Essay On Why The Church Needs The Poor

Submitted By Dloyd
Words: 5223
Pages: 21

Why The Church Needs the Poor

The Story Samina is one of the approximately 40,000 homeless in Chennai, India. She is third generation homeless, her mother and grandmother have never slept indoors in their entire lives, but for a night here or there, and chances are neither will she. She dreams for the day when she will have a tarp to sleep under at night. According to Chennai social services that would make her officially no longer homeless. I sat on the bed in my hotel room thinking about Samina that night. My mind wandered to the dusty back lot where we spent an afternoon with Chennai’s homeless. Our hosts had provided some cardboard posters that they had ripped of a wall so that we would not have to sit directly on the ground like they did. Upper class school children were being bussed into this lot for their weekly baseball game. The dust roiled around us, got in our mouths and eyes. There were about six of us students and a dozen or so homeless. These were the poorest of the poor in Chennai. What struck me immediately is how beautiful they each were. The women wore a brightly colored saris that were clean and in good repair. Each female had an ornament in her nose, earrings and a stack of colorful arm bracelets. Our male host donned a pure white shirt and pants made from cotton. Their bodies were clean and their eyes were clear. How unlike our homeless they seemed. We would ask questions, pause for the roar of the school busses as they passed, cough out the dust we had involuntarily inhaled and then one of our new friends would answer through the interpreter. “Do you work?” Rainier ventured. “Yes, we all have fulltime jobs selling things on the street. We work twelve hours a day.” They had given up an afternoon of work and income just to meet with us. “Where do you have your babies?” I asked. This question stirred up some discord with lots of chattering going back and forth. Since there were a few newborns and two pregnant women in their group there seemed to be lots of opinions and plans. “Either in a cheap hotel room or right here,” was their consensus. I felt my heart wobble. Our interpreter began to explain to us that local corrupt policemen victimize homeless females like Samina and her mother by selling them into prostitution. Sometimes they are forced back onto the streets within days of giving birth. My eyes were now brimming with tears; I could no longer hold them back. These women seemed so much like me but for a simple twist of fate: they were born in India rather than America. It was this detail that separated these women from the realization of their dreams. I felt guilty for the privilege that I enjoy. I was reminded of Bono’s voice in a U2 song, “Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.” ( U2 Crumbs From My Table, How to Dismantle a Bomb) So there I sat that evening as my passion went into overdrive. I tried to make sense of this experience. How could I help? I had an all-consuming desire to move to India and spend the last few chapters of my life working on behalf of my downtrodden Indian sisters. My heart was broken for their plight and their pain. I didn’t know how it should look; I just knew that I needed to do something. It was imperative to me that I not forget the intensity of this moment that I not forget what I saw in Samina’s eyes. I recounted our other Indian acquaintances: the bright young graduate student that was our interpreter and tour guide on the street. He works tirelessly for the rights of the homeless. I remembered the group that rescues women and children who are factory slaves or slaves in the sex trade. I thought of the meeting we attended for a women’s microfinance group in the ghetto and the woman who started community colleges for poor women. I thought of all the brilliant Indians, young and old, male and female we had enjoyed as speakers and tour guides. I thought about Tim and Pam, our YWAM hosts and veterans of more than twenty years