Can Jesus Save From Slums— Physical, Social, Sexual, Intellectual, Spiritual?
What if a pastor decided to invite slum kids to bathe in Church garden, because their homes are flooded? Will his Middle-Class church offer soaps and shampoos — perhaps also towels and new clothes? Or, will the church murmur and talk of firing the pastor?
Well, a city like Allahabad has plenty of shops that will contribute soaps and clothes – but the slum dwellers cannot go and ask. Whether a respectable church member will volunteer to go and “beg” for donations depends entirely upon the question, whether Jesus has given abundant life to that Middle-Class church or if the members are living in spiritual slum, without any capacity to love their neighbours.
I think the answer has to be speculative because empirical data will be hard to find. Middle Class Churches don’t invite slum folks.
What will the members of Student Christian Movement (SCM) and the Evangelical Union (EU) do, when their fellow students in the university organized a Festival of Arts and Literature… when students debate motions such as “Stricter laws are required to eradicate crime” or “Marriage is invented by religious leaders who want to suppress our liberties”?
Well, the chances are that Christian groups will play keyboards, guitars, and sing choruses that they have sung a thousand times. They may study the command to disciple nations, but it is very unlikely that some of them can present a case that tough laws are enacted by nations that are dying; or, for societies that need to come out of slavery into civilization. Moses needed to give tough laws to transform slaves. The Lord Jesus brought grace and truth to usher in the kingdom of God.
Yesterday, in the final Hindi debate on the question of marriage being an invention of religious leaders… it was amazing to see that not one Hindu or secular student pointed out that Hindu religious leaders do not marry. They renounce marriage (like Mahatma Gandhi) often to retain or obtain sexual license. The sadder part was that no Christian student participated in the debate to argue that marriage is not human invention. It is sacred because it is divine invention. Marriage gives us the freedom to enjoy sex within the boundaries of loving commitment, responsibility and faithfulness. Freedom without responsibility is license to perversion, a pathway to destructive slavery (more on it another time).
Why aren’t Christian students involved in arts and literature? Perhaps, because most of their worship and Bible studies have become intellectual slums. The L’Abri Fellowship in Rochester, MN (USA) has invited me to lead a seminar on “Saving the Bible From Evangelicalism” (Feb 2-4, 2017 That will be my only trip to the USA in 2017.) In the next few days, I want to present my paper on FB so that you can help me refine it. Meanwhile, I must add that those who are singing and studying the Bible are doing something much better than those Christians who are spending their evenings watching the “Idiot Box.” Those who spend their free time watching silly ‘Serials’ or Pornography are definitely living in an intellectual slum.
The main point of this post is to say that on Saturday we began playing with the kids who are being fed in Jumna Church (CNI). Yesterday, Pastor Ashish Khandelwal led 300 Slum dwellers in a powerful worship service. Now the need is to feed them for at least for two more weeks. Volunteers are needed to play with them, teach them to sing, and memorize Scriptures. They should join Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting – especially for healing. (They have no money to see doctors. So, the pastors must seek the gift of healing.) The slum folk should also join Sunday evening worship services to know God and become His children. It will be a spectacle if they were able to bathe and wear new clothes for next Sunday worship — God asked the delivered Hebrew slaves to wash themselves before they come to worship him.
In order to deliver these families from their slums, Jumna Church has to start Alcohol De-Addiction Support Group for men. The addicts should be invited (respectfully) to join the club. For two weeks they should have a session every evening for 3-4 hours. The session should include Bible Study and much prayer… but also dinner and movies. Instead of sitting in the alcohol shop, they should hang out in the church. I know an Engineer who can begin by leading a Bible Study on Making Sense of Suffering.
This morning it dawned on me that while plenty of pre-teen slum girls are coming to play and eat… eager to sing and dance… I haven’t seen a single teen-age girl. If I asked the mothers… ”Where are your older daughters?” I have no doubt that the mothers will say that all their daughters, 13 and above, are married. But did the bridegroom come to marry them? Was there a ceremony? Did they give a dowry? Or did the parents get cash from some old guy who took their daughter as his “wife”? Well, I may be presumptuous, but I will not be surprised if the girls have been promoted from physical slum to a sexual slum.
The other day, I spent half a day with an Engineering student, Ashish Francis, who said that a few of them have walked around in the Red Light District in Allahabad to pray for deliverance of helpless girls trapped in sexual slavery. Another student in our university, Rebeca, has been engaged in fervent prayer as well as in rescuing some girls.
Bishop R. B. Lal has just spent a huge amount of money to turn the Union Church Yeshu Darbar into a “Love Ashram” (Sneh Ashram) for vulnerable and abandoned girls. This ministry is led by a most wonderful nun, Sister Sheba.
My prayer partner, Prof. Dr. P J George has been looking for a plot of land where the Ramabai Mukti Mission could start another home for vulnerable or rescued girls. Bro. George serves on the national board of the Mukti Mission.
Please pray that God will so bless these initiatives that Jesus would transform a 70 Km radius around us into a City of Salvation… a city where the Savior of the world will save people from sin and slums, crime, and corruption. A City whose light will be the Lamb… so that our nation can walk by that light.
Prof Vishal Mangalwadi directs the Centre for Human Resource Development in a Unversity in North India. He has authored 20 books and lectured in 40 countries. His exposition of Indian philosophy and Western thought and culture In books such as “The World of Gurus”, and “The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization” are studied at university level.