Saturday, July 18, 2009

a picture.

This is in the camp. I like this picture because it shows the reality without victimizing it. I also like that the child is looking up. check facebook for some more...

It seemed to continue on forever. Ascending each hill only opened up another valley filled with tarp and plastic sack “houses”. Each sight begged the question, “What is it like to lose, to be among the permanently wounded, the hopelessly defeated?” The people there told us that they left Myanmar because they were being tortured, one of the men, telling a story I won’t repeat here, propped himself up with his arms. The empty space where is right leg should have been gave him the look of half a man. I asked another man, Omar, to tell me his life story, where he came from. Omar told me he didn’t know, he couldn’t remember; there was no beginning, nothing to which he could connect his later life – and how does one relate a life without a seed, a source, a commencement?

Walking further into the camps the word “why” came to mind, and has stuck with me this whole week, I suppose memory can be tenacious. But at the same time this, along with many other things, has driven me to my knees, and I’m thankful for that. Victor Hugo said, “There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.” In a different situation about a month ago I asked,

“What does love do?”

I suppose it mourns, endures, and doesn’t close its eyes. Love gets its feet dirty in a lonely garden and its hands bloody on a cross. Love doesn’t sleep sometimes, while at other times it gives rest when nothing else can. It longs for someone to be fed as much as you long to be fed, clothed as you are clothed, sheltered as you are sheltered.

So what does this mean? It means that when I read stories about 60 somali refugees being killed on the border of Ethiopia I will see the body of Omar, dead, and dead and dead again. Or if I read of 5,000 refugees granted status in the States I will see Omar’s smiling face leaving his camp for a new home. A face grants permanence to statistics and desperation to prayer. This is a strong theme in Jewish writing. In the Talmud it says that to kill one person it is like killing the entire human race, and to save one person is like saving all humanity.

The preciousness of one soul. oh God, teach us to see things in the light of eternity.

In other news, i leave tommarrow. crazy. i can hardly believe it. I'm excited and sad and content all at once. It has been such a gift to spend six weeks here. I read this in Nouwen's Genesee Diary yesterday and it sums up how I am doing, "Calmness, repose, even-mindedness, restful joy, gentleness: these are the feelings that describe best my present life. No great hostilities or dissapointments, no great anxieties about leaving or fear about returning home. Nothing of that. It is a grace filled time and God is close."

There is nothing like knowing that God's hand does not leave us, in spite of what we see, wrestle through, question, fail at, or triumph in. He is sufficient, and He is all we have.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The sky was absolutely epic tonight. it seemed to open and transcend everything else. Dark gray clouds surmounted by the oranges and yellows of the late afternoon sun. i really needed to see that.

May we see things in the light of eternity and remember the preciousness of one soul, even if the remembrance brings a deep sigh.

Love you guys.

Friday, July 10, 2009


The monsoon rains started last week, but from what I’m told they are not anything like they should be. In Rajshahi, a district to the northwest of Dhaka the rains have not yet come and the rice paddies are quickly drying up. While there, we heard many rumors of widespread famine if the rains don’t come soon. No matter how much it rains here in Dhaka the filth and dirt never seem to wash away. Have I mentioned its overwhelming here? I think so.

Last week several of us traveled north to Sylhet where we met with a man working among the Meitei people, an unreached people group with strong roots in animism and Hinduism. A small church has been started, but the cost has been very high, whole families are ostracized from the village for converting. With a little dodging about we were able to find pictures for all 6 of the language groups for the book. We took the train back to Dhaka on Friday then grabbed another train that night for Rajshahi where, after some difficulties and a lot of walking, we were able to locate 5 more of the language groups.

In a Paharia village my translator and I ducked inside a tea shack and were able to talk to the gathered muslims, about 20-25 men. By way of parables we were able to introduce the gospel, and my prayer is that some seed fell on good ground. Paul writes that the aroma of the gospel of Christ is life to some and the stench of death to others. He follows that with saying, “Who is sufficient for these things?” Piper says that as preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ we are dividers of the human race. Not because of any effort we do, but simply because we are living as children of the light and that is the stench of death to some. When walking through villages, or looking at the boys at soccer, its almost more than I can bear to think that they are dying. I think that is why Paul asks, “Who is sufficient for these things?” or who can bear this? That hymn, I will arise and go to Jesus, has stuck with me this week as the answer. But that doesn’t make it easier, it only allows us, through the grace of Jesus, to see things in the light of eternity and bring them back to God. The Rebbe Kotzer says, Assuming truth is concealed in melancholy, is that any reason to seek it elsewhere?”

It makes me tremble.

It was hard taking photos and being able to talk very little, and not be able to really “be among the people”. Before I went out I prayed that God would allow me to capture the essence of people, to get a glimpse of how God sees them and to convey the suffering of a soul living apart from God.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week is a soccer tournament which I’m taking part in. We won our first games today and afterwards was able to talk with a few people about Jesus. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but there are few things that make me feel more alive than telling someone about Jesus…I was practically bursting when I got home this evening. I hope your summers are going well, if you get a chance shoot me an e-mail, I would love to hear about how you are doing. May we be constantly reminded that He is sufficient and may we work to make Christ great among us.