18 October 2011

Beauty in the slums

We walked through narrow, filthy paths among the poor of the poor in Kathmandu. Makeshift shelters built of literally anything found on the streets made up a community of humanity drawn together by their common poverty. Children wore dirty clothes. They had runny noses and tangled mats of hair. Most doors, if there was a door, stood open to reveal tiny living spaces with very few possessions of any kind. How did people end up here? The answer in many cases, was that they were born here, grew up here and without skills or education, just continued on- surviving as best they could. We were told that the beggars of Nepal live here, but no one approached us with any request. In their own way, they honored the culture of Asian hospitality to a guest who was on their turf. Our partner showed us a building that was better than the rest and we ducked inside to find several rooms with ceiling high enough to stand. Rows of wooden benches lined each of three rooms. The benches were rough and fragile, like the children, but someone had spent some time and what funds were available to build them. This was a school. American children sit in classrooms filled with books, maps, educational materials of all kinds and electricity. These classrooms had almost nothing, except the benches. My partner was serving a huge task, but one that could make a real difference for these children. A few steps away from the school, we came upon another place that could make a real difference for the slum community. It was a church, newly built and amazingly beautiful. Its beauty was not in d├ęcor or furnishings. It was a very plain, one room structure. But it was clean, fresh painted, solidly built. It contained a simple pulpit, some musical instruments, a hard carpet floor covering. It was a house of worship in the middle of the slums. I felt humbly grateful to learn that Allow contributions to the slum ministry had been used to build the church and it is our privilege to be a part of this work. The Awana club is up to 90 children. These are children who formerly had nothing in life, except begging. Now, they go to school and to Awana club. The church formed from the Awana ministry. As the leaders worked with the children, it led to relationships with the parents. Praise to our Lord for what He is doing among these needy people Praise His Name that he care for these “least” of the world, many of whom have come to know Him. What we do to the LEAST of His brethren, we do to Him.