By Austin Farinholt
After ten hours in a bus and twenty-two hours in a plane, Dency and Gethsy walked out of the Washington airport and inhaled their first breath of American air. Their excitement and energy filled the car as we made our way to the Bethania Kids office in Winchester, Virginia. As the driving began, so did the questions about our country – “Why are the roads so empty?” “How do they keep all the trash off the streets and fields?” “Why does no one use their horn?” We laughed explaining that things in America are a little different than things in India.
For the following month, Dency, Gethsy, and I traveled around the U.S. meeting countless people and sharing about the work of Bethania Kids. At each stop we were welcomed with hugs, glowing smiles, and plenty of food. The level of hospitality we received through every step of our trip was incredible. We felt exceptionally blessed to be a part of the Bethania family.
As we visited homes and churches around the country, Dency and Gethsy painted a vivid picture of India by telling stories of the children in our Bethania homes and care centers. They shared the difficulties and struggles of the kids before they came to our homes, and how their lives have been transformed since finding Bethania. They exposed their listeners to the harsh reality of life for many children in India.
One such story was of Durga, a three year old who attends one of Bethania’s care centers. Durga’s family lives far below the poverty line, residing in a one-room home that leaks whenever it rains. Her father squanders any money he earns, forcing her mother to find work wherever she is able. When Durga was only one year old, she would stay home while her mother worked with just her three year old sister looking after her. On one of these occasions, Durga’s sister found a razor blade and repeatedly cut Durga on her legs and body. By the grace of God, Durga lived through the incident. The following year, Bethania heard her story and brought her to our care center where she receives love, attention, care, and an education – all of which her family was unable to provide for her.
Having been to India and seen the hardships that many children and families face, I know that America is blessed in so many ways. However, the depth of those blessings hit me hard when Dency shared a thought with me. She said, “Austin, this is truly the land of milk and honey. This country has been very blessed. The people here should never forget who gave them all these blessings. If they do, it will not be good.” Her words were simple, but the message hit home.
How often have I said a quick blessing over my food without sincerely taking the time to thank God? How often have I opened my wallet at church and put the $5 bill in the basket instead of the $20? How often have I stayed silent when an opportunity came to praise and thank God? The answer, sadly, is too often.
While Dency and Gethsy brought to America stories of children in Bethania Kids centers, they left behind something much more valuable. With every person they met, they left an opportunity to change a life by sponsoring a child. The heart-wrenching stories they told of children in Bethania Kids homes and centers all had a joyful ending because someone took this opportunity. Will you also take this opportunity?