Grace House is a non-profit, live-in facility that provides sanctuary and full-time care to some of rural India’s most vulnerable girls — girls who have experienced unspeakable violence, abuse, poverty and loss of family.
CRAIG & STACEY
---- STACEY ----
In 2013, I visited a girls' home in India run by the local government. A hundred girls, ranging in age from maybe 3 or 4 to 18, lived there. Near the street I saw girls with their buckets; they were struggling to get water from an open cistern for their daily needs. How can 100 girls live in a building with no running water? They can't shower, flush a commode, brush their teeth at the sink – and they certainly can't drink a clean glass of water. How is this possible? So we did what we needed to do; we put in a well. We put in storage tanks with a filtration system and we plumbed the building. It is what needed to be done, so we did it.
I've been back several times since that first visit. I know these girls, many of them by name. I visit them with a friend who is a pastor in the town and runs a very successful ministry organization; he sends social workers to this place often. Is everyone accounted for? Is everyone OK? One day – not long before I was to visit again – we received word. Everyone was not OK. It was reported that men were being allowed into the facility at night.
We showed up for our visit expecting to see 91 girls, but only 44 were present. No one would tell us where the other 47 where. We went in and handed out the dresses and goodies we had brought. We hugged and kissed as many as we could and were very quickly escorted from the property. We weren't allowed any conversations. We weren't allowed any photographs. We weren't allowed to stay and wait.
We left, heartsick. Where were these missing 47? Could we get to them? If we did get to them, how could we keep them safe?
We drove a ways out of town to an abandoned project: a full campus complete with dormitory and dining hall. A place for a library and a clinic. With classrooms and meeting rooms. With room for planting vegetables and raising chickens and goats. An idyllic place, one that was clean and green, quiet and serene.
We knew instantly and without hesitation that this abandoned project was the answer to our fervent prayers. This is where we could help them. This is where we could keep them safe. This is where they would learn about the grace of a living and loving God.
This was to be Grace House.
----- CRAIG ----
I was there, that week in October – the week that the 47 went missing. I had been there before, but this time was different. It was nerve-wracking. Once inside, you could tell very quickly that things were not right. But it's not our place; you can't call Social Services or face off with some house mother, accusing her of exploiting these kids for personal gain. Believe me, you want to – but you know that, if you do, you will never go in there again. Never see them again. Never know if they are all right. It's a terrible position to be in.
That was a long car ride, leaving that place and moving on to our next task. We were full of prayer and fear, wondering what was next for these girls. And we found our answer: a complete campus set on 13 acres with fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Room to run and play. A quiet place to heal. It was as if God had put us in this situation to stir our hearts and then – just as quickly – provide the solution. The abandoned project that would become Grace House.
I'm typically not one to hear directly from God. I can't recall a time that I ever had but, that night – after we began to consider whether this was our mission – I heard loud and clear that this is exactly where we were supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing.
I went to bed that night, just as I have every other night – but this night God spoke to me during my sleep. I was dreaming about this abandoned facility, but now – in my dream – everything was completely renovated. Girls were there, laughing, smiling and playing; it was beautiful. God spoke to me, saying, "I will open this door; you just have to walk through it." Now, I'm not known to walk in my sleep but, in the middle of the night, on that night, I woke up to find myself standing in an open doorway. I was startled and just stood there for a few moments, the realization of what I was experiencing becoming ever more clear. I made a commitment right then: I will walk through the door if this is what You want.
I slowly and quietly closed the door so as not to disturb the others sleeping and got back in bed. I awoke the next morning thinking about what had happened the night before, eager for Stacey to wake up so I could share it with her. And, as the morning light began to fill the room, wouldn't you know? The door that I had closed during the night was wide open once again. I was absolutely certain that God had confirmed to us that this is to be our project. He left no doubt and I am grateful for that.
We look forward to their arrival. To their developing a relationship with a loving God. To their educations and graduations. To their marriages and children. To watching them step out to become all they can become through the grace and power of a God whose love knows no bounds. A God who knew these girls before they were born. Who has incredible plans for each and every one of them.