It is the middle of the night on 10th September, 2012, and twelve sleepy, but very excited travellers emerge from the airport in Mumbai. Compared to the cool weather in Sydney and the air conditioned indoors, the thick, warm night air welcomes us like a giant hug with its stickiness. We are met by a Vision Rescue greeting team and quickly whisked away from the airport. The atmosphere is absolutely buzzing; cars, trucks, tuk tuk’s all trying to push forward in bumper to bumper traffic incessantly hooting their horns. As the car weaves in and out of traffic, the dimly lit streets reveal rows of shacks insulated with tarps. Even at this late hour, there are groups of people gathered around the doorways of some of these humble houses. Within the first hour I try to imagine what it would be like to grow up here amongst the pollution and poverty. What if my experience of home was a shack on the side of a busy road, with only the clothes on my back and a constant uncertainty about where my next meal would come from.
At 9am we pull up to the Vision Rescue kitchen in Vikroli (built by our Colour Sisterhood) and the team already has the food ready to go for all the buses. The two teams, one from Sydney and one from Mumbai, joined together to be the hands and feet of Jesus. The team splits up and each car follows a bus into the slums. As we arrive in the slum, the kids have already boarded the bus and school is in session. Hesitantly, we climb up the bus steps not wanting to interrupt. The kids however show no hesitation as they eagerly greet us calling out ‘teacher’ while thrusting their hands into the air so they could shake our hands. In that moment I realized that any sacrifice I can make in my everyday life is totally worth it. Here I was, looking at a generation of kids that have the potential to change India. Over the course of the next week we had the opportunity to talk with several of the teachers, doctors, cooks and drivers. We saw and heard the heart of Jesus flowing from the staff as they taught and ministered to the children on the bus and interacted with those standing around outside the bus. Their stories conveyed sacrifice and commitment, but most of all joy. Everywhere we went our team was blown away by the joy and laughter we saw.
As I reflected on this the next day, I realized that even though the people had smiles on their faces this is still a hard life, one that is not defined by hopes and dreams for the future. Rather, one lived very much in the moment just trying to survive today. Through the outreach efforts of Vision Rescue, hope is coming in the form of a hot plate of food and an hour of education a day, gradually transforming mindsets one little life at a time. It reminds me of James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith and has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
This team in India is bringing their faith to the streets of Mumbai to meet the physical needs of these little ones while bringing the hope of Jesus.
Our team of 12 is home in Sydney but our hearts have been touched and our lives changed forever. We are thrilled and feel privileged to have the opportunity to partner with and support our friends at Vision Rescue.
(Hillsong College Student)