India (MNN) — The first ever appointment of a Dalit to serve as Chief Justice of India’s Supreme Court may finally mean a voice for the country’s oppressed people — the Untouchables, the low caste of India’s society. Konakuppakiattil Gopinathan Balakrishnan begins his term January 14.
Gospel for Asia’s Founder and President KP Yohannan says, “This is historically in India at this time. The Dalits are oppressed, abused, raped, going through huge pain under the caste system. I really believe that God is behind this whole incident.”
Currently Dalits have certain affirmative action rights to education and work. However, once they convert to Christianity they lose those rights. The issue has been delayed at the Supreme Court for months. Yohannan thinks that could change. “Could it be that the Lord put this man in this significant place for times like this. Yes, I want to believe that this case will be taken up again and there will be some positive results out of that.”
Many Dalits have rejected Hinduism because of the centuries of oppression. Yohannan says, “I think there are millions and millions of Dalits that are waiting to see how these decisions are going to be made before they come public and say, ‘we embrace Christian faith,’ but I must also say we need to pray now more than ever before that the enemy will not throw a monkey wrench into the system.”
Balakrishnan’s appointment comes after two disturbing reports of Dalit abuses. In the state of Bihar, the fingers of a 10-year-old girl were chopped off. She was collecting wild greens to eat when she unwittingly wandered into a field and picked a few spinach leaves.
In another case, a village chief accused a Dalit woman of stealing bananas, which she denies. Her head was shaved and paraded through the village half naked.
According to Yohannan persecution against Christians is increasing. “There’s not a day goes by that we are not hearing our own missionaries being abused or attacked. It’s quite sad. But, the encouraging thing is in spite of all this, people are opening their hearts to the Lord and churches are growing.”
Christians are being limited by their will to do the work, but finances to do the work. Yohannan says you can help. “With as little as $30 a month, someone can sponsor one these native missionaries to go and share the Gospel and plant a church.”