Wednesday, 6 April 2016

I saw a man smeared on the top of a giant water pipe.  His dark skin and ragged clothes were the same black as the pipe so he blended in, like a camouflaged moth.  I think he was sleeping.  What does he look like?   I don't know.  What is his name?  I don't know.  What are his hopes and fears? The same answer.

I don't know the answers because I was driving past in a taxi.  I was heading into Mumbai city in India.  But I guess this is the story of this man's life.  He lives a life largely unseen and unknown.  Do you have people who live at the edge of your community and the edge of your vision?  I do.    

But what happens when we do see, when we do stop?  One day Viju passed such a homeless man in the street.  When he got to his destination he found out that three of his friends had passed the same man, all without stopping.  That might have been the end of the story but that day was different.  That day God challenged Viju that it was time for him and fellow Christians to do something to help.  So Viju got stuck in to working with the poor and started a journey which resulted, in 1973, with setting up the Association for Christian Thoughtfulness (ACT).

Yesterday I joined this journey.  I spent the day in some of the slums of Mumbai hearing story after story of how God's people are bringing hope to 'invisible' people.  As I sipped coke from a flimsy plastic cup Pastor Rahul* and his wife Aruna shared how their small church has come alongside Vasu. 

Vasu is a boy of 12 who is very mentally and physically challenged and his mother had been struggling to cope with all the emotional and financial pressure.  Noone had been caring about them until the church started to.  Church people are now using the little they have to help with food, medicene and the costs of hospital visits and, most importantly, are standing alongside as friends.  

Many people in India (as elsewhere) are dazzled by a materialistic dream. They dream of being the handsome people with sharp clothing and perfect lives on the giant billboards.  People with mental health conditions don't fit this image and are often rejected.    Yet to Jesus they are precious.  They will only know this if God's people practically live out Jesus' love for them.

So this leaves me wondering.  Who are the invisible people in my life that I need to really see?  And who are they for you?  

*All names changed for privacy.

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