The least of these.
My last stop in Asia was a twelve day whirlwind in C.
I felt like I was planted into another universe, a place unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. My time there was chaotic and at times stressful but it was a beautiful adventure. I tried foods out of my comfort zone, I endured being a spectacle because of how different I look, I made friends despite a language barrier, I battled a stomach bug, and discovered my love for fried dumplings or “jian jiao.”
At the end of our time in Thailand I was asked to be a co-leader for the rest of outreach, as one of our leaders decided to go home. I jumped in to leadership and it was so challenging. On top of getting accustomed to a culture I have never experienced, I had to transition into a leadership position, but God was with me the whole journey: teaching me, pulling me through.
One huge thing I’ve learned through all of this is:
God is constant. God is faithful.
In the midst of the ups and downs I found myself falling in love with the people there. I fell in love with them, and then my heart broke for them. In the middle of the masses of people everywhere we went, I found myself questioning: how many of these people have even heard the name of Jesus, know about the cross, or even have a small understanding of what it means, the meaning of the price Christ paid for them? People walk around going about their business; drowned in the busyness of it all, with no knowledge of the amazing gift already paid for them. They make prayer wishes giving payments at temples, praying to dead spirits, when the Father is right there waiting to be let in, but they cannot know if no one tells them.
Jesus: His hands nailed to the cross, His side pierced for our sins.
His immense love for us. We are set free.They don't know they are free.
How many of the people in C will never hear the name of Jesus in their lifetime? How many of them will ever know the freedom he brings? how many will be brought out of darkness into the light?
these questions go even beyond C. How many people all over the world don’t know the love of the Father? WHat are we doing about it?
One of the most amazing days in C was the most overwhelming for all of us. A short day trip outside of the city and we were able to visit a special needs orphanage and an old folks home.
God wrecked me: I cried at both places.
We only got to hug and love on those children for a few hours, but I didn’t want to let them go. One little boy “John John” that I spent most of my time with was so sweet. He just wanted to cuddle; he just wanted to be held. I held him and I felt God’s overwhelming love for that child, he was special. Would he ever know the real love of a family? Would he ever know the real love of our heavenly Father? i got to be a tangible part of that love, if only for a few hours.
The orphanage had about 15-20 children with physical and mental disabilities. The sad reality is, with the one-child policy, many people in C don’t want to “waste” their time with children who will bring shame or dishonor to their families. There isn’t much time or patience for disabilities and commonly disabled children can be found abandoned or left in the streets.
Thankfully the children have a safe shelter and food to eat but the conditions there were not ideal. Many of the children were very young, about toddler age. the cribs and the few beds in the orphanage only had wooden mattresses and blankets. You could see scrapes and bruises on the backs of their heads, it was so hard to look at, so hard to understand. I couldn’t imagine sleeping on a wooden mattress, let alone having my child sleep on one but that is their daily reality. During the week the children don’t get much attention with only a few hired caretakers that watch and feed all the children. But Saturdays are different. Each Saturday the group we went with heads out of the city to go love on these children. On Saturdays the abounding love and joy of the Father covers them with tangible love.
After loving on the children we walked over to the building next door to hand out snacks and visit with folks at the elderly home. My grandma used to be in a home, so it is very special for me to go to places like this. These men and women have had full lives, crazy adventures, loved, laughed, been hurt, worked jobs: they’ve lived. In their old age they become forgotten. Their families visit less and less, memories fade, and they have a lot of time to think about the meaning of life, to think about any regrets they may have. They have a lot of time to stare at the ceiling fan, to wonder why their family doesn’t visit any more.
It was so precious to bring God’s light into that place. To simply visit and say hello to those people. To love on them. I will never forget the way their faces light up when they realize they have company. It was a special time for me. We got to pray with some people, to hug them and to tell them that Jesus loves them. But once again, the conditions were not ideal.
One lady locked in her room, chewing on her mattress. A man without pants on. A blind woman who follows a shoestring, tied to her bed, to get to the bathroom. Normal people who had lived full lives, but in their old age have lost their dignity. My heart broke for them. Once again God reminded me: that most of these people don’t know him. Most of those people have had no revelation of God’s amazing love for them.
The most impactful part of the day for me was when we went up to the 5th floor to meet a friend of our translator. Although it was a home for old folks, this man was different. He is in his thirties, paralyzed from his neck to his waste because of a car accident. He sits in his room between two older men who don’t speak, unable to sit up, unable to go anywhere. No physical therapy, little room for hope. We got to read Psalm 139 with Him. We got to share with him, pray with him, pray for his healing and encourage him. But faced with the belief that he will never be healed he broke down. He began to sob saying he doesn’t want to live anymore, he can’t do this. His hopes to learn English, have a normal job, get married all seem like impossible day dreams. I broke down. I will never forget the anguish on his face. It is forever burned into my memory.
God kept speaking to me: “this man feels alone in this room but he’s not alone. I am here with him. Always. I know his heart, I know his dreams and aspirations. I want him to know me.”
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me…
Where can I go from your spirit?Where can I flee from your presence?”
There’s a common theme I learned in C:
God’s heart breaks for the least of these.
It breaks for the people that don’t know Him, it breaks for the disabled children, the orphans, the elderly people who get tucked away and end up simply waiting around to die. While these people may be forgotten by us, they are God’s prized possessions. They are loved. He never loses sight of them. He never forgets them. He rejoices over them with singing. They are his beloved. You see, each one of those kids, every single person in the old folks home, every person in the crowds i saw walking around while in C are children of the most high God, of the creator, and he knows each one personally.
“See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16
I left that place with this prayer on my heart:
“Lord never stop breaking my heart for what breaks yours. I’m willing to feel this way, to feel broken by the realities of those children and old folks, the realities of those people that don’t know him, if it means feeling and learning more of the Father’s heart. i want to know the father's heart."
My heart breaks for them along with the Father. My heart breaks for them to know that they are loved and treasured. But it doesn’t stop there, I get to be a part of showing them, of telling them. As Christians we have a calling, a responsibility to seek out the least of these. We have a responsibility to be the tangible love of the father. We are responsible to let them know that they are not forgotten but are most prized possessions.
Lets get out there and shake things up.
Lets love on the lost.
As Heidi Baker once said: “Love looks like something.”