February 14, 2013 Leave a comment
On a recent “Journey of Compassion” to India, there was a lot to see. Some of it is common to most of human history, though strangely alien in 21st Century Western living. Some things I have seen pictured, others mentioned in text where I can only guess how they looked. I now have new pictures in my mind.
Photography was limited out of respect, as we were there to give and serve, not to make spectacle of others. I’ve started this list with things I saw, but ended with things I saw myself doing!
- A man carrying a heavy load (Matthew 23:4). I’ve seen Indian villagers carrying great loads, hanging balanced on a pole carried across the shoulders, or in a basket on the head. The load could be lighter, but then they’d have to walk all that distance again..
In the same village, some have motorbikes. A strong sense of caste, or social class, means the best tools often don’t do the greatest work.
- A fisherman sorting and mending his nets (Matthew 4:21)
- Beasts yoked together to pull a cart. Steering is done by whip. If the beasts are “unequally yoked” (2 Cor 6:14), they’ll walk in circles, or the driver will be constantly whipping one side.
- Visiting a village, and being welcomed into someone’s home (Luke 10:8-9)
- Women covering their head to pray (1 Cor 11:5). Not just the fact of being covered, but the act of re-arranging a shawl or sari over the head.
- Caring for the smallest in the flock (Isaiah 40:11).
- Meeting someone at the well (John 4:6-7). The wells I saw were metal pumps on concrete pads, and each village we visited had more than one, but they were still communal resources. We sat down in the village and talked with people as they came and went.
- Going up onto the roof of a building to rest, sleep, pray, or sit in the cool breeze (Joshua 2, 1 Samuel 9, Matthew 24:17, Acts 10:9)
- Going out into the streets and laneways, inviting all people, “come to the celebration!” (Matthew 22:9)
- Being interrupted by children seeking a blessing (Matthew 19:13-14)
- Being sent, two by two, to heal the sick and proclaim “The Kingdom of God is near you now” (Luke 10:1-9).
Then I saw a bigger picture; a picture that contains:
- Generous (though sensible) giving where there is need
- Acceptance and love, regardless of caste
- Broken families repaired and restored
- Suicidal people rescued, finding hope and reason to live
- God being honoured publicly
- People working alongside each other, in spite of different cultures and personalities, valuing unity and honour above their own plans preferences
- Compassion and care → lives being changed
- Miracles → lives being changed
- Invitation → Salvation → lives being changed
- Literally doing what Jesus told his disciples to do
To me, it’s a picture of the Kingdom of God. It’s not complete and perfect, but it seems a much better illustration than anything I’ve seen before.
On the same journey, Mark Virkler wrote “I have believed for 38 years there should be more to “church” than I had experienced. Now I have experienced the “more” and I never want to go back.”
I have seen, I must concede, a transient picture as I visited villages in another country on a very short healthcare & evangelistic mission. How do I come home from that? How can I remember, and find or build a similar picture in the place where, by God’s grace, I live?See other entries on this journey: Related articles