Monday, October 29, 2012

Life in the Midst of Death

Rachel and I are now back home after nearly two very busy weeks away from our regular activities. Before we left, I wrote about our expected activities, although I didn’t actually know precisely what all we would be seeing and doing.

One thing I thought we would do was visit a slum community where people live under a bridge. We didn’t get to go there, but we did see work being done in a number of other interesting places. I’ll share about a few of them in my next few posts.

One of our first visits was to a slum community where people have made their homes in … of all places … a cemetery. The idea of living in a cemetery seems very strange to most of us. It is a necessity for these people

We walked along the outer edge of this community, where a body of bright green stagnant water was no doubt an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes of all types.

Along the banks, we passed one tiny cement block shelter after another. Old women, young mothers with tiny babies, and small children stood in the doorways watching the visitors pass by. Most of our group couldn’t speak Indonesian, but I was thankful that Rachel and I could at least speak to them for a little bit.  

Once we left the small pathway past the green water, we returned to the side of the strip of dwellings that faced the cemetery itself. A few monkeys were tethered to trees. Geese and goats roamed freely through the area, lying down to rest wherever they wished. Plastic bags and other rubbish could be seen everywhere.

The graves at the edge of the cemetery were in such close proximity to the shelters that in some cases, people used the fences around them as a place to dry clothes. Tables were set up right over some of the grave sites. In a couple places, I saw broken-down seats from old cars placed among other graves as a sort of open-air living room. As people step out of their doorways, those reminders of death were right there only a step or two away. In some cases, I am pretty certain that there were actually grave sites inside their dwellings. 

I am struck with the thought that we were seeing life in the midst of death. At the very least, we were seeing people living in the midst of death.

Thankfully, we did not see only the sad living conditions of the people. We also saw a group of medical professionals – a doctor, a dentist, a nurse, and a pharmacist – who give of their time to regularly visit this community and others like it to offer free health care. By giving of themselves in this much needed manner, with no strings attached, they share the love of Jesus with these people who are dearly loved by God.

As they do, they also reflect the One Who is THE LIFE in the midst of death.


  1. Wow Julie. I sometimes forget how other people live outside of America. We, over here, don't think of Indonesia as being a "poor" nation, but in the cracks of every country is stuff that should shame us Americans. I'm glad you are over there having an impact. Ironically, I wrote an article today about how good we have it in America, now, compared to any other time in history. And then reading your article, It further cemented how grateful we should be. The world is hurting. God helps that hurting, but I know I'm not doing as much as those doctors and dentists.

    Also, love the pictures and color. Good blog.

    1. I read your post earlier today. It was a good one. Good reminders.

      I'll be writing more about our trip over the next several posts. The trip to the cemetery community was only the beginning. I think we went to four different places that first Saturday ... a whirlwind overview of some of the work being done by a very active and vibrant organization with far-reaching impact across Indonesia. Just talking to the lady who is behind it all is exhausting in and of itself. But the organization she leads is doing much for His glory.

      As far as how much each of us is doing ... nothing any one person can do is really all that much in the face of the need. But as Mother Teresa said, "If you can't feed everyone, feed just one." Perhaps not her exact words, but pretty close. All we can do is help those who God brings across our path, and expand our vision a bit to include those outside our immediate sphere of acquaintances who God places on our hearts.

      Thanks for the comment.


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