I didn't know
the rats screamed at night
By Sue Bates
Surely he (Jesus) took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, (Isa 53:4)
The first time I saw a young child climb up out of the sewers at the North Train Station in Bucharest, I though I was going to lose my mind. The thought of how a human being could live underground in utter filth - like a worm, was beyond my ability to understand or accept.
But the world is full of outcasts and urchins struggling the best way they can to survive in our Darwinistic world....a world that honors and admires and promotes "the survival of the fittest." If you were so unfortunate to have been born in adverse circumstances or didn't chart the course of your life correctly, then you may be left in the hands of a cold, cruel world.
But, sadly, a lack of love and understanding of those in poverty and dire need many times come from those of us who have experienced the compassionate touch of Jesus and the privilege of being born in a country where we need not hunger or lack for any of the necessities of life.
How can we share the gospel with those whose lives we have little in common?
It is as though we speak another language. How sad that we judge everyone by our standards.....how WE live and what WE know and what WE believe.
Several years ago, a missionary called me just to talk about his experience with the street kids. He takes clothing and medicine to them every few months and so didn't really get too involved in their lives. He said he was trying to witness to a 12-year-old boy who lived underground, but was getting nowhere. The boy was sniffing a plastic bag containing "aurolac"...the cheap inhalant of the street kids. He seemed to not be paying attention. So, the man asked the boy, "Why, why oh why, can't you believe in a God of love?"
The boy thought for a second and then asked the missionary, "Why do the rats scream at night?"
And so the missionary said to me, "See, I tried to talk to him about God and it was like talking to a wall...he wasn't even listening and started talking about rats. Those street kids are hopeless."
Can you see what the young boy was trying to tell him? But it was the missionary who wasn't listening. He was telling him that he wasn't going to listen to someone who hadn't entered into his world....at least even to a small degree. The missionary had a nice car, a full belly, nice clothes, a nice warm bed, a family, money to live on, etc., etc., etc. Tons of things we call "God's goodness"...and they are. The street kid had almost nothing. He had a filthy "bed" in a stinking hell-hole underground that had roaches, lice, fleas, mosquitos, flies.....and rats that screamed at night, keeping him awake.
His message was plain and simple and to the point...."You asked me why I can't believe in a God of love. You tell me why the rats scream at night.....and then maybe you can figure out why I can't believe in a loving God."
That pitiful little street boy's answer was profound. He was challenging the privileged missionary to first earn the right to preach to him by having a better understanding of his situation and how much he suffered.
Jesus came down into our dark world and became "one of us" in order to enlighten us as to the kind of God we have....a God of love and compassion.
And He also became flesh in order to "learn obedience by the things that He suffered." Hebrews 5:8.
He commanded us to "deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him....in His steps". Perhaps too often we want the best of both worlds.
Material riches blind us to the needs of others. How can we have love and compassion for the outcasts of this world, if we don't even hear them and understand why they are weeping?
I didn't know the rats screamed at night. Did you?
Source: Children of the Night (Part 16) by Sue BatesSue Bates is a missionary along with her husband Ron to Romania's street kids, orphans, and blind. email@example.com
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