Living For Jesus

A Quiet and Gentle Spirit in the Slums of India

India is a place of stark contrasts. It is filthy, and yet everywhere there are beautiful young women with flowers in their hair. People live in thatched huts or tents made from plastic tarps not far from Internet kiosks. You regularly turn away, feeling that if you don’t pull back from the onslaught of hopelessness you will quickly be dragged down into the boggy green muck along with the laundry being beaten on rocks to simulate cleanliness.

The physical dirtiness was particularly stark one Sunday afternoon as the Mission of Joy team visited a slum church near Vijayawada. Yes, India has slums. Until you actually get to the slum, you feel that the majority of India is a slum. In middle class neighborhoods, in the area of India we visited, you will find that most homes have toilets. Usually it is the Indian version of a toilet, a porcelain hole with two treaded foot shaped spots on either side. You flush the toilet by sluicing a cup of water down the toilet. The sewage system consists of open concrete channels which carry the toilet waste on its way down to a ditch along the road. Bear in mind that what I've just described is a middle class area of India. In the slums, toilets are few and far between. The side of the dirt road is the usual restroom, dirt roads crowded with huts and overflowing with people.

That day, a tent had been erected in the middle of the road, because the little mud hut church there was too small for the expected crowd of people at services that day. Sitting high on the hastily erected platform, we looked down on some of the poorest people on the face of the earth. But this was church, and many had their Bibles, and many had the joy of the Lord visible on their faces. They had so very little. Many of the children were obviously malnourished. The women and men lived hard lives. Yet it was plain to see that they had something that the average Indian did not. They had Jesus, and it made all the difference for them.

I'm mindful of the scripture that says as wives we are to adorn the hidden person of our hearts with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. I've seen that incorruptible beauty in the slums of India. It is my goal to reflect that beauty in my own home and community.

Copyright © 2002 Beverly S. Krueger