Greetings from South Asia (at least as I am writing this). I have had a very busy week so I’m taking a few hours to relax and write. I am writing this post at a fairly new Chili’s Bar & Grill (yes Chili’s, the American restaurant) enjoying a buffalo burger. I may not be able to find or (legally) eat beef in this country but buffalo is fair game.
I love people-watching so my vantage point is wonderful. I have the perfect seat to observe all walks of life strolling by or sitting near by. The contrast from person to person can be vast. As such, I am reminded once again of the vast socioeconomic differences that span this city. From the extreme poverty in the slum, where the clinic is taking place right now, to the very modern and much cleaner city south of the airport (where I visited yesterday) to the city center where I find myself at this moment where both extremes collide. The differences are stark.
Just outside the restaurant is a gentleman. It is evident that the man is either homeless or living in poverty. While his condition is material in nature, his condition reminds me of a greater problem overshadowing his country.
There are many spiritual people in this land ad it’s not difficult to have a spiritual conversation. Everyone believes in some form of a higher being or at least the vast majority do. But, they live in spiritual poverty, poverty far worse than material poverty. Regardless of the wealth or lack thereof that exist with their various pocketbooks, they face a greater form of poverty that has eternal consequences. Yet while my observation is true, it is equally true that God is at work in this beautiful land He created.
The other day, I was sitting in a house church in a slum teaching from God’s word. Aarav, one of our SRC missionaries, planted this house church. There were approximately 30 people crammed into a very tiny space with no ventilation. About half the people were Christians and most of them lived in material poverty. Yet for those of them who follow Jesus, their material poverty was not hindering their ability to gain Kingdom wealth.
During the service, two people stood out to me. The first was a lady who I met in that very place one year ago. One year ago, she was demon possessed. Today, she is free and worshipping her Creator! The second is a young man who is probably around 20 years old who comes from a background of idol worship. Today, this man is free from spiritual poverty and worshipping his Creator! Those I sat around may be materially poor but they are clearly rich in Christ and His Kingdom.
Their house church does not have any fancy or modern decorations/facilities. There are no comfortable seats/pews to sit on. Instead, most sit on a dirt floor. There is no HVAC system keeping them comfortable but there is a single fan. Their location did not have a restroom or running water. There was no overpriced pulpit for the pastor to teach from nor a sound system to complain about when it cracks during the music or sermon. The roof consisted of sheet metal and the door was…well…I would not even call what they have a door. The minimal decorations this little room did possess was a tarp layered with the Dunkin Doughnuts logo and I’m not sure they even know what Dunkin even is. Yet in this tiny room that would likely never be used in the States as a place of worship, I found myself on holy ground.
It is holy because the Spirit of the living God is in that place, indwelling many of the people who fellowship and worship there every Sunday. It is holy because God is glorified by every one of His people who walk into this room, which is owned by a Hindu, and yet raise their voice in worship to the One True living God. That tiny room is one of the most beautiful worship centers I have ever found myself in, far more beautiful than any multi-million dollar mega church building I have ever visited.
I love that God is not limited by or necessarily interested in how fancy our “churches” are. I love that my brothers and sisters in this slum welcomed me like they welcomed one another. I love that I could walk in and experience the joy of the Holy Spirit alongside them. I love that Aarav cares about this slum community so much that he is willing to give up comfort and sanitary conditions to bring the Gospel message to this community of 100,000 Gospel Deprived peoples.
God is at work in this slum I visited. God is transforming lives and people are being redeemed by by blood of Christ. They are leaving spiritual poverty and gaining all the spiritual and eternal wealth found only in Christ, a wealth no earthy wealth can compete with. Those who have spent years and decades worshipping idols are having their eyes opened to the Gospel message and that is a beautiful thing!
Would you like to visit because I can arrange it. At SRC, we are looking for additional laborers to serve alongside Aarav on varying levels, from short-term visits to long-term commitments and everything in between. If you would like to be involved and learn more about serving in this slum then contact me or visit our website at silkroadcatalyst.com.
Steve Schirmer, President of Silk Road Catalyst and co-Host of Missions Talk. Least Reached Advocate. Dedicated to No Place Left.