved and taken care of can change a person. The caregivers, too, were observably more relaxed and playful with one another now that there are more adults to help with loving, nurturing and raising the children.
As was the wall in Nehemiah’s time, the campus is a tangible testament to God’s faithfulness. I am excited to see what God continues to do for and through the campus – one brick at a time.
Casey Forman serves as the U.S. Director for the Back2Back India site. He is passionate about providing guidance and hands-on support, and to that end, he spends a portion of the year on the ground at Back2Back’s ministry site in Hyderabad.