Children at Risk

“Can you give me Jesus' mobile number?”

Chancal, child of HIV parents in IndiaEight year old Chancal smiles freely.  Laughs easily.  Is a charming child to engage in conversation.  There is nothing on her face that even hints at the agony of her few years.  Nothing to suggest she could be the poster child for children at risk. 

Chancal lives in Nagpur, India—the geographic center of the country—at a place called Ashirwad Kanti.  It's a Christian ministry that reaches out to children just like Chancal, partnering with organizations like Awana International.

Why doesn't she live at home?  The sound-bite version of the story goes like this.  Her father and mother both turned up HIV positive.  So did Chancal's younger brother.   Facing declining health, the mother and father moved to an AIDS hospice in Bangalore, many miles away.  Chancal was taken to the care of Ashirwad Kanti.

The ministry's director, “Aunty” Pushpa Waghmare, recounts that when the parents' health appeared to improve, they left the hospice.  But the father's condition immediately worsened.  Unwilling to return to the hospice, he took his own life.   The mother continues to struggle with AIDS.

Aunty Pushpa explained, “When her father died, she cried and ask me, 'Do you have Jesus' mobile number'?  I said 'You don't have to have Jesus' mobile number.  You just tell Him, “Jesus, I want to talk to you.”'

Chancal did just that.  And she continues to pray for her family.  She stared right into my eyes and boldly announced, “If there is any need in my life, I pray and immediately my need is fulfilled.” she said.  “My mother and younger brother are both very sick.  I pray for them and I do believe they both will be healed.”

Her simple but confident faith was almost unnerving for this long-time follower of Jesus.  But talking with her, I am reminded afresh of what Jesus meant when He spoke of the faith of a little child.  Jesus finds that kind of heart very appealing.  And so do I.

God grant me a faith—and a smile—as big as Chancal's.

– Jon Gauger
from Nagpur, India



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