Fear was the dominant feeling this morning as I rode through one of the city’s slums on the back of a motorcycle en route to the ministry we were visiting. I felt I was inside a beehive, with thousands of people all toiling in little honeycomb-like rooms in the sides of buildings, often no more than a few square feet in size.
The swarming traffic and honking horns only added to the feeling of busyness. The smell, though, is something I’ve never encountered and it is impossible to describe. It’s like a babbling brook of odor, never the same with every breath bringing a slightly different variation of pungency.
Eventually we reach our destination. Leaving the street we walk down a path into the sea of huts. It was disturbingly quiet compared to the street and black birds eerily circled in the air above me. Even though I had left the terrifying motorcycle and traffic, a subtle uneasiness remained.
A man who goes by Pastor David runs the ministry I am on my way to visit. The ministry is for children age 4 to 6 who live in this particular slum. Staff on past Cru summer projects have built a relationship with Pastor David and visited his ministry in between time spent on college campuses in India.
I meet the rest of my group (they had traveled in vans) and they send me on a sharp left turn down a gap in the huts barely wider than my shoulders. A few yards later I step into an open doorway and as soon as my eyes adjust they confirm what my ears are already telling me; the room is full of joyful children.
The fear and anxiety I was experiencing instantly evaporated. I choke up at the sight of such uncontained joy in the middle of such poverty. The room contains one ripped-up couch and only one decorated wall. The far wall has a large cross hanging in the middle with what looks like some former crafts hanging alongside it. And that is all.
This is the ministry we came to visit. A daycare-like setup provides children in this part of the slum with a place to play, eat and learn about God. It’s beauty lies in its simplicity.
My group had the privilege of bringing the food for snack time and the children were shrieking with delight. One girl has a snack-size Snickers, but she neglected to fully peel the wrapper off before trying to eat it. I offer a hand and she lets me peel the remainder of the now slobbery wrapper away so that she can finish her candy.
I find myself thanking God in the middle of witnessing all this for providing this for these kids. I thank Him for Pastor David and the people willing to invest in these kids’ lives. This is not glamorous ministry, but they are willing servants nevertheless.
As snack time came to a close, my group and I began to exit. The kids enthusiastically waved goodbye and their laughter could be heard as I made my way back down the narrow alley.
No longer fearful, I have been reminded of God’s love for us, no matter our circumstances. In a way, we all need His help as we slobber up our lives like the little girl and her Snickers bar. My life sure is slobbery at times, I just pray that I am as willing to hand over control and ask for help as that child was.
When the only Hindu priest in an Indian village turned to Christ, the sacrifices stopped.
In India’s westernmost state 40,000 "Love Buckets" of food were given to families in need after an earthquake. A year later a village had been rebuilt.
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