In 2001, I, Jesse Rivers, was on a mission trip to India, and was working in an orphanage of 150 orphans. I got to see each of them loved on, cared for, and provided for by the Founder and Pastor, his family, and the staff. While there, one day a young lady with a newborn baby girl came to the orphanage crying and screaming. The pastor’s wife and daughter saw to her, but for almost two hours she was screaming and crying with her daughter.
After the two hours the mother reluctantly ran out of the orphanage, still screaming and crying, leaving her newborn baby girl behind. The pastor’s wife and daughter then informed me of what had happened. The young lady had been deceived by a man from a higher caste, who had led her to believe he loved her and was going to marry her. He got her pregnant and when he found out that she was pregnant he started threatening her. When the baby girl was born, the man told the mother that if she did not flee to another state in India he would kill her and the baby girl as well. In tormenting grief and fear, the mother brought her baby girl to the orphanage, because she knew the baby couldn’t endure the travel to another state.
After the mother had fled, the staff at the orphanage tried consoling the baby girl but none could. At that time I had a huge beard and long hair, as I was doing a nazarite pledge (outlined in Numbers 6) to become more disciplined and focused on God. For some reason the little girl finally looked at me, reached out for my beard, and pulled my face to hers. The staff member gave her to me and she stopped crying. She fell asleep in my arms. The workers at the orphanage then decided that the little girl’s name was to be Jessica, naming her after me!
Time and change in life over the years has caused me to lose communication with that orphanage, and I am not sure how Jessica is doing. I do pray for her though, and her story is one of many that probe my heart and life to continue forward in advocacy for orphaned, at risk, and street children!