India (MNN) — Approximately 400,000,000 people live below the poverty line in India. They live in a cycle of hopelessness, caused by social and economic problems like the caste system and lack of education. But there is another contributor: religion.
Jonathan Bollback is the executive director of Ramabai Mukti Mission, a large, encompassing Christian organization directed toward serving India under the tagline “Help India Kids.” Bollback explains India’s problem involving religion and poverty:
“The culture of India, there is not the value in human life,” Bollback says. “And some of that does tie into some religious issues, where if you believe in the concept of being reborn, dying, reborn, dying–just that constant cycle, well, it really doesn’t matter what happens in this life, because eventually you’ll be reborn into a better life.
“And so the value placed on someone, they’re poor because you did something wrong previously. ‘So don’t worry about them; they’ll be okay eventually.’ So the value is not in human life. It gives the mission an opportunity to reach in and try to change some of those belief systems and change the situations that people find themselves in.
“At the same time, it’s a rather hopeless rut the culture in a broader sense is in. There are many ministries in India that are trying to address those issues as well.”
Ramabai Mukti was founded in 1889 by an Indian woman named Pandita Ramabai. It began with a school, which developed into an orphanage-type home and now includes hospitals and a dairy farm. Every year, the ministry assists approximately 9,000-10,000 people.
Though Help India Kids serves both women and children, young girls are the most at risk. Girls are considered useless and are often abandoned by their families.
“That’s often how the mission gets the young girls. Someone finds a baby, under a year of age, just abandoned out in a field behind some trees somewhere, where the mother for whatever reason cannot care for the child,” Bollback says. “The father is very displeased because it is a girl child, so the mother just abandons the child.”
This lack of value for human lives is deeply engrained into India’s culture. But Help India Kids is using it to open doors for sharing Christ.
“When people come in to any ministry touch-point of the mission, they have beliefs that they hold that they may not really have thought through fully, but that’s just what they believe. And so when they come in and are faced with a different belief system, it does give great opportunity just to say, ‘Well what am I really believing, and what am I going to do about this?’
“The difference in life and hope and truth is powerful. So it’s exciting to see how just living out a life of hope changes people’s perspectives.”
Help this organization provide hope for the suffering in India. Bollback asks especially that you pray for the ministry as it encourages the hopeless. Click here for ways to volunteer and donate.