We started off today with another medical clinic. Only, I will be honest I think that the Monday clinic was just a dry run for us. The minute we stepped out of the van it smelled as if we had landed in the middle of the sewer in a third world country. As the waves of nausea rolled over me, I sent a quick prayer to heaven for my olfactory senses to be taken away. Once they adjusted we walked over the makeshift tent that we were to do this clinic in. Looking around was a sight to behold. It was gross, disgusting, and every kind of nastiness you could even imagine. The fishermen's wharf yesterday looked like palaces to this place. Even our Hindu driver would not take us down the slum alley opting to drop off us in the main street and having us walk. We were pretty clueless as to the danger that we were in. But where we ministered at today is known as the underworld. Frequent murders, drugs and every form of filth. Even the police don't enter this area.
The pastor of this slum organized the people and one by one they came for meds. A bit more about deworming, today we learned that people here need to be dewormed every 6 months. If they do not the worms will travel into their lungs and eventually kill them. We saw Hepatitis patients. Anemia is quite common here as the dietary deficiencies are overwhelming. Diabetes, scabies, impetigo all common. It was all truly heartbreaking. Where is the hope? One woman was picking the lice out of her sisters beautiful mane of hair and throwing it to the ground. Yes, just like you would see the primates doing at the zoo.
After seeing about 50 patients we walked through this area just praying. We would stop and pray at one believer's house and then move on to another. When I say house, I really mean a 5 x 5 box of a room if that. The longer we prayed the more nervous our handlers became. We walked through feces and urine running in the street. One woman tried to hand her baby to us in the hopes of a better life for the infant. Desperation, Despair, Depravity. I am so glad my sunglasses were on as the tears just poured from my face. Why God? This is so terrible. This isn't living it is mere survival. How did you choose these people to face this rather than me? What is so special that I could be born in total affluence compared to this? How can I bring change?
As we came back to the hotel all these questions kept circulating. Once I got to my room I just wept over my bed. It just wasn't fair. And in a still moment, the Holy Spirit spoke, "Why do you think the conditions were so different today, than a day 2000 years ago when Jesus entered the world? This Word brought a whole fresh round of tears because the reality is, it probably was not a lot different. They had no toilets and there was animal feces all around. And yet the Creator of the Universe came to a dirty, crowded, disease filled land to save humanity. Yes, my Bethlehem story looks very different now. Gone are the clean stables and purified versions that we have made it.
I have to admit at this point I was so broken I had nothing left. My cup was empty. And we still had one more stop. We were doing pastoral home visits for the slum pastors. Honestly, it was like I was in the Christmas Carol nightmares. "Lord, no more. Please, I can't take anymore." And with that small whisper He said, "No, you have to see this." This time our van pulled up in a different alley. Still bad just not as wretched as the other. Our group split up half one way, half another. And one by one we entered shacks and prayed for the Christian. People who love the Lord. An area were God has planted 4 different churches and they are growing daily. People turning their lives over and being rescued from drug abuse and alcohol addiction. People who were content, yet active prayer warriors. We ended at the pastor's house. Here we talked about his ministry. The joy on his face as he talked about what God was doing took my breath away. All the while our van driver sat on the porch and listened to us pray over him.
I want to introduce you to Prasaad. He is our driver for the week. He let us know early on that he was strong Hindu. We never said anything about conversion, but we entered into lots of dialogue. He started out very reserved and quiet and now he is a regular chatty Cathy. He is relishing his job as tour guide. He speaks very good English and even has a sense of humor. We have laughed and joked with him and he is loving the attention of 11 women. But today was different. When the 5 in my group finished up and went back to the van, he said, "you guys sure like to pray a lot!" And we simply said, "That is why we came." He then became quite serious as he asked us if we would come to his house tomorrow and meet his wife and child. I have no idea what his house is like but he saw what kind of houses we headed into today so he figured we wouldn't be too shocked. We looked over our schedule for tomorrow. We had a site seeing event that we quickly scraped and slotted a home visit in. Only this home visit is very special. Please pray for this man and his family. That the Holy Spirit would open his eyes to the joy of Salvation.
As we headed back to the hotel for the night, there was a song in my heart. "You ARE God of this City!" And He is. He is doing a work here in the midst of utter despair and darkness. He needed to show us the Light that is flickering to encourage our hearts. HOPE! That is what He brings. And my heart is full. My cup is restored. Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes!