The first Christians were a minority group, known as the ‘people of the
Way’, who represented a different way of life from the norm; at other
times, the church has been the dominant group in some cultures.
How do you understand the role of the church in our society today?
Daud Mardi, from Balashpore village, in the Diocese of Durgapur, told USPG how his 13-year-old grandson Prakash was tricked into child labour.
When Prakash’s father died, his mother remarried, and it was decided that
Prakash should come to live with me and my wife.
After a short while, we were visited by Prakash’s new uncle-in-law who said he wanted to take Prakash to his home in Haryana, near Delhi. I was happy because the uncle said he would give Prakash a good education so he could get a good job.
When I phoned to ask about Prakash, the uncle always said he was happy and doing well at school. But one day I heard Prakash crying in the background. So I talked to him and he told me he was not going to school but working on a tea stall and was often beaten.
I immediately went to Haryana but the uncle and another man played games with me, telling me Prakash would be in this place or that, but I could never find him. So I came home empty-handed.
Then I met Turlu, from the Anti Human Trafficking (AHT) programme. I explained the situation and Turlu arranged for us to return to Haryana with a letter of support from our local police inspector.
But in Haryana we received the same treatment as before. However, we got
the name of the man I had seen with the uncle and we realised he was a trafficker who was under investigation.
We talked to the police, but they said they couldn’t take action unless we
involved the police from Prakash’s village. So we’re trying to arrange that but the process is very slow, and I believe that by now Prakash will have been sold on.
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Take a moment to settle.
Adjust your posture so that you feel relaxed but alert.
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable to do so.
Give yourself permission to be still and open to God’s presence.
Try to let go of the ‘chattering mind’ – it may help to focus your attention on your breath and the sensation of air flowing in and out of your nostrils – knowing God is with you.
Know that your life is in God and God’s life is in you.
Continue to abide in God’s presence.
Know in your heart that you are loved and accepted by God exactly as you are.
God understands your hopes and your struggles – and delights in you.
We each have much to be grateful for.
Let your spirit give wordless thanks to God for all blessings you have received. If you are struggling to think of something – be thankful for the air you breathe. While thankful, we also know that life brings many challenges. There are times when we feel vulnerable or afraid.
Some of us are afflicted in horrific ways:
But God is with us in our pain.
Be aware of God’s concern for all of our suffering.
As we close this study, spend a few moments praying for Prakash, then close with the following prayer, spoken together:
Holy God, thank you that you call us into the family of your church
Increase our awareness of our sisters and brothers in distress.
Empower our voice to tell forth alongside them agains
trafficking, oppression, and violence, that your will may be done.