- How can someone make a difference in the world?
- Where does faith and life intersect?
To continue my story from Monday… (if you didn’t read Monday’s post, you may want to read that first. Click here.)
We walked out of the room, and walked back downstairs. When we got to the bottom floor, I noticed some ridiculously loud and obnoxious gypsy music coming from down the hall. Without thinking much about it, I followed the noise which led me into a big cavernous room. The room was dark, slightly damp, and reminded me of a medieval ballroom without the tapestries and fires. Against the far wall, there was a group of girls lined up against the wall, rocking back and forth. Next to them on the unpainted concrete floor was a boom box—the source of the terribly loud music.
I walked over to the girls. As I got closer, I noticed that each of them suffered from an intellectual or developmental disability. I remember one girl in particular—she had dark black hair that was curled and reached just past her shoulders. She also had a very wild look in her eyes.
“Who are these girls?” I asked the translator who had followed me into the room.
“These girls are not originally from this orphanage. An orphanage full of special needs children closed down a few months ago, and some of those kids were dumped into this orphanage. The caretakers don’t have any training with kids affected by special needs, so they bring them into this room, turn on the music, and leave the girls in here for hours at a time.”
I was shocked. Heartbroken. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. “Can I approach them?” I asked.
“Yes. But be gentle. Most of these girls have been abused many times. They are an easy target, and boys often take advantage of them.”
Tears filled my eyes. Anger filled my heart. I wanted to take each of these girls home, and give them the care they desperately need. I also wanted to kill anyone who had ever abused them.
I walked to each girl, hugged them, and told them (through the translator) that I loved them and cared about them. I have never meant words so much in my life. I’ve also never again felt like my words were so empty, as I did on that day.
When I got back to the van, my head was swirling with questions. Specifically, I wondered how a quick hug and telling them “I love you and care about you” would help. In reality, it didn’t. Those girls were still stuck in hellish circumstances. I also wondered how I could make a difference in the world—specifically, in the world of those girls. And lastly, a verse from James came to mind, “Pure religion is this to take care of orphans…in their distress…” How am I supposed to apply that verse to my life right now?
Do you see my two questions buried in that story? They are not obvious because they are worded a little differently, but they’re there. How can someone make a difference in the world? Where does faith and life intersect?
In a way, the answer to one question answers the other question. If I can figure out how to make a difference in the world, I can figure out where faith and life intersect. If I figure out where faith and life intersect, I just figured out how to make a difference in the world.
But that doesn’t mean the answer is any easier to find. When you find yourself in a really dark place—like I did in Romania—these questions become real. I mean really real. You can’t go back home—like we so often do from church—and live life as if nothing ever happened. You can’t forget the looks on those girls faces. You can’t forget the infectious joy on a five-year-old’s face—the same five-year-old that may have been sexually abused that very evening. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it, and that story happened nearly a decade ago.
We have to do something about the evil in the world. That is what is so inspiring to me about Jesus, and I’m not talking just about salvation. I am talking about all of the people he miraculously healed along the way. During his ministry we read countless examples of Jesus “looking at someone with compassion” and then healing them. I think we are supposed to live like that.
So these two questions–Where does faith and real life meet? And How do I make a difference in the world?–are really important questions. But asking those questions is only the first step. Step 2, is figuring out what to do about it.