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The Children Under the Tree

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The children are what I remember most. It’s always been about the children. Sitting shoulder to shoulder on the dirt, under the shade of a who-knows-how-old tree. I bet that tree could tell some stories. It had seen the transformation first hand.

Stories of a village oppressed by the caste system. Stories of a people desperate for hope.  Poor, ragged shepherds, making a living off criminal activity. Caught in a system that says you’ve earned your doom and there is no hope. Scraping by to feed their children.

For me, it’s always been about the children.

They welcomed us in song. It was beautiful (the little girl in blue in the center is the cutest ever!). I have no idea what they were singing, but they were singing it with all their hearts. I imagine they had gathered there, under the tree, to rehearse hours before our group arrived in their village. They wanted it to be perfect. As for us, we would preach, hug, pray, and then leave.

But by the time I left, I knew I would return.

I came back from that village in India nearly a year ago now, and ever since I’ve thought of those people in that village and desired to see greater things for them. Greater things for their children. They have heard and responded to the Gospel. They are not without hope in the life to come, but they are still caught in a system that is not concerned with their well being now. They are low caste, and that means they are in large part forgotten. They hope for heaven, but they still didn’t have clean water to drink or a place to send their kids to school. They had no community center, no place for gathering, no hub.

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The last thing I ever did in that village was pray over a piece of land where the village leaders desired to build a building. Not an elaborate building — but a place that the children could learn and the church could gather and the community could meet. It was not a large piece of land, not even an acre, but it was big enough to meet the needs of the community. The plans were ready. The strategy was there. The vision was not lacking. The only thing they needed was money.

They needed $24,000. Another $3,000 would drill a well for clean drinking water.

In the U.S., you can’t build anything permanent for less than a couple hundred grand. Professional sports stadiums start at $1 billion these days. But the price tag on this school/church/nutrition center/gathering place was less than most cars we drive here in the United States. So we prayed with the village leaders and then I decided we had to do something.

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So we started raising money via our nonprofit organization. We paid for the installation of a clean water well in this village in the spring. Today, the children are drinking out of it instead of puddles. But the school is not yet completely funded. About 200 people haven given, usually somewhere between $1 and $50, but we still have $9500 to go. We’re so close I can taste it. Construction has begun because the funds have been directed, but we need to finish this.

Like, now.

Change is a funny thing. It’s intimidating and hard. Rarely is it without a wince that we endure it. It’s incremental and slow. Then it happens and you realize suddenly that what you’ve been striving for all along was worth every ounce of difficulty endured. That feeling of satisfaction washes over you and the work becomes worthwhile.

Wouldn’t you like to be a part of something ridiculously hard and equally worth it?

I am asking you, friend and stranger alike, to be a part of making this change happen. Give $1. Give $10. Give $100 or $1000. The amount doesn’t matter so much as doing something. There are a bunch of kids in India who need a hand. We have enough to share.  The easiest way to change things is by giving a little and inviting others to do the same.

Help turn the barren acreage into a brick-and-mortar symbol of hope. Help provide these beautiful children with a place to dance and learn and worship and eat. Let’s change things for people we don’t know because it’s the right thing to do and we can do it.

And let’s do it together.

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The 25 Group is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and all contributions are completely tax deductible. For more information on our work, visit www.the25group.org.

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