The first day we visited a community with a literacy class I cried on the way home from our visit, and I cried as I talked to my roomie that night. My heart was broken, and I couldn’t muster up hope for the women I had met.
Yes, there were glimpses of hope– a class where women were learning to read, to do simple math and to improve their way of life. Another woman who was tailoring with a sewing machine given as a wedding present, setting an example for other women in the community. There were also the irresistible, bright-eyed children that raised our spirits being brought up by their survivor-mamas.
But there was no doubt that for now, these women were trapped in the mire of poverty. In their desperation, they worked long hours and left tiny children home alone. They lived in homes where hygiene was an unknown luxury. They struggled with sickness and hunger and the pain of abuse.
Before we left the literacy class that would culminate in two months, the women had asked the leaders with us, “What’s next?”
I wondered the same thing. What’s next for these women? To me it looked like nothing was next. It seemed like nothing would change. Poverty and despair would stretch on forever. I wanted to airlift these women OUT of their surroundings. OUT of poverty. OUT of a situation where they weren’t valued.
Josh and Jennifer, our hosts from Mission India, reminded me, “Amy, this is just the beginning. Change takes time. If you could come back here in five years, you’d see the change.”
Several days later when we visited Raju and his community, I realized that Josh and Jennifer weren’t just trying to make me feel better. It’s true! Change takes time, and God is faithful.
Once this realization sank in, I started to ask myself. What if I actually could have airlifted those women out of their situation? What would happen? I knew the answer wasn’t the pain-free solution that I sought for them.
They wouldn’t experience the joy of watching God at work in their circumstances.
They wouldn’t gain the confidence of being an agent of their own life-change.
They wouldn’t be able to bring the hope of Jesus and a new life into their own community, a place God had assigned them.
Isn’t it the same for us? We may not live in the depth of the worst poverty in the world, but we’re all experiencing the ravages of a fallen world in some way. We’re all suffering the imperfections of a fallen paradise. Maybe you are…
In the misery of an unraveling marriage.
In the fear of financial ruin.
In the pain of having a wandering child.
In the despair of infertility.
In the throes of unwanted singleness.
In the tension of living honestly in a corrupt work place.
In the midst of hurt with a friend.
Do you wish you could be airlifted out? Do you daydream about changing your location with the hope of changing it all? I know I’ve felt that way.
Instead of an air lift, I’m praying for a heart lift for us. Courage to stay and watch for God at work. Love for the hard-to-love around us. Patience to wait for incremental change to happen over time. Divine strength to bear the load.
I’m praying for grace to abound in the place God has ordained for us to become more like Himself and to make a difference in the lives of others. Just like Raju is transforming his God-given community… And the beautiful project manager in pink is changing the community where God has placed her… I’m praying that we thrive.
I’m praying for grace in our space.
The reading assignment this week is Chapters 7, 8 & 9. This is the last week of three assigned chapters, so don’t give up! We’re almost there, and here are some tips for keeping up:
- Read with a pen or highlighter in your hand. Even if you only read and highlight, you will still feel up to speed with the group and able to participate.
- Add on the other pieces only as time allows, but don’t feel badly if you can’t get to them.
- Do another exercise from 50 Ways to Leave Your Perfect