Homeward Bound – Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 9
Writing this series of blogs seems so insufficient. India was, and is, so much more than these moments which cannot really be put into words, only known deep in your soul.
I was privileged to have been supported financially by generous friends, enabling me to make this trip to see some of our partners work which Vision of Asia supports. From the Sundarbans and rural villages of West Bengal, to the Andaman Islands situated in the Indian ocean.
Our last couple of days were spent in Delhi. This offered the chance to visit the spectacular Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and the Red Fort as well as shopping for souvenirs before flying home.
In India, I saw God’s love in a way that I never have before. Maybe being in a place with people so very lost and searching, a spiritually dark place, the Light of Christ shines brighter. Maybe in a place where so many have such obvious and tangible physical needs, their spiritual needs and the One who satisfies them are so much more obvious.
A desperate situation
With nearly a sixth of the world’s population, India has 29 languages, some of the spiciest food on the planet, and a highly segregated rich and poor class. Thanks to the ancient caste system, crimes of social injustice, discrimination, forced prostitution, and human trafficking occur daily.
Despite news stories highlighting the growth in India’s economy and the new wealth this is creating, the need to help India’s children is becoming even more important.
Child labour is a massive problem in India. Sending a child out to work or to beg in the streets from as young as five or six is an all too acceptable option for families living in poverty.
Baby girls are often killed and abandoned, simply because of the financial burden on their families. Lepers are treated as untouchables, and the poorest of the poor live in slums.
Stopped in my tracks
A short-term mission trip for the first-time visitor in India is like taking all of your senses and emotions and sending them down a roller coaster.
And then every once in a while, a moment comes through that completely stops you in your tracks, leaving you heartbroken for the country so culturally rich and extravagant in every custom.
On our way to the airport for our return flight to Heathrow, we looked out of the taxi window to see a group of two young girls and a younger boy. They manoeuvred their way in and out of the busy traffic with ease, knocking on windows in the hope of being given money.
We had stopped at a set of traffic lights which gave this group the perfect opportunity to make a beeline towards us.
A heart broken
One girl played a small drum. The other danced to its rhythmic beat before begging us for a few rupees. Although not wanting to exploit the desperation of this moment, I did want to capture it to serve as yet another reminder of this tragic sight.
With as much subtlety as possible, I raised my phone and clicked the shutter, blinking tears from my eyes. Because if my heart was broken for the thousands of children in similar circumstances, in that moment, it was overcome with the deep, inexpressible love of Christ for this one.
Eyes – the windows of the soul
There was something behind those big brown eyes, which seemed to reflect a lifetimes sorrows and heartache. Goodness knows what she had witnessed in her short life. Probably more than we would ever know or even see throughout our own lives.
As the taxi continued on its journey she faded back amidst the sea of traffic. But I couldn’t forget her face. As I stood in the airport terminal to embark on our long flight home, I watched the crowds streaming past. Seeing her face reflected on every passing child.
I cannot forget that little girl and I don’t want to. I hope the memory of her face reminds me to pray for her and others like her.
What we know and what we do
There is often such a tremendous imbalance between what we know and what we do. Whatever way the Lord shows us, whether it is through prayer, sharing or going, each of us must take responsibility and do everything we can to get the job done.
“Whatever He says to you, do it.”
In a time of crisis at a wedding feast, Mary the mother of Jesus said to a group of servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
That is some of the best counsel that has ever been given. And the counsel I shall take as I continue to serve Him within Vision for Asia, and with a vision for Asia.
My final blog – Reflections on my first visit to India – Part 10 will be available to read soon.