Thursday, April 16, 2015

I'm Waking Up...

Mumbai, India.  Imagine New York City but 2x as dense with people. Shiny skyscrapers in the skyline, and below, little brightly colored tin box shelters littered all around, serving as housing for the poorest of the poor. It’s hot and muggy, the sky is very hazy from all the pollution, and people are everywhere. Businessmen scurry to their destinations, women with pink, green, blue, and purple shawls are seen here and there, street peddlers selling random Indian trinkets and knick knacks and food stands abound. On almost every other corner is somebody sitting on the ground with an array of vegetables and other produce laid out for sale. It probably costs less than $1USD for enough vegetables for a small family’s dinner. Cars, mopeds, and bicycles zoom past each other in the most disorganized fashion you’ve ever seen. Drivers honk their horns every other second. It’s madness.

What’s going on here is simple: most of these people are just trying to survive.  Admittedly, I’d have to generalize a fair amount to come to this conclusion, but it’s quite apparent especially with the poor that dominate the streets. At the end of the afternoon yesterday we visited a beach, which was one of the more iconic beaches in Mumbai.  Imagine Waikiki Beach, but 3x as deep from sidewalk to the ocean, and miles long. The ocean is a dark grey tone, but nobody is in it. The sand is packed hard, and it looks like the tide swing is pretty big there with wet sand watermark coming up about 60-70 yards from the actual ocean.  There are people everywhere. Half of them are residents just hanging out, the 40% of them are selling things, and then 10% of them are begging in some way or another. Little children with dirty clothes and dirty faces run around begging for money. Everyone is basically looking to make some kind of money. Especially from us the foreigners.

My heart broke, especially when seeing the children. I do realize that they are raised and basically trained to beg us for money, while their mother or father watches from afar. Regardless, they must be in need to have to work hard living a life like this…the disparity is so large. This place provides so much perspective…and I have traveled quite a bit and have seen a lot of different countries. This closest that I’ve experienced to this was the Philippines when I spent a month there with the Rotary Club. The dense population and large population of poverty is pretty comparable. But in the PI, Catholicism is the main religion, and so the belief in God and Jesus is not foreign. In India, less than 3% are Christian. That means 97% of the people here, nearly a billion people, don’t have true hope, life, and are not saved. I just researched that there are 330 gods in the Hindu religion. 330!? Can you imagine how scattered that can make somebody? How can one seize hope, love, and LIFE when they are constantly worshipping a different thing, every day of the year? I compare the worship of one of these 330 gods to worship my one and only Father, the One who is living and has brought me life and changed my life forever.  How blessed am I to have Jesus Christ as my savior who is the one source of my courage, wisdom, direction, and love. I don’t need to pray to inanimate objects that don’t answer me because I have a living God who I can see living in so many others around me in my community, in this team I’m here with in India.Anyway, I could go on and on…I perhaps don’t have much a point here, except that I recognize how large the need for Jesus is here, not just to help the impoverished put food in their mouths, but more importantly to bring life to their souls.

We arrived at the boys' orphanage tonight and were greeted by them all with warm hugs and bright smiles. I’ve never met any of them before but the excitement on their faces and in their eyes makes me think otherwise. These boys will grow to be lights to this nation of India, and will help spread the Word of Christ exponentially. Our job here this week is to encourage them, but just after seeing them for 30 minutes tonight, I know that I will come away encouraged more by THEM.   -James

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