Isn’t this why we’re here?

by Lo, Children at Risk DTS student

I look out the plane window as it descends. It is the middle of the night, so all I can see are twinkling car headlights and stoplights, the muted blue airfield lights, and then the rush of the ground as it comes to meet the plane. Everything is going to change.

YWAM Madison Children at Risk DTS India Team

The Children at Risk DTS India outreach team

The beautiful scent of Indian flowers hits my nose as our new friends greet us and place an intricate “lei” over our heads.

Our first “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” experience is trying to fit all our luggage and people into the cars! That in itself makes this trip worth it already. Five of us sit barricaded by luggage in the jeep as we wait for the drivers to pile five more bags of luggage on the roof. One of the men monkey-climbs up and down the side of the car, situating the bags. After about fifteen minutes, we are off!

We pulled into traffic amidst a cacophony of honking. I can’t even imagine what will await us outside the airport walls.

I stare out the window, trying not to blink – I don’t want to miss a thing. Even though it is still dark, I quickly realize that the beautifully constructed airport and hotels are just a facade for what the city and India really hold.

This is the part people don’t want to see: poverty, children searching for food in dumpsters, brokenness, and people waiting to be seen, to be loved.

The team’s emotions are at an all-time-high, some on the verge of tears. Excitement, nervousness, wonder, curiosity, apprehension, anxiety, exhaustion, and hunger sweep over all of us. It’s been a long two days of travel. We won’t get to work for a few days–today is all about taking India in.

The sun begins to rise over the peaks of the mountains while we continue winding through them. As light floods all around us, we are hit with awe. This is the first time we’ve really seen what India looks like. I scan around to see my other team members–Jackie, Kara, Allison, and Amy. Their gaze is fixed to the window, like mine.

“What’s your first impression?” I asked.

“Beautiful,” says Jackie.

And it’s true. I think this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. How this beauty and poverty can coexist is astounding to me. Then something hits me: this extreme beauty is God. God is here within the poverty, His love so deep for the people he decides to bury himself with them. So no matter where they look, his beauty and creation proves his love to them.

Before I came here, people told me India was one of the darkest places in the world. I’d like to differ. I’d like to see the light and beauty of God here rather than the darkness of the enemy.

If all we saw here was the darkness it would overwhelm us, but by seeing the light in the darkness, that’s when we can start to make a change, start to really show love. Isn’t that why we’re here?