Sometimes we need to put things in perspective. That 3 year old car you’re thinking of replacing because it’s so old--many people in South Asia can’t afford the air freshener that you change every couple of months. The freezer that doesn’t hold everything you bought when the local store had a big sale, believe it or not there are people who don’t even have ice for an ice-chest. That job you hate, or won’t even apply for because it’s “beneath” you-- imagine working long hours for a dollar or two a day, and when you can’t find even that kind of demeaning work you resort to begging, scavenging, or even prostitution.
And housing? Do we even want to go there? In Salt Lake City the news last week was “Operation Diversion” a way to clean up the parks where drug deals are a daily event and the city’s homeless population tends to congregate. Some were arrested, some were offered rehabilitation opportunities, and still others were asked to move on. But that’s just a few hundred people. What do you do when tens of millions are living in areas that quickly become slums- one room shacks with no insulation, the stench of human waste because the streets are being used as toilets? Garbage is left in the alleys to decay, and with such poor sanitation everyone is susceptible to disease. One room shacks, no bathrooms, cardboard walls—now tell me again why you don’t like your house, or your neighborhood.
But even for those living in the slums there is hope. Not because they can see the sun, not because they leave flowers at a shrine and hope the ‘luck gods’ will make their lives better, but because of Jesus. Almost 20 years ago Gospel for Asia started a ‘slum ministry’. (I’ve seen something similar in the ‘dump ministries’ in different parts of Mexico) Pastors and members of “the Sisters of Compassion” go into the slums and minister in many ways: they pray and they listen; they teach classes for adults and tutor children; they provide toilets, water filters, and winter clothing. And often are able to provide income-generating gifts that help break that cycle of poverty. And most importantly they share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The share the hope that believers have, they share that these slum dwellers can also receive God's mercy, and above all the hope that Jesus, crucified and resurrected, will one day return to bring His people home.
To find out more about the slums of South Asia, follow this link .