Reflections from India – Part 2

It was interesting to go to the posh, upscale shopping mall in South Delhi. Just down the street from the entrance to the mall were unkempt, even naked, children walking on the dusty sidewalk. It was also interesting hearing my host remark about how good they had it in Delhi compared to the people of Orissa. It’s true, in Orissa everything was stripped down. Restaurants served meals in bowls and plates made of leaves pinned together and everyone ate with their hands. Homes had stone floors and everyone walked barefoot. In Delhi buying gas cylinders for the stove and waking up at 6 every morning to flip a switch which would fill the water tank was a blessing compared to having to pump well water and having only candle light. These villages were so far apart from one another. It was 6 hours driving from the capital city where we flew in to get to the main city in Kandhamal district, and then another 1-2 hours driving through winding roads into the lush, green plains to get to the villages.

But this was normal for the people of Orissa! You couldn’t tell that the people felt sorry for themselves that they were poor. After 4 weeks in India, I remember waking up one morning and there was a strange aura of mundaneness about it all. Wearing the same pants I had worn and sweated in all week, feeling the intensely humid air as I walked downstairs to eat breakfast, morning devotionals at the office, working on the computer all day and taking a break at 1 pm for lunch–curry, rice, chapati–heading back home and watching CNN while doing pushups, writing emails and reading articles, researching law firms, eating dinner at 9 pm, and heading off to bed. I felt the same mundaneness in Orissa while I sat barefoot in front of the 100 or so people gathered in that one-room, solid concrete church with cobwebs and soot on the ceilings and walls, with a lone ceiling fan that wasn’t running. It was just another day for the people of Orissa.

Wherever we are on this earth, we will all deal with the mundane realities of life, figuring out how to feed ourselves or our families, what livelihoods to pursue, how to plan for the future. I know there are parts of the world where there is crisis and emergency and dire need. But there are many more parts of the world where there is poverty yet life is okay, life is simple, life is going pretty well. There, just as in the major cities of India, just as in America, the challenge is bringing all of one’s life under the sovereign lordship of Christ. Just as the young adults at Apostles Methodist Church strove to figure out how they could serve the Lord in their white-collar office jobs, the Oriyan villagers were gathered that Sunday to listen to how the gospel makes their lives meaningful and purposeful.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31

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