Well, I'm closing down operations in India tonight in readiness for the trip back home tomorrow. Everything is packed for a 7.00am start. Man packing, you understand. No need to separate clean and dirty clothes in the suitcase etc. Well, travelling without your wife and best friend (that's the same person for anyone in doubt) has to have one perk, doesn't it?
Today was spent having briefings from the IJM National Advocacy and Government Liason Teams. They are doing such a great job in getting, and keeping, the issue of bonded labour at the forefront of peoples, and politicians (please do not read anything into my unintentional separation of politicians from the rest of humanity) minds. Amongst the many aspects of IJM work that I am impressed with the wholistic approach to the issues of, and surrounding, slavery is perhaps the most striking. From investigation and rescue, to bringing criminals to face justice, the restoration of survivors and strengthening the justice system, it really is the complete package. And in the midst of this massive call to 'seek justice' they have compassion on the one. I have seen the love and care in their eyes and their touch as they embrace and encourage the people they have rescued and befriended, all the while thinking how they can act now to prevent the same happening to others in the future.
I am impressed, encouraged, challenged and humbled. I'm also very aware that I, we, have our part to play. There are both positive mandates and clear warnings in scripture. I do believe that the anointing on Christ in Luke 4 is now an anointing on the church, on us, on you and on me. The same spirit that rested on the one who gave himself for a lost and broken humanity, both spiritually and practically, now rests on us. What an honour. What a responsibility.
So want do the poor ask of us? What do the investigators and advocates, the lobbyists and other Field Office Workers ask. Primarily that we 'remember them, the one thing I had been eager to do all along' says Paul in his letter to the Galatians (2:10). And remembering will lead to prayer and action.
I have seen many poor people in the last 9 days. So poor it's impossible, in any description, to adequately paint a picture of the conditions in which they exist, and that but barely. This mother and child were two of millions living in absolute poverty here. In Delhi alone 80% of the population live in hovels, slums or on the street.
This lady was smiling because she'd been given some money to feed herself and her child. Today. We won't be here tomorrow but she will, until.........
We've laughed lots, too. Lorne, one of our companions this week, a lawyer who has an office in Yellow Knife, Canada (I guess it's a bit like Gunthorpe?) and one of the Directors of IJM Canada, spent so much in the souvenir shop he got to run the place!
I hope that as you've travelled with me these last 9 days you've picked up a sense of the enormity and the urgency of the task whilst also being encouraged that with God, all things are possible. The task may be enormous but we have a very big God. The task may be urgent but together with the likes of IJM we have the tools, right now, to join in and change lives, change systems and change hearts. And God calls us to this work. Through the prophet Isaiah He says:
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the cause of the widow. (1:17)
Mother Teresa ministered her whole life in this country, amongst the poorest in Kolkata, rescuing abandoned babies and feeding and clothing those in need on the streets. She was once critisiced by someone who said that what she did wasn't going to make any difference, it was just a drop in the ocean. 'Ah, yes', she replied, 'but the ocean is made up of drops.'
I have looked into the eyes of some of those drops this week and I know, I absolutely know, that it matters to them.
You may see me Sunday. I may not see you as I may be asleep. But if I am asleep, particularly whilst Dave is preaching, please don't wake me!