Orphans gain a new family
Baptist Press
December 23, 2009

Orphans gain a new family

Orphans gain a new family
Baptist Press
December 23, 2009

TAMIL NADU, India — Life as Sangeedhas knew it was gone.

Her home was destroyed. Her mother was dead.

Only 8 years old, Sangeedhas was one of thousands of

children left homeless by the catastrophic tsunami that hit southern Asia in


BP photo

Sangeedhas prays with her family before breakfast. The girl’s mother, along with more than 225,000 others, died in the catastrophic tsunami that struck southern Asia in 2004. Since then, a Christian couple has adopted Sangeedhas and other tsunami orphans.

Most of these children were left vulnerable to poverty,

child trafficking, prostitution and hopelessness.

Sangeedhas’ father survived the tsunami, but he sent her

away after he married her mother’s sister.

Her stepmother refused to care for a girl who was not her

natural child — a situation that happens all too often in India to children of

a widowed father.

“When his wife has died and (the widower) remarries, his

previous children are usually discarded,” says Cole Elbridge*, an International

Mission Board (IMB) representative.

The stepmother does this because she “doesn’t want previous

children to have inheritance when it comes time for that and dowries. She wants

it simple for her children.”

Sangeedhas, however, was one of the fortunate ones.

She was taken in by Paramesvaran and Choodamani, a Christian

couple who lost their three children and seven other relatives in the tsunami.

The couple welcomed Sangeedhas and other orphaned children

into their home. They provided for them with the help of Southern Baptist

tsunami relief funds.

Since the tsunami, the couple has provided a loving home for

20 orphaned children — six girls and 14 boys.

Sangeedhas had been raised in a Hindu home.

After she came to live with the couple, she heard about

Jesus Christ for the first time.

“This changed my life,” she says.

“I also want to be a great

blessing to others in the days to come, like my parents are now.

“Jesus told me … ‘Be here. Stay here. I will comfort


Today, all of the children have accepted Jesus Christ as

their Savior.

Before dawn each morning, the children gather for worship to

sing praises to Jesus.

With Bibles sprawled on the floor in front of them, they

listen to the daily message.

On one morning, Sangeedhas’ 14-year-old brother Saravan

leads the service.

He tells his family to never give up praying “big prayers.”

He speaks from experience.

Saravan’s father died when he was 2 years old. Eventually

his mother was unable to care for him.

The boy often cried himself to sleep

after arriving at the couple’s home two years ago.

“Paramesvaran told me I could go to God’s feet and cry,”

Saravan says.

Now one of his life goals is to preach the gospel to a lost

world and impact those who haven’t heard about Jesus.

“Jesus is my mother and my father,” Saravan says. “(He) is

everything to me.”

*Name changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hendricks is a writer for the International

Mission Board.)

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