Hope in desperate times seems to be quite a rare quality that many have a hard time finding. When we consider the current times we are living in, despair seems to be the obvious option—oftentimes, due to the inevitability of things going wrong. Dealing with dilemmas doesn’t seem to be everyone’s forte. However, opportunities may arise out of the toughest of circumstances, and there is hope to be found in the midst of what seems uncertain.
I had the privilege of conversing with Dr. Charles Mulli, a missionary from Kenya, who grew up in a tough family home and found himself on the streets at a very young age. In his own words, Charles described his upbringing as being “a lost child who was vulnerable and had no future...with so many family problems and having nothing to myself”.
A different identity
Coming from a fairly strict family upbringing, I can relate to Charles’ outlook on life. As a young boy, I didn’t have many expectations other than looking at other people’s lives and wishing I had what they had. It turned out that my insecurity was unconsciously forming a flawed view of identity, and as a result, it wasn’t until years later that I had to rediscover what it meant to be confident in my own worth in God’s eyes, and also in my own.
For Charles, it was at the tender age of 16 that he began to have suicidal thoughts due to hopelessness from living on the streets; until someone in a similar situation ended up inviting him to church, where the preacher began to speak on forgiveness. It was then that Charles realised, as he puts it, “the message was about me” —and he gave his life to Christ. It was around that time that he managed to find a job, and eventually began to invest his earnings into a business that eventually made him a multi-millionaire.
However, Charles knew there was something else he needed to do, and he realised that he had been given much in order to invest it into something more worthwhile—the very children that were on the streets, just as he had been years earlier.
Change of perspective
Looking back on the changes in my own life, it has been mere months since I got married, and the circumstances I see myself in now are quite different to where I was a decade or so ago. Being able to put myself in my wife’s shoes, and to look towards the future, has definitely been both a blessing and a continuing reminder of looking out for the other’s needs, apart from just my own.
As it turns out, Charles found himself at a similar crossroads—his newfound freedom as a rich businessman was more than enough to support himself and his family; but it was a very different matter to give it all up to help those in a similar situation to which he had been years before. His family, as he mentioned to me, found it “very difficult to accept the fact that I wanted to help street children and orphans...but when they were able to see the change first-hand, they were able to accept it years later”.
Perhaps you may find yourself at a similar crossroads in life—you have a choice to make, but it means giving something up, even something you may have wanted for a long time, in order to realise your true calling. It’s always worth taking the road less travelled, because in doing so, we find both our purpose and our destiny, and it is always in the journey that we find real joy.
One of the challenges that Charles realised early on was that, as he describes it, “the biggest challenge facing children on the streets or in the slums is a lack of love”. Helping them to see their problems from a different perspective, Charles guided them in their educational pursuits, finding their livelihood, teaching them life skills, providing a platform for vulnerable youth, and eventually investing into their leadership potential as future community pioneers. Through it all, as Charles puts it, “giving them an opportunity to get off the streets...helps there to be a bigger light in the world - one child at a time”.
There was another young man who once left home to find his own way in the world. Eventually, after losing everything he had, even his own self-dignity, he realised the only way to find his way in life was actually to return to the place where he thought he had no purpose—he knew he had to find his way back home. The most amazing thing is that the person in his life that he had rejected was actually the One who accepted him the most; His own Father. It is a picture, flaws and all, of our relationship with the God who knows us best and loves us the most. It is God our Father who exclaims, “for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.” (Luke chapter 15 verse 24)
In your own life, there will be challenges that come that test your ability to realise your potential—but it is in those moments when the greatest opportunities arise—and those are the moments when God can use you to change your perspective on life.
Those are the times when the greatest opportunities arise.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html