India (MNN) — Adult Literacy Classes with Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India give men and women in India the education tools they need for businesses, personal growth, and even an introduction to Jesus Christ. But last month, one of their Adult Literacy Class students named Shakal was beaten for it.
Erik* with Mission India explains what happened. “He was hospitalized because his neighbors realized he was attending an Adult Literacy Class and helping his teacher in the ministry…. So by result, the neighbors did not like that and he was hospitalized after he was severely beaten by those neighbors. After he was severely beaten — and he is still hospitalized to the best of our knowledge — he has also received death threats.”
This type of report isn’t uncommon in India. The country recently ranked on the World Watch List as the 15th harshest country for persecution of Christians.
And Mission India’s Literacy Classes often get pushback because they effectively pair valuable skills training with sharing the Gospel.
“It’s holistic and practical lessons, they’re empowering students to read and write at a fifth grade level and do three-digit math, save money, and increase income. All the while, we’re teaching these students how to eat healthy, how to take care of themselves in terms of hygiene sanitation, and any social ills such as devaluing daughters and things like that. So all these students are introduced gently to the Gospel through the wisdom of God’s Word and the stories of Jesus.”
It’s not just the Adult Literacy Classes that experience this kind of hostility, says Erik.
“This happens during our Children’s Bible Clubs and our Church Planter Training, different persecution updates that we get. It’s not a rare occurrence in the nation of India. Anyone can go online and simply Google ‘persecution levels in India’ and get to see the real stats, specific stats, and just the stories that are attributed to those stats, to see that though [commitment to] Jesus is growing and people are starting to follow Him more and more, some people don’t like that and they take it out on the followers of Christ as they’re representing who He is.”
Erik asks for you to remember Shakal in prayer, for his healing and his faithful testimony. But also, “We’re not just praying for Shakal and those persecuted, we’re also praying for the persecutors…. We’re praying that those hearts are transformed by the love of Jesus so they too can come to realize true transformation.”
In addition to praying, you can also sponsor a student attending an Adult Literacy Class. It costs just $30 to sponsor one student for a whole year.
“There are 300 million illiterate adults, to the best of our knowledge and the recent stats we have received, in India. A gift of just $30 will allow that student that you sponsor to be able to read and write and take care of their family better…. A gift of $900 a year will sponsor a class of 30 students!”
Think about it. For many people, $30 isn’t a devastating amount to spend on something worthwhile. But for someone in India who didn’t have that much to spend on classes, it can mean the difference between literacy or poverty.
Erik adds, “We just ask that your readers and listeners pray and see the urgency that, not only are we educating and trying to transform their families and their social statuses, but we’re also trying to show them the love of Jesus.”
*Name changed for security purposes.