SANAM'S STORY

I had the pleasure of talking to Sanam on one of my recent visits to India. He is the epitome of joy and fully committed to his daughters, which he serves wholeheartedly. I wish there were more Sanam's in the world. Here's his story:

 

When hired in 2011 as a part-time tuition teacher, Sanam had no idea the ways God would use him in this ministry. In 2013, he was promoted to full-time academic coordinator and father figure in the home. Over time, his name has changed too – from Sanam Sir to Dad. 

When I talked with Sanam about his role as a father figure, his face lit up. He said, “I only come for the girls.” There is no other motivating factor beyond his love and the heart he has for the girls and this ministry. He said he doesn’t feel like an academic coordinator. Instead, his main role is being “dad” to a house full of girls. 

From taking care of school payments, attending parent-teacher meetings, ensuring uniforms and supplies are maintained, to combing hair, Sanam has been fully integrated into the family. He loves the girls the same way he loves his own son, who affectionately refers to the girls as his “didis” or older sisters. 

For Sanam, this isn’t just a job. He has brought his own family into the ministry with him. His wife and son are part of the family too. They love the girls, visit them frequently, and pray for them daily. It’s their support that allows Sanam to be so devoted to his large family. 

One indicator of how deep his relationship with the girls has grown over the years is the fact they call him “daddy” outside the home. When they see him at school, it’s the name they call him and the teachers and staff know which girls belong to him. He advocates on their behalf, ensuring their educational needs are met and keeps them engaged with daily activities to aid in their development. 

He contributes his parenting success to the ongoing education and support that is provided, which teaches him and the rest of the staff about parenting and child development. He has successfully incorporated the things he has learned into the home where the girls reside and at home with his own son as well. For Sanam, being a good parent to his children is of upmost importance to him. 

In his words, “I praise God for the ways He is working marvelously here.” Just like any proud father, his heart swells with affection and a smile fills his face as he talks about his daughters. He wants what’s best for them and he wants to be prepared for the years to come. He jokingly asked, “Do you have any extra guidance on parenting teenagers?” 

A house full of teenage daughters is on the horizon, but Sanam is joyfully up for the challenge because after all, he is their dad. And a great one at that!

WHAT IS PAIN?

I've been thinking a lot about pain here lately. The world is full of it and we all experience it. It's part of the human story; there's no way around it. And as I ponder the lives of those who face the greatest injustices and abuses of our time, I can't even begin to imagine the kind of pain they must feel. To be exploited, used, deemed less than human - it makes me wonder what this unimaginable pain must feel like.

I know the most painful moments of my life have been very intense. My experience with pain has been the physical-pain-in-your-chest, drowning-in-emotion kind of pain. It has hit the depths of my soul, crashed my world, and changed life as I knew it. 

Here's the truth though: No matter what situation causes our pain, pain hurts.

And an even greater truth: God is absolutely able and faithful to heal! 

What I have come to realize about pain is that it is a deep longing for what is right, what is pure, and what is perfect. Therefore, the only cure for our pain is the Perfect One. The only One who can identify with the depth and width and breadth of our pain. The One who took the weight of the world on His shoulders. The One who knows what deep loss and betrayal feels like. 

When you're hurting don't be tempted to despair. Oh, no! Run to the One who is right, who is pure, and who is perfect. He is the salve that will soothe your wounds. He is the healer who will be by your side as you recover. He is the forgiver who will lead you down the road of forgiveness, which will set you free.  

Friends, there is a cure for pain and His name is Jesus. Drink of His cup. Eat of His bread. Soak up the words of life He tenderly speaks over you, and live. 

This life won't be pain-free. No, it will be pain-filled.

But remember, our deepest pains are our deepest longings for what is right, what is pure, and what is perfect. So long for Him. Hurt like you've never hurt before. Because the more you hurt, the more you long for Him. And the more you long for Him, the more of Him you'll receive.

That's the best news of all. And it's this truth that will allow you to find joy in the midst of suffering because wherever Jesus is, joy abounds.

Invite Him into your pain today, and live. 

 

BREAK MY HEART

The popular song, Hosanna, by Hillsong has a line that says, “break my heart for what breaks Yours.” It’s always at this point in the song where people seem to get really into the worship. Hands go up. People’s faces get intense. If you’ve been around church for long at all, you know what I’m talking about.

I’ve reflected on these lyrics over the years and while I love them, I can’t help but take my prayer a bit further. Yes, I want God to break my heart for what breaks His, but I also want my heart to respond to the brokenness like His would. What good is brokenness if we don’t allow it to lead us to wholeness? 

I’ve seen some serious brokenness in my lifetime. There’s brokenness in my family. There’s brokenness amongst my friends. There’s brokenness in my city. And there’s most definitely brokenness all around the world. So yes, let’s allow God to break our hearts over the brokenness, but let’s also be willing to be agents of renewal when He calls us, which is everyday.

It’s hard for me to reconcile how so many in the church can sit comfortably on a pew, resigned to the fact that they are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We aren’t just called to believe that Jesus exists. We’re called to extend the Kingdom of God on the earth. It’s a privilege that we get because we are adopted sons and daughters of the King. We get to partake in the family business yet many have no interest in making their Father famous. They seem to have no interest in getting their hands dirty and their hearts shattered for the sake of the Gospel.

Heartbreaking is what it is. I’m heartbroken over people like this because I believe God’s heart breaks for them, too. Just like His heart breaks over the man enslaved to a field owner or a child dying from a preventable disease or a woman being raped in the name of war, His heart breaks for His children who are complacent.

I’m not saying they’re bad, they’re not really Christians, or anything of the sort, but I am saying they’re missing out on all that God has for them. It’s been my experience that you learn SO much about God when you’re amongst heartbreak. By allowing Him to break our hearts for what breaks His, we also give Him the opportunity to fix our broken hearts and reshape them to look like His.

This is what I desire for more people to experience. I invite you to start praying this prayer for yourself and those around you. Let's not be afraid of the hard stuff. The victory has already been won and we've been empowered by the Holy Spirit to change and renew our world through daily acts of love. Don't be afraid to allow your heart break to lead you into action. After all, that's what is asked of us.

"God break my heart for what breaks Yours, but please don’t stop there. Teach me to respond like you would so I can be transformed into the image of Your Son every time my heart breaks. May I leave this world looking more like Jesus than I do myself."