NADISH was just like any other nine-year-old boy who didn’t take his schoolwork seriously. After his father died from cancer, Nadish was enrolled in a Bridge of Hope center in India, being loved by the staff there and given an education. One day, however, his mother scolded him for not devoting enough effort to school.
Not sure what else to do, Nadish ran away from home and found himself living in a large city railway station in India. There he met an elderly man who befriended him and took Nadish to his home village.
Forced into slavery, Nadish spent the next two years living as a prisoner and cleaning up animal waste all day. Every day after finishing his work, Nadish was locked in a room near the animals he cleaned up after and was given very little food to eat.
His mother grieved deeply.
She had already lost her husband to cancer, and now she had also lost one of her sons. Praise God that the Bridge of Hope center prayed diligently for little Nadish.
Nadish found hope in possible escape.
And then two years after Nadish was captured, a new boy was placed in the same room, and the landlord forgot to lock the door. Thirteen days after Nadish’s 12th birthday, he and his roommate escaped. Running to the nearest police station, the boys testified against their captor.
Back home and healing.
Nadish is now back home with his family, and participating in Bridge of Hope again. Please pray for Nadish. He is struggling mentally as a result of his lengthy captivity and ill treatment. Pray that he will be able to concentrate on his studies and catch up from what he missed.
There are many more like Nadish
In India alone there are reports of 45,000 children missing each year.¹ This is a sad reality that children throughout South Asia face every day.
They go missing for many reasons.
Some are abducted by strangers and placed into forced labor, like Nadish. Others are trafficked and exploited in the sex trade. Still others are sold to families to work as domestic help. Some 44 million orphans and runaways are living on the streets, not aware of the danger that awaits them.²
India is not the only place
- India has close to 13 million children younger than 15 in its workforce — more than any other country in the world. Some estimate the real number is closer to 100 million.3 That’s five times the population of the state of New York.
- In Thailand, almost 1 out of every 10 children between the ages 10 and 14 are working rather than going to school.4
- In Bangladesh, an estimated 27 percent of children ages 10-14 are working in a variety of hazardous occupations.5
- In Sri Lanka, one of the most physically punishing forms of child labor is the fishing industry, which keeps the children in slave-like conditions and far from the public eye.6
- UNICEF estimates that 4,500 children from Bangladesh are trafficked to Pakistan each year. Thousands more are sent to India and the Middle East.
How can we stop this?
- Pray for children to be rescued, reunited and accepted back into their families.
- Pray for the physical needs of the children. Most do not get enough to eat, and the physical labor they are forced to do can cripple their bodies. Pray for the Lord to provide for them and protect them from harm.
- Pray for the girls — and boys — forced to work in the sex trade. Ask the Lord to bring the brothel owners’ and customers’ misdeeds into the light and for the love of Jesus to permeate those dark places.
- Pray for a radical attitude shift in South Asian society so citizens of these countries will demand an end to the exploitation of children.
2 ChildLine India, www.childlineindia.org.in
3 ChildLine India, www.childlineindia.org.in
4 U.S. Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs report.
5 U.S. Department of Labor report.
6 U.S. Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs report.
Quit hitting the snooze button.
It’s time for the church to wake up!
According to a Laura Sessions Stepp at CNN.com, evangelical churches are finally acknowledging a trend that statisticians have been tracking for years: young evangelicals are leaving the church in droves.
In the new report, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith, Barna Group President David Kinnaman notes a 43 percent drop in Christian church attendance between the teen and early adult years.
Perhaps most intriguing is that research indicates younger people are not only departing from their elders on “social issues,” such as same-sex marriage and abortion, but on wealth distribution and care for the environment, as well.
According to a report in The Christian Science Monitor, three out of four millennials say that wealthy corporations and financiers have too much power and that taxes should be raised on the very wealthy. Two out of three say financial institutions should be regulated more closely.
While the issue of jobs and higher wages remain as important to millennials as they do to older voters, the widening “black hole” of church attendance in the 18-29 age demographic indicates a larger trend — young people are thirsting for social justice, and simply not finding those principles in the pews.
Most vexing of all is that this trend isn’t surprising. But it should be.
As we approach the Christmas holiday and celebrate the miracle of the Incarnation, it’s worthwhile remembering the personality of God as met in the person of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God hit the streets, bringing with him a radical message of social justice that challenged us to love and empower the “least of these.”
Jesus was both of the poor and for the poor. Yet in this time, we have Christian leaders and leaders who promote their Christianity loudly proclaiming the Gospel according to Ayn Rand and prosperity theology. But Jesus offers harsh words for those who proclaim their faith while maintaining a flippant attitude towards the needy:
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour the widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
And as we await the birth of our proclaimed Savior, how can we forget the simple, straightforward advice His harbinger, John the Baptist, offered to the masses?
“Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”
So too does the Bible enjoin us to respect God’s Creation, which we’re told is “very good” (Gen. 1:31). God not only designs human beings with the goal of their stewarding Creation (Gen. 1:26), but calls them to this vocation from the very moment of they are created (Gen. 1:28). This theme continues throughout scripture, with the prophetic voice of Isaiah clarifying the frightening consequences of ignoring our responsibility to this planet:
“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heaves languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.”
Talk about a missed opportunity.
By falling out of step — and out of touch — with the heart of Christian teachings, more and more evangelical congregations are losing their young members and feeling left behind.
The evangelical church faces a credibility gap. How can the church be rooted in a tradition, in a person, in a God of radical social justice and yet leave their young folks yearning for exactly that?
The failure is not, as some would have you believe, of a secular society that encourages our youth to turn their backs on Christ and the church. Rather it is a failure of the church to acknowledge the full scope of Christian values and engage its young congregants on a range of serious issues that not only made headlines throughout 2011, but also lie at the heart of Christian faith.
In this Advent season, may the churches remember and actively engage the God we met and continue to meet in the living Christ child.
This Christmas, let us celebrate the One who “brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:52), who reminds us that to the poor belong the keys to the Kingdom of God (Luke 6:20), and who turned the defeat of death into the ultimate triumph of the cross.
In Jesus, the hungry are fed, the meek inherit the earth, and the poor hold the keys to the Kingdom of God.
Given the character of God we know in Jesus Christ, and the call to action pervasive throughout his earthly ministry, there is no reason that a perceived lack of social concern should be inspiring millennials to leave the church.
Christmas is a time of remembrance.
May the churches remember God’s call in Christ to live a life of radical justice, and in so doing reengage a young generation that has every reason to call the church’s bluff.
Matthew Santoro is the Digital and Social Media Associate for Sojourners. Matthew was a Capstone Scholar of Religion at Oberlin College, graduating in 2007, and completed his Master’s degree in Political Science (Applied Politics) at American University in 2009.
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King in his now famous speech at
Riverside Church in New York City.
Today is the 43rd anniversary of his assassination.