Asia (MNN) — Child labor. Sex trade. Begging. Utter poverty. That's what the children of Dalit families in India and other Asian nations near India face every day. These pictures were portrayed accurately in "Slumdog Millionaire," which touched the heart of the founder and international director of Gospel for Asia, KP Yohannan.
As a voice crying out on behalf of children labeled "slumdogs," Yohannan has written a book about the cry of his heart in a new book called, "No Longer a Slumdog."
In an interview with Mission Network News, Yohannan says, "The largest number of child laborers in the world maybe nearly 60-million people — children." Because of "the suffering of these kids in the slums of Bombay and Calcutta and elsewhere, I felt so gripped with a burden."
That's why Yohannan wrote the book. He wants to uncover these real-life situations in this part of the world in order to create a passion for the desperate and lost. "We think in America that we have a problem. But you take that and multiply that a thousand times, and you get the crisis you have in other nations such as India. In Sri Lanka, 40,000 children are sold into prostitution every year."
In his book, readers will find story after story of children who went from being trapped in a life of heartache and impoverished existence to finding joy, laughter and a bright future. Despite the afflictions these children face–some as great as forced begging, abandonment and prostitution, Yohannan shows us there is opportunity for change: many now find new life in God's redeeming love.
Nadish was one of these children who experienced a change after being kidnapped at 9-years-old and becoming a child slave.
"The landlord forced me to clean up animal manure all day. And when I was done, he would lock me in a small room with the animals." His story continues: "Days turned into weeks, and my stomach would growl. He never gave me enough to eat. Weeks turned into months, and my body would ache. The work was hard, and there was never enough time to rest. Months turned into years, and I began to think that this would never end. I was trapped, alone, locked in this dark place with the other animals."
But through a miraculous event, Nadish found his way back into the loving embrace of his mother and the people who prayed for him daily during his captivity.
Other stories forced him to think about his own children and grandchildren. "I cannot imagine my little grandchildren laying on the sidewalk of a Bombay street, drinking milk from a stray dog to survive, or given to a landlord for $30 for the money I need for the rest of their lives for slaves for these people."
Amid the rising concern for social justice, Yohannan passionately calls out, "People like us who belong to Christ: our hearts must be broken for the world." Once that happens, Christians in the West will start doing something about it.
Yohannan says Christians are making a difference. Through GFA's Bridge of Hope Children's centers, they're rescuing 60,000 children. Northwest India is just one example of this program working. "22 rural villages have been completely transformed over these five years — not only because of loving the kids and grandchildren, but also they found out what we do has one reason — Jesus Christ, who died for them."
Already 20,000 people have requested the book since its release last week. Yohannan encourages all of them to support a Bridge of Hope child for $28 a month. That could make a serious impact on the physical and spiritual lives to desperately-poor children.