Untouchables need water physically and spiritually in India

By August 10, 2006

India (MNN/GFA) — Despite government intervention, India’s 3,000-year-old caste system is thwarting efforts to provide clean drinking water to the country’s Dalits, or so-called ‘untouchables.’

Numbering 300 million, the Dalits are considered subhuman under the caste system and usually prohibited from using village wells. However, Gospel for Asia is successfully drilling new sources of water, coined “Jesus Wells,” near churches across India. The wells are open to all and are bringing members of different castes together.
“We are saddened by the Dalits’ plight, says Gospel for Asias’ Founder and President Dr. K.P. Yohannan. “Dalits work in grimy conditions with their bare hands, many taking on jobs such as unclogging sewers, cleaning bathrooms or disposing of dead bodies. They have no way to quench their thirst or wash themselves without using contaminated water and facing the threat of disease.”

“Recently, the government sent a tanker with clean water to a village in Rajasthan where the well had dried up. Rajasthan is a desert state in India and the summers are long and hot. The upper-caste families denied the Dalits access to the water and beat them with large sticks when they protested. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.”

“Nonetheless, the Lord is faithful in the harshest conditions,” Yohannan says “We are drilling wells in villages all over India, including Rajasthan. Everyone is welcome regardless of religion or social class.”

Yohannan sees the need for water as the great equalizer. “One of our native missionaries in Rajasthan commented that the ‘Jesus Well’ in his community is bringing all of the people, even those who were unfriendly, together,” Yohannan said. “It’s as if the wells are breaking down invisible barriers.”

Pray that these barriers fall far enough that through the missionaries witness they’ll be able to experience the living water that only comes through Christ.

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