This is a touching and personal account from Em Jones, member of One Community Church, on a recent trip to India. Em says "something that really impacted me was the time that I volunteered with the missionaries of charity, in a place called Prem Dan, better known as the house for the dying and destitute." Here is a snippet directly from Em's journal while on her travels:
I sat with a frail old lady, only skin and bone, so tiny that when she crouched up on her bed she reminded me of a small child, she was lying down with the her knees to her chest. I held her hand and said ‘namaste’, she was crying. She grabbed my hand and kissed it, I moved closer to her so she could be more comfortable, she took full grasp of my hand and kissed my forehead, she held it so tightly and close to hers. She didn’t understand me when I asked for her name, she spoke only Bengali, she was crying and trying to articulate herself but we couldn’t communicated due to the language barrier. She didn’t want any food, when I tried to spoon feed her she only wanted a spoonful of mashed banana, I helped her sit to take few sips of water but it took to much energy so she immediately lay down again. I looked into her eyes and I knew that she was only going to last another week or so. I moisturized her body head to toes, it was scaly, flaky and there was an excess of skin as there was no fat on her. I was able to fit her arm between my thumb and index finger, she was just bone. She was in so much pain but there was nothing I could do, so we just cried together. I felt so much pain and heart ache sitting there, I whispered to her ‘I wish I could take your pain away from you sister’, but I couldn’t so all I could do was silently pray for her, I farewelled her and said four things ‘I’m sorry I can’t take away your pain, you are important, you are loved and you are beautiful’.
I realised at that point how unjust the world has become, how it shouldn’t be where you are born that decides how long you live and the quality of that living state. It made me realise how we will all be held responsible for their state of living, that we are the stewards of this Earth that we have the opportunity and the power to do something. At that point in time though I realised that there isn’t much we can do sometimes, sometimes there are only little things we can do- just give people the dignity they deserve, treat them humanely, just simply love them, not just say it but a real and raw love that comes deep from within you.
We moisturized, toileted people, brushed peoples hair, lifted people into their beds, held hands with people and fed people – I fully understand now what Mother Teresa means now when she said ‘we can do no great things, only small things with great love’. I pray that the unbelievable outflow of real, raw and genuine love that I feel for these beautiful people would not stop here. That my love may be fruitful and genuine, that the lengths that I would go to for these strangers that I barely know would be the same for those back home that I come in contact with. No mater the situation or the story, if they are poor or rich, the background or the relationship, family, friend or stranger, whom I come in contact with, I pray that I love them with an authentic love, a real love and a raw love that only God can provide.
How has this experience changed me?
I have a greater understanding of our place in the world now, that there are only a small percentage of people in the world living the way that we do - that the majority of our brothers and sisters are struggling to have food, water and shelter every day - the way we live isn’t normal, its out of the ordinary. My perspectives on things have changed such as this (another part of my journal): ‘The poor are not just needy people, they are people like you and me, they are God’s children. In order to serve the poor you need to know the poor, in order to know the poor you need to desire to know the poor, to desire to know the poor comes from God, to have an overflowing love and passion for justice comes from loving God yourself, through loving God and knowing His heart, you automatically have a passion for His passion, you love the marginalised, mourn for the oppressed and are a voice for the poor – you love God’s people because they are His, He created them, He loves them, they are your family, your brothers and sisters, they deserve and have the right to be loved and it is a privilege for me to do so’. I feel as though I am more compassionate and have a greater empathy for those who are struggling, I am more aware of the factors influencing poverty and how there are a series of things that need to be addressed, not just the absence of money.
When I was in India I was constantly amazed at the radical discipleship and the authenticity of people’s relationships with Christ, it has influenced me to stand firm in my beliefs, to remain steadfast in my knowledge of God and his love for me and to share this with others as it is such good news so why wouldn’t we want to share it. I’ve got a greater understanding now that mission and our ministries are all around us, not just in the slums overseas, they are in our work place, in our schools, in our unis, in our neighbourhoods, in the relationships you build with the kids in local schools, with the elderly you visit– its everywhere we go, not just on Sundays or in the ministries we serve in as a part of our church family but it’s a daily disciplined state of mind that we focus our heart and mind on God and allow His holy spirit to guide us, to build new relationships, to help out someone, to further glorify his name and bring a bit of the kingdom to Earth right now.