“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James 1:27
It’s amazing to me to see how quickly the human brain adapts to different concepts and experiences. Through each season, I’ve watched myself and the people around me grow in ways that seemed to be completely beyond our greatest capabilities. I swear…it’s as if we’re elastic. The last two years have stretched me into a new human being entirely. Yet, there is one thing I cannot seem to stretch around or adapt to… It’s been almost a month since my return from India and this is the first time I’ve even really allowed my mind to try to put into words the things that I saw. People have asked me about my trip and if you were one of them then you can probably bear witness to my three word response: “It was crazy.” And it was. See, there are certain moments in life that leave us changed forever. I’ve always prayed to have moments like that. It’s true though that our prayers are never really answered the way that we envision them to be answered. I know that this was definitely the case with my trip to India. At times I asked God why he was showing me the things he was showing me. I felt like a child who caught a glimpse of something her tiny mind should have never seen. This was no easy elastic stretch…it was the breaking of bones…left out in the open to somehow piece themselves back together again. And with God’s help, day by day, I am somehow figuring out the way these bones should go…the way I am designed to function if I am ever to be of use in this broken world.
I can never fully explain to you all of the things that we saw in India. There was such a strong spirit of oppression there that as soon as the plane landed I immediately felt shivers run down my spine. There was a darkness in Mumbai so new to my sheltered heart…a seemingly impenetrable force hovered over our days so thick you could almost taste it. Yet when we stepped into the children’s, women’s, and men’s homes there, the presence of God was so real that the darkness literally could not resist it. I soon realized that Jesus was not just an option to these people, He truly was a savior. He was their only hope of escaping the darkness.
Of course, these people don’t have access to the security we so easily take for granted. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t ever want to bash the blessings that God has given us by telling you how terrible it is in other countries. In fact, if I had a goal in telling you all this, if I could take one thing away from this whole experience to relay to others, I guess it would be a strong desire that you all know the power of God’s love to transform people. To bring them hope. To drive away darkness. To be uniquely individualized to every person’s journey…because the things that I saw were utterly hopeless cases. I saw kids overcome the temperament of skittish cats after being shoved under beds for years while their moms did business with men. I saw women bravely raise their hands in worship knowing they had to go to work as soon as church was over. I saw radiating smiles through the scars on women’s faces, forever physically damaged from repetitive undeserved abuse. I saw a hope that relinquishes its power to no force on heaven or earth. And it changed me forever.
I learned that compassion is not necessarily made up of tears. No, compassion is comprised of hope and a daily consistency to accompany the downcast to see that hope play out. If we truly believe in the power of the Gospel to change people, then the way that we worship, the way that we see people, the way that we view even our own journeys should be nothing less than unnaturally powerful. And while I’ve spent much of the last month grieving over the undeserved oppression faced by these women and children in India, God has spoken to me, reminding me that his love is not too weak to cover the weight of the world. His light is not too dim to drive away any amount of darkness. He is calling us all to live lives of compassion. Compassion that goes beyond tears and sorrow. Compassion that reaches daily into the darkest corners to draw those people out who have yet to know the light.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. I am forever indebted to your belief in this mission God has placed me on. Please continue to pray for India as God transforms the lives of the people there.