Monday, December 27, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:15 PM | 1 comment

Becoming a Mother

It's true. I'm a mommy! But, before you freak out, let me explain. You see, the organization I worked with in India is called As Our Own. They are an organization made up of people who are "caring for vulnerable children as their own. For life." From the moment I heard of this ministry, I knew I had to be a part of what God was doing through them. I had the privilege of hearing Ralph, the President of As Our Own, speak on a few occasions and every time I found myself humbled and challenged by his faith and the stories of God’s rescuing in India. What most stuck with me is the desire that Ralph and his team have to raise these little girls as their own children. Ralph says, “It is easy to raise a child as an orphan. The challenge and the joy are in raising an orphan as your own.” They seek to learn how God has uniquely formed and gifted each child and then do all they can to foster that gifting.

From the first time I heard Ralph say this, my heart latched onto the idea. I want to love these girls like they are my daughters. Each one of them are uniquely created and I want to help to nurture them into the young women God has intended them to be. For the last year my heart has held onto this idea, claiming it as truth. And as far as I knew how, I did love the girls as my own. But, I still was living my life for myself. I am a 27 year-old, single woman with no children. I have the freedom to spend my time and my money how I want to without having to worry about a family.

But my time in India changed all that. Sitting face to face with these girls, hearing their stories, seeing their personalities...I fell in love. We worshipped together. And we laughed, and danced, and painted each other's toenails. These are my girls, my daughters and sisters. They called us Didi and Dada. Erin Didi. Mitch Dada... it means big sister or brother. My heart was no longer clinging to the idea of loving these girls as my own. It was enveloped by the truth that these girls ARE my own. I know where some of them have come from. I heard the stories of abuse, rape, abandonment. I long to walk with them through their healing. And I saw their talents. One little girl was an incredible natural dancer. She needs to be in dance lessons. Another girl wants to go to seminary. Oh how I want to sit with her and talk about the deep things of God, to rejoice with her over God's works and words. There was one girl who I just wanted to hug and tell her how beautiful she is. That she is smart and talented and beautiful and God made her purposefully. That she is loved.

The night we left was one of the hardest nights of my life. As the girls loaded the vans to go back to Grace Home, it was all I could do to not cry. And those tears just kept pushing their way to my eyes through the entire flight home. I never imagined that I would know what it was like to send your child off to school for the first day or to college or anywhere that would mean separation for any amount of time before I'd even been on a date. But there it was, this horrible truth that I had to come back to Houston and live on the complete opposite side of the world from my girls. I'm sure the mothers reading this are skeptical that I could know how they feel. And perhaps it's not the same. There is really no way to know. All I know is that my life has to be different now. I can't spend my money however I want. I do have a family to think about. I have little girls that need to be in dance class and need to go to college. I have babies that outgrow their clothes too quickly and sometimes have tummy aches. I have sweet girls who have hurts and heartaches that need counseling so they have help finding healing. These are my girls.

And you know what? They are you girls too. As the church we have a responsibility to love the orphan, to help the weak. We can't expect the church staff or the people "called" to the mission field to do it all. You are the church. I am the church. You and I should be loving orphan children as our own. There is something that you can do. To find out visit www.asourown.org.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 5:07 PM | No comments

Becoming a Pastor

No. Not me. Young men in India. They are becoming pastors. We got to spend two mornings worshipping and studying the word with these men. Monica, Mitchell, and Will taught from the life of Peter. These men took pages and pages of notes about leadership and serventhood and walking with the Lord. They worshipped with great zeal, often while the worship leader was singing to his own rhythm. They play whatever instrument they can find. They clap and dance and sing at the top of their lungs. They celebrate God as a brotherhood. It was such a blessing to watch them dance and sing together. We even learned a couple of songs. One song is called Jesu Tera Nam...Jesus is the name. The other song is Ru Aa. Spirit Come.

What a joy to sing with a room full of believers all asking the Spirit to come, all proclaming the name of Jesus, even when we could not have conversations well because of language barriers. There are no language barriers when it comes to worship. One Spirit. One Truth. It was a glimpse of heaven.

These men, strong yet gentle, all have different stories. One man had lost an arm and came to the bible college because he didn't know what else to do. Another man had come from a village where, at one time, no one was a believer. A missionary came to the village and they beat him up and stuffed him in a tire and rolled him out of town. One family came to know Christ as a result of that man's obedience. And because of that one family, this man became a believer. And now, he is studying to be a pastor.

These are the men who will go out into India with the gospel. They are the ones who will speak to the church about loving God and loving people. They are the ones who will carry truth to the hurting. And with it, they will carry the mission of As Our Own, working to stregthen the church so that, all over India, the church will care for hurting people as their own family.

Let's pray for these men, for their time at the Bible College, for their future ministry, for their families. Let's pray that they would carry the banner of Christ in the strength and power of the Holly Spirit.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:44 AM | No comments

Becoming Melted

I know many of you are waiting to hear about the light I mentioned at the end of the last post. So, let me tell you about it. As I mentioned, our morning had been filled with heartbreaking darkness, weaving in and out of buildings packed with defiled beds and lifeless faces.

But, God is still pulling people out of pits and into the light. That afternoon we out to Faith Home, a house full of little girls most of who were born into the brothels. These girls, according to the circumstaces they were born into, should have been sleeping beneath their mothers' beds as the women serviced clients. These girls should have been wandering the streets. These girls should have been sold at six years old in order to bring in more revenue.

Oh Grace! What a beautiful truth!

Instead, these girls are in the best schools, Christian schools. They are getting straight A's and are in the top of their class. They are dancing and singing in worship of Jesus. They are learning English. They have full bellies and clean beds and clothes. They have smiles, not like the ones their mothers wear, lifeless and resigned, but rather beautiful smiles that know hope, that know a God who hears and saves. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

The girls greeted us with leis and then introduced themselves telling us, in their very best English, their name and grade. They sang and prayed with us and then performed a couple of dances. "Pray for India. Pray for India. You love India. I love India. God loves India too." Then we cleared away the chairs, got out the crayons, coloring books, and stickers and went to town loving on these precious babies. Sweet girls. They love stickers. And we took some disguise glasses (the kind with the big nose). They had fun wearing those and having their pictures taken.

One little girl continued to come up in conversation throughout our trip. She is a fierce little girl...lots of spunk. We talked often about how she need martial arts lessons. She would be great at it. Her dance moves resembled karate as it was. Her mom works in the district and there was some concern that she would want to take this little girl back with her. But instead, when she came to visit, she knealt down and asked her baby girl to pray for her. A mom, asking her four-year-old to pray for her. What a perfect picture of the hope that is seeping into India through As Our Own.

Let's join this little girl in praying for her mom. Let's pray diligently for the girls being brought out and for the ones that aren't. Let's pray for the political system in India to be straightened out. Let's pray that the Mafia leaders would know Christ, that the men who spend their time and money in the district stealing the lives of women and children would know hope and would see Jesus. Pray for visions, for rescue, for light to send the darkness fleeing. And let us give praise to a King who is loving and just, who hears the cries of the captives, and who continues to rescue the weak.

www.asourown.org

Monday, December 13, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 5:52 PM | 1 comment

Becoming More than Aware

December 13th. Today I went to work...to the same job I have gone to for the last 2.5 years. And today, it was not any different. But I was. On December 1st, I boarded a plane in Houston and about 24 hours later, stepped out of an airport into the air of India. Eleven and a half hours ahead of Houston, we had completely missed December 2nd. It just didn't exist in 2010 for us. It was now about 5 am on December 3rd. We headed straight to the hotel where, although our bodies were convinced it was evening and fast approaching bedtime, we checked in and started the first day of what would prove to be a life-changing trip.

We ate breakfast and made a short trip to the market. Then, it was time. We visited the red light district. Everything seemed to be normal as we drove down the main street, but as the driver pulled over and we scurried out of the bus and began to weave in and out of buildings, we saw how dark was the "normal" . We ducked through doorways and packed into tiny rooms, stalls really. They could not have been any bigger than 4x7 and they were each furnished with a wooden cot sometimes hidden behind a curtain sometimes in full view. We climbed one by one up narrow staircases aware of everything around us and not wanting to touch anything and yet wanting to hug every woman we passed. We nodded emotionlessly as Ralph explained what we were seeing. And we passed women who had resolved to survive. (This picture is not from our trip. It was found on www.assistnews.net.)

You could see the struggle in their eyes. It's a struggle I am familiar with, but in this context, it suddenly developed new pain, deeper darkness. They were resolved, "This is my life. It's the hand I've been dealt. I don't want it. I want out, but there is nothing I can do about it. So, smile. Suck it up and don't let them see your aching." Their smiles were beautiful and filled with sadness. These women were not full of life. Their strength came, not from joy, but rather from resignation to what their lives had become.The walls were plastered with gods. Every god you could imagine, including Jesus. They are so hungry. The women. They are hungry for a god to know them, to hear them.

The nine of us packed into one room that was lined with stalls. The woman that was leading us through the district opened one room for us to see inside. But what we saw was not an empty room. No, we instead stood face to face with a young man, maybe a high schooler, sitting on the cot and the woman he had chosen facing him ready to offer what he purchased. They looked at us, him without shame, and her without any sign of wanting to be rescued...she was resigned.

As we walked through one alley, I thought I would have to tell Ralph that we needed to leave. We had been instructed not to show any emotional reaction to what we were seeing or hearing but I was not sure I could hold it in much longer. I was either going to cry or vomit. Thankfully, we left shortly after that moment and as soon as the doors of the bus closed, the floodgates opened. I cried all the way back to the hotel. I felt sick. I felt dirty. I felt the heaviness of all the lies that had been told to get the women to the brothels, of all the bruises and burns they'd been given as they tried to refuse that life at the beginning. The stench of death filled my nose. I wanted to wash it off. Thankfully, that was not the end of our day...For so many it is the ending of every day and the beginning of every new day and it fills every moment in between. But for us, we got to see the light.

(look for more posts about the trip as the week progresses)