Days before an annual Academy Awards party at a friend’s house, I went to see Lion with a dear friend to catch up on movies I hadn’t seen. All I heard about Lion was that it was an adoption story. Little did I know by the time I left the theater, my heart would be broken. I won’t tell you much in case you haven’t seen it, but it’s the true story of a little boy in India who gets lost. The film is his journey alone through the streets of India, and his later good fortune of adoption after harrowing circumstances. Although many scenes broke my heart, it was the part where he meets street kids in a railway station that cracked my heart into pieces.
I had seen a documentary years ago called Children Underground, a heart wrenching Academy Award nominated documentary by Edet Belzberg that follows street children living in a train station in Bucharest, Romania. To this day I’m haunted by this film and crushed by the reality that people walk over, pass by, or prostitute such young children living in distressing circumstance alone on the streets. For years I have fantasized about starting a ministry that would rescue these children, providing them a safe home and mental health services to help heal the multiple traumas they’ve already faced in their short lives. Lion reminded me where our hearts break might be where a ministry begins. Or what author Frederick Buechner says, The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
I’m not sure how my heart ache will unfold to help street children. I’m researching related ministries and organizations to support. However, I find myself in a conundrum; giving money never seems enough, yet moving to India to work full-time to minister to these children seems an impossible feat. Adopting a street child seems even more out of my league. I know such real life angels have such heroic callings, as Sue and John Brierley represented in Lion who adopted Saroo. May God bless them fifteen fold. They’re doing God’s work for which I feel such deep gratitude.
Lion once again cracked open my heart for street children, making me contemplate more deeply what it means to serve, what Jesus meant by “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”. Knowing how much Jesus loved the “little children”, I know his heart would surely be broken for the ‘children underground’, he’d surely heal them and bring them back to life.
The film has me contemplating scripture on the spiritual gifts we’re given, and what it means exactly when our hearts are cracked open wide. Scripture relating to spiritual gifts include Romans 12:6-8, Corinthians 12:4-11 and Corinthians 12:28. They name such gifts as: prophecy,encouraging, teaching, giving, leadership, mercy, wisdom, faith, healing, word of knowledge, miraculous powers, discerning spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues, government and the gift for languages. St. Paul says in Ephesians some are gifted as, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers. Romans 12:7-8 calls for a zest behind our giving: if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
He says, I pray you not only seek and discover your gifts but that you utilize them to the strengthening of the Body of Christ, for which you are a part.
I ponder my gifts and what they mean as a part of a larger body of Christ contributing to wholeness in our world. I honor the God-given gifts we all have, for we are working together for good as part of one body. It’s a beautiful image of the beloved community, each of us contributing to the healing of the world.
But I still ask, Am I using my gifts well? In fact, have I gotten clear on what my gifts are? Can I in anyway contribute to helping these street children?
These questions are my prayers this week.
I recognize the gift of actors, producers, directors, storytellers and the hardworking film crews who help bring to life meaningful stories, and whose talents break our hearts wide open. The captivating performances by Nicole Kidman,Dev Patel (who I just saw at a panel at the Santa Barbara film festival), Sunny Pawar (oh my gosh, he stole my heart playing Saroo), and the entire cast, transported me into the life of poor people in a remote village far away, children living underground in the railways, and to a selfless couple and the challenges and triumphs of adopting a child in need. Such meaningful films highlighting such challenges as oppression, suffering,war and hope against all odds, sensitizes us to the needs of a broken world, calling us to become a part of the larger whole of healers.
What are your spiritual gifts? Will you join me this week in thinking about your spiritual gifts, and create a prayer on how you can use your gifts in the world?