Impact Blog

India Journey 2018 Part One

Journey of Compassion to Northern India, March 2018

The team arrived on Monday (three days ago) from eight different nations, including two that have not been represented before––Switzerland and Bulgaria. After a day of orientation, on Tuesday we visited Ray of Hope School. It was started by Anu Mathews five years ago, in response to seeing scores of slum children wandering around aimlessly.

These children had never been to school and so, were completely illiterate. Not only that, they were all malnourished, often living on scraps that they could find in the slum. The state school would not take them, often citing the fact that many of them were too old to learn primary material.

What we encountered were sixty clean, happy and exuberant children who meet at Ray of Hope for 2-3 hours five days a week. There they receive teaching, nutritious food, encouragement and (perhaps most importantly) love and attention. Because of this after-school program, all of the children are in the state school and thriving; many are at the top of their class.

As a team, we were so blessed and encouraged to see the children in their studies and to hear about the progress that they had all made.

And then came Wednesday.

Zirakpur, a beggars’ colony.

Yesterday, we conducted a medical clinic in one of the slums. What we encountered was shocking. The children were dressing in rags, or nothing at all. Every one of them was filthy. They were small and thin, with bloated stomachs. All of the children who came to the clinic were chronically ill; many of their illnesses were very, very serious. One of the team told me about a child who was over a year old; he looked like he was only a few weeks old.

There were no children in school; the parents can’t afford it. As I walked through this slum, a colony of beggar families, I saw no children playing; I heard no laughter (until I came back to the clinic where team members were playing games with the kids). Walking through the slum, I felt sad to see that nothing ever seems to change (this is my third year visiting here).

The doctors reported that many of the children they saw were suffering from pica, a disease that is caused mainly by eating dirt. Yes, eating dirt. The children’s stomachs are so empty that they have to fill them with something, and dirt is what is available to them.

Anu told me that this slum is just like the ones that the Ray of Hope children come from. Her kids were in the same state when she brought them in. Now the magnitude of what is happening at her school is becoming apparent to me and to the team. This is the power of consistent, daily love and attention. This is Christ saying, “Let the little ones come to Me.”

While the clinic was going on, our team distributed water filters and buckets, enough for about 30 families (150 people) to share. We then handed out 4 kg. (9 lb.) of rice to over 60 families. Each packet is enough for about 1-2 days for a family of five. As well, our team saw many healings and a number came to Christ. All of these things are “good news to the poor”.

Randeep, Anu and their team give 4 kg. of rice to 40 families living in Zirakpur. There are about 250 families in this slum. The need greatly outstrips their capacity.

To be honest, I had trouble sleeping last night; I was confronted with the desperate images of the day. When this happens to me, whether in the Philippines, Haiti, Africa or India, it is all too easy to feel overwhelmed. Of course, the enemy wants me to feel paralyzed and hopeless. But then, Jesus reminds me of His compassion that never stopped moving forward, never stopped connecting with people and bringing them hope and healing. Compassion has only one responsibility: to give itself to the next person. Then the next.

Along with Randeep and Anu and others on our Impact team, I am praying for Jesus’ solution for these people. And I am convinced that He has one waiting for us. Somehow, He will open the door to bring these people a living hope, marked by enough to eat, clean water to drink, and a place for the children to be equipped for the “hope and future” that the Lord has prepared for every one of them.

Isaiah looked ahead to the day when God’s great restoration would take place. When faced with the dire situations of the poorest, I choose to fix my eyes on what God says about the future:

In that city those who build houses will live there.
Those who plant vineyards will get to eat their grapes.
No more will one person build a house and someone else live there.
One person will not plant a garden and someone else eat its fruit...
My chosen people will live there
and enjoy the things they make.
They will never again work for nothing.
They will never again give birth to children who die young.
All my people will be blessed by the LORD;
they and their children will be blessed.
(Is. 65:21-23)

~Steve

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