It is emotionally difficult to live in Pakistan. The three years we have spent here have been characterised by emotional turbulence more than anything else.
There are many reasons for this. Firstly, because life anywhere in the developing world is difficult. Westerners like me have grown accustomed to having it easy: good healthcare, reliable electricity, smooth roads, trustworthy police. Life in the developing world is less easy. We have power cuts all the time. The roads are often pitted and broken. People die for reasons that would be unthinkable in the West: malnutrition, cholera, medical incompetence. People in the West take comfort for granted, seeing it almost as a birthright, and the thought of life being uncomfortable or difficult is foreign. Over here, for many people, life is a constant struggle, a trail of sweat and labour and sorrow and danger and uncertainty. Many people do not know where the next day’s food is coming from. Can you imagine looking into the faces of your children and not being able to assure them that there will be breakfast in the morning?
It breaks my heart every single day to see people struggling with everyday life. In the Bible Jesus wrote that “I have come that people may have life, and have it in all its abundance”. And yet even now, two thousand years after Jesus walked the earth, billions of people, perhaps the majority of people on the planet, spend their years in difficulty and pain. There must be more to life than this.
My heart breaks every time a thin-faced beggar knocks on the car window asking for money, every time I see a grandmother toiling down the road with a load of firewood piled on her back, every time I see children as young as 4 or 5 sifting through piles of stinking garbage to find bottles or rags that they might be able to sell for a few rupees. God did not create people so that they might spend their days in such rancid poverty. There must be more to life than this. There must be a way to bring wholeness to Pakistan.