Huntington University missions team provides orphans with place to lay

Come January, the orphaned girls at the Home of Love in India will finally have a soft place to lay their heads at night.

Almost a year after returning from a missions trip to Chennai, India, the Huntington University team has reached and exceeded its fund-raising goal of $20,000 for the Home of Love, an all-girls orphanage in Chennai, India. Next month, a team of HU students is going back to finish the job.

Between Jan. 4 through Jan. 21, 14 HU students are traveling to Chennai where they will lead a Vacation Bible School program, with drama, games, music, dance and crafts, and begin the work of building a new dormitory. The 70 girls at the home currently sleep on mats on a concrete floor.

"I am so excited to be able to return to India," said junior Hannah Hochstetler. "It is surreal to me that I was a part of the team who started this goal and reached the goal, and now, I get to go back and put the plan in motion."

The Home of Love is a Christian orphanage for girls at risk of living on the streets or being sold into the sex trade. Last year, a group of 15 HU students worked at the home for two weeks. When the team returned, they couldn't get India and the needs of the girls out of their minds. They decided to start a fund-raising campaign to build a dormitory.

"We decided to do (the fund-raiser) on our way back, when we were in Delhi," said junior Nate Sullivan, who was a part of the 2012 team. "We all felt that we didn't want to leave that place and be done with it."

The team agreed that the project would be a huge undertaking, especially since some of the students had not even paid for their trips to India yet.

"We really thought we might be setting an impossible goal, but (fellow HU student and team leader) Luke Brenneman talked to us about the irrevocable commitment we had been called to by God when we signed up to go on the trip," Sullivan said. "That's what India meant to us - doing everything we could to fulfill God's work until we couldn't back out of it."

The 2013 Love India J-Term team is currently in the midst of fund-raising for their trip.

"With the increasing cost of flights and general expenses we are relying on God to provide for the funding of this year's student mission team as he has already for the orphanage," said Grace McBrayer, director of volunteer service and outreach ministry at HU.

Those who would like to give a gift to the India team, send checks to Huntington University, attention Grace McBrayer, with "India Trip" in the memo.