Our Senior Regional Manager Corey Bailey explores the culture shock of working with the persecuted Church for the first time.
Panic surfaced, threatening to break through and spill out onto the dirty street around me. I was surrounded by people on every side; pushing, prodding, bumping. The sound of honking cars, and foreign languages filled my ears as my eyes were bombarded by the site of poverty at every turn. A child, with only one eye, clothed in rags, tugged on my arm reciting over and over: “One dollar, Lady? Please? One dollar?” A woman, skin and bones, lay on the ground. Her body would later be removed, as she breathed her last while people frantically hurried by.
I was walking the streets of Kolkatta, India, and I had never seen such need in all my life. I lasted only one hour into my initial outing into the city before, unable to take any more, I fled to my hostel and hid in my bedroom. In the end it was my growling stomach that forced me back out on the street, in search of a place to eat.
You see, I grew up in the suburbs. I had a nice house, running water, a loving family, clothes on my back, food on my table and my choice of schools for education. I was a believer with a compassionate heart. I wanted to help people and share with them the love of Jesus. I had read books about martyrs, watched news stories about those dying from unclean water and my family sponsored a child in Africa. I was aware that there were those “less fortunate.” I just didn’t think about them all the time, and I certainly had never truly seen them. When I finally did, the pain of it all was too much.
As I was seeking solace, trying to plug my ears from the noise, I realized that God did not have the luxury to plug His ears. God does not change the channel, so to speak. He is with the poor, the needy, the persecuted. He hears their cries day and night. He never closes His ears or turns away.
I believe the question is not “Should I be involved with ‘the least of these’?” but instead, “Lord, how can I be involved with the ‘least of these’?” If God cares about the widow, the orphan, the wounded, and the persecuted, so should we. The Bible is packed, and I mean packed, with verses about justice, social justice and helping the hurting. So, take a look around, don’t change the channel. Choose to have eyes to see. Take a moment to intentionally look at what God looks at every day, and see how you can help.
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him…Isaiah 58:6-7