South Asia - Why I help

OMer Ellyn grew up as an American overseas in Europe. Her story embodies OM’s work.

She describes how serving in missions isn't always what we expect, but we can know that God is always in control.

I have seen my share of poverty. I’ve walked through slums and refugee camps. I’ve met children forced to beg on the streets or sell their bodies. I’ve seen a mother holding her dead baby hoping to evoke a sympathetic response from passers-by. 

My heart has broken for people who were born into these situations. Yet, the injustice of their situations is not my main motivation for reaching out in love. 

The motivation is not the blatant injustice

I help people because they are beautiful: they are fathers who want to provide for their families, mothers who worry about their children, sisters who carry a younger sibling on their hip to keep them out of trouble and grandparents who sit and watch children so that parents can work. They are people with hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations: they want to go to school or travel abroad to work, play with a friend or sing and dance to their favorite song, learn English or pass an exam, meet and marry a good girl or boy who loves them.

Yes, they are poor. They live in tin or bamboo shanties along mud roads littered with garbage, scrap metal and piles of broken items; without the privacy of doors or security of locks and gates. Their only water is what they collect from a nearby river and carry home in makeshift plastic containers. Flea-infested dogs roam or sleep almost everywhere. 

In the face of this devastating poverty, I feel a sickening sense that there is no way to help; that any program we organize, any aid given or any message shared would not be enough to bring a real change.

“The injustice of their situations is not my main motivation for reaching out... It’s when I learn to see the beauty of the person that God crafted them to be that I feel hope.”

It is when I learn to see the beauty of the person that God crafted them to be that I feel hope, knowing they too were created by God and placed here for a purpose.

Their fierce loyalty to family, work ethic, resourcefulness in solving impossible challenges, and hospitable and friendly way of inviting a stranger to sit with them are all examples of their worth. 

Designed by God to give glory to God

All of these people were designed to give glory to God. He made them in His image and He knows and loves them.  And it is this belief that motivates me to help: because if God created them but they don’t know, and He loves them but they haven’t heard, then speaking that message is of utmost value.

Yes, let’s feed the hungry, provide shelter and give medical assistance where there is none; but let us be primarily motivated by introducing people to their Creator, telling them that they are known and deeply loved. 

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