Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Free the Dalits: So What Can I Do?

I hope this series on the Dalits has been educational. I think most people in this country have at least heard of the "untouchables" of India, but in my own experience there is little in the way of full understanding of what Dalits go through. This series has barely touched the surface in so many ways. I have, though, outlined the basics of the Dalit situation. As way of review, this is where we've been:

Knowledge is good, but if you can't apply it, knowledge isn't really useful. I would like, therefore, to end this series by pointing to some resources where you can (a) learn more, and (b) contribute if you feel God leading you to do so. I'm not going to get preachy here (a risk you take when reading the blog of a pastor's kid), and I know that the past 18 months or so have seen multiple tragedies that have taken your time and attention. Katrina, tsunamis, earthquakes and war; there are many places to direct your time and attention, and I wouldn't presume to tell you where your priorities should lie in giving.

But I do want to ask that you consider doing something for the Dalits. There are more Dalits than Iraq war victims, than southern-U.S. hurricane victims, than tsunami victims (and many Dalits were victims of the tsunami too.) The problem isn't as well known - hence this series - but it is ongoing. We can't forget the chronic problems of this world for the acute flare-ups and "tragedies of the month."

As I mentioned yesterday, there is hope for Dalit freedom. That hope lies most strongly in a few places: education, end of caste, and in a faith that tells the Dalits God loves them.

You can help provide education for Dalit children through Gospel for Asia and The Dalit Freedom Network. By teaching children English, these organizations help provide hope for the next generation of Dalits.

You can help end caste by praying, and if so led, by supporting those who are speaking out against caste. Caedmon's Call, for instance, are speaking out against caste, and using their music as a platform from which to speak against oppression. Write letters to government representatives encouraging them to come out against oppression in all forms, such as happened at the U.N. at Durban a few years back. Seek out and get involved with groups that work to end human rights violations.

And you can help Dalits find the God who loves them. These are a people who've been told for centuries that God hates them, that they're not worthy to enter the temple. Many Dalits have therefore left Hinduism for Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. Consider supporting organizations like AICC, OM India, and Gospel for Asia who are trying to show people the love of God. God has a heart for the poor and downtrodden. Organizations like this are trying to demonstrate that love (not preach it - demonstrate it) to people who've not before heard that God loves them.

And you can help the Dalits in person. Find a church taking people to India on relief or mission trips. Find Indian citizens who've moved to your neighborhood and befriend them. Learn what you can, and God will lead you to places your unique gifts can help. My wife is already wanting to return to India to work with the Dalits. It's truly something that I cannot recommend highly enough. The change in her life has been wonderful - and she was already pretty wonderful to begin with.

I closed yesterday's post with two stories involving wells, one from scripture one from India. As Jesus said, at the well talking to the Samaritan woman, the harvest is ripe. There are millions of Dalits seeking the God who loves them, rejecting the gods who want nothing to do with them. Jesus loves the Dalits so much He died for them. What better message to bring to a downtrodden people? Jesus loves the Dalits so much He told us to feed the poor and help the oppressed. How can we love them any less?

Thanks for your consideration and patience through this series.

God bless!
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To learn more:

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