By Alexis Frei*, Hands On student in Nepal
It was an average Saturday morning. Eliza* and I had dragged ourselves out of the comfort of our cozy beds, managed to get dressed and hurried to make a pot of coffee just in time to walk out the door to catch a taxi.
With a basket of cookie mixes, a tub of already-made cookies, and a portable trekking table slung over our shoulders, we arrived at the Saturday market right on time to set up our table and begin business. It was a good market day. Sales were average, customers were friendly, and the market was graced by the presence of many eccentric, dreadlock-laden Westerners.
However, when noon rolled around, we were thankful to pack up our stuff and tote our belongings back to a taxi. As we neared the road, something unexpected happened.
It wasn’t something out of the ordinary. It wasn’t even something that Eliza and I felt the need to discuss later. But it was something that God used to reach down from the heavens and to begin a work in my heart.
As we neared the taxi, two beggar girls approached us. They were covered in filth. Their hair was nappy and full of tangles. Their clothes were worn and torn.
Usually, I tell beggars I am sorry and simply walk away. Most of the beggars here are professionals and con you into spending thousands of rupees to buy milk for their babies.
It’s not that I am not compassionate or that I don’t think there are times that God calls us to give money to the needy (because I certainly do!). But I live here, and I understand the mentality of the begging community. It’s a vicious cycle where simply handing money to someone on the street does no good for her place in life.
In Kathmandu, beggars are everywhere. And since we are white females, we are targeted. So this was nothing new to us.
But on that day, I found myself looking deeply into the little girls eyes, and I didn’t see a beggar. I saw a broken child.
This little girl that couldn’t be any more than 10 years old recognized my reaction. She saw the ache in my face when I looked at her. And she saw this as the perfect sign of weakness.
The girls began grasping me all over. They started begging and touching my healthy white face. Their little grubby hands grabbed over and over at my chin and arms. My heart hurt.
Instead of seeing the look on my face and feeling shame in their lifestyle or even seeing me as prospective money-giver, it became a game. They relished in my discomfort. It wasn’t about begging anymore … it was about making me uncomfortable. I could see it in their laughs. In their jeering, tainted eyes. I saw it in the child’s mannerisms.
These were not like the sweet, clean, rosy–cheeked little girls I saw riding their bikes in my suburban American neighborhood. These were little girls who had no innocence. They were dirty, grimy and menacing. They were outcasts.
Their eyes spoke of evils they had lived through during their short lives. Their mannerisms reeked of being victimized by sexual abuse and mistreatment. They probably are reminded everyday of what it means to be overlooked or set on the side of the road like a piece of rotting trash. They have no self-worth. They have no understanding of true love. Their innocence was never protected or valued.
And the truth of the matter is they will probably never know any differently.
The world is dark to them, and sickening evils will be etched on them throughout their lives. They will pass this legacy on to their children. They will teach their daughters the same dark “truths” they learned.
But as I climbed into the taxi and sat down, I shut the door and looked out the window. The little girl was grasping at me still. I looked her in the eyes and all I could say was, “I’m sorry. God bless you.”
And we drove off.
It was a horrible moment. That’s all I could say to her? Words she would never probably understand the meaning of? Another experience with a rich American who doesn’t know how to react to her?
I had failed in some way. I had failed that little girl. God loves her. He created her fearfully and wonderfully. He can redeem her from every twisted thing that has ever been done to her in her life.
I should have told her this…or showed her this. Or done SOMETHING.
As we drove off, it was as if God has dropped down a pair of his glasses for me to wear. (I know, God has 20-20 vision…but do you hear me?)
I see beggars EVERY day. Every day. I sometimes give them fruit or say hello. I feel some ounce of compassion…but today was different. God gave me his eyes. He gave me his heart.
And he didn’t just give it to me for that little girl, he gave it to me for the lost and the broken.
As we drove off…this phrase kept going through my mind … “Bind up the broken.”
I felt an overwhelming sense that God was reminding me of my once spiritually filthy and depraved self, and how He rescued me.
It’s a great thing to give a beggar a banana, a coin, or a tract. It’s even better to sit and tell them about God’s love. It was okay that all I could say to that precious child of God was, “God bless you.” But in that far-too long taxi ride, I heard God demanding a call to action. BIND. An action word. DO. Nurture the broken. “Bind the Broken.”
I looked up this phrase to see if it was from scripture that the Lord was speaking to my heart. Here is the passage I found:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners …” Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)
Wow. Okay, God. I hear you. Now I need to do it. Doing ministry and sharing Jesus with people is so much more than just words. It’s so much than just doing my part to fulfill the Christian life. It’s about REALLY looking at people and seeing them as Jesus does. He died for them. For their precious lives.
And when we TRULY understand this … we ACT. We DO. WE BIND. We PROCLAIM. And we RELEASE.
I hope this passage challenges you as much as it does me.