In 1995, Pastor Martin borrowed his air fare and flew from Chennai to England, hoping to find support for his charitable work amongst the poor of Tamil Nadu, work he believed God had given to him to do.
Martin and his wife, Annie, had already started by renting a mud hut to house 7 orphans, but during the monsoon rains it flooded and was washed away. The children were often sick and one small child died from drinking contaminated water. Martin’s vision was to build them a proper home, to give them love, care, education and skills to help themselves out of poverty, but he had no money and no other sources of help.
During his stay in the UK he made friends in Macclesfield, who caught his vision and began supporting his work to build a children’s home for 20 children, with the aim of finding each child a sponsor to cover their expenses. Pastor Martin inherited a small plot of land and a financial contribution towards the building work. As initial donations came in from the UK, a boundary fence was built, a borehole was dug to access clean water, and foundations for a children’s home were laid. The children moved in with Annie and Martin as soon as the ground floor was completed. It took 2 years to complete the home, which was named ‘Bethel’, but no one complained; their patience was incredible. The children began to thrive and went to school.
When the number of children reached 30, the home became overcrowded and funds were raised to build a second, larger Bethel home for 50 children. The original building is now used as the head office for the Love and Care Charitable Trust, and as a temporary home for destitute adults. The first floor is a Church.
The New Bethel was home to 48 orphaned or destitute children. It was situated at the heart of an industrial estate in Chennai, South East India. The children had a safe, walled compound in which to play, with a play park containing a slide, swings and a roundabout. However eventually a number of factors meant we had to move Bethel: the industrial estate became more dangerous and more polluted, there was an increased amount of noise meaning the children couldn’t sleep and limited room for expansion. When the Indian government introduced new single-gender regulations for children’s homes, we were forced to relocate Bethel.
The children spent some time at ‘The Lord’s Garden’, an old widows’ home that Annie’s father owned. This could not be a permanent solution, so Annie set about finding a suitable plot of land for a new building project. She found a great plot of about three quarters of an acre, surrounded by farm land growing vegetable crops and rice.
There is a tiny village at the back with a few houses, animals and a rundown school compound. There is good soil, good water and, at the front of the plot, a proper main road into the town. It is on a bus route with a large school and shops nearby. With the help of generous contributions from the UK, LCCT was able to purchase this land.
In September 2013 a temporary shelter was constructed for the children to live in while a new Bethel is being built. Looks can be deceiving. This shelter is weatherproof and safe, which is a big improvement on many of the homes the children come from.
Plans for a set of small buildings to accommodate different groups of children in a flexible way is in place. We are currently having a major fundraising drive for this project to enable the building to be completed. With your help, we can raise the money to build a new Bethel with room for a large number of children in a community that is safe, loving and caring.