Tears of Love
We are thankful for Renae Neibergall's beautiful insight as she serves at Gan Sabra in Aizawl, India. Take a moment and allow her words to sink deeply into your day.
I sit quietly and read the stories I've ready at least a hundred times before. "A teenage girl, raped by her father, offered to his friends, infected with a deadly disease called AIDS, abandoned because of her disease, lost and full of despair", "A small boy born with AIDS, abandoned by his own family and forced to live in a small room with a leper because the community was scared of both of them", "A girl with AIDS forced to live like an animal in a cage because her uncle was scared of her disease". Horrible, unbelievable stories. I wish I could say they were made up but they are not. These are just a couple of horrific realities of the children of Gan Sabra. They have lived through unimaginable horrors.
I read through these to remind myself because today I saw children laughing and playing. Today I saw kids with joy on their faces. These couldn't be the same kids could they?!? I am in awe of the change in these children. I have watched them change right before my eyes.
Lucy (the woman who began Gan Sabra) tells me I am like Jesus when he went to Bethesda. He met a man that was lame, healed him and told him to pick up his mat and go. Lucy tells me that we came just as Jesus did. We didn't accidentally find Gan Sabra but we came to them just as Jesus went to Bethesda. Lucy then points out to me that the man that Jesus met had no name. "We", she says, "have no name. To the world we are nobody. We are not rich, we are not famous, we have nothing to offer. But just as Jesus cared for the one with no name, you do also." This makes my heart hurt. NO! I tell myself. YOU have names. You are SO precious. The world needs to know each of you. But then God makes it clear to me. The world doesn't want to know their names. It hurts to know their names. It comes at great cost to know their stories, to open your hearts to love them, to hold them in your arms. The reality is most don't want to bring that pain into their life. Lucy then continues and says that Jesus then tells the man to pick up his mat and go after he has been healed. "This", she says, "is what you are doing. You are not bringing riches to us for a week and then feeling good that you came and brought 'things' to the children but you are teaching them to get up, carry their mats and go. You are teaching them to heal and walk into the world."
It takes me a minutes to let this sink in. Am I? What am I doing to do this? And then I understand. Love. It's love that makes it happen. It is love that allows us to see the unnamed of the world and say I care enough about you that I will love you even though it brings great pain to my heart. I love you enough to walk a journey with you wherever that brings us. I love you enough to be in your life and through all the seasons. I love you enough to protect you and help you dream of your future. I love you enough to continue loving you on the days you find it hard to express it back because of your deep scars. I love you enough to sacrifice for you. I love you enough to let you into my life knowing you may depart from our world before me. I love you....
So in the moments of departure I hold each child in my arms. I let them see my tears of sorrow. I wipe the tears streaming down their faces not afraid of their disease. I look in their eyes and do what most won't do, I whisper "I love you" and place a gentle kiss on their cheek. They don't move away from this intimacy but melt into me and whisper words back to me. I'm not afraid of their disease. I'm not afraid of a hurting heart, it's been broken and put back together so many times before. What I am afraid of is not finding one of the nameless. I am afraid of not finding others that will go with me to the "Bethesdas". So with tears of love I give all I can, pray there will be another journey and continue to find the unnamed.
We'd love for you to join us in India. Learn more about Gan Sabra, and partner with us on a mission trip.