Why would my favorite day include such brokenness and idol worship that my title mentions? It's not that I delight in the latter but rather I delight in the hope that exists in such dark circumstances. I am so glad that upon our arrival to Kolkota, we were introduced to JIAC, where exactly sex workers now have the opportunity to learn about Jesus, learn how to read and write, learn English and work in an honorable trade (jewelry making). In addition, we went to the Children's home, where homeless children have been rescued to a good home. Seeing the women at JIAC and the kids at the children's home allowed me to see the hope that exists for those who continue to be in a hopeless situation of homelessness or prostitution.
Something that I learned about myself here in Kolkota is that I love to be at the beginning of the process; in the dark and hopeless circumstance. Most of the team likes to be in the nurturing part of the process; being with the children at the home and with the women at JIAC. I admit that walking into dirty slums and brothels is not comfortable or pretty but there's something about it that stirs my heart. I am just so impressed with how Jesus shines in the darkness. This is why I love working with ex-offenders, the homeless and going into slums and brothels; because I see the light of Jesus shining in the darkness. The darker the place, the more I want to go there to see Jesus shine His truth and hope.
This is what we did on my fave day:
- Went to Howrah station to connect with the kids who live there. Had a great time with them. I longed to know how to speak Bengali so I could connect with them even more. I don't know if I'll have the opportunity to see them again because our schedule is so packed. They told me that the next time I come, they want me to bring a downloaded movie on my playbook. That made me laugh. It's so cute...they want to have a movie day!
- Next, we went to Kalighat (area surrounding the Kali temple). Walking down to the temple, about 90% of the stands we passed were selling idolatrous merchandise. We finally arrived to the Kali temple and witnessed some people sacrificing at the outer court.
- Right beside the Kali temple is Mother Theresa's home for the sick and dying. We went in to greet the people in there. My heart was pierced when I saw a dying women groan with pain. I have volunteered in hospice before and it brought back sour memories for me of seeing people die. Now that's a job I cannot do, to help the sick and dying.
- We then walked to the brothels. We visited one lady who is not a prostitute anymore because Jesus has redeemed her. She was sick, so we prayed for her in a small house/room that we later came to find out was a room for rent for prostitution. Yet, Jesus' presence was there as we prayed over this woman and we sang worship songs. As we were leaving Kalighat, it was pouring rain. We saw sex trade workers under umbrellas, waiting for clientelle, despite the rain.
- We ended our work day with some street chai and rashgula.
- We came home, got ready and celebrated Monique's (the missionary we're working with) birthday with her friends and family. It was an honor to share this day with her. She is so loved.
I came home so stirred up. I prayed to God that he would use me in the dark places, like the ones we visited. I loved this day so much, it made me not want to leave India. I was also thankful and amazed that despite the long day under the sun and out walking, I was not tired. My health in India had been extraordinary! Praise Jesus. I was so concerned about my health before coming to India. God has surely and faithfully taken care of me.
Thanks for reading this. Keep praying for our team and this wonderful ministry in Kolkota.
Here are some pictures of the day: