Hope for the Least of These

Warning: The following contains elements of very real darkness and very real light. The darkness is fictional (though inspired by actual events that happen all the time), but the light is true, true, true.

There is a heavenly rhythm that sways the people of God: it rescues the lost and lifts up the downtrodden. It speaks for the voiceless and leaves a trail of vibrant mercy in its wake. And in India, among the lowest caste of people—the “untouchables”—it offers itself as the greatest light imaginable.

Jesus spoke with warmth and urgency about the least of these, going so far as to lump those shunned by everyone else in with God Himself. He identified so closely with them that how we treat those who are despised and rejected directly reflects how we treat the Savior we love. Does your hope extend to them? Does it make its way to the heart of God in the darkest places in the world?

Story time. (And don’t worry. It’s just a story. Maybe.)

The day after celebrating the festival of colors in Mumbai, she was kidnapped. As the big man roughly pushed her through the streets, she remembered her little brother and was glad he’d run out of reach. What would happen to her now? She was only eight years old. She’d never been separated from her parents before, and the more she thought, the more terror seeped down to her toes. They finally stopped outside a dusty building, small and drab, where a feeling of despair clung around the door. The big man knocked, then shoved her into the arms of a stern-looking woman with dirty hands and heartless eyes. Money was exchanged, and the door of despair closed firmly behind the girl, locking her inside.

Three months passed. She was sold night after night. The first time was to a foreign man. He bought her soul for ten American dollars. She cried the whole time, but a group of older girls were there to restrain her.

She became used to the greasy smiles, the harsh tugging off of her stained sari, the demons laughing at her on that bed of nightmares. And she died a little more each day.

But then hope appeared. One night, the man who came to her said something different than all of the others before him. He whispered, “I’m here to rescue you. Help is on its way. You’re safe. We just have to wait for a few minutes.” She watched with wide eyes as police (they seemed like knights to her) burst through the door and arrested the stern lady and the women who worked with her. They took the girl by the hand and gently led her back out into freedom. Fresh air awakened her senses, and she broke down into sobs. Arms encircled her, a familiar scent catching at her heart. Her mother! The door of despair faded into the background as they made their way back home together.

There are an estimated 27 million people at this moment in some form of human trafficking. Sex slavery, child soldiers, forced labor: the true least of these. The story above was just a drop in an ocean of need. Some details came from my head. Some were supplied by the true stories published on exodusroad.com. How do we extend hope to them?

What if God’s people, His hands and feet here on earth, decided that 20.9 million people is an atrocity we are no longer able to stand? Because here is the blazing truth: hope doesn’t always quietly sidle up to you and whisper gently to your soul. Sometimes it takes up a sword and fights with fury against injustice. Faith without action is dead, and hope without a spine is useless.

In 2017, Riley and I are going to sponsor the Delta Team (in India) of Exodus Road. Check out the video about the amazing work they do:

The thing is, what if we set our hearts on redefining what “untouchables” means? What if it no longer referred to the least of these but to the men, women, and children who are so defended by God and His people that evil would be terrified to touch them again? The rescued prostitutes who raise healthy families, the young sons who return home from war and go to school, the laborers who sing songs of freedom because they are free? As we wrap up this month of hope, let’s dare to ask: What if our hope made a difference?

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