“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,” –Psalm 107:2
I’ve been saying that I didn’t know the meaning of the word “redemption” until I went to India. When I told this to a certain friend, he asked me what the difference was between redemption here and there. After all, isn’t that what God does for all of us?
I saw his point. And yes, I agree that God’s redemption is the same all around the world, but it’s what we do with that redemption that matters.
I saw redemption in India. The stories of how God had saved them from darkness were something that was talked about all the time. It’s something they lived in constant awareness of. In India, I saw people who lived the command given in Psalm 107:2. The redeemed of the Lord talked of being redeemed. And that made all the difference.
I think most of us (myself included) tend to take that redemption for granted. We don’t talk about it. We don’t live every moment of our lives as if we are a changed people. We have so many distractions that keep us from focusing on the one thing that truly matters.
In India, I was void of that distraction. In India, I talked of redemption all the time. In India, I was free to enter into a spontaneous moment of worship with one of the boys and his guitar. Back here, I strive to clear my mind of the chaos. I try to live in that freedom I experienced at Ashagram because I do believe that it’s possible, and I do believe that it’s right.
So today I choose to live the command God has set before me. Today I choose to speak of redemption. Today I pray that my eyes would tell what my heart has experienced.
I know the meaning of the word “redemption”. Do you?
I returned to the United States with India temporarily tattooed on my hand, but permanently ingrained on my heart.
Meeting up with my brothers in Mumbai was definitely a highlight of my trip, but the real miracle happened when our team left the city. After spending a few days amidst the poverty and pain of Mumbai, the lush, green haven called Ashagram washed over me. I sensed immediately what one of the former street boys confirmed only a few hours later: “This is a healing place.”
I know that it’s a healing place for those who were rescued from the darkness of the streets of Mumbai, but I also believe that each one of my team members experienced that healing in one way or another.
The term “beauty from ashes” has never meant so much to me. The hungry street boys I saw in Mumbai… I met them at Ashagram. Their eyes were aglow with the saving power of Jesus’ love. The prostitutes I saw lingering outside the brothels… I met them too. They smiled, they laughed, they praised the God who rescued them from darkness. And as I entered into a beautiful night of worship while a young man named Sunil played his guitar, I discovered the true meaning of the word redemption. How was it possible that this extravagant worshiper could be the drug addict he claimed he once was?
Just when I was wondering if the hand of God was so clearly seen in my own life, one of the boys slipped me a note that read:
Do you know that you are my very close friend i ever have. Friendship is like love. and love never end. an love not take record of rong. you are love.
Though I wished I could have stayed much longer, I’m content to leave on that note. I figure that if that was the conclusion Santosh came to after my nine-day stay at Ashagram, I did what I went there to do. And I experienced the beauty of redemption in a way I never knew that I could.