Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 17, 2013

On Kolkata’s Front Lines

Kolkata, India

Kolkata finally came in to view this morning as we made our final descent to the City of Joy through thick layers of clouds. After two days of travel, we are officially here. Our first order of business was to make sure that all of our luggage had arrived. Half of our almost fifty bags are stuffed with supplies that we will need as we serve in a variety of settings over the coming week. I am happy to say that all of our luggage made it. We wasted no time in loading our mountain of gear onto a dozen baggage carts and then choo-chooed our way out of the airport to our awaiting vehicles.

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Loading LuggageThe second we stepped out of the terminal, Kolkata’s heat and humidity embraced and welcomed us. And, the moment we left the airport parking lot, Kolkata’s traffic made sure that we traveled slowly enough to take in all of the sights the city has to offer. Kolkata is undoubtedly a city characterized by the open sores and gaping wounds of poverty, homelessness, disease, hunger, injustice, and exploitation. I have often felt that when Jesus said the poor you will always have with you He must have meant that they would all end up in Kolkata.

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It really is no wonder that Mother Teresa began her work in this particular city. When she became aware of the plight of the poor, she made herself completely available to God to do something to help. She could not look the other way nor could she walk away. Instead, she moved in the direction of those in need and walked through the dark places looking for Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor. She worked in relative obscurity until the English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge introduced her to the world. The rest is history.

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This afternoon our students walked from the guesthouse where we are staying to Shishu Bhavan, Mother Teresa’s home for children. Shishu Bhavan is also the place where the Missionaries of Charity conduct their orientation for those who come to Kolkata to serve in Mother Teresa’s homes. The ten-minute walk to Shishu Bhavan is an adventure in itself, especially for those who are in Kolkata for the first time. The only things more broken and filthy than the sidewalks are the people who live on them and sleep on cardboard pallets and under makeshift lean-to’s.

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Remaining passive in Kolkata is possible only if your heart is as cold as the Grinch’s. Even though I know most of the beggars who live along this stretch of AJC Bose Road, my heart still aches for them. That is why I am committed to joining the Missionaries of Charity in their good work of being a healing balm to Kolkata’s marginalized and discarded masses. And that is why we have formed a strategic alliance with our justice partners here in order to rescue and help to restore victims of injustice. Mother Teresa showed Kolkata and the world what it means to be Jesus with skin on. Our students are here to do the same.

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Please continue to pray for our students as they compassionately engage with Kolkata’s hurting masses, become the pleasing aroma of Christ to all they encounter, and invite them to the wedding banquet of the King. We are on the front lines of the revolution in Kolkata — the revolution that started when God sent Jesus to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. We are determined to tell that good news and also to demonstrate it through our compassionate acts of kindness among the poor and those who have suffered unimaginable injustices. Thank you for following our journey.

PS | I will post photos as I have opportunity on my Instagram account @omarcgarcia.


Responses

  1. Good to see you have all arrived safely and taking the chance for newcomers to get a flavour of Kolkata life. We pray all the team will settle in well, get good rest and be ready to show the Love of Jesus to the poor of Kolkata.
    God bless you all.

    • Thanks. In the morning we will do a “Calcutta Walks” tour to familiarize our team with how different worldviews have shaped the city. This is something new that we hope will help our students to understand what makes Kolkata such a unique place. As always, thanks for your love and concern for the people of Kolkata and for your prayers for our teams that come annually to serve the people of this city.

  2. Thanks for the updates, Omar. I love seeing all your smiling faces and many of us are praying from Katy for this wonderful group of students and sponsors! May God give you all many opportunities to serve and love in His name!

    • Thanks so much, Jeanne. Love these students. Looking forward to a great week.

  3. I’m reading your posts & following the journey to Kolkata, India. Its looks so good to see all your pictures!

    Thanks!

    Mortuza

    Bangladesh.

    • Thanks for following our journey, Mortuza.


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