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Life is Good.

Chris —  October 3, 2011

Life is Good.

It’s true that life is tough. And when you realize that it’s tough, it gets a little better. It’s hard not to get lost in the darkness. Suffering is immediate rich and important in a way that our small daily joys pale against.

Which is why it is essential to remember that life is good.

As I was leaving the Emmanuel Orphanage in Delhi, Lakshmi, a six year old girl with piercing blue eyes clung to me and cried “Uncle, Uncle!” She, and all those around hre had been abandoned and persecuted their entire young lives, but they still knew how to love deeply, in a way I struggle to remember. Life is good.

I know a guy who begrudgingly gave the keys of his car to a single mom he barely knew for two weeks. They are good friends now.  Life is good.

A friend of mine has often thought that he could ever get a “good girl.” He felt like the only ones interested had different values and would treat him poorly. Then he met a girl, and has been attached to her at the hip ever since. Seeing them together is life seeing something that was always meant to be. Life is good.

Another friend of mine went to a foreign country to work with an NGO. His work was interupted when his teammates were captured, and he had to spend to next few months there negotiating their release.  As heartwrenching as that was, he also sees it as the most important thing he has ever done. He took a furlough to recover, and is returning calmer, closer to God, and more excited about discipleship than ever. Life is good.

I get depressed sometimes. This summer was one of those. In the midst of that, I got a small, unexpected gift that helped shake me out of my myopic viewpoint. Life is good.

The scriptures teach when God created the world he called it good. When he created man, he called man really good. Then, sin wrecked all of that. Twisted and misshapen, like a fun house or a computer photobooth. But when we look behind the brokenness, we get to see that there is a heart wrenching beauty to it all.

The scriptures teach that this is not the way it was meant to be. Life is meant to be good. God has restored, is restoring and eventually will restore in full.

In time, the heartwrench will be over, and all we will see is that Life is Good.

Life is Tough.

Chris —  August 12, 2011

One time I moved across the country for something that didn’t pan out.  Another time I threw myself into developing a community that never knew how to welcome me.  Those were dark days.

A friend’s husband just passed and left her with a baby.  Another friend is suffering multiple miscarriages.  Another friend was denied an interview for a job they deserve.

Some friends of mine back in Denver spend every day with homeless teenagers. Everyday with heroine addicts and drug dealers and occassionally, murderers.  Two families I know are waiting for years to adopt while the kids they love are stranded thousands of miles away.

The kids I met at Emmanuel orphanage in Delhi are sleeping three to a bed in 110º.  If things go well, they might get some chicken this week.

One guy I know is losing the battle to control both his mind and body.   Another just got dumped…again.  Another buried both parents the year he graduated high school.

Life is really tough.

To be honest with you, mine feels pretty rough right now. But not as tough as many I know.

Although I am often depressed and even despair, it hasn’t shaken a few basic hopes.  They are:

1.  This world is not all.  Even when science explains how everything works, it will never answer “why?”  The very fact that there is an unanswerable why question is all the proof I need to know that this world is not all.

2.  We humans refuse to except a reality with no justice.  Hindus count on Karma. Atheist fight against oppresive religion. Christians are holding out for a new heaven and new earth, and if necessary, a hell.

3.  If there is more to this world, and there is justice, then there is a point to my story.  To our stories.  This is all going somewhere.

But none of this changes the fact that, in the meantime, life if tough.

So today, be kind to those you see.  Chances are, they’re going through a lot.

And if you hope in Christ remember that

” In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

On our first day at Emmanuel I got to meet Priscilla, a recently married Indian American.  Priscilla is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and one of the remaining three full time American staff for Hopegivers.  As one of the children covered her hands in the traditional henna tattoos that new brides wear, Priscilla shared with us about the organization.

Hopegivers was started by Dr. M.A. Thomas a few decades ago when traveling across India, seeking God’s will.  When Dr. Thomas ran out of funds for his trip, he happened to run into Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, who sponsored the rest of his trip out of his own pocket.  Since then, Dr. Thomas, and now his son, Dr. Sam Thomas, have planted churches, started Bible Colleges, and raised orphans throughout this massive country.

It has not been without difficulties.  The Thomas’ have faced persecution throughout their entire ministry.  Priscilla shared that this persecution reached its height about three years ago.

Radical Hindus (not the ahimsa-loving Gandhi types) took Dr. M.A. to court on false charges of child stealing, child rape, human trafficking and more.  Dr. M.A. spent a long time in court, but the full charges, as well as those against Sam and his family are still tied up.  Near the same time, the orphanages were attacked and the children fled.  The largest orphanage, in a town called Cota, used to be home to 2,000 children, now only has 800.  Our small orphanage of 80 children is down from 350.

When we asked Priscilla why the Hindus would to this, she explained that “they want to keep these children down.  They are orphans, prostitute children, leper children: untouchables.”  Hinduism teaches that you are in your caste because of the sins of your past lives, and your only hope is to live a good enough life to rise in the next.

Emmanuel is a great example of the true power of the gospel of Christ: it offers a promise for eternity that has a transforming impact today. Children who would be lonely and starving on the streets are given a family of brothers and sisters to eat with, play with, and learn with.  Three times a day, 5:30am, 2:30pm and 6pm they gather to sing songs and pray.  Despite what the radical Hindu’s accuse, they are not forced to convert, they are simply instructed in the way of Christ, as any good Indian family would do for their children.

Today, Hopegiver’s task is harder than ever.  Recently, the senior Dr. Thomas, now 79 years old, suffered a paralyzing stroke during a fundraising trip in the States.  The U.S. economic downturn has decreased the stateside staff from 18 to 3.  Court cases, from the incident three years ago, have stranded Sam Thomas’s wife in the U.S. and have kept them from operating international banking accounts neccessary for the transfer of funds raised abroad.

The results of these difficulties were obvious from our small orphanage.  Work on a half built dormitory was halted years ago, and will probably have to be razed.  Their only source of water, a small rusted out tanker, is beyond repair.  This forces them to carry water bottles back and forth from a well a mile away.  A new tanker would only cost $600.  Completion of the entire orphanage, only 7 million.

If you would like to learn more about Hopegivers and how you can help, contact me a

Emmanuel’s small orphanage outside of Delhi is home to 2 geese (one who I chased, and paid me back by pooping in my room), 2 ugly dogs, 1 cook (named Cookie), 1 driver, a bunny, 3 other staff and about 80 of the cutest kids you’ll ever see.

From the moment we arrived, the children greeted us at the our cars with shouts of “Auntie! Auntie!” “Uncle!”  They came up, shook our hands and told us their names.  Some of them wanted to talk, some of them wanted to play, but mostly they just wanted to touch me, sit on me,  and play with my amazing blonde arm hair.

Their life is pretty simple.  They pray three times a day, go to school, and play when they’re not too hot.  We were there for their summer break, so, after our first day of being sat on and kicking futbols, I got a little worried about what we would do with ourselves.  Here’s five of my highlights:

  1. Learning new songs.  “Telephone to Jesus, everyday! Hello?”  “Jesus is the Winner-man, Satan is the loser-man”
  2. Learning Cricket.  It’s like baseball, only you wear a football helmet, hockey gloves, and it’s good when the ball hits the ground.
  3. Pizza Hut.  Despite the fact they eat rice three meals a day, 7 days a week, the kids don’t complain much.  My friend Kim visited here last year, and paid for the children to go eat Pizza.  They piled into two cars (all 80) and sat perfectly quiet as they ate their vegetarian personal pan pizzas.  The drinks, each with two pieces of ice were a little too cold for them.
  4. Preaching. I got many chances to teach the kids.  Mainly they were spur of the moment (you will teach Sunday school that is starting now?) skits based on Bible stories.  But my favorite was Sunday church, where I shared a lesson about Ezekiels Dry Bones, and my hopes for India.  I’ll share the notes some other post.


  5. THE WATERPARK.  Our budget provides for little more than the money to travel and eat peanut butter.  But when we first got here, we heard about a local waterpark.  One of my teammates, Kara, posted on her blog and asked for donations.  In three days her readers gave $500 to help these children have a once in a lifetime experience.

    Now it’s no Schlitterbahn, but we had a good time.  I spent most of our 8 hour day in the wave pool, picking up and throwing children.  There were a few good rides (heights are fun and scary in any country), and a dance contest.  We had a great Indian lunch, ice cream, and the children played until they were exhausted.  When we got back, Cookie remarked to me “Never in our lives did we imagine the children would have so much fun.

This leg of the trip has been difficult.  The heat, and the sheer amount of free time have worn me out.  But I can’t help but remember Jesus’ words “let the children come to me.”  And I think that if he would have been here in India, he would have said “let the children come to the waterpark.”

Craving Mountain Dew

Chris —  June 30, 2009

I woke up a few days ago craving Mountain Dew, which is strange because I haven’t had a carbonated beverage since 2002.  But when offered the choice between a cold Dew after drinking warm water in the 110 degree sun of Dehli, I wasn’t about to refuse.  Back in the day I had an addiction, I would drink 200-300 oz. of the yellow stuff.  I gave it up one summer and lost 15 pounds.

It is impossible to boil down the visceral experience that is India, but I will say this:

  1. India is dirty.  The streets are covered in trash.  Everywhere you look are poor, dirty street children.  Water buffalo, and a renewal energy source-their patties-cover the muddy streets.  There is little to infrastructure to provide clean running water, constant electricity or dispose trash.
  2. India is poor.  In America, I am poor.  This means I have five pairs of shoes (mostly worn out), a few jeans (some of them are “holy”), drive an old car, and seldom eat out (weekly trip to Red Robin.)  Being poor here means you are homeless, you eat rice a few times a day if you are lucky, and bathing is a luxury.
  3. India is a musical.  The constant polyrhythmic dance beat of Bollywood movies and music videos, the singing of Christian children, the Imam’s at the mosques and morning prayers to Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva constantly fill the air with music.  It is not strange to see adults break in to broad, full body dance movements in public places.
  4. Many Indians are very, very lost.  When Dr. Monte Cox, in his Living World Religion’s class at Harding University taught us about the Hindu caste system, he closed by describing the way in which religious classism forced people in to abject poverty.   He said that this alone was all the reason he needed to believe that different religions ARE NOT the same.   Jesus loves the little children.  Although there are good ideas in all faiths, none have the power to save and heal people and nations the way that Jesus does.

In America, I have many bad habits, like my Mountain Dew addiction.  India shows me how great my blessings are, and how trivial some of my pains are.  Most of all it reminds me of the blessings I have in Jesus Christ.