Friday, August 25, 2006

We grieve...but not as those without hope

Today I was reading a post on my friend Kristin's site, and I heard the sad news that the pastor of the church I attended in Calcutta died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

The news left me in tears at my computer at work. It was as if, for me, suddenly, a piece of India had died.

This man was an amazing pastor. He and his wife ran Emmanuel Ministries in Calcutta, which, just to name a few of the many ministries they ran, served those in alcohol and drug recovery (with rehab homes), feeding and educating children, and a ministry to rickshaw pullers.

I was visiting with the pastor's wife one day while I was in Calcutta, and a picture of the pastor talking to a rickshaw puller caught my eye. I wish I could post the picture with this entry, but I will try and describe it to you. You must know that rickshaw pullers are a sorry lot of man, a human horse. Typically, they are without shoes, maybe sandals. They are very lean, from running all over the city, pulling over-weight men and women as they do their errands. They hold onto pieces of wood in their hands, pulling a wagon type device behind them. It is hot in Calcutta, and this is hard work. I've heard it said that Calcutta is the last place on earth where this type of work is still legal. Rickshaw pullers do not live very long, as the work is a hard strain on the human body.

Rickshaw pullers are of the lowest caste. They are despised, rejected, neglected. No one pays them much attention, much less cares for them. But this pastor, who was an Indian himself, would sit with these men, talking, giving them water, shoes, or rain gear during monsoon season. I said to his wife: I love this picture. She smiled and said she did, too. She said that once her husband saw someone beating a rickshaw puller. He ran into the fight, stopping the beating. The man who was doing the beathing asked the pastor: Why do you stop me? The pastor said: Because this man is my brother.

The weeks I sat in the pastor's church were healing ones for me. On Mother's Day he had every woman in the church stand, and he said: All over the world today, mother's are being celebrated. But I believe every woman should be celebrated, for each is born with special gifts, extraordinary talents that we desperately need. Today should not just be Mother's Day, it should be Woman's Day. And then he prayed for us. I cried that day. I am not a mother, but I am a woman, and it felt to me, that for the first time ever in church, I was being acknowledged for all that I was, and celebrated besides.

This pastor made me want to go to church again. He inspired me to believe in a church's leadership and in the calling of the church as the Kingdom of God. In the far reaches of India, in a little town called Calcutta, I found some healing from the hurt I'd experienced in churches. This man, to me, was truly my pastor.

He is gone. I've heard that those he pastored could only respond to the sad news with these words: Today he is with Jesus.

And I am sad, although I know I do not grieve like those who do not have hope. But for me, a part of what was precious in Calcutta, a part of the beauty I experienced and the change I found in India, is gone.

But, I am also glad to remember. I am glad and I am thankful to have known such a good man. I wish you could have seen how he loved those he he loved India, how he longed to gather Calcutta like a hen gathers her chicks. He was a man of the Kingdom, and I wait with eagerness to see him again.

Please pray for those he leaves behind. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear please pray that the fruit that is left behind is 100 times greater than any he saw in his life.

Just to end, when I sat with his wife, we were talking about educating a little girl my friend and I had befriended. It was my belief that unless this little girl received an education, and a good one, that her prospects in life would be slim. His wife listened to me, nodded and said: Does this little girl love Jesus?

In the end, it's all that really matters. It is what this Kingdom is about, because we love Him our lives will be different. Not because we are educated, not because we have good paying jobs, not because we are married or having children, not because our prospects for retirement are good. But because we love Him. And not that we love Him, but that He loved us...


JamieB said...

i sit here crying for a man i don't even know. For the first time in my life, i found myself wishing i could have gone to india with you to meet him. praise the lord!

Search This Blog


Learning | Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial License | Dandy Dandilion Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates