He Never Gives Up
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
The crunching of the gravel ceased as our van rolled to a complete stop. We had traveled from a swarming, heavily populated city in India to find the number of people had decreased, but the poverty had only increased.
Before that morning, I thought I was prepared for what we would see; our guide shared a video detailing the environment with us the night before. I soon learned a camera could not capture, nor is the human heart made to take in, the suffering we saw before us.
A handful of families made their home together, living as rag-pickers. Each day, their work consisted of going to the dump and pulling out anything of value — plastic, cardboard, fabric. After a full day’s work, they’d redeem their collections, earning approximately a dollar a day.
You would expect to see despair on the faces of those whose daily lives seem so dismal. Yet as the villagers emerged from their tarp-covered tent homes to greet us, not even the 110-degree temperature was enough to wilt their warm welcome. The children came first, extending their darling hands and dressed in vibrant shades of pinks, purples and whites.
Though our language was a barrier, our smiles connected us. They’d been expecting us.
Once inside the makeshift home, we were ushered to seats of honor with garlands of flowers placed upon our necks as these beautiful people expressed their gladness for our arrival. After offering a power-filled prayer of praise, the leader began songs of joyful worship, turning the dark, dingy shelter into a sanctuary. Louder and louder, the people clapped and sang praises to God for His goodness to them. Their glimmering eyes shone brightly; hope and gladness poured out.
While these are the poorest of the poor in India, the outcast and rejected of their culture, these people are not without hope. They’re on a new path, taking them to a new place.
This journey out of darkness and into life began when a man named Raju came to know Christ as his savior. From there, he became a student in a literacy class offered by Mission India. Besides teaching Raju to read, write and calculate, this class taught him more of the new life Jesus died to bring him. Raju didn’t keep this to himself. After completing his course, he became a literacy teacher and then a church planter.
Raju has become an advocate for his village. With this new confidence, he helped his village obtain a well, land rights and food rations. He is passing on his new knowledge.
The villagers are also learning to read and write and even more importantly, about the salvation Jesus offers. They are growing daily in their relationship with Jesus through the literacy classes and church.
As we watched these beautiful people singing praises to Jesus, our Mission India leader asked, “Would any one like to give a word of encouragement?” Philippians 1:3-6 immediately came to my mind and I asked to share. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV).
Culture has shouted to these precious people: You are not wanted. Your life doesn’t matter. You are not welcome. In contrast, Christ says to us all: You are wanted. Your lives do matter. You are welcome. Once Jesus begins His work in our lives, He never gives up on us. He loves us, encouraging us to reach our fullest potential, no matter where we live or what others say about us.
We are partners together in sharing the Gospel, the Good News of the new life Christ offers each and every one of us. He will not stop working this good work in us, and He will never stop working in the lives of our new family members in India as well.
Lord, no matter where we live or how different our circumstances, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and family supports each other. May we do all we can — not only to share from what we have been given, but to help the Good News of Your new life reach the unreached. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 1:9-11, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Like these people in India, have there been times in your life when you have felt like an outcast?
How can a relationship with Jesus bring healing to this hurt?