July 20, 2015 - India
I walk off the metro with Keziah, Esther and Michelle. The heat is intense and the aromas of India attack our senses. As we make our way through the station, there is a quick tap on my arm. I look down and see a boy who looks to be about eight years old. His hair is tossed and strips of clothing cling to his bony body.
“Auntie!” He calls. His finger points to his mouth signaling a universal sign for food. I have money in my pocket. Should I buy something for him? The amount of people asking me for food on a daily basis is overwhelming. How do I choose who to give to? I keep walking and try not to think about his hungry belly or his sweet face.
“Auntie!” He follows us, sliding down a slab of concrete to meet us at the bottom of the stairs. I look away. My mind is lost in all kinds of directions so I follow my legs to the back of the auto rickshaw line. On my right I see a man yank the boy back. As his fingers enclose tightly around the boy’s small frame, he scolds him in Bengali. That was the last I saw of him.
Entering the three-wheeled rickshaw, I am overcome with sadness. This is the first time I really feel the pain of the poverty that I see. On top of that, the little boy that had been following us reminds me of my brother. Something about the way he ran and the look on his face is familiar. How was this boy different from my brother? When did I start categorizing them as beggar boys? This boy has dreams, gifts, and talents. He has friends. What if I started seeing this boy as my brother? What would I do then? How would I encourage and love him? I didn’t even ask him his name; I simply ignored him. How often does this boy get ignored? It broke my heart how he suffered and I barely even looked at him. Something is wrong there. How do I love beggar boys like Jesus loves them, like Jesus loves me? I am disappointed by the way I handled the situation and deeply moved by the way God was convicting me.
My eyes draw me back into the present space. In the rickshaw, sitting next to me, there is a schoolboy. I see this boy as my brother too. God whispers to me that I should talk to him. “Tomar nam ki?” I ask him his name. Our conversation is short-lived but forever ingrained in my memory. How is this boy different from the boy who was begging? Both are loved by God, but one’s dreams and hopes are constantly suppressed while the other’s are likely supported.
Reflecting on this experience, I notice how God opens the door for me to love. Not to love the beggar boy along with the schoolboy, but to love both of them as my brothers. Living simply here has pushed me to love my brothers as Jesus does.
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Written by Alyssa