As I climb into the three wheeled, yellow taxi with my dear new friends, I feel like I am living in a dream. I remind myself of a promise I made, “I will take it ALL in, I will be ALL there, and I will look for opportunities to SHINE for Christ”.
The rickshaw bounced over rocks and into deep holes. It swerved away from many near misses of children, dogs, bikes, and oxen. I think I am hidden, but the eyes keep watching me. The women in their bright colored sarees look up from their washing. The men with dirt on their faces and more skin exposed than a rope and skirt can cover glare with anger. The curious children seem more afraid of me than they are of the wild dogs. Their eyes all seem to be searching for something. Something deep. Something that will quench their thirst and take away their pain. My heart swells with love for EVERY ONE. I wonder how I can be a light here in such a dark place. Up and over a railroad track and we enter into another world all together.
This part of the village doesn’t have concrete walls and pumps for wells. Women walk balancing heavy water pots on their shoulders. These homes are made of sticks and mud, with palm branches covering their heads. The branches hang low. I have to lower myself to enter.
The faces are those that have been born into Hindu homes and have worshiped other gods, but are now so thankful to know Christ as their Savior. They know Him in a way that seems so much deeper and more intimate than I have ever known Him. He has rescued them from many gods (Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, Durga, Saraswati, Venkateswar, and Aiyappa—just to name a few) and from eternal destruction. He has revealed to them a name that is above every name, the name of JESUS.
He has set them apart. In a country that is 85% Hindu, 13% Muslim and only 2% Christian; they are no longer accepted in their community. They are shunned and abandoned by their families. They now rely on Jesus for their very life. This they are aware of every moment of every day. Although they are alone and have nothing but dirt floors, a small cot to sleep a family, and a few pots, they are full of joy. I am amazed and humbled.
The face of the woman I greet has tears in her eyes. Not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. She shakes my hand and grabs my face. I choke back the tears when she offers me her very best place to sit. We pray together and cry together. We are worlds apart and yet we are connected. We both shine with the love of Christ. Mine is but a flicker, but hers is shining bright.
They are the poor and yet they are so very rich. I am rich in comparison, and yet I feel so very poor. The message to the church in Smyrna comes to my mind, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich).” I see the words of scripture come alive. I want to take pictures to help me remember this moment, but my respect for them is too great. Instead, I am ALL there. I will take it ALL in.
These two photos are from Google images.
We go from one home to another, sometimes riding, sometimes walking, but always raising our hands and hearts in thanksgiving to the One that has given life. Our words are different, but we can still communicate. Is this what Heaven is like? Every tribe and every tongue worshiping the name of Jesus together.
There is still heartache and pain, so we must not be there yet.
Stomachs are bloated with infection. Bones have been broken and not set. Mothers are crying for their sick and hungry children. Fathers are rejected work because of their caste. We cry out to the Lord for healing and we look forward to the day when there will be no more tears and no more pain.
Our hearts groan for that great day of redemption--when we will see Him face to face.
I have found that it is not difficult to see Christ here. Here, in this dark country, where statues and temples stand tall, there is still a remnant. These may be few in number, but oh, how their light shines. Like a city set upon a hill cannot be hidden, these souls that have been delivered are shining the light of Christ.
As I lower myself to enter their homes, I also lower my pride. I realize that we may have many material possessions in America, but many of us are still very poor.
What is poverty anyway? If it is a lack of something needed for life, if it is an absence of bread and water, then I dare say that our concept of who the poor is may be completely backwards.
We are hungry and thirsty. We feel the emptiness in our lives and we crave for more. We are in need of healing. Our hearts have been broken and our bodies are failing. We need Jesus. He is the only way, the truth, and the life. He is the bread of life and living water. He has come to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free.
Like the woman of Samaria that Jesus met at the well, we must acknowledge and believe that He is the great I AM. He is more than a great prophet. He is our deliverer. He is our healer. He is the one true God. He is the Messiah.
There will come a day, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but until that day I want to shine bright like the woman under the palm branches with empty hands and a heart full of love and full of joy. I want to shine, like the Zurishaddai Church shines throughout a rural village in southeast India, in my own town of northeast Ohio. Whether we stay in Ohio or move to another city, state, or country, I will take it ALL in, I will be ALL there, and I will look for opportunities to SHINE for Christ.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.