For Raji and Jasingh, two Gospel for Asia native missionaries ministering to Dalits in the slums of India, the challenge is not just fighting social oppression, but freeing the people from their own enslaving beliefs.
“My name is Danip. My age could be 40…no 42 years,” said the man, who looked even older. Danip has lived in his North Indian slum village for 22 years. His job as a laborer keeps him from resorting to ‘rag-picking,’ going through the garbage trying to find something to sell. His wife and seven children work as laborers too.
“When I work on road construction I get nearly 100 rupees ($2 US) per day,” Danip said. “But I don’t get work everyday…we survive on whatever is left at home.
“My brothers are well off,” Danip continued, “but I am a laborer. It was my fate that brought me to this place. It is all our own karma.”
Their beliefs in reincarnation and “karma,” the belief that a person’s station in life is determined by the way he lived a previous life, keep Danip and the people of this slum village from ever finding hope for their future—or for eternity. But Raji and Jasingh are there to offer this hope in Jesus Christ.
“When we entered this village, we saw the pathetic conditions of the villagers,” Jasingh said. “They are probably the poorest, the lowest of Indian society, known as Dalits.”
Raji and Jasingh prayed about how they could minister to the terribly downcast Dalits or “Untouchables” in the slum. Because of the extreme poverty, many of the slum villagers expected a handout. But despite difficulties, God’s love is drawing the villagers. Now some of the villagers tell Raji and Jasingh, “We haven’t had our food yet, but tell us about Jesus.”
“I was trying to show them that we care for them,” Jasingh said, “and the reason for our care is God’s love. Once they realize that we love and care for them, they will truly listen to what we say.”
Raji and Jasingh explain that God does not condemn them for a “past life,” but offers them abundant and eternal life with Him.
“We want to tell them that Jesus loves them no matter who they are or what their situation is,” Jasingh shared. “They need to know what the Lord has done for them.”
Raji and Jasingh hold literacy classes for adults, Sunday schools for children, and medical camps. Through each of these outreaches, their goal is that the villagers may know Jesus. So far, 40 people have shown interest in the Gospel.
“Through learning how to read and write, they can read the Bible for themselves,” said Jasingh. “I want everyone in the colony to know Jesus.”
“We always try to bring the message of love to them,” said Raji. “We believe once they taste the love of Jesus, they will automatically become followers of Christ. This is how I want to reach these people.”