India: Day Four
Today, Ram Kumar, one of the children from the Bible Club, invited me to his home to share a meal with his family!
Ram's house doesn't look like mine at all. There were six or seven people living in a one-room mud hut. Can you imagine doing that?! I can't.
Both of Ram's parents died, so he lives with his cousin, who only earns about one dollar a day to feed the whole family. The family also owes the village loan shark 28,000 rupees (about $700). They will be saddled with this debt for the rest of their lives - but they are praying for a miracle!
I asked Justin if it were possible for someone like me to simply pay off their loan. He told me it wouldn't be a good idea. The other villagers might find out about this payment and the family may be targeted for extortion - or even accused of taking a bribe to follow Jesus.
Also, the loan shark might take the money, and then say the family still owes him the entire debt, because the payment didn't come from them. Doesn't seem fair...
In our conversations throughout the day, Justin told us that in many ways the Bible Clubs are truly a lifeline to many children like Ram.
The Hindu caste system teaches that children born into the lowest castes are literally worth less than the lives of high caste children - and so they don't get the same privileges or opportunities.
Even if they go to school, many low caste children are forced to sit in the back of the class and the teacher gives them little or no instruction. Kids like Ram might be in school every day and yet never learn a thing!
But what's worse is that these kids grow up thinking that they don't deserve things like a good education or to be treated with kindness or respect. They believe their gods don't value them, and are punishing them for their sins. So when they come to a Bible Club, it is probably the first time they are encountering a loving God! A God who created them in His image - and invites them to come talk to Him in prayer.
I can't imagine my own daughter not knowing that Jesus loves her...
On a fun note, one of the cameramen, Dale, turned 22 today. The village children sang Happy Birthday - and even presented him with a cake! It was a lot of fun...