Sunday, January 8, 2017

India Day 1: Family

This post is part of a series from a Discovery Trip to visit one of Partners International's partners in Kolkata, India. JKPS works in community development, social justice, adult education and with children at risk. Resources like bikes, clean water wells, monthly partnership with a local pastor go a long way to enabling this vital ministry to the Bengali people.

I think one of the most important metaphors that God uses to describe the church is also an aspect most people are missing from their lives: family. We shamble through our lives with some semblance of relationship, shifting from person to person until we have used all we can from them. Yet through Jesus Christ, God has called us into an everlasting, radical relationship of trust and vulnerability with both Him and others. We are called to be family.

Our journey here was a long and arduous one. Three or Four flights, picking the bags up and rechecking in at each stop - and then the final leg was delayed by nearly two hours. We didn't get through customs in Kolkata until nearly 3AM, and to our hotel until 3:45AM. Yet the Lord provides.

The final connection in Kunming was a little over an hour, and our flight landed late -- and the bags crawled towards the terminal. By the time we were at the gate, it was the scheduled departure time and we discovered that God had a good laugh at our panic. While it made for a very late night, and a tired first day in India, God's providence reigns.

This morning we joined the JKPS program picnic out at the John and Mary Thomas Centre. Over 100 workers and their families gathered to celebrate the opening of a new dining hall on the property.

As we conversed, listened to music, threw footballs and played games together, one powerful theme rung clear: these people love each other. There is a deep-rooted, authentic love when humans put aside their pride for the Kingdom of God. Louder than any speaker and truer than any sermon, this pursuit of family welcomes in all who see and hear it. You cannot falsify the heart behind the laughter, jovial teasing and appreciation that wove itself through the day.

On the JKPS property is the Premanand Boys Home, a building that currently houses twelve young boys who were born into the brothels of Kolkata. Less than a year and a half old, JKPS is wisely taking their time in expanding the program to full capacity as all of these boys carry deep, festering wounds in their hearts and souls.

While we often associate childhood with a freedom and lackadaisical attitude, most children live their early years in some form of fear. For these young man, that was sexual abuse. At the young age of seven, each of them had been abused in some manner, and they carry that burden into each relationship they form moving forward.

How important is it then that they have found a place where they can experience true family? Where hugs are offered out of an innocent, genuine love? Where discipline is given not to crush, but to build and correct their developing character. In each of the games we played today, these young men were given every opportunity to shine, and celebrated when they did.

Although it is only the first day, already there is a lesson and truth that each of us need to ponder. Are we contributing to family in our relationships? In our churches? Or are we settling for so much less.

The world is watching our every move, and the only way forward is authenticity.

We saw a glimpse of the Kingdom today, and it felt like home.

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