India (MNN) — Dalits: they're called the Untouchables of society. In the caste system in India the Dalits are considered sub-human. They're the people who are expected to clean the sewers, collect the garbage, and are rejected by the culture. They're oppressed beyond comprehension. Today, however, organizations like Gospel for Asia (GFA) are giving them hope and a future.
MNN's Greg Yoder caught up with the founder of Gospel for Asia KP Yohannan in India. Yohannan says, "The upper caste believes that these untouchables, or Dalits, are made to be used and to take care of their welfare." According to Yohannan, 95% of the Dalit women are illiterate.
Yohannan says the people are "without hope of any future because they don't have any dignity. Honestly, they're not Hindus either, although the Hindu religion claims them. These are the people who are crying out to the living God for liberation, for hope."
He describes this hopelessness. "50 mothers decided to sell their children in the public marketplace. I hardly could believe it," said Yohannan. "A newspaper reporter asked a mother, 'Why do you want to sell your two little girls?' She said, 'It's not the money. We are starving to death. Nobody cares. I just want somebody to take these children and give them food, give them an education so they would not die like some of us.'"
Christians need to take the responsibility to reach out to them, says Yohannan. That's why GFA started their Bridge of Hope Centers. "We go to a community and find the most people — children who don't have the ability to go to school, or no one to care for them. We provide food, clothes, and education and medical care." Bridge of Hope personnel also teach them about Jesus.
Yohannan says God is blessing the program. "We have over 60,000 children in our 500+ centers and schools all over the land. And in some places, we were opposed or attacked by the upper caste" because it interfered with their cultural norms.
These centers are doing more than reaching kids: families are being affected, too. "When the Gospel is presented to them, they say, 'There is a God who loves; we are human beings, and we have dignity.' And that's why I'm convinced tens of thousands of these people are giving their lives to Christ."
While 60,000 is a huge number, Yohannan says there are thousands more who still need help.
You can make a difference with your gift of support. "Per month, it takes about $35 (USD) for us to meet the needs of these children. And by the way, when people send that money, we do not take one penny out of that at all. The money goes to the field to help take care of that child."
Your gift of support will not only give a child hope and future physically, but spiritually. To be a Bridge of Hope sponsor, click here.