Thursday, May 6, 2010
India, the Beggar Child, Dendrite, and the Gospel
(This is not the boy I speak of in this entry)
The dirty, homeless, orphaned or abandoned, scrawny beggar child looked into my eyes and smiled. And this time it wasn't the devious smile I had seen for the past hour as we waited for our train. I had just fended off his constant nagging, pulling, touching, and begging. He wanted food or rupees (India's currency) and this kid would not give up. For fun I had seen him chase after an injured pigeon and kick it as hard as he could into the train tracks. He laughed as hysterically as you could when you're a child who knows no better. But here he was, finally calm and having fun, loving the attention it seems he never received.
And there after the smile, he expressed to me using his hands to stay here and wait for him. He took off running freely as if the train station was his jungle. I watched as he started getting smaller and smaller. He was a professional at dodging the bigger adult bodies moving around in the train station.
I smiled and leaned back, resting and thinking about what had just happened. Finally after shutting myself off to the beggar children in fear that I could do nothing for them; after only bad experiences yelling at the kids to leave or getting my hand shook by a beggar child's left hand (you wipe your poo with your left hand in India) as revenge for not giving (you clever little rascal), I finally had a good experience. Moments before Brian Fury (Missions Leader) had said, "More than money or food, they just want to be loved. They are just like all the other children you know. They don't get to experience the love we got to."
Convicted, I dug in my bagpack, took out stationery I was going to write notes and thoughts on, and started making origami. I made origami balls, origami planes, and origami cranes. On each one I drew a comic strip of the gospel and talked to the kids with the little Hindi I knew (a man on a previous train taught me). "My name is Cho. What is your name? Hashee? Hi Hashee." I would point to the man on the cross and say, "This person's name is Jesus." Then I would act out the gospel as much as I could. I realized they were much more fascinated with the "toy" itself. And I soon realized that they probably never had toys in their life! That they have never even seen origami before. That the paper ball, or the paper plane, or paper crane was the only toy they've ever had and they treasured it deeply though it was just paper... it was just paper.... I wanted to bury the gospel into them as much as I possibly could. "What is this person's name?," I would ask as I pointed to the man on the cross. "Jesus" They would reply. But they didn't care as much as they cared about the paper plane. But that's okay - they were just kids and we had a heavy language barrier.
He came back with a small folded cloth and a tube of half-used dendrite. He gave a hearty smile and offered it to me. My heart stopped for a moment. Then it broke. I was in utter shock. Dendrite is a strong superglue. In India, beggar children get high off dendrite - it makes them feel full though they are actually starving. It is one of their most valued possessions because through it, for a few hours they escape the horrid pain and despair they are in. I couldn't believe he was offering it to me.
(I got this picture online, but this person has just sniffed Dendrite)
It threw me into prayer. And that's all I could do. Pray.
In that one moment I learned more theology than I ever had at one point in my life. More than any book by Spurgeon (my favorite), Thomas Watson, the Puritans, Piper, MacArthur, Mohler, DeYoung, Harris, Mahaney, or Grudem (and you all know I absolutely love their books). In that moment I learned what true theology was. Everything I had learned in the 4 months of KCM Missions training and my life's worth of Bible reading and book reading came to life.
This is for you mission trainees going out this summer -
All this KCM training, all this theology - this is what it's about.
It's about holding the orphaned children in India telling them that though no one seems to love them, Jesus does. It's about drawing them a cross saying, "Jesus saves!!" and desperately praying that one day they'll come across a church with a familiar cross on top, enter, and hear the gospel in their own language. It's about befriending college students in Japan, teaching them English, and praying and hoping that they'll truly believe the very book you're teaching them English through - the Bible! It's about doing physical labor in Nicaragua while exclaiming you do this joyfully because of Christ. It's about comforting the frightened man in Uganda who is afraid the witch doctors are going to send evil spirits to him, saying to him that Jesus the one true Lord and Savior of the world can protect him. That's what it's about.
We're going to feel limited in these countries, but let us say with Peter in Acts 3:6 - "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you."
And what we have is much greater than any monetary thing you can give. They'll never remember your $$ and donations - that's how they survive. You just become another passerby who gave them food or money. Give them something they've never experienced and cannot explain - something that captivates them and makes them wonder what we have - give them the love of God. Now that's something they will remember.
Back when I xangaed (old times) I wrote about it more with more pictures below.