I was reading through my journal from my DTS last night, processing some of the things from my outreach to Nepal and India that I have long left unprocessed. After my team got back from outreach, we broke up into new teams with people from all of the different outreach groups – Moldova, Turkey, Thailand, East Asia, Uganda. We went on a “Stateside” outreach across the Midwest and to southern and eastern United States. We were asked to prepare creative pieces, group pieces, and testimonies to share. Although I never got to share my testimonies, I danced and sang almost every place we went, depicting a scene from a brothel, telling the true story of one of our friends we met who is no longer in slavery, and singing about how God makes beautiful things out of dust.
I came home feeling accomplished and like, although it was hard, I had processed outreach. I had a good handle on it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And then I heard that the orphanage in India had shut down, and some of my new favorite people in the world were in a nasty prison being treated unfairly with no idea if or when they would be released back onto the streets. I broke.
I walked a lot. And I prayed a lot. And I cried a lot. And sometimes I sobbed. Audibly. Gut-wrenchingly. How could this have happened?
Everything that we had done felt suddenly undone. The joy of my testimonies left my voice and for a while life felt heavy and it was hard to laugh. We had just gone around to all these churches and schools telling them how wonderful God was and how much redemption we saw in the lives of the people we were working with, and now what I thought I knew I guess I wasn’t so sure of anymore. Yes, God was still good. But was He able to protect? To take care of? To provide? And what about us? Does anything we do matter? Why did I just spend the last two months of my life falling in love with something that would so soon be taken from me? Did any of this matter? Was any of it good?
It’s been a long process since then, and I’ve definitely seen God’s redemptive hand. All but five of the kids are out of the prison and back in homes, and their lives are being restored again. One of the women we met in the brothels and prayed over has since turned to Jesus, moved out of the brothels, and got a job as a teacher in the same pre-school we ministered to her in, her two children now safe from prostitution as their future. God is redeeming lives. And, being stuck on the day when the children were taken has robbed me of the chance to see God’s glory and redemption in their lives today.
I decided it was time to start processing these things again, to allow God to heal, to make new, to let the old grief pass, and make way for God’s miracles in the present. To allow myself to recognize the good that he has done, in spite of a fallen world where innocent people suffer because of other people’s sins. I learned that the sad things don’t undo the good. I’ve learned a lot of things since then. I read through my journal from after I got home to America, and found my testimonies I had written for our Stateside outreach. I wrote them before I knew the children were taken. I was still freshly optimistic about what we had seen and been a part of on outreach. But I was realizing tonight how those testimonies aren’t any less true. They were true when I wrote them, and true two weeks later when I found out the horrible things that had happened, and true now, two and a half years later, and true to the end of time. I want to share with you the testimony I wrote about a boy named Shresh, who stole my heart, and taught me about God’s. I never got to share it on Stateside. Afterward, I kept it to myself I guess because it was hard to believe, and I’m still in process, but now I know that it is still the truth: that God is making All Things New.
February 22, 2014
I was sitting on the floor of a home for children at risk in India helping six-year-old Shresh do his homework. He had a little book of folded paper we gave him – he kept it as a prized treasure in his backpack with all his other homework. He would draw pictures, ask me for the English spelling of that word, and write it under the picture. It was crinkled and well worn, but to him, it might as well have been gold.
At one point, he handed the book and pencil to me. “Auntie, write down what I am saying.” I thought the point of doing homework was to have him practice writing and spelling, so I didn’t want to write for him, but soon after he started talking it didn’t take me long to comply. Like an excited journalist tripping upon the perfect quotes, I scribbled as fast as I could, careful not to miss a thing.
“Auntie, write, ‘God everybody loves.’”
I said, “God loves everyone?”
“Yes, write it down, Auntie. Right there.”
“Write, ‘on Christmas, God everybody loves. Always, God everybody loves. And God everybody sees. God… God is watching. He is looking down and He is watching.
“God everybody gives nice new shoes, nice new bag, nice new clothes, nice new house, nice money… nice shoes, nice new bags…”
I’m writing all of this down as he repeats things he has said three times already.
“And God… His angels come down behind us when we’re worshipping, and they sing. God… God is listening. In this room with fourteen people and all are talking and we are talking, as friends, just us, and God hears us and He is listening. When I pray to him, he is listening. At night, when I go to sleep, God isn’t sleeping. He’s staying up praying for me. He is watching. He is listening.
“‘God gives us nice shoes.’ Write this down, Auntie. ‘God gives us nice shoes, and nice bags… nice school, and church, and nice safety walking back’… Are you getting this, Auntie? Right there.”
It may seem like these are superficial things, but to a six-year-old boy who spent much of his young life wandering the streets, you realize the importance of having shoes. Of having a backpack to keep your homework in – that you even have homework and school. How “safety walking back from church and school” is not something he was used to, not something to take for granted. He’s not saying that God is out to make us rich. He is saying that God has provided everything he needs. And he is grateful. These things are wonderful to him.
He starts talking about how God hears the prayers for the mommies in the brothel. How in Heaven, mommies aren’t in brothels. And I realize, what he’s saying is true. Yes, there are people on the street. There are people without shoes. But God is in the process of giving everybody shoes. There are people without food. But God is in the process of giving people food. Clothes, money, a home. If anyone else said that, I wouldn’t listen. I’ve seen my fair share of people without shoes, or clothes, or food. But when Shresh said it, all of a sudden I understood. Shresh has shoes. Sara has a home. Sahil has a bag. Riya has school. They’re all kept safe. And based on their circumstances, these things ought not to have been.
Street people were given food. Their bellies aren’t always full, but I’ve seen God give them food. Not everyone has shoes, but God isn’t done moving, yet. He’s just waiting on the edge of his seat for the next servant of his to step up and keep his redemptive work moving forward.
He is in the process of making All Things New. (Rev 21:4-6)
God, everybody loves. And God, everybody sees. He is listening to their prayers and answering. And one at a time, God gives everybody nice new shoes, new bag, new home. Safety, money to live. He restores their lives and gives back what was taken. Through us, on earth, and in Heaven, all at once.
Megan attended our Fall DTS in the 2013 and went on outreach to India and Nepal. After completing DTS, Megan joined staff at YWAM Madison and works with missions training and mobilization.
Photo Credits: First~Caryn Werner. Second~Brad Gardner. Third~Keisha Bruce.