“Nisha*, will you come and keep me company while I work? It would be so nice to have a sweet little girl like you with me today,” I said as I attempted to soothe the sobbing child by my side. “And, look! Here’s a yummy cookie for you, too. But you’ll need to stop your crying to enjoy it. Otherwise, it will get all wet and won’t taste good!” I gave the sobbing six-year-old a squeeze and grasped her hand as we walked off together toward the kitchen to wash vegetables and prepare lunch.
Her father drank too much and spent long periods away from the family. Her mother became ill and slowly grew sicker. In her final days, she spent all day on her mat in their mud house, having no energy to care for her small daughter. Nisha wasn’t eating proper food and had to take care of herself.
Then one day, her mother died. Caring neighbors in the village knew something needed to be done. One man knew a staff worker with Mukti Mission. “Would you please help a family in our village? The mother has died and the father cannot care for his daughter.”
That very day Nisha became a part of the Orchard Project where my husband and I serve. For many weeks, she cried much of the time. “Why did my mommy have to get so sick and suffer so much?” she would ask me. “These are hard questions, Nisha. Suffering happens to many people. We don’t always understand why. But I am here for you. God loves you and has brought you here to our home. We will take care of you.” My husband and I prayed much for her and asked Him to heal her hurting heart.
Her parents believed in other gods and she had never heard of Jesus. For the first time, she heard of Him in our Orchard Project. Through Bible stories, devotions, prayers, and songs, she heard of this One who claimed to be the only true and living God.
At first, she tried to ignore the teaching. She would turn her back or look to the side when we would read from the Bible or pray. She sat quietly, head down-turned, and we didn’t pressure her. But she couldn’t ignore us forever! When the other girls in the Home stood up to share their memorized Bible verses, she would listen. As she listened to verses over and again being quoted, she, too, committed some to memory. Of course, God began to work in her heart.
When Nisha went home for a visit with her father after many months, we prayed for her and for her time with her father. She saw changes in him. However, she had become convinced of the Truth of Jesus and was anxious to return to Mukti.
“I’M BACK!!!!!” Nisha announced at the top of her lungs when she threw open the door of the Orchard Project and ran in. She gave me a big hug. “I finished my homework assignments at father’s and read my Bible every day and prayed to Jesus.”
Nisha has transformed from an emotionally scarred child into a 12-year-old, confident young lady. Although still quiet, she has aspirations for her future. “I wonder what God wants me to be and do when I grow up?” she ponders.
*Names changed for privacy and security. Images representative.