Last month, my husband Jeff and I traveled to India to explore several aspects of India Partners – a U.S. based ministry that, through a closely-knit partnership, provides accountability and funding for reputable ministries in India.
We were able to see with our own eyes the results of that partnership in the eyes of girls rescued out of Mumbai’s red light districts, orphaned children flourishing in a loving Christ-centered home, and rural villagers given clean, disease-free water.
For our final day in India, we traveled by overnight train to the city of Chennai where we visited Agape Rehabilitation Center – a home where a group from the overlooked community of physically disabled men and women live for one year. There, they receive love, care, and training in computer skills that enables them to live independently. They are introduced to the gospel, and most maintain lifelong bonds with alumni.
The country of India presents a colorful, bustling environment. Her people are many, vibrant, and hospitable. However, the dense population and competitive economy produce a survival-of-the-fittest mentality.
The handicap parking spaces, ramps, and widened doorways and restroom spaces that are commonplace here in the States are foreign to the disabled in India. They are forgotten or thought to be useless. They are a lost people.
We were able to sit with each of them individually while they were working on their various assignments. We looked into their faces, asked questions, and watched them proudly accomplish the tasks set before them in spite of various disabilities: blindness, Polio, Cerebral Palsy, and the like. Their bright eyes and wide white smiles were heartwarming, and their joyous curiosity was infectious.
They had many questions for us. Most were about our country’s provision for the disabled. They were fascinated by stories about Texas governor Greg Abbott and inspirational ministry leader, author, and radio host Joni Eareckson Tada – both of whom are wheelchair-enabled.
They sang for us. And a group of ladies danced for us in their wheelchairs. (See photo below.) It was a treasured, unforgettable day.
In Luke 14, Jesus told the parable of a man giving a great banquet. He sent out his servant to inform those invited: “Come; for everything is ready now!” Upon hearing the urgency of these words, without exception, they responded with excuses.
They had priorities after all – purchases to make, possessions and relationships to enjoy. Their lives were full. All was well. They needed nothing.
When the servant returned and reported what he had encountered, the master became angry and directed him: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame!”
Jesus did not come to congratulate and bestow accolades upon those meeting certain standards. He said in Luke 5:31-32: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
As those who have accepted the Master’s invitation, we have been given the key to a great treasure. We were poor, maimed, blind, and lame. We were in great need. We needed a healer. And we still do.
We have been given the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised – our great helper! And although we still long for another world, spiritually speaking, doorways are wider, ramps are more plentiful, purpose is clearer, and peace is purer.
I can’t help but find it ironic that those beloved people at the Agape Rehab home dreamed of America, perhaps of an easier life they could have here.
And then I think of America and the easy life we have here.
And I pray that our easy life will not cause us to be as those who ignored the Master’s call.