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Impact India 360
I’m in the fog I always find myself in after a trip to India. I’m awake when everyone is sleeping and sleeping when everyone is awake.  That gives me a lot of quiet and alone time, which is good I suppose since India always stirs things up in my mind which I need to process.  India has a way of assaulting my perspective-still after 14 trips. I struggle on the return home. It takes a while to adjust to life here, even after just a week in India.

India is home to over 1.2 billion people. Many of them live well below the poverty line.  Most of the people I encounter in Dowlasiwaram are below that line, which is $1.25 per day.  As I write this my mind is filled with countless images of these people walking the streets, struggling with the difficulty of life, malnourished, sick, and weary. I see them now…hundreds, thousands of faces pacing by like a steady parade of suffering. Every now and then, the masses melt away and there is just one person.  As I walk, we look at each other, and our eyes meet- we connect. White skinned and dark skinned, rich American and poor Indian, Christian and Hindu, English speaking and Telugu speaking- yet for a moment, just 2 people.

This year, the face that was burned into my memory is of a woman, probably in her 60s, leathery and wrinkled skin from life lived under the brutal sun. Short and bony with her harsh life etched into her face.  I can see her still. What is her name? Her story?  Does she have children? A husband? Where does she lay down her head at night? Is she sick? Has she ever seen a doctor? What’s in her future? Does she have any clue about Jesus, or is he just a god of western culture? Or maybe, like many Hindus, she has added Jesus to the other many manifestations of deity in her religion. What does she think as she looks at me as we pass each other on the noisy street? And what does God think?

That’s been the question for this time at 2o’clock in the morning when I wish I could sleep like everyone else-what does God think? Or rather, how does God handle this? 1.2 billion is not just a big number. The number is made up of individual lives like this woman, with a history, a life being lived, and a destiny. Most suffer. Most know nothing of God’s love. Most are caught up in the idea that their life will continue to recycle as they try to attain good karma. Just getting by, doing the best they can and suffering a great deal in the process. What does God think when he sees this? I was in proximity to thousands of people like this woman during my time in India. Most I just passed by. This woman caught my attention and has occupied my thoughts. God, on the other hand, has in his mind all 1.2 billion. He knows their names, their circumstances, their pain, their suffering. What does he think? I am bothered by the thoughts of just this one woman? How does God handle all of them in India, and around the world?

So I return to my city of 8 ½ million. This morning the trains were running slow, it’s Presidents Day, an excuse to cut service I think. While waiting, the subway platform fills with people.  When it finally arrives, it is already jammed full.  We push in forming one mass of humanity.  As we roll down the track, I look at the people of my city, diverse in ethnicity, age, economic status. From the looks on their faces, I see lots of people also living with deep concerns, suffering, pain, and emptiness.  And this is just one train on one subway line. Millions will ride today. What does God think? How does he, the God of love, who loves no human being more or less than another, handle the reality of the massive numbers of people who are far from him? How does he deal with their pain and suffering? As a parent, I know how I feel when just one of my three children is in pain. How does his heart not just explode?

What do I think? How do I feel? I’m overwhelmed, again. Whether in India or NYC, for me it has to boil down to one life at a time. One woman with leathery skin, suffering under the weight of a difficult life, in desperate need of God’s help and presence, she I can help.  I can’t help a train full of people. I can’t even bear the weight of the thought of all the people. I don’t know how God handles it, but I can’t.  Maybe I can help touch one life today, one life this week. I can accept that it is this that God wants from me. I don’t know what to do with the billions except to leave it to Him.

Written by Craig Mayes, Communitas, New York City