The Christmas Message Lived Out: Prostitutes, Lepers and Widows
This woman, my friend and sister in Christ, reminds me of the ONE we celebrate during this holiday season. She is bringing hope, healing, restoration, and unconditional love to the very ones who have experienced fear, disease, exile and conditional love. They are receiving acceptance and compassion when they have come to expect rejection and disdain. Through Padma, Christ is entering into their brokenness, sharing their shame, and extending to them His hand of Love. She is living the Christmas message.
I was 19 years old when we met. I knew I would never forget her. She had a humble confidence about her. Gentleness and compassion beamed from her eyes and everywhere she went she walked with purpose and strength, an overflow from the inside out. Meeting her impacted me in a way that nothing else had.
The mission team I was traveling with was visiting a rural village outside of Calcutta to help encourage a local pastor’s family and their ministry. Padma, the daughter of that pastor, had left the area to get an education, and after finishing with a Masters of Divinity, came back to her village to serve her own people.
After entering her home and being generously offered Chai tea and crackers, we were introduced. We began talking and realized that God was doing something special in that moment. My life has been different ever since. Two hearts, two worlds, two destinies collided as we shared the burdens God had placed on our hearts to love the unlovely and to see people restored to wholeness, whether that is in suburban America or rural India.
That was a special day for me. Instead of following the rest of my group and participating in the planned activities, she took me by the hand and led me through her village. As we walked side-by-side down dirt roads, weaving through palm trees and jungle like brush, it was clear that we shared the same heart.
She told me that we were two sisters, simply separated by an ocean. I agreed.
Together we passed by the homes of prostitutes for whom she cared as they became ill from their “work”. I saw their children, babies born of the “trade”, that she loved as if they were her own. She pointed out the widows who had nothing, whom she fed and nursed. She shared with me her dreams to see God’s glory to fill that place.
Little did we know the wonderful works that would come. (see tomorrow’s post for more on this)
I was stunned by the sights, thrilled to the core of my being to see such beauty, strength and hope poured out in the midst of such poverty, such need.
Later that afternoon we knelt in her bedroom to pray for God’s outpouring over these women, young and old, over her ministry, her future, and her family who was and is persecuted for their witness of Christ’s redemptive love. Our hearts were joined for eternity and we knew that even if we never saw one another again, God had done something beautiful in our midst that day.
I am grateful to say that we have seen each other twice since then, and continue to communicate on a regular basis. There are framed pictures of her in our home and her picture is pinned just to the right of India on the world map in our kitchen. Our kids know her by name “Miss Padma” and see her face everyday. We talk about her love for the people of India, about God’s love for the people everywhere.
God has given our family a beautiful connection to a people very far away, very different from us; a people very close to His heart. We are so thankful to be impacted by Padma’s life and by God’s love that pursues people no matter their age, color, ethnicity or socio-economic status. God is mightily at work through this woman and I am honored to know her, honored to introduce her to you.
Through her faithful service and sacrificial love, God is changing the face of rural Calcutta, restoring dignity, bringing hope, love and salvation to the least of these.
God is changing our family as well, as we witness such Love poured out.
O Come, Let Us Adore Him!
Click here to read about her ministry with a Leper Colony in Calcutta and to see first hand the most beautiful Christmas celebration I can imagine.
*her name is changed for her safety