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I’d heard great things about this country from various folks before I came, but to see the sights, hear the sounds and smell the aromas of India, well, that’s a whole different ballgame.
But what a blessing it’s been! The past six weeks have been such a whirlwind of profound experiences (including the “Delhi belly” I endured!). While many hardships and injustices persist in this country, plenty of people are out there making a difference and transforming the world around them.
Folks are bringing a new order to the old patterns. They’re elevating those considered low by earthly standards to towering heights. And it’s all being done in the name of Christ, and it’s being done by applying the universal truths of our humanity. All are created equal. All deserve dignity and respect, compassion and love. All of us are sacred beings with intrinsic worth.
India Rural Evangelical Fellowship (IREF) is freeing people from that burden, empowering them with a whole new perspective. I’m awed by IREF’s work, and I can’t wait to hear more stories of change from them as years go by. What a privilege it was to spend time there in Repalle! (click here for all the stories from my time in IREF)
Sewa Ashram is doing its own part in northern India. The Ashram community is going into the darkest, dirtiest places on Earth in order to find those forgotten by the rest of society, and the world. Inspired by Isaiah 58, they are “loosening the chains of injustice and setting the oppressed free.” The community is defined by Love, and I struggle putting words to the depth of love they display.
When people arrive at the Ashram, they are often at the lowest point of their lives. They are sick. They are impoverished. They are wounded. And the wounds go far beyond the physical. Sewa Ashram brings healing not only to their physical bodies, but to their hearts and minds as well. In obvious ways and subtle, the organization is restoring the dignity and self-worth that all humans deserve. And the experiences I had up in Narela will be with me for life. There were poignant moments and lighthearted, heartbreaking and inspiring.
I am humbled by them all, knowing that my own contribution cannot compare to the life of service displayed by so many I met here in India.
As I sit and ponder my Indian experiences, I’m reminded of life’s inherent value, and its brevity. I’m compelled to do more, and mere words aren’t it. Actions must be my anchor.
While this place certainly promises to be raw, hope is intertwined with the work being done.
If I had seen them at any other time or place, I’d have thought they were dead, but on this occasion, I assumed otherwise.
There’s something about the innocence and purity of kids that anchors the soul, and many patients are visibly calmed by the sight of them. Their presence is a blessing here at the Ashram.
Come take a tour of Sewa Ashram and see how this place is changing lives…
Babli’s eyes always beam, just as any other proud dad’s should. They radiate the unconditional Love we’re all privileged to share…
This is why Sewa Ashram was started – to give hope to the hopeless and provide light in the darkness of despair.
Sewa Ashram is doing all it can to empower patients and to provide a sustainable way for the organization to operate for years to come. See the many ways they are boosting their self-sufficiency!
More often than not, real love can be found in the smallest deeds and hidden places…
About the Author: Stephen Crane is a year-long fellow with World Next Door. He has a bachelor's degree in theology from Calvin College and a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University. He has a passion for overlooked places and people and would snowboard at all times if it were possible!