By Seth Barnes
Grace came to me unexpectedly today.
We’d been accosted by beggars everywhere we went in Hyderabad. You want to help the needy ones, but giving to beggars can be complicated.Anyone who saw Slumdog Millionaire understands how it can be a racket.And so, you pray for discernment and you pray for grace.
But your spirit can feel bruised by it all. Today was a long day and we were ready for a safe place on the eve of our departure from India. And then, walking to our last meeting, I heard behind me, “Sir,sir!”
I recoiled inside, guard up, seeing a small woman beckoning me and wondering how to fend her off.
“Sir, I have cancer. Mommy, daddy dead. I need to catch train. Help me.”
“Right,” I thought. There was no grace in me.
But I listened as she shared more details of her plight. And I asked her to come to where we could talk inside our building. I promised to help somehow. She agreed to walk with us.
Once inside, I got Raju to translate so she could speak in Hindi.She was skin and bones. She showed us a big lump on her neck – an enlarged thyroid. She showed us her deformed arm. She showed us her medical records.
“I think she is telling you the truth,” said Raju.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“It is Grace,” she answered.
We gathered some of the nearby racers and Noe prayed a powerful prayer. He declared, “Grace, God says you are beautiful! You are beautiful.” She was crying. You could feel God’s presence. And a wave of emotion hit me.
We sent her away with money for the train and for medicines and with hugs. And if she found grace through us in that short interaction,after a day of searching for it, we found that grace has a pronoun. I’ve thought and even blogged before about grace – but about grace as an abstraction.
Tonight, she took on human form and kissed our spirits. She walked away in the night, but her spirit lingered with us.
Seth is the executive director of Adventures In Missions, an organization that sends people on short-term mission trips around the world. He lives in Gainesville, GA with his wife Karen. You can visit his blog “Radical Living in a Comfortable World” at sethbarnes.com.