Sunday, August 16, 2014
As I walked down the streets of Central Shanghai I was almost overcome by people everywhere and non-stop traffic. A kaleidoscope of colour and the pungent smells filled the atmosphere. Tall magnificent buildings hung overhead, stores filled with the latest clothing fashions and anything you could possibly want enticing you from shop windows. The bright city lights and attractions would draw you in, yet also seemed to blind you from reality.
I was only here for a month but quickly became entrapped in my own thoughts and needs, and like the local people I soon became oblivious to the beggars around me.
It saddened me to see people rushing everywhere, blind to the sights before them. Deaf to the cries of the hungry; blind to the mother on the street with nothing but her child to hold; a man with only a brick for a pillow as he slept on the bare ground and a lady with no arms just begging for support. Everywhere I looked homeless and destitute men; women, mothers, baby's and children were crying out for hope.
These are just a few of the many circumstances that caused me to realise; I cannot witness such things and walk away unscathed.
Do these people exist or are they just dust to be walked over? The truth is plain but true: They do exist, they are seen and they are people, yet ignored and forgotten.
It wasn't until I returned to my own home town that I realised I had been no different to them. When I was told to ignore those who begged for money because I couldn't help everyone and it encouraged more begging, I listened to the advice I was given. I knew it was partly true, I couldn't help everyone but I could help at least one person. Even with just a kind word or some act of encouragement, I was fitting into the culture rather then standing out.
You never know the difference you can make on someone, it just takes someone to be different.
How easy it is to become too comfortable with where we are and to find ourselves fitting into the world. We are called to be the light and to stand out from the crowd.
What sort of generation have we become that our own people are cast out on the streets yet others have far more then they will ever need, including me.
Whatever happened to the values of humanity? Have we lost our way because we fail to see each and every person as individuals?
As Antoine de Saint said “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
During my stay in Shanghai I sat next to a young boy and his tutor outside our apartment listening to the mellifluous sound that came from his violin. He was fully blind and only aware of the beautiful music he made through sound and touch. I remember this boy and think about how hard it must be to learn an instrument with no eyes to guide your hands. But I soon realised that he didn't do it alone he had support from his family, his tutor and friends. He had the determination and the will to accomplish something but also other people working together to help this one individual.
Imagine if each country and each person worked together to help those on the streets and in the world, to reach out and just help that one person you do not even realise what you can change.
Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
I really think there is something beautiful in all people if we have the eyes and heart to see it.
When I watched and listened to each person I became drawn into their lives and culture and I realized we need to take the time to listen to a wise old woman, stop as you pass that person on the street, laugh with a young child, and listen to the sweet music of the boy who's blind; because it not only impacts them but fills us with compassion and understanding so we can reach out to those around us who need hope. Being the light in this world, takes courage and faith to step out from the views and opinions of those around you.
Those we help change, change us.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I saw through these moments through family and people that we all have so much in common even though we are from very different parts of the world. Language and traditions were different in some ways, but we each had this one thing that was the same and that was love.
A love for family, for people, and country.
Let us not lose this love.