10 Answered Prayers
It would be impossible to quantify the number of hours and days that have been spent in prayer over the children of SCH in the last 10 years. Impossible to calculate the volume of time invested by Sarah, house moms, volunteers, staff, and our global supporters dedicated to interceding on the behalf of our amazing children and adults and our organization as a whole. Impossible to label the intervals spent on bended knee, heads bowed in our homes, hospital rooms, churches, and streets. Impossible to even count the sheer number of countries where SCH’s name and needs have been whispered in the presence of the Father.
A number that I can produce is 10. Our 10 biggest prayers from the last 10 years. The 10 biggest ways God has shown up and stepped in. The 10 things that we absolutely never could have done on our own. The 10 needs that the Lord fulfilled that have defined our direction and vision as an organization. The 10 answered prayers that rest in the hearts of all of us, pushing us forward while reminding us of the faithfulness of our God.
1. From the very beginning, it has been the prayer of Sarah and every volunteer/staff member who has walked through our doors to see children moved out of institutions. Children need the stimulation and stability of a home, not the cold, dull environment of an orphanage. They need to be loved, touched, and adored not simply a number and a photo on a piece of paper. SCH has rescued 225 children from government run orphanages. We use the word rescued not because we are saviors, but because we’ve taken children out of danger and into safety. We’ve moved them from a life of merely surviving and into one of thriving. Our homes, imperfect though they may be, are filled with exponentially more love, exponentially more resources, and exponentially better medical care than the institutions they came from. This prayer has been answered 225 times over the last 10 years and we expectantly look forward to it being answered many more, exponentially more.
2. Since Sarah took the first 10 children to SCH in 2008, suitable housing for our children has been a huge need. Finding buildings with adequate space, tolerant neighbors and reasonable rent has been difficult at times. Our children are seen as outcast because of their histories, cursed because of their disabilities. God has moved mountains, performed miracles, changed hearts to ensure that we have safe, stable, secure shelter for our children and young adults. SCH has filled a total of 13 homes (6 in Hyderabad and 7 in Ongole) with laughter, love, families. We’ve met neighbors and built community; we’ve changed perspectives and disproved misconceptions. We thank God for each and every home he has allowed as to fill, to grow in, and to grow out of. For Victory, Angel, Truth, Faith, Angel #2, Grace, Rescue, Jubilee, Courage, Anchor, Joy, Jubilee #2 and the baby home.
3. While our Indian staff are the backbone of our organization, holding us together and bearing most of the weight, our volunteers and house parents are the heart. These young men and women have left their old lives behind to love, serve, and protect the children and adults at SCH. They stand to fill in the gap while abandoned children await their forever families. They fight for an individual’s right to respect, education, and acknowledgement. They hold, kiss, comfort. They change huggies, bandage knees, hand feed rice. They fill rolls as teachers, nurses, and moms. SCH has had over 30 men and women answer the prayer to fill the gap for these precious children and adults as long-term volunteers and house parents. We’ve been blessed to see many of these relationships continue to flourish even as volunteers have restarted lives back in America. Even as children have been adopted into loving forever families. Even as the lives and situations of our children/adults change, we’ve witnessed the importance of strong foundations in love and attachment that these volunteers and house parents have provided, teaching our children to feel safe, secure, love and treasured.
4. From the beginning of our organization, we have seen God’s provision come through in miraculous ways. In 2008, Sarah Rebbavarapu set up a home for 5 young children with disabilities. When she arrived at the Indian government orphanage to receive her first 5 children, her faith in provision was immediately tested. To her surprise, the government gave her 10 older children. Already, she had to trust in the Lord for extra, for people to come forth to give above and beyond. Through prayer, Sarah began taking more and more children. SCH has had many debts, but through the Lord prompting gracious givers, those debts have all been paid. Here we are 10 years later. As we look back, we can see that every step of faith, every child brought into our care, every lease signed for a building, every staff member hired, we can testify that our God is good (Matthew 6:25-34). Sarah knew that if she ran, the Lord would provide. Today, we are thankful for that provision. We are thankful that we are still here in India making a difference in the lives of our 150 kids.
5. One of our always constant, never ending prayers is for our children that cannot be reunited with their biological families to be placed in loving, stable, forever families. We believe that God’s design for each and every person is to be in a family. To have a place to belong. To have people that support them until the end of their days. To experience unconditional love. Unfailing encouragement. Unending adoration. SCH has been blessed to stand in the gap and watch as God placed 48 children into forever families (with another 11 on the horizon)! 48 amazing souls now called sons and daughters, given last names, brought into a home. 48 families who’ve found their missing piece, 48 families who’ve followed God’s call. We thank God for each and every one of these families acknowledging the sacrifice, dedication, and pure joy that comes with the gift of adoption.
6. In recent years, the primary goal of the orphan care movement has been focused on family empowerment and reunification. The devastating truth is that most orphans in India have at least one living, biological parent. The statistic is no different for the children and adults in our care at SCH. Many of our children and adults have parents who were unable or simply unwilling to care for them at home. The social stigma of disabilities, the hard to navigate healthcare system, a culture which doesn’t place value on an individual, all of these things lead to abandonment. Through prayer, community outreach, and our gracious social workers, SCH has been able to combat some of these contributing factors, overcoming a families fears and reuniting children/adults with their birth families. To date SCH has reunited 12 families.
7. A difficulty SCH suffered with in the early years, that still remains a hardship for the homes we maintain in Ongole, is access to reasonably priced, quality medical care. Many of the hospitals in Ongole are over saturated, outdated, understaffed. Early on this meant that competent, superior medical care could only be found in the larger cities, in Hyderabad which is 6-7 hours away by car. It meant that despite late night ambulance rides, despite volunteers and staff of SCH who were dedicated to our children, despite the love that we poured in to them, we couldn’t always save their physical bodies in time. Children were turned away from hospitals, denied life saving treatment. Children had to wait for specialist appointments, had to wait for funding for bus tickets or car rentals, had to wait for staff that to be available for such long travel. Praise God that over recent years SCH has been able to partner with hospitals and physicians who are willing to invest in our children as much as we are. Free ECHOs. Discounted surgeries. Decreased consultation costs. Home visits. 24/7 availability for questions or concerns. Time and time again God has led our nurses and house parents to make connections with believers and nonbelievers alike to build our base of medical professionals to support our children and adults.
8. This answered prayer goes hand in hand with providing high quality medical care for the children: homes in Hyderabad! SCH opened its first home in Hyderabad in January 2014 Rescue Home became the SCH hub in the city, housing the sickest, tiniest of our babies. Having a stable residence in Hyderabad not only allowed us to shift children here permanently when needed, it gave us a home base for appointments, making it less stressful to bring children and adults up from Ongole to see specialists. Having homes in Hyderabad has meant that over the years we have been able to take in children that would have been in danger staying in Ongole. We’ve also experienced the added blessing of more diverse and accepting schools within the city limits. Many of our children are enrolled in mainstream schools that would surely be excluded in a smaller city.
9. Though it is a difficult certainty to face, death is a reality that must be faced when caring for children and adults with medical needs and disabilities that are complicated by malnourishment, neglect, and institutional care. Though our first thoughts as human beings is always to save the physical body and mourn the physical death, the truth is the end of our earthly lives is just the beginning of our eternal ones. The children and adults that we have lost now sit in the throne room with their Savior, worship Him face to face, and experience the wonder of being sons and daughters of the King of kings. Sarah, the staff and volunteers of SCH, and our faithful supporters have had the privilege of loving 28 children and adults into the afterlife. We’ve been blessed to be a source of love in final days, a gentle voice of comfort through uncertainty and a hand to hold through transition. We have ensured that 28 precious souls felt the full worth of their existence, their value as individuals, and their beauty as image bearers. Even now, we honor the children and adults we’ve said goodbye to by keeping their memories alive, remembering their names, and sharing their stories.
10. Our founder Sarah recently shared a blog post from 2010 where she reveals that in May of 2008 (4 short months after the beginning of SCH) God promised new leaders to come to SCH and tend the flocks for a new season. Praise God! In spring of 2015, Jacob and Cynthia Baker began working with SCH, laying the groundwork for this answered prayer. Jacob and Cynthia Baker, along with their 2 daughters, have faithfully served the children of SCH in Rescue Home and now Anchor Navy since that time. In July 2017, the Bakers became interim directors of our Hyderabad homes, leading us in a new season of family empowerment and reunification. Sarah’s entire vision came to fruition this month when Sarah and the Bakers announced that Jacob and Cynthia are officially the directors of Sarah’s Covenant Homes! As we see this prayer answered and a chapter in the book of SCH come to a close, we are expectantly hopeful for the direction that they will lead SCH in as they continue to faithfully and obediently follow God.