“Didi, didi!” (Sister, sister!) I heard a child’s voice calling out behind me and it sounded like it was getting closer and closer to me. This was one of the first days I was at a mega train station here in South Asia. What I saw was a scene my mom had described to me over and over again when I was younger, but actually seeing it was completely different and it broke me in ways I never imagined it would.
As I was walking through the station with two of my teammates, I saw children, men, and women, both young and elderly, sleeping on the floors with flies swarming around them, and dogs that looked like they had never encountered a bath in their lives laying right beside them. I saw children running around asking and pleading for money, water, food…for anything to help them survive. I saw elderly with mental disabilities being ignored and looked over.
Just walking past these humans broke my heart. My eyes flooded with tears and I felt a wave of not understanding why these people had to sleep and live here at the train station, while I was born into a home where I did not have to worry about where my next meal would come from or whether the water was clean enough for me to drink.
In the midst of my grief, confusion, and feeling overly privileged, I remembered an important “nugget” our director had shared with my team. Even though I could not physically help or care for every single person that I saw, I did and do have a gift that is worth much more than anything this world could offer - the love of Christ. She had encouraged my team and I to acknowledge the people I encountered and through that be able to share with them that their life is incredibly valuable.
So going back to that little boy that was calling out behind me. If I had that interaction even a few weeks ago, I would not have known how to respond to him or probably would have even just ignored him because I felt so guilty that I did not have anything to give him. But rather, the Lord was able to love this little, cute kid through me, someone who is broken and sinful.
I turned around and smiled at him, and was able to kneel down and look into his eyes and smile. It was in this interaction that I saw Jesus in him. This was when the gospel became unbelievably real to me through James 1:27 - “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In other words, to love.
Some may say that I didn’t make any difference because I didn’t verbally share the gospel with him, which I couldn’t because of a language barrier. But I was able to remind him that his life matters. I was able to kneel down and ask him, “What’s your name?” I was able to hold his hand and play high five with him. He wrapped his hands around me and was glued to my leg once I stood up because he wanted me to give him money, but giving him 10 or 20 rupees wouldn’t change much and was something that any person could do. But having the privilege to kneel down beside this little boy was worth much more than any amount of money I could have given him.
It’s crazy to think that I had to come to the other side of the world, to a train station, in order to fully understand and for God to teach me what the simple and powerful gospel is: to love.
Written by Julia