K.P. Yohannan in his book, Revolution in World Missions reminds us that in South East Asia there are between 60 and 115 million children who are bonded to their employment because of family poverty. Nadu is a nine-year-old girl who works as a cigarette roller in a factory in India and recounts her sister’s story in the book.
“My sister is ten years old. Every morning at seven she goes to the bonded labour man, and every night at nine she comes home. He treats her badly; he hits her if he thinks she is working slowly or if she talks to the other children, he yells at her, he comes looking for her if she is sick and cannot go to work. I feel this is very difficult for her.
I don’t care about school or playing. I don’t care about any of that. All I want is to bring my sister home from the bonded man. For 600 rupees I can bring her home–that is our only chance to get her back. We don’t have 600 rupees……we never will have 600 rupees.” (14 U.S. dollars)
Nadu’s story tears at our heartstrings. Children should not have to live this way and yet it is the daily reality for millions and millions of kids throughout the world. As I read her story, all kinds of images and questions float through my mind. How could parents do this to their children? What kind of a monster enslaves little kids? How can a nation allow this to go on? I don’t have answers to these questions, but I do know that poverty makes people do things they might not do if circumstances were different. And I also understand that greed drives people to take advantage of other peoples misfortune and poverty. I find myself frustrated because there is nothing I can do. I’m sure everyone reading this post would gladly reach into their pocket and send fourteen dollars to Nadu to free her sister if we only knew where to send it. But we don’t know and that is what is so frustrating.
Mr. Yohannan writes, “Those whom Christ thought of while dying on the cross must not be forgotten by His Body (the church) today. These for whom Christ suffered then must not be forsaken by us. His hands and feet, now in the midst of advancing world evangelism, we cannot hold back the healing embrace with which to care and provide for those who are precious in the sight of God.”
It is easy for us in the comfort of this abundant and prosperous nation to forget about the Nadu’s of this world, but God doesn’t forget. Luke records, “But Jesus called the children to Him and said, ‘let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” Luke 18: 16 You and I may not be able to go to help these children, but we can support the people and organizations that do go through our financial support and our prayers. God has called Christians to be his hands and feet to help lift up these children out of poverty and despair to a world of hope and dreams.
As I’m writing this post I can’t help but think about how easily I get wound up about small things in my life. I take my prosperity and the benefits of this nation for granted. At times I almost feel entitled and want more from society. In contrast, all Nadu wants is fourteen dollars to change her sisters life.