I’ve been taking my dad for walks as often as I can, and a few days ago, he did a full six rounds with me in the parking lot downstairs, without stopping or getting tired. It was a special moment as I could see how far he’s come since his decline over a month ago. He now is hungry most of the time, asks often for food, eats much more than he’s been eating in a very long time, and is much more cheerful generally. I’m grateful for the answers to many prayers that people have been praying for him. Just this morning Lydia and I were talking about the amazing grace in Dad’s life that we’ve consistently seen over the years, and the hope we have in God.
Some months ago, an ESL student of mine emailed me thanking me for the class because he’d got the score he’d wanted in an English proficiency level test that he’d been preparing for, and I was touched because he also wanted to take me out for a meal. That’s quite something when the person is young enough to be your own son! After weeks of unending work, we were able to meet up for dinner four days back.
It was a very special evening.
We spent about 2 hours sharing our stories, and I was struck again and again by the difficulties his family has faced having to leave their home country of Afghanistan, moving to India, and somehow in the face of impossibilities, trying to re-establish their lives and provide stability to their children. The stories were poignant, and again and again, I could hear the yearning cry in this young man’s voice for a future. I was aware I was treading on the sacred ground of someone’s pain.
I’ve gone through the document that outlines the government’s policy on refugees in India, and am well aware of how difficult it is for someone who is a genuine refugee without much money, to not just live in Delhi, but to start their life over again, continue their education and get a job. I’m aware of the long, repeated, frustrating journeys to the UNHCR office to get that precious ‘blue card’ that is the open door to education and jobs, and that after 3 years, you may still be refused. And you cannot go back home, because ‘home’ now means war, terror and possible death, and you are not rich enough to try to leave India. Many families face a very bleak future as refugees in India. There are very few things one can say to stories of this nature that don’t sound trite and pointless. And as I listened to my student, I was asking God what I could say that would give this young man with dreams and aspirations, some real hope.
I had got to know Suzanne while I was writing on Renderosity, an online community of artists, and she had graciously allowed me to use her art in my work as a teacher. I had not been in contact for some years, and as her name came back to mind today because I wanted to use one of her images in this post, I found out that she had passed away of cancer in 2013. You can visit her site on WordPress HERE
The word ‘hope’ has been coming back again and again to me over many days. I see a constant assault on it being waged. At 91 (my dad’s age), I am filled with hope for my dad’s future, and his gain of health shows me a future of hope that God has graced him with. And because I know the love and kindness of God, I see hope for my student, even in the midst of such difficulties and perplexities. I know God will answer prayer, and is even now hearing this young man’s cry for a future. I commit his dreams and aspirations into God’s hands knowing that that is the best place for them; that they will be safe and held precious in God’s sight.