Westmont Magazine A Change in Perspective
The words “perspective,” “gratitude” and “humility” were just that to Nate Ritzau: words. But during a summer missions trip to India and Nepal with the Westmont team, he confronted images that gave life to these words. Despite some sightseeing, Nate spent most of his time at the Mendies Haven Children’s Home in New Delhi and at Mother Teresa’s House for the Destitute and Dying in Calcutta.
Nathan hoped the trip would stretch him profoundly. A Westmont chapel dedicated to summer missions inspired him to go, and he choose the journey to India and Nepal because it looked so challenging. It was. A parasite, the Communist Maoists, two crocodiles, three rhinos and an early monsoon provided all the external adventure he could handle. Yet the internal challenges stretched him the most.
He tells the story in excerpts from his journal:
“Witnessing first-hand the harsh truth that the vast majority of people in the world live in absolute poverty can surely change a man’s perspective. I traveled to India and Nepal as a rich, white male, so unbelievably privileged in comparative terms, and I returned home with the realization that it was I who was so very poor. Who am I to complain about insignificant needs when I have watched men and women wail from the pain of bed sores that have completely eaten away their skin?
“Calcutta was a remarkable place. It housed the poorest of the poor in the world. People had arms and legs as frail and shriveled as two fingers put together. I heard men and women wailing from pain and saw blood and bone. These images will last a lifetime, and I sincerely hope they do.
“Luke 12:48 says, ‘To whom much has been given, much more will be expected.’ I now read that verse in a new light. Each day I continued to become more and more exhausted and worn down; physically, mentally and spiritually. It was so hard to see these conditions that people lived in. What is more amazing, or embarrassing, are the petty things I worry about and complain about at home. I talked with a few patients, heard their stories, and I am so impressed and humbled by them. They have nothing and yet they seem more content with the world than I do. Their example is an encouragement to me.
“Matthew 25:40 reads, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ That verse bolstered me and at the same time was such a wake-up call. Instead of looking at these dying patients as less than human because of their conditions, the verse challenged me to see them as Jesus, and that when I fed them and bathed them and touched them, I was doing these things to Him and His glory. It truly transformed my focus during my time there.
“I have gained so much, a new appreciation for all the gifts and opportunities God has given me. God’s kingdom is larger than I imagined; He is certainly in India and Nepal, and even though the ‘harvest is plentiful and the workers are few,’ people are coming to know the person of Jesus Christ. It has been easy and convenient for me to point fingers at Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims about placing their faith in wrong places, but before we do that we need to closely examine our own lives to see what gods we run after. I have learned that the poor do not want our pity, but our prayers. The dying did not want our money but our touch and love.
“Mother Teresa was such a huge part of our journey. Her example of giving and giving is one for all of us to follow. She said, ‘What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.’ That sums up how we felt. But we did what we could, we served with our whole hearts and we loved as Jesus did. And I really think we made a small difference.”