Todd Forrest has lived his whole life in ministry, growing up as a pastor’s and missionary’s son. He has been in active ministry since 1990, and continues to pastor today. He is a board member of Children of Promise International, caring for orphans in 12 countries. He and his wife, Debbie, have three children, two of which are GCU students.
Sitting in the stale and humid shed of an airport, I reflected on my last 12 days. I was tired. This was to be flight number eight out of eleven. Our morning vehicle travel brought our accumulated drive time to somewhere over 27 hours.
Our mission was to travel to all 10 of the Children of Promise International (COPI) orphanages in central and south India. As the vice president of COPI and coordinator of India, my task (with two others) was to visit all the homes, encourage the directors and ensure that the children were healthy and the buildings were sound.
I know on the surface, it does not seem too glamorous, but it was the unscheduled aspects of the trip that made it memorable.
For over 46 years, COPI has been caring for destitute children in 11 countries. Steeped in the caste system, the culture of India still has a “throwaway” population. Orphaned and abandoned children turn to the street to search for food in garbage dumps; families send children as young as 10 to fend for themselves because there are too many mouths in the house to feed. These children end up as thieves and prostitutes and, at best, become coolie (daily hire) workers. Some of the thousands of children for which we have provided care over the years were found in dumpsters. Some girls as young as 10 were already prostitutes.
The mission of COPI is to feed, clothe, educate and, most importantly, give these children a secure home. They learn about the love and healing of Jesus Christ from home parents who patiently sift through their pain to find the tender heart, full of value, God created.
Our homes are powerful places that not only transform a destiny, but also change the world. There are many stories of the children returning home to extended family on holidays who witness a stark transformation in the child. Through this, Hindu and Muslim families have come to faith in Jesus, which has, in turn, influenced whole villages in remote jungles that missionaries would never visit.
When a child completes their education, COPI gives them the opportunity for secondary education. Many have gone into nursing, technology or some trade. Some of the greatest blessings are those who dedicate their lives as pastors who go to unreached people groups throughout India! We spent a few evenings talking with the alumni of the homes after rescue from starvation and hopelessness. Jesus changes everything!
My heart is full and there are a thousand stories circulating my mind and engaging my prayer. A country like India reveals so much waste, so much laziness and so much excess in America. The price of a lunch can support a child for a month. Their churches are burned, they are imprisoned and they lose their jobs for their faith.
Yet, you will never see people so full of joy, dedicated to prayer and praising God for another day to serve him.
Grand Canyon University offers students, faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in global mission trips each year. Learn more about our university and our ministry by requesting more information.