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I wish everyone could visit India…just once…because no matter how I describe it to you, nothing quite compares with actually being here. Nothing compares to the cacophony of vociferous honking, yelling, hacking, and barking. Nothing compares to the myriad near death experiences you have in the car on a daily basis. Nothing compares to the onslaught of smells you encounter within five minutes of walking anywhere (is it curry? Incense? Garbage? Cotton Candy?) Every morning I wake up and I can’t wait to see what this crazy country has in store for me.
I remember my first trip to India back in 2010. It was my first time in Asia, and I was overwhelmed by the sensory overload, the cows roaming the streets, the choking pollution – just the sheer chaos of it all. It was a lot (sometimes too much) to take in. The shocking juxtaposition between the über wealthy and those living in abject poverty seemed to be a problem I wasn’t sure I was willing to face, and when I left four and a half years ago, I sort of thought I was saying goodbye to India forever. But life is funny and this is actually now my third time here. And as I continue to explore the nooks and crannies of this country of over a billion, there is no doubt it is full of beauty, glamour, mystery, grief, tragedy, joy, and hope. How’s that for contradiction?
“Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.” I think this quote from Brennan Manning sums up what Truthseekers International is doing here in Delhi and around the country of India. They are sharing the grace and the love of Jesus to a culture that is in desperate – and I mean desperate – need.
We don’t hear a lot about the caste system in America, and when we do, rarely do we hear about it in any kind of depth. Maybe we could rattle off a few things about Hinduism, but I doubt many people would hear “caste” and be overwhelmed with any sense of crushing injustice like we would if we were to hear the words “trafficking” or “child soldiers” or “AIDS epidemic.”
But the fact of the matter is the caste system in India has kept more than half a billion people in slavery for millennia. These are chains of injustice that have bound people – people who are precious to God – and left them with little hope for a better future for themselves or their children.
So what is there to do? To be honest, I look at the problem and I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of the issue. It’s nefarious. And I look at how widespread it is and I think, This will take generations to change. There is no simple solution and there is no easy fix. It’s complicated, it’s political, and it’s long-term. And it’s not the kind of thing that people are willing to just jump on board to support, either, which makes the work on the ground even more difficult. The tangible gains are small and, at times, very difficult to measure. That’s not what any donor wants to hear. But it doesn’t lessen the pressing fact that 80% of India’s population is suffering from systemic oppression, being forced to live in conditions that most of us would find utterly reprehensible.
I have been digging in to what Truthseekers International has been doing for just over two weeks and I can’t wait to share with you the ways that this incredible organization is chipping away at the layers of lies that have buried the people of the lower castes here in India. For now, check out the video below, which gives an excellent and succinct overview of the problem and what TSI is doing to fight it.
Until next time,
About the Author: Sarah is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She has her undergraduate degree in Business Communication from Azusa Pacific University in Southern California and is currently working on her Masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Sarah recently finished a two and a half year assignment working for an anti-trafficking NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she had the opportunity to mentor and lead college students in ministry abroad. She is mildly obsessed with Jeopardy, coffee, running, and the Atlanta Falcons.