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Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Note from Randy Singer...

An Open Book
A Note from Randy Singer-

Courtesy of our friends at MTL Magazine

Dear Reader,

In May 2011 I will be releasing a re-telling of my novel False Witness. Those of you who read the original version of False Witness will probably notice many substantial changes. Most are designed to bring the story more in line with the original vision for the book that came to me at my friend’s funeral. But one set of changes was for a different reason altogether—I wanted to highlight the challenges of the church in India.

I did this for two reasons. First, I believe that most Western Christians are unaware of the persecution of the church and the miraculous things happening there. And second, I believe that India is at the center of the greatest human rights struggle of our generation.

India is a land with two faces. To the outside world, there is “shining India”—the world’s largest democracy, a growing economic force, and a land with admirable civil rights laws. But for the hundreds of millions of Indians in the lower castes, and for a large segment of the Christian church, there is a darker side to India. Anti-conversion laws are used to imprison pastors. Radical Hindu groups intimidate and abuse Christians and Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) without any repercussions from the government. For the 165 million members of India’s lowest caste, India is a land of civil rights in theory but brutal oppression in fact. Human trafficking in all of its barbaric forms is rampant, and equal enforcement of the laws is a distant dream.

During my first trip to India a few years ago, I saw firsthand the systemic oppression of the Dalits through the Hindu caste system. I was astonished by the fact that the world’s largest democracy was also a breeding ground for the world’s largest human-trafficking operations, that it would allow the exploitation of 15 million children in bonded labor, that it would tolerate temple prostitution and other forms of sexual slavery, and that it would foster economic and social systems that oppress nearly 25 percent of its people.

But for the people of God, there is a silver lining. At a pivotal human rights rally in Delhi in 2001, Christian leaders apologized to the Dalits for ignoring their plight and promised to stand with them in the future. Thereafter, when the Dalits were abused or attacked, Christians helped publicize the events and called for government intervention. A bond was formed and the Dalits began asking the church to help educate Dalit children. Hundreds of schools sprang up, providing thousands of Dalit children with an English-based education (critical to landing good jobs) and newfound self-respect. The Dalits responded with another invitation: “If this is the Christian faith, come start a church in our village.” The result is that millions of Dalits and other Indians are coming to Christ, drawn by a religion that believes the ground is equal at the foot of the cross.

What can we do to help? For starters, I’m donating every penny from the sale of this book to the Dalit Freedom Network. By buying this book, you will be able to help sponsor a child at one of the Christian schools in India, including the costs of meals and health care.

During one of my trips to India, a Christian leader explained to me that it takes two generations to abolish systemic slavery or oppression. The first generation gains legal freedom through the courts and the legislative process. Much of this has already been done. But it takes a second generation to really grasp the mind-set of freedom and equality. And this can only be done if the children are given a chance through education and economic opportunities.-

“It is,” the leader said, “the struggle for the soul of a civilization.”

I was moved by the plight of these beautiful Dalit children, struggling to throw off the yoke of oppression and replace it with real freedom and dignity. I committed to do my part. I’ve never asked my partners in ministry and my readers for a favor before, but I’m asking for one now.

No child should be untouchable, won’t you consider helping out?

With Sincere Thanks,
Randy Singer

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