When the Christians from the slum area I visited in INDIA heard that my friend, Linda, and I were coming for a visit, they dressed in their best saris and prepared for a church service. The husbands were away working, so it was a ladies meeting.
We had an incredible, joy-filled time of fellowship. The Lord met with us in that place. Our friend translated back and forth as I spoke and Linda prayed. The ladies were SO proud of their new church building. Rather than come in and do it for them, Moses and Sue guided their new converts to raise their own money and build the church themselves. Perhaps it wouldn't seem like much to some, but to these new Christians it was a royal sanctuary! Do you see it does not have mud floors, but real boards! The ladies proudly keep the tiny make-shift building scrubbed down, and they donated decorations from their own meager possessions.
One of the ladies in this congregation, a widow, I shall never forget. Her eyes shining, her face radiant with the joy of the Lord, Lydia proudly showed us the sewing maching a local ministry had provided for her. She can now earn her own living. She ministers to the women and children of that slum area, even though she could now move elsewhere, for God has called her to serve among them. Lydia sews for them, reads Scripture to them, and counsels and prays with them. Moses and Sue are going to use her in their ministry, when their compound of huts are ready for AIDS widows and orphans to move into.
Lydia's life exemplifies the Scripture verse, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." ~Nehemiah 8:10
This final picture shows a widow whose husband recently died of AIDS. This means she is infected also. She is assisted by a local ministry, and will be able to live in their new compound. I wish you could spend time with her, as the joy she has that her sins are forgiven and that she has a promised home in Heaven...well, it is contagious!
Borrowing the expression from C.S. Lewis, I was "surprised by joy" that day, within the pitiful surroundings of an Indian slum.