March 2013 – In 1976, Maurice Singh’s parents founded an orphanage in Bangalore, India. He recently sat down with AFA Journal to tell his family’s story and how the ministry was birthed.
It began when Maurice’s mother was a young college student walking past a village on her way to classes. The village was marked by poverty and squalor, and God burdened her heart to do something. Her response was to reach out to children.
Singh said, “My grandparents did not want her to do it. They thought she was crazy because in Indian culture, it is not the girl that does these kinds of things. But she went, without telling my grandparents, and began teaching the children the alphabet and numbers and how to sing choruses. Eventually, she taught them the gospel.” The relationships she built with those children started a lifelong, multi-generational ministry.
New ministry, new home
God brought an American nutritionist, Mary Futrell, to the Bangalore Hospital right outside the quarry village were Helen, Maurice’s mom, was ministering. After being prodded by the Holy Spirit, Futrell visited the village with her. When Futrell saw how the kids surrounded her, she knew God was doing something great.
“That is when Look Unto Jesus Ministries was born.” Singh said. “It was under a tree, among broken rocks with broken children. Eventually, the kids would ask to stay with my mother. Most didn’t want to go home because a drunken father would be waiting to beat them. That was very common in this village.”
Helen married Sundar Singh, a man as passionate about children as she was. With the help of Futrell, they built an orphanage inside the quarry village. But what was meant to be a beacon of hope for children was seen as a threat by adults.
Singh said, “In the early 1990s, our persecution became very bad. I was a high school student and people tried to kidnap both me and my sister. Others tried to kill us, thinking that would stop our parents from ministering the gospel to these children. When they couldn’t get to us, they tried to kidnap the children we housed. When they were safe, villagers tried to poison our food and water. At one point, the community got together and stoned our home for months. It would start at six in the afternoon and go well into the night.”
New home, new beginnings
With the help of new partners in the U.S., including Global Outreach, an interdenominational missionary support organization, the Singhs purchased a larger facility outside the village. Their new home could house up to 100 children and was outside the city of Bangalore.
Singh said, “There are many wonderful stories of who these children grew up to be. In the last 36 years, we have had over 3,000 children graduate from our home. Almost 2,900 are pastors and evangelists in their home communities.”
One story in particular is close to Singh’s heart. “We had a Muslim boy who was rescued in the early 1980s by my parents. He lived with us for 10 years and in that time became a Christian. He wanted to be an auto mechanic, so we taught him to do that. When he left our home he was forced to marry a Muslim girl. But when he had children he brought them to us, wanting us to raise them in the same faith and with the same values he was raised in.”
One parent’s request started a new ministry for LUJM. “We were in a village sharing the gospel with a young commercial sex worker,” Singh said. “Eventually, she invited us to her home where we met her five-year-old daughter. The more we inquired about the little girl, the more her mother wept. Slowly, she revealed the girl’s father was looking to sell her into child prostitution. Of course, we weren’t leaving that house without rescuing her. Eventually, we came to an agreement with her father where we had to buy her from him.”
Since that time, Look Unto Jesus Ministries has rescued 22 young girls from the commercial sex industry.
New beginnings, new problems
As God expanded the ministry of the Singhs, the enemy increased his attacks. Singh said, “In India, we follow the British system of government, meaning each state has a chief minister who leads it. Two years ago, a candidate ran on a platform of ensuring Christians were actively removed from our state. The people voted him in, and he has done everything possible to fulfill his campaign promise. The month after he was elected, 45 churches were burned down and 20 pastors were killed.”
The persecution quickly became personal for the Singhs, as those who hated them now had the official backing of the government. Singh said, “We have no support from the law or the police, and our persecution is now government funded. If you come to our campus today you will not see a single window that has not been broken. They break them with stones as soon as we fix them.”
The government and villagers would rather see children starving and in the sex industry than being raised by a Christian family.
The Singh family and LUJM are the embodiment of the servant in Matthew 25. Maurice’s father, who died of cancer in 2009, has already experienced what Maurice, his mother and sister still look forward to. They will look into the face of Jesus and hear Him say: “Well done, good and faithful servant … You took me off the street. You clothed and fed me. You taught me and protected me. Whatever you did for each child, you did for Me.”
At the orphanage, a traditional meal of rice costs little more than a dollar. So even small financial contributions go exponentially further than Americans fathom, says Maurice.
But there is another way of partnering with the Singhs. He said, “Nothing means more to these children than seeing someone visit from across the world just to say ‘I love you.’ It doesn’t take a special type of person or a special spiritual gift. You just have to have the love of Jesus and want to share it with children.”
To make a gift to LUJM through Global Outreach, visit www.globaloutreach.org or call 800-961-9244.