Dalit OutreachMillions of India's Dalits are standing at the threshold of Christianity, just waiting for someone to tell them about Jesus.
Comprising the lowest rank of the Hindu caste system, Dalits are deemed untouchable. In an oppressive social structure, they are despised by those above them. Held in bondage by the very gods they worship, their only hope of escape is through Jesus. He alone can set them free.
Because Dalits are considered to be subhuman, they have very little opportunity for success in society. Although the government reserves a certain percentage of university positions and jobs for Dalits, by law, these opportunities are withheld from Dalits who turn to Christianity, eliminating their already slim chance for achieving a decent life.
The plight of Dalit Christians was brought before India's Sureme Court in 2005, but no decision regarding this injustice was reached. As the year ended, the Dalits continued to wait. Numerous believers all over the world prayed that the Lord would direct the hearts of the judges in favour of the Dalit Christians. In spite of delay, the very fact that the prejudice was being examined was an answer to prayer.
"This delay is a positive development," President K.P. Yohannan explained, "because it means that the court is not rushing to judgment and is taking seriously this case of discrimination against Dalit Christians."
In spite of hindrances Dalits have faced in turning to Jesus, an estimated 20 million Dalits have become Christians over the past years. One of the most powerful ways of sharing the Gospel with Dalits is sharing—and showing—Jesus' love, just as pastor Shoji did with Bapu.
Bapu's life was like that of any ordinary Dalit. He was a simple labourer. Normal life meant being denied access to public wells, hotels and even temples. He knew that he was considered a defilement to the rest of society.
Then one day pastor Shoji shared Jesus with Bapu. The way in which Shoji spoke so freely with him intrigued him, and he listened more intently.
Before long Bapu realized that it was the love of Jesus that broke through all social barriers and gave pastor Shoji a love for him and his people. That day, Bapu also received Jesus' love and salvation.
In the days that followed, Bapu excitedly shared his discovery with his family and his village. Soon a church of 40 believers was planted.
Following in the footsteps of Jesus, who loved the outcasts of society, GFA native missionaries are sharing freedom, joy and love with the Dalits. And thousands of lives are being transformed.
Originally published in Gospel for Asia's Annual Report, 2006.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2006 Christianity.ca.