Born with severe delayed developmental milestones, Taslima did not walk until she was two-and-a-half. An autistic child with an IQ of 30, she was admitted to The Opportunity School in Chennai, India, at the age of 5 with severe behavioral problems.
With no self help or speech skills, Taslima used frequent tantrums as a way to express herself. She lived in her own world and responded only to loud sound.
Today, thanks to patient teachers at The Opportunity School, Taslima has learned to hear her name being called and she can now use her fingers to feed herself, clap her hands, and wave goodbye. She can throw a ball and even climb stairs.
On Friday morning, Taslima was able to hold the shoe box gift that Franklin Graham gave her as part of an Operation Christmas Child outreach event in Chennai.
These are the little children – often forgotten by the rest of the world – that OCC reaches with these gifts of love. They saw in Franklin and in the boxes they held the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
The children at The Opportunity School range from those like Taslima who are severely disabled to some who can study up to Grade 5 and have the potential for vocational training.
Squeals of delight could be heard throughout the school on Friday as the children gathered to greet their special guest, learn about Jesus, and receive their shoebox gifts.
I met Taslima that day and, in my humanness, walked away with tears in my eyes. I could only imagine how these children break the heart of Jesus. They are so precious. I wanted to love them all. I know He does.
Thank God for Operation Christmas Child! This past year, the OCC team hand-delivered approximately 8 million gift-filled shoe boxes to children in some 100 countries impacted by war, terrorism, disease, natural disasters, famine and poverty.
India is the largest OCC receiving country. Some 770,000 shoe box gifts will be distributed in the 2009-2010 season. Since 1998, more than 6.6 million boxes have been given to the children of India.
Franklin Graham personally distributes gifts in each country that hosts a Festival. “Over the past 16 years,” he said, “I’ve had the opportunity to hand out Christmas gifts to hurting children all over the world and to tell them the story of the Savior who came from heaven to rescue us from sin and death.
“So many of these kids are not loved and they feel abandoned and alone,” Franklin added. “Continue to pray for children around the world, that God will use this program to touch them in a special way and that they will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Kids Fest Rocks!
On Saturday morning and afternoon (Jan. 23), other children across Chennai had the opportunity to learn about Jesus at two differnet Kids Fest events – one in English, one in Tamil. More than 10,000 raised their hands or came forward at the invitation. Praise God for these precious new lives!
Backstage during the event, I spent a little time with a 10-year-old young lady named Olivia, who told me how glad she was that so many of her friends had come to Kids Fest. “It is important for children of India to know Jesus,” she said.
Several of her classmates were either dancers or clowns in the dramatic performance that colorfully explained the Gospel in a way any child could understand.
Olivia jumped with joy that a girl from her school later raised her hand to accept Jesus. We rejoice with her!
Learn about The Greatest Journey, an OCC/BGEA discipleship program.
Keep up with all the latest Chennai Hope Festival news.