Imagine a scenario with me.
Today, as you are going about your early morning routine, you feel the need to relieve yourself. You wait until the sun comes up and then you go and knock on your neighbor’s door. Once they answer, the two of you venture quietly and carefully to a safe place outside where you can answer nature’s call. This is the most dangerous part of your day.
This situation sounds strange, I know. But imagine if there were no indoor toilets in your house, or even in your community, and so your only option was to wander out into the woods or a nearby field to find a place of seclusion, while at the same time hoping no one would take advantage of your defenseless situation.
For many in South Asia, this fear is a daily reality. Earlier this year, I read a heartbreaking story in the news about two young girls, ages 5 and 9, who had gone out to relieve themselves when some men grabbed them and raped them. These two children were left hospitalized, simply because they had no safe place to defecate in private.
The danger of being attacked while vulnerable is not the only risk that the lack of access to a toilet presents. According to UNICEF, “Open defecation puts the health of women and girls at risk. It remains a major cause of child malnutrition, disease and death in many parts of [South Asia].”
And this issue is not isolated; it’s a worldwide problem. The UN recently stated, “around 60% of the global population—4.5 billion people—either have no toilet at home or one that doesn’t safely manage excreta.”
I was so glad when Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his campaign in 2014 for a Swachh Bharat (“Clean India”). As of this weekend, the campaign has installed over 4,000,000 individual toilets and nearly a quarter million community and public toilets. This is an incredible gift to the nation and has improved the lives for millions of individuals already.
Several years ago, the Lord opened the door for Gospel for Asia to get involved with constructing and installing toilets throughout Asia. By the grace of God, we have since been able to provide thousands of enclosed toilets to families in need. Providing these toilets is an ongoing effort that will continue for years to come.
What an amazing thing to be loved by a God who cares so much for people that He even considers and provides for needs such as a toilet. He who reigns in the heavens is the same One who sees each one of us and comes alongside us in our day-to-day lives. He sees our struggles. He hears our cries. He is intimately aware of our needs, often knowing them better than we do ourselves.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus told His followers, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
The question is, do we notice when His hand is intervening in our lives? For me, I find that I too often fail to recognize He is there with me, taking care of me and going before me. Our lives are not happening by chance.
One of the most powerful ways to see the Lord on a consistent basis is to recognize Him at work in the little things that happen every single day: the email or phone call you receive, a letter or a word of encouragement, a song you hear or something you read.
Perhaps you were driving on the road and switched lanes, only to realize that that change of lanes spared your life from a terrible car accident. The Lord orchestrates the circumstance of our lives with His own hand. We need to develop a habit of seeing the invisible with the heart’s eye.
A couple of years ago, my wife, Gisela, was sitting at her desk in our bedroom, writing as she often does, when she felt an urge to get up from her chair and go to the kitchen to get a drink. She walked to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Suddenly she heard a loud explosion, as if someone had dropped a bomb into our bedroom. She ran back to see what had happened and discovered a large SUV in the middle of our bedroom.
Two teenagers had been driving on the road in front of our house and had lost control of the vehicle. The SUV crashed into our house at full speed, completely demolishing the brick wall and totaling the vehicle. Can you imagine what would have happened if Gisela had been sitting at her desk for just a few minutes longer? It would have been a whole different story.
How wonderful it is to know that the Lord is watching over us. But we should ask ourselves: Do we simply receive the blessing we have been given and move on with our lives?
Put yourself once more in the shoes of those that have no access to a clean toilet. At first, this may not seem like a major issue. But when you come to realize that it could mean the death of your child from diarrhea due to contamination, it suddenly becomes a much more serious problem.
This past year, GFA was able to help bless 10,512 needy communities with new toilets. One of the great joys for our brothers and sisters during times like these is to let those they are serving know that they are there because of the God who loves them. They do it all in the name of Jesus.
Maybe when this year began, some of those communities had never even considered that there was a God watching out for them. But today, they are able to rejoice because they now know they are loved by the God of the universe and He is taking care of their needs.
So what does this mean for us? It’s a reminder not to forget the ways God has taken care of us; to be grateful even for those things in our lives—like toilets—that we take for granted, not realizing what a blessing they are. If we pause to remember all He has done for us, we will soon realize He has been right beside us all along. And that changes everything.
Today, as the world recognizes World Toilet Day, let us take time to acknowledge and give thanks for the Lord’s faithfulness in watching over us and in caring about even the smallest details in our lives.
Keep your eyes and ears open—for Him. For He Himself has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). And He always keeps His promises.
To learn more about GFA’s Outdoor Toilet initiative, go here.
Click here, to read more articles on Patheos by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan.