Focus – Contrasts
By Lt. Colonel Mervyn Morelock –
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It is ever a mystery, why God sent Jesus to die for us. The contrast between the penalty for sin and the glory and grace that God showers upon us can never be fully explained. I don’t understand it. Theologians have mused over God’s grace and preachers have preached about it, but there are no satisfactory answers. We have to be satisfied that a sovereign and loving God cares for us.
We’ve just returned with our USA West India service team after a three week trip to visit and work alongside Majors Ted and Rosalyn Mahr at the Evangeline Booth Hospital in Ahmednagar, India. These past three weeks have been filled with contrasts of every description and our lives will never be quite the same. Who can understand why some people are born in one place and others in quite different circumstances?
When one steps off the plane in Singapore (our first layover stop) one is struck by the beauty of this cleanest city in the world. The place looked good, smelled good and even the cars and trucks looked freshly scrubbed. Then we landed in Bombay. We were spared some of the sights of the city because we entered late at night. But the smells and crowds were evident even at that hour.
India is a land of contrasts. Opulent beauty in the Taj Mahal hotel and the Gateway to India at the ocean side. Filth and masses of humanity on street after street as we traveled though the city.
It’s easy to try to “blame” someone for the poverty, the filth, the smells. But it is a waste of time. The city is besieged by over 6000 people a day crowding into the city. The city has designated over 2500 “approved slums.” Refugees from Bangladesh and other nearby countries crowd the city with families from desperately poor villages–hoping to find a job, to live, to feed their families, to survive.
As we rode in our bus to Ahmednagar, one sight will never leave my mind: a woman, washing clothes for her family in front of her home. Just a fleeting glimpse as we drove by. She was one of the lucky ones; her home was in a concrete culvert pipe. So many only have a filthy sheet of plastic over their heads.
And at the Western India THQ in Bombay, barbed wire had to be strung at the front and on all sides, so that people do not place their shacks on the property. But they are lined up 20 feet from the front door, on the other side of the narrow road. And people live there. Cooking, bathing, sleeping, raising their children. On the street, in the filth. The Salvation Army cares for hundreds each day from meager resources. And I came back to our USA Western THQ with its spacious buildings, manicured lawns. Contrasts.
“It isn’t fair!” you might say. And you’d be right. But since we did not choose where to be born, so we must never blind our eyes or dull our ears to the needs of the people in India and other Third World countries. Self Denial will take on new meaning for those of us who traveled to India these past three weeks. “There but for the Grace of God go I.”