Yesterday I was reminded of the first time I ever visited India. We arrived at Mumbai airport at about 4am. Our driver picked us up and took us to our hotel. During that car ride my life was sent into what I can only describe as shock. I saw thousands of homeless people sleeping on the streets. Men, women and children sharing their cardboard homes with rats and dogs! I saw young children washing their toothbrushes in water running down the street. I watched in horror as thousands lived like animals and nobody seemed to care!
This feeling of shock and horror did not leave me during my two week stay. The feeling of compassion stayed with me for months after and maybe even years. That was back in 2000. In 2006 I made another visit to India. This time as we rode around the streets I realized nothing had changed. There was still thousands of homeless people. It still smelt and the place was still dirty, but the feeling of shock was not there. Yes I had compassion, but this time I was not moved like I was last time. I started to understand why people turned a blind eye! I was starting to go through the same emotions as the locals!
Yesterday I was hit with the same feeling. I went into Baltimore with my wife for an appointment. The short way to get there was through what can only be described as the “ghetto”! It wasn’t the first time we had travelled through this area and it probably won’t be the last. When most people try to avoid those areas, we take it as a challenge! When I mean “ghetto” I don’t mean people hanging out on their front porch looking like they are up to no good. I mean torn down buildings, crack houses, people lining up outside the liquor store at six in the morning, torched cars, abandoned houses and and place that just looks like a war zone!
The first time I went through this place I had the same feeling as I did on that car ride from Mumbai airport to our hotel. Moved with compassion, shell shocked that Americans in the year 2009 can live like that, asking the question why doesn’t anyone do anything about this! Yesterday though, it was not my first time seeing these sights, neither was it my second or third time. At some point between my first visit and now I had lost that feeling of shock and horror. Instead of wanting to reach out now I wanted to just get through!
I wonder if Jesus was ever like that? The bible says when he saw the sick and the hurting he was moved with compassion. I wonder if the more he met these types of people if his compassion grow less? Before you comment, I know he wasn’t. You see Jesus’ compassion grew the more he reached out to those people. When we reach out our compassion grows, when we look, have compassion but do nothing with that compassion then our shock factor wears off rather quickly.
My pray today is this: ‘Father, when I am moved with compassion let me do something about it. I don’t want to look, be shocked and walk away. Help me to keep the shock factor. This world is dying and the only hope it has is the freedom, liberty and salvation we have in you; so help me show this hope to these people. I may not be able to give them a home or even get them out of the “ghetto’, but I do know I can give them the words of faith, hope and love, which is that you love them and you died that they may be free’.