Wednesday, July 18, 2007
SHINING LIKE STARS
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”
(Philippians 2:14-16; NIV)
On the ceiling in Jeevan Sahara Kendra – the ministry to those infected and affected by HIV in Thane, India, you will find an array of gold stars. They start from just above center and are surrounded by a couple ceiling fans. The material that the stars are made out of is a foil material so there is a shimmer about them. As you gaze at them, you will find that there is some writing on each one of the stars. I am told there are more than 80 (eighty) of them at this point. They placed the first star on the ceiling in the latter part of 2003.
As you look closer you can see that the writing is actually a name. Each one of these stars represents one of the friends (clients) of Jeevan Sahara Kendra who has lost their battle with HIV and has died. It could average out to about two people per month since the first one – quite a bit actually if you think about it. It is odd, coming from the west at this point in history where most people are still living with HIV/AIDS – quite long for that matter. And yet at this point in time in the history of HIV in India the majority don’t live that long. They are just getting into the meds and beginning to see things turn – but it will take time. I think Jeevan Sahara Kendra has nearly 50 people who have started ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy).
One of the stars I saw had the name Ratna. I met Ratna in December of 2005 when we did the first Retreat for Positive Believers. A 3-day retreat for those living with HIV to learn about how we can still grow in our faith even with HIV. She was encouraged at the time but was so thin and struggling physically. I remember praying with her and also taking a photograph with her on the last day – the last words she spoke to me were, “Please pray for me John.”
LOOK UP HIGHER
As I think about her words I am reminded that perhaps it is us who need the prayer. Those of us who are healthy and strong, able to access resources, to give of our time. For those who are believers in Jesus, who have obtained the ultimate gift of forgiveness of sins and the ability to love in His name – in many areas of need are we His hands and His feet? Perhaps it is us who need prayer, to be reminded of the frailty of life – that the time that appears to be on our side could be removed at any point – and if we would have a chance to do things differently, to love more, to give more, to pray more – to reach out to the least of those in His name – Would we? Could we?