As you read this this morning, think about what God might be saying to you. Good morning!
My feet led me up the stairs of the men’s housing unit, and the conditions surprisingly worsened. Beds were laid out on a grid throughout the expansive room. Emaciated bodies lay upon the sheets, and moans filled the air. I could only imagine that the aches of their illnesses worsened in the isolation of the their pain. I stood motionless for several minutes. Contemplating. Processing.
“You sir,” a man said clasping my shoulder. “Come assist me.”
From his accent, it was clear that the man was German. The ripples on his sun-scorched cheeks led me to believe he was about eighty years old. Following him, I approached a patient lying on the floor whose foot was swollen to three or four times the normal size. The skin’s green hue told me it was probably gangrenous.
“He hasn’t bathed in more than ten years,” the German informed me. “The skin around his wound is like the scales of a fish and must be scrubbed before we can treat him. It’s going to be very painful, and I’ll need to hold him down.”
He reached into his pocket and handed me a wire brush like the one I clean my grill with.
“Scrub,” he barked, grasping the man’s shoulders and pressing him into the wall against which we was leaning.
“Scrub with all your strength!”
As soon as I began, the man started screaming. I pushed through his cries, continuing to scrub his foot. Dead skin accumulated on the tops of my sandal-strapped feet and made piles between my toes. His skin bled in places but the German continued to press me.
Despite my efforts to ignore them, the cries of the patient were impossible to block out.
“Please, Baba, “the man begged me. “Please stop. Please.”
“Baba” means father. The man thought I was a priest. Tears pooled in my eyes as I relentlessly scrubbed.
Finally, we finished and the German handed me a small jar of Vaseline and some toenail clippers.
“Now make him love you again,” he said.
I rubbed the salve into the fresh skin on his leg before clipping his gnarled toenails. His breathing patterns returned to normal.
“Thank you, Baba,” he said.
I turned to depart, already looking for a place to slip away and have a good cry, but the German bellowed from across the room.
“We have more work to do.”
Jesus launched his ministry with two simple words: “Follow me.” Then he set out on living out His message. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, he worked miracles, he preached the kingdom, and he ushered in a new way of living.
As Christ followers, it is important to understand that the formula for following Jesus is simple. Follow. Jesus. Walk like He walked. Live like He lived. Give yourself to others. Jesus Himself lived and dwelled and touched and healed. We must be present among those who need us, giving ourselves to them and for them.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
What’s your reaction to this story from Kolkata? What God might be saying to you through this?