Movement catalysts *Ethan and *Nicole were pondering together these profound words by Henri Nouwen: “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

Suddenly, a phone call interrupted their reflection. Vishaan, a close friend, asked Ethan to accompany him in visiting his eunuch friends. Yes, eunuchs.

For many generations in the past, eunuchs served the Mughal rulers of India, playing pivotal roles in the Muslim courts. They provided protection for palace women, served as advisors to kings, and even acted as generals. However, after the British ousted the last Mughal ruler, eunuchs found themselves displaced. Palace life ceased. No longer valued and trusted, they found themselves thrust into a society which feared and ostracized them, considering them cursed.

Little has changed since. Nowadays in South Asia, eunuchs are mostly ignored (at best), and often feared and despised. Not every individual in a eunuch community is an actual eunuch; some are men living as women, while others suffer from genital deformities. Children born with such deformities are deemed cursed and are given to eunuch communities at early ages to live as outcasts.

Ethan admitted feeling uneasy about visiting the eunuch community, finding it strange to interact with people who look and sound like men but dress as women. Yet, he recognized that friendships with “outsiders” could also unsettle the eunuchs, given the abundance of abuse they endure compared to gestures of friendship. Trust does not come easily.

However, Vishaan had nurtured trust with them over time, which resulted in their requests for more visits, in which they asked him to discuss the Word and pray together. So, Ethan agreed to join Vishaan on a visit. He thought, “How could I say no?” It was hard to ignore an invitation from one of India’s most marginalized communities.

On Ethan’s third visit to a eunuch community with Vishaan, after a ninety-minute auto-rickshaw ride, they arrived at the outskirts of Delhi and entered the eunuchs’ home. They were warmly welcomed, and about ten ladies gathered. Vishaan led a prayer, followed by reading from the book of Isaiah about the Messiah. Ethan then shared the creation story in Hindi.

The eunuchs genuinely appreciated the Bible reading and the story of Adam and Eve. Some of the ladies were sick and requested prayer. Ethan suggested they should pray for one another in Jesus name, emphasizing that their own prayers (Ethan’s and Vishaan’s) did not hold any special power. God hears all prayers, and the power is in Jesus’ name. 

Their presence seemed to uplift the spirits of the eunuchs, and Ethan hoped that they each found solace in their time together. The eunuchs graciously served a delicious meal, and Ethan and Vishaan returned home in time for Ethan’s children to arrive from school.

What a stark contrast: one city, one day, two vastly different worlds. They had spent the morning with people rejected, hated, feared, and cursed. Neither Ethan nor Vishaan had ever experienced such prejudice. Their families loved them, and they had never directly faced hatred. They seemed to have nothing in common with the eunuch community. And yet…

Why had they invited Vishaan? Because they desired the same thing we all do: to know we’re not alone, to experience compassion. They invited Ethan and Vishaan because they wanted to feel God’s touch and encounter His presence.

Remember how the angel instructed Mary to name her baby Immanuel, meaning God with us? Why was that significant? To empathize means to feel what others feel. Jesus displayed God’s compassion, crossing the divide between divinity and humanity. He entered into human pain, brokenness, fear, and confusion. Today, He calls us to do the same.

*pseudonyms

IN SPITE OF THE BEATINGS
The two men shared a Bible story with the family. The family liked the discussion. The men didn’t preach, but simply shared the story, … read more

FROM BRICK-MAKERS TO DISCIPLE-MAKERS
A few months later, monsoon season arrived. While the farmers rejoice at the rains, brick-makers cringe.   read more …

MY LIP HAS FALLEN OFF
Krish grew up in a devout Hindu family. For six years, he had been an active member of a radical pro-Hindu group.  read more …