Friday, April 26, 2013

Hope Meets Poverty


I wasn't prepared for this.


I wasn't prepared to see depravity face to face nor ready to see life in the middle of hopelessness.    It's striking, shocking, and full of contrast.  In it's raw forms it's always honest and revealing.

There is no way to get into this broken scene gently.  What I saw was one of the most heart wrenching glimpses and certainly a dark look into the lives of the Dalits, dwelling in the most despicable living conditions...you could ever imagine.  I was smack dab in the middle of a slum in India.

I am not sure that anything could have prepared me for what I saw that day.

Through many trips I have experienced poverty at different levels and the face of poverty looks different each place I go.  Poverty has different degrees and levels to it.  It's very definitive of each culture and has life altering circumstances with each face that dwells.

I might be oversensitive to this, but I always walk away changed because of deep look at poverty's face.  It's in these stories that I wish I could turn into a super-hero and save every last child that is forever found there.  But I know that is not what they need.  They don't need a loud white American to sweep away their slum life.

So my question to God is why He wants me to care about the least of these.
  "Because I care about the least of these.  These are my children too".  

This class of people are untouched and unnoticed, segregated and separated.  Such contrast from high rises on one corner flanked by expensive apartment buildings to make shift "homes" made of whatever they could find in the trash pile.  For some it's just a piece of ragged cloth.  

How do you raise kids in someone else's trash?

I saw a 10-year old begging for money, the money wasn't for food, it was for his tobacco addiction.  Almost every street corner was littered with young lives peddling something in bondage to a mafia boss.  Slums filled with hopelessness, block after block, on every street corner, poverty at different levels on display.  It was hard to walk into the slums that day.  

"God, please guard our hearts and help me to see with the eyes of your heart."

Maybe a better description would be the condition of my heart after I walked away.

Wrecked.  Something inside me breaks hard. 

My heart is moved by the emotional assault that keeps replaying in my mind.  I don't want to forget.  Dear God, let me not forget.  Let their silent cries penetrate my heart.  Let the poor among us not disappear from my deep thinking....let it not go unnoticed in my daily intentions.  Let it not fade into the background of my somewhat ungrateful and comfortable attitude that slips easy into my heart once back home.  God, please guard me from the sin of entitlement.  God, I saw desperation.

As I loaded up in the back seat of the van, the tears again fell for knowing that I was the "poor in spirit". May the slums scenes replay in my heart to break the blind spots to the hurting, the poverty stricken, the lost and lonely, the homeless, the child slaves, sex trafficked juveniles, the homes of the broken.  

Maybe it's me...and you...too.

Now that I have seen this, what do I do about that?    There is really only one response that comes down to meet poverty.

Hope.  Hope meets poverty.

The problem is that they are the not invisible, or untouchable, or hidden.  GFA supports slum ministry that brings Hope to the faces of the Dalit poverty-stricken people.  Hope meets them in them right where they are at and gives them the gospel message, shows them the face of Christ and gives them a hand up, not a hand out.  I am so thankful that God's hope transfer takes place even in the slums.

"Invisibility is not a real superpower -- but listening, seeing and learning may be."

Now that I have seen...may my walk through the slums serve as a catalyst to move my heart into a deeper level of compassion.  Society likes to hide and tuck poverty away silently, and put slum-band-aid-labels on their lives.    

"Blessed are those at the end of their rope because they can be tied to God.
Blessed are the broken for they can be gathered into His belonging.
Blessed are those who find themselves wholly empty, 
because they have space to be holy filled with God." ~ Ann Voskamp

I am moved by their desperation, and how God meets them in their vulnerable state of emptiness with His fullness.  When there's nothing left but God, there you find the true Hope.  

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