Saturday, January 14, 2017

India Day 8: Death to Life

This post is part of a series from a Discovery Trip to visit one of Partners International's partners in Kolkata, India. JKPS works in community development, social justice, adult education and with children at risk. Resources like bikes, clean water wells, monthly partnership with a local pastor go a long way to enabling this vital ministry to the Bengali people.

There are moments in life when the tsunami of evil crashes over us, lifting our feet from solid ground and threatens to send us tumbling into the deep abyss. Wave after wave assaults our hope, threatening to extinguish it entirely. It is in moments like this that we cling to the Solid Rock, our Salvation, Redeemer and Advocate. We cry out from a place of destitution for relief, long for the solid foundation.

As we visited each of the three Mahima homes today, we heard details of their stories. Horrific tragedies of betrayal at the hands of family, friends, neighbours. So many that it leaves you reeling, gasping for breath and tasting only water. These girls have been robbed of their lives, left haphazardly abandoned on the road of life.

In the small moments when you are not utterly broken for these girls, a small stirring of righteous anger begins to swell. They should have been given so much more, this surely could not have been the original plan for their lives. They, and so many others who are not rescued are dead people walking.

You ponder the depravity of their traffickers, pimps and abusers, and it is easy to snuff out the vigil your heart holds for this world. The darkness closes in on the only hope we have for fellow human beings. Perhaps it would have been better for the Lord to turn His back on us and walk away.

Yet in there is a small glimmer of the shore. It seems like a mirage from the vast ocean of filth -- a way out of the madness. The Lord did not leave us to our own devices. He waded into this ocean with us, allowed the waves to crash over Him and withstood the furious pull of the current.

That is evident in the lives of these young ladies. In each of the homes, the minor home, the transition home and the at-risk children's home, there is an overwhelming sense of hope, joy and peace. There are scars that stand evident in the lives of these young, but they stand as testiments to the miraculous hand of God on their lives.

Those who were dead have found new life. They have been given a chance to find redemption from the atrocities commited against them. They light a path to the shore for those tumbling in the dark depths, beckoning us from our skepticism and hate into a relentless hope for all mankind.

It doesn't excuse the unmitigated evil. It doesn't stop up the tears. It anchors us to the shore to go out again and again to find survivors and invite them home.

You can see the growth of the homes as an institution. First, as a rescue home for the trauma. Then as girls graduated out and needed a home to transition in, a place where they could be safe and explore the broader world with a firm foundation. Now moving to mitigate the most at risk girls and give them a future without the unfettered scars others have had to endure.

Even in the girls themselves, there is evident growth. Some have begun to advocate on behalf of others. They know that they have siblings or others who are in danger of being trafficked themselves, and are speaking out to bring them to safety. They are participating in the awareness programs to bring a poignant exclamation to those who hear.

There is life.

Later in the day we attended the JKPS Sponsor a Child (SAC) program. Where the girls carry a heavy, battle-scarred joy, these youth have a lighthearted wistfulness to them. Dancing, testimony, and celebration of their achievements highlighted the program, thanks to hundreds of sponsors in Canada.

These are the lucky ones. Those who know not the terrible deeds their peers have endured, but can celebrate the freedom of education, tutoring, and extra curriculur activities like dance. It brings a smile to your face, and laughter to the heart that even in the smog of Kolkata rays of sunshine break through.

Both of these vital programs challenge me in my own walk with God. Too often we settle for a shambling, shuffling relationship with God. We are dead in all but truth, allowing our hearts to wither, giving into the siren call of the depths and sinking willfully into the abyss. Staring into the eyes and hearts of the Mahima girls, and hearing stories of children who have broken from their family to follow Christ yet pray regularly for their parents awakens a spirit in your soul.

We were never meant to settle. We were created to be fighters, to wade into the ocean time and again to haul those tumbling back to shore. To proclaim freedom for the prisoners, life for the dead. These young children are the Kingdom at work, a blinding lighthouse blazing a path home. A paradox, they defiantly live where only death should be.

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