Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10: 14-16)
Almost half of the 15 million people of New Delhi, the capital of India, live in the slums. It is in the slums where rich and not so rich Indians find numerous servants for themselves. “Slummers” (people who live in the slums) mop floors, wash clothes by beating them with a special thick stick in soapsuds, cook meals, wash their masters’ cars, baby-sit their masters’ children and take their masters’ fat dogs for a walk. Many of them get only about 10-30 US dollars a month for their work.
We became acquainted with some people who live in the slum. They told us that they came to Delhi from a nearby village hoping to earn “big” money. Some children, who live in that slum, don’t go to school and, of course, can’t read or write. All day long half-dressed kids with messy dirty hair play their own games or dig in disgusting smelly garbage along with dirty pigs and do absolutely nothing.
Often slum children look for jobs in richer houses too. And for them the job is more important than going to school. That’s why many of them quit school, not realizing that by doing it, they rob themselves of their future. Sadly the majority of the parents don’t care at all that their children work for next to nothing instead of going to school. It seems that their parents are absolutely not interested in giving their children at least an elementary education.
For several weeks we have been going in different parts of the slums in order to learn more about these people and to understand how we can influence their lives. We don’t have an interpreter, and because of that we have to speak Hindi to “slummers”. We are glad that they understand us even though we make mistakes.
After a while we felt that God led us to start ministering in one specific part of the slums. Not long ago we held a Bible study there for children. We were very glad that God blessed us and everything went just great!
There were about 30 children and 10 adults at the Bible study. Some kids came even from the neighboring slum. It was hard to find a small clean place for our meeting. Everything everywhere was covered with human and animal feces (in the slums people don’t build toilets but go anywhere). All the kids were sitting on the ground. Almost all of them were very dirty-faced, uncombed and filthy, in dirty old clothes.
During our meeting a lot of pigs and hens were grazing around us and there was one goat bound to the tree. A small stream of stinking sewage ran nearby. Our voices were drowning in a roar of cars passing by (the slum is located on an autobahn), so we had to speak as loud as we could.
We started our Bible study with the creation of the world, we told them that Jesus is the Creator of everything and we are to glorify Him. The kids were eager to learn a Christian song in Hindi. 20 of the 30 kids present don’t go to school so we decided to teach them to read and write in their own language – Hindi. This time we taught them two letters (all together there are about 250 letters in Hindi). Then we taught a short lesson on English in the form of a game and closed it all with a prayer.
Everybody was very pleased. After the meeting the children surrounded us and we all sang the song about the Creator again. The teenagers asked us a bunch of different questions. It was obvious that nobody wanted to leave. From a distance we heard the kids singing the new Christian song they just learned.
When we were going to that part of the slum we were no longer afraid of the bad smells and dirt. We had already gotten used to it. The only thing we worried about was our ability to conduct a meeting in Hindi since we didn’t have an interpreter and our knowledge of Hindi leaves much to be desired. People in the slums don’t speak a word in English, their native language is Hindi. But we are thankful to God that everything went well even though after the meeting we felt worn out.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” and then He added something very significant, “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Did Jesus really mean what He said? Does the kingdom of God really belong to slum children? Why then don’t they have any opportunity to hear the Good News? Why don’t they have an opportunity to experience a blessing touch of Jesus? What is it that prevents slum children from coming to Jesus? What if that is us?
When we choose comfort instead of calling, fear instead of faith, self-satisfaction instead of search – we become the hindrance that blocks the way to Jesus, who wants to bless everybody. Slum children are waiting for those who will show them the way to the Kingdom of God. Pray, maybe they are waiting for you?