The Art of Staring // India GP

by Hae Min Lee

Namaste! We have just entered our 3rd week here in Delhi and have met countless individuals who went before us in obedience to Jesus' calling for them to live alongside and love the residents of India. We have also met people who were affected by the laborers' faithfulness and ultimately God's grace. It is evident that He is here and working. 

One thing that is quite different in Indian culture is the staring. In America, it is rude if one was caught staring or even sneaking a glance at another. In India, people stare intently, especially if one's physical appearance is different. I, as a Korean-American, stick out in this land of homogeneous people.

During our first week of working in the slum children's ministry, I was taken aback. Until then, I received a lot of intense staring from older if not same aged individuals in the city. But there, we were welcomed with bright eyes and wide smiles. (Note: The color of skin is associated with different classes and thus, many of the children and women were of darker skin.) As we stood at the front of the room, their eyes shone throughout the room, literally twinkling with curiosity and innocence. 

Early this week, we visited a garbage slum community in Delhi. It is built alongside an enormous mound of garbage and from a distance, one could see silhouettes of people on top of the mound digging through the trash. There are animals, dark colored liquid, and families who dwell at the bottom of this heap. As we walked through, I made eye contact with a little girl who wore a pink striped dress with a metal basket in her hand. She stood there, staring back at me with her unwavering gaze. After her, there were many others (children, adults) with whom I exchanged glances as we passed by. I was really saddened by what I saw there.

Though the communities are different, the pair of eyes, dark pupils surrounded by white, is still the same. To me, these eyes represent a part of the Indian culture that is beautiful and sets it apart. Behind each pair of eyes, there is a name, a story, and a soul. And behind these is One God, who is present here - in the city, in the slum children's ministry, in the garbage community. God is the One who loves each one and has died for each as He has done for us. And this God calls His laborers to know that He is God, to go, to love His people, and to worship Him wherever they are.

"So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood. Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and beat the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name." (Hebrews 13:12-15)


Hae Min Lee

University of Texas at Dallas