We all wept when it was time for me to leave them. It was terrible. Hard and pitiful and awful and painful and sad all rolled into one. There was so much to be said but words failed each of us and the language barrier was just too strong to communicate how we felt.
Amy Carmichael once wrote:
"…in the silence of a pain we cannot conquer we find ourselves just spirit-crushed, and with no language but a cry."
So there we stood, our little group. In a cloud of clasped hands and forehead kisses. Dupattas swiping, swiping, swiping away at black, eye-liner filled tears. With no language but a cry. The fear of never seeing them again filled my heart. The fear of leaving them in such oppression and poverty and complete spiritual darkness made me sick.
As I approached the airport the next night to fly home, I saw them. My heart stopped in my chest for a moment. Sitting on a curb just outside the gates of the airport, under a street light was a little bundle of sparkle and color and smiles. Precious, precious ones.
I climbed out of the car and was welcomed by the most beautiful sight. Each of the ladies – all 6 of them – had come to the airport to say good-bye. And they looked beautiful. They had worn their best clothes. Can a heart burst with happiness? Well, I think mine almost did.
We spent the next thirty minutes hugging and laughing and talking. I was so proud of them! What it took for them to be able to come to the airport, I'll never truly know. Bus money…approval of husbands...food prepared for families…courage. I was so proud of them. These ladies who never leave their slum, who were too afraid to go on a picnic just a few miles from their homes, had bravely come to the airport. I was humbled and amazed. Overwhelmed with thankfulness.
Then, sooner than any of us wished, it was time to say good-bye. We formed a little circle in the grass and prayed. Then, slowly we said good-bye. After many, many, many hugs and tears, I walked away. It seemed like I turned around and waved at them 100 times as I walked toward the airport. And 100 times the little, sparkly bundle raised their arms in unison and waved back. Oh, my heart was full.
As the plane rose higher and higher in the air and the lights of our city shone in the night, I couldn't help but notice the large patches of darkness where there was no light. I assumed these were the slums or power-cut areas. My heart ached for my ladies, knowing they were on the way back to their slum. To their patch of darkness. And I couldn't hold it in anymore. The tears just came and came and came.
So much darkness. So little light.
Then suddenly, out of the middle of one of those dark patches came a spray of fireworks. And another and another. That patch didn't seem quite so dark anymore.
Familiar and comforting words came to me:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
There will come a day, He promises, when the oppression and suffering and mourning will be no more for those who know Him.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
"Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.
He will dwell with them, and they will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning
nor crying nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away."
And He who was seated on the throne said,
"Behold, I am making all things new."
Also, He said, "Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true."
And He said to me, "It is done!
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
The one who conquers will have this heritage,
and I will be his God and he will be my son."
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:5
And I was reminded by the One who is Light, that it will not always be dark. He has promised. We put our hope in Him. We find comfort in Him. We trust His promises. We follow Him in obedience to shine His glorious Light into the darkness.