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.
“Do you want to marry a pastor?”
Well, what was I supposed to say to the little missionary lady who smiled up at me so sweetly? I had a feeling she wouldn’t understand that not everyone wants the happy little love story God gave her. I’d like a happy little love story, all right. Just not hers. It’s not that I don’t want to marry a pastor. It’s just that a pastor isn’t the image I get in my mind when I picture my future husband and the ministry we do together. I feel that his ministry is going to be much more subtle. But maybe that’s just me.
I don’t feel called to be a pastor’s wife, but even if my future husband would be called to be a pastor, I would still be called to be his wife. The man. Not the pastor. So the answer is: no, I don’t want to marry a pastor; I just want to marry a man. After all, it’s the man I’ll be marrying. Not the calling. When the dream has died or the calling has been fulfilled, I’ll be left with the man. Not the pastor. It’s the man that I’ll love and live with and care for “until death do us part.” I doubt anyone who is married to a real estate agent puts a lot of thought into the fact that he was called to be a real estate agent. Same goes for the wife of a banker, contractor, or factory worker because when he comes home, he’s just a man and his job at home is to be a husband. So why is it so much different to be married to a pastor? Why is that portrayed as some noble calling? You don’t have to be a pastor to do ministry. God still uses the journalists and the businessmen and even the computer nerds. (I’m not sure how he uses the computer nerds, but I’m sure He can…)
The truth is, I don’t really care what my future husband does as long as it’s what God has called him to do and he’s passionate about it. I’m not going to marry a calling, but a man who is called. And if he happens to be called to be a pastor, so be it. But if I fell in love with the man, I’d even marry a computer nerd. (Just don’t tell that to the sweet missionary lady. She’s pretty set on the pastor idea…)