(EDITOR'S NOTE: Chris Pick is a singer/songwriter, missionary and advocate for the persecuted church and Native Missionary Movement. He has been involved with several mission projects which have included work in South America, Africa, Asia and North America (ministering among the Lakota Sioux at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Allen, S.D.). Pick lives in Williamsport with his wife, Michelle. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Pick on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Pick-fan-page/31011w8944421), Twitter (www.twitter.com/pickchris) MySpace (www.myspace.com/pickmusic) or at Reverb Nation (www.reverbnation.com/chrispick).
Courtney Deacon established a new ministry in India called "One Life to Love." It was founded on the strong belief in the inherent value of every individual.
She explained, "We always hear staggering statistics like 2 million orphans worldwide, 100,000 street children in Delhi, 49 million hungry Americans Often we get desensitized by these numbers. But One Life to Love has faith in a God who has created every individual with purpose and love. If we help just one of these individuals come to know their worth in Christ, then we have the chance to change the world."
Courtney Deacon, above left, with Chris Pick. Courtney with her three rescued boys, who are part of the Life of Love Home, which was named because the boys were rescued from a life of abuse, neglect and abandonment to a ‘Life of Love.’
And she is currently testing the approach in Delhi, India. As she explains, "Among these street children, thousands are mentally and physically challenged and there is not a single home in Delhi for such children. Often the special needs orphans become too old for adoption and are sent to a state-run mental institution reputable for its negligence and abuse of these marginalized children."
One Life to Love is establishing a home of hope and healing for these precious kids equipped with everything necessary to their healthy development. The main focus is on the power of prayer to heal these children from their physical and mental ailments.
There currently are about 18 million abandoned street children in India. An estimated 11 million children are separated from their families. Millions of these children often find themselves discarded and orphaned. Some turn to drugs and prostitution. Some are pimped into begging. Some are trafficked and abused in the sex trade to become one of 1.2 million child prostitutes in Southeast Asia. Others are kidnapped and sold into bonded labor. Others are simply runaways.
Girls often are seen as a financial burden - a curse to most families. They can't provide income like a boy. Sadly, boys are more desired and girls are the first to work as child laborers. Tens of thousands of baby girls are abandoned by their parents each year. And abandoned children face extremely difficult conditions. On their own, they search for food in waste dumps and make their homes with trash and rubble.
In addition, One Life to Love also runs a day-care center in a slum area for children with both mental and physical disabilities. Their goal is to encourage the parents of these children to stop seeing their kids as a curse or a burden and to start seeing them as the awesome blessings from God they are.
The calling on Courtney's life is what intrigued me the most. In some ways, I saw it as being very similar to my own calling - but it challenged me to look at my life again and see the things I still hold on to and haven't let go of.
Growing up, Courtney always thought she would be a successful designer or business woman and like many young women in America, she pursued that goal. She worked hard in her high school and college years toward that goal. And when she graduated from college, she was offered a lucrative position as an account manager for a high-end jewelry designer in New York City. She was being paid to travel the nation and represent the luxury company.
"I dressed the part," she explained, " designer shoes, fancy clothes, new car, apartment in Manhattan. On the outside I had everything everyone else wanted. But on the inside I had a void that no shopping spree, rich boyfriend or fancy party could fill. I wasn't happy. I was empty."
The emptiness drove her to her knees one night and she cried out to God. "I hadn't prayed in years," she said. "'How can I make myself happy?' I asked God. In that instant, a revelation came to my heart. I knew at that moment that nothing I did would ever make me happy. I knew that if I continued down the road I was on, that it would lead to total destruction. So I gave it all up. I left everything at His feet. 'Take it all Lord. I don't want any of it; I only want to know You.'"
Through His Word, God began to teach Courtney about His infinite love and deep compassion.
"Learning of His great love for me, I wanted nothing more than to show my love for Him. My new prayer was, 'How can I love you more Jesus?' And He soon revealed to me through Matthew 25:40 that whatever I do for 'the least of these' I am actually doing it for Him, because He is with the broken-hearted and oppressed," Courtney explained.
She began serving the homeless and urban youth throughout New York City. As she served, her compassion and love only grew more intense and her prayer still remained, "How can I love you more Jesus?" God began to put missions on her heart, and while she prayed through the Lord's Prayer one evening, God spoke to her heart that His will was that she would serve Him far away from the comforts of home. She didn't know what it meant at the time, but soon after she was given an opportunity to serve at a rehabilitation center for rescued child soldiers in northern Uganda.
Like Amy Carmichael who served in Japan before God had called her to India, Courtney's time in Uganda fueled her passion for the unreached people, and it solidified her calling to serve overseas. And it prepared her for where God was calling her next to India.
"I thought I would spend my life in rural Uganda serving the people there," she explained. "But God still had other plans. A year after going to Uganda, God began to put India on my heart, a nation I never had interest in. I tried to ignore the call, but it was so real. God even put it on my heart to sell all my possessions to fund my trip and go. So I did just that, however in the back of my mind I still believed I was only going for a short time.
"I remember when I first arrived in India and realized what a brutal place it was. But I did not resent it - rather I embraced the brutality of it all. I can still remember the first day I entered the slum I remember it so clearly. I felt like I was literally walking through hell ... nothing could be worse than this. The noise of trucks' horns and breaks coming from the four-lane highway set the background for the slum situated up against the roadway itself where children played. Their parents undaunted by how dangerously close the traffic sped carelessly by their clumsy toddlers.
"The smell is indescribable. Waste, sewage and decrepit piles of garbage stacked up over decades. Entering into the slum for the first time I felt lightheaded by the stench and the heat of the sun beaming off my head. It was more than 115 degrees outside.
"When I stepped into the slum, I remember looking around and thinking to myself, 'Are these people living or dying?' Because I couldn't imagine anyone could LIVE like this. There was one small frail little boy with a mangled arm and no shoes on his feet standing in the filth, and his eyes were full of fear, pain and hopelessness. As I continued on meeting people living in these slums I saw that same look of hopelessness in everyone's eyes.
"I went home that day a different person. The Lord spoke to me, He gave me a passion for these people so great. He allowed me to share His heart for the suffering and He gave me a vision for their future."
The vision God gave Courtney for these people was so great, but at the time she really didn't know how to realize it. She just knew that whoever God put in her path, she was going to love them with Christ-like love until they could see how precious and purposed and able they are in the eyes of God. And she has been doing just that since 2010.
Recently, God opened up many doors of opportunity for Courtney to start a home for mentally and physically challenged orphans in India. She
explains, "Indians see the mentally and physically challenged people as a curse from the gods. Their beliefs say that if a child is born with a disability, it reflects the character of the parents, assuming the parents must have done something wrong and as a result were cursed by the gods with the disabled child.
"It is very common for special needs children to be killed, disposed, sold into prostitution, locked in closets, or abandoned in the streets. In Delhi, a city with an estimated over 200,000 street children, there is no home for the mentally and physically challenged orphans. It is a difficult ministry that no one is willing to take up. I consider it a privilege and an honor to embark in this work."
At present, she has rescued three boys who were found in awful conditions. One was kept in a cabinet for 17 years. Another one was left in his bed. And another was abused daily. Every day they are seeing God touch the lives of these boys in small, but miraculous ways. Their goal is to fill their home with 30 needy children. They hope to soon open a home for special needs girls, as the situation in Delhi is urgent.
"These girls are being used and abused in the streets daily," she explained. "Please pray for us and the children we are trying to reach in Jesus' name. If you would like to sponsor a child, please visit our website or write to us directly."
While visiting with Courtney, I had learned that there is a limited number of Bible teaching materials for children in India. I've been trying to help in this area by sending DVDs of Bible stories (especially Veggie Tale DVDs which the children love). If you would like to donate or even contact Courtney, you can do so at the following website: www.onelife2love.org.
- Reprinted with permission.