Dalit children in GFA's Bridge of Hope program. (MNN file photo)
India (MNN/GFA) ― A marriage was the spark that sent angry mobs of caste Hindus out into three areas of Tamil Nadu, India. Gospel for Asia reports that almost 300 homes were destroyed by a mob, incited by the marriage of a caste Hindu girl to a Dalit boy.
Upon learning of the marriage, the girl's father committed suicide, and mobs took fierce revenge on unsuspecting families in not only the boy's colony, but two adjoining colonies as well.
An estimated 1,500 homeless Dalits spent the night in fear without shelter before being housed in government schools.
KP Yohannan, founder and president of GFA, says the plight of the Dalits--India's "untouchables"--is growing more critical daily.
"Christians everywhere are called to urgent prayer for these oppressed people who are crying out to God for hope," said Yohannan. "Only Jesus Christ can offer the ultimate hope and freedom these abused people seek."
This story was actually broken by a major Indian newspaper, "The Hindu." Few of these stories ever make the papers, indicative of the silent suffering of the Dalits who almost never receives public attention.
This kind of violence inflicted by the upper castes is not an isolated incident, said Yohannan. The Dalits are considered subhuman, less valuable than farm animals and therefore not even part of the lowest of the caste system. They are segregated, treated as slaves, and mercilessly abused. In many places, they are denied access to safe water, education, and choice of faith and occupation. In their suffering, they are opening their hearts and seeking hope.
Of India's 1.2 billion people, one-fourth are "untouchables." 95% of all Dalit women are illiterate. 62 million child laborers from the Dalit and the lowest caste comprise the largest number of working children in the world.
Into this culture, 580 GFA (www.gfa.org) Bridge of Hope institutions are bringing education, meals, and healthcare to 60,000 children in need. In communities where Dalits are not allowed to draw water from public wells, Jesus Wells are providing clean water for 800-900 families.
"In spite of all that Gandhi did to fight the caste system, it still exists," says Yohannan. "True hope, liberation, and human dignity for 285 million outcast people in India can be found only in Christ. It is imperative that we join in their suffering through prayer."
You can sponsor a Dalit child through Bridge of Hope for just $35 a month. This support ensures that these children not only get food and an education, but that they also hear about Jesus. Click here to donate.