Ministry among the Dalits is one of the defining issues for the 21st Century Church, despite being a very complex one. The centuries-long oppression of these peoples is being made right, and Christians are at the forefront of such efforts. While the opportunity remains to reach up to 300 million with the gospel through compassionate ministry, Dalit issues extend beyond evangelism into human rights, development, education, economic empowerment and community transformation. Specific points for prayer:
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a) The Church, which is itself comprised mostly of people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, has a rare opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ unhindered by caste, race, language and economic status. Initial enthusiasm for this cause could easily wane if it is treated as opportunistic capitalization rather than as biblical compassion and justice. For the gospel to be seen as valid, Dalits must be treated as equals in the Church.
b) Dalits are a highly diverse grouping of many races, languages and all major religions, and they have sociological and economic hierarchies even among themselves. Any ministry to Dalits must take into account the unique status and context of each group.
c) The Dalit Freedom Network, the primary advocate for this challenge in India, addresses issues related to Dalit rights and freedoms.
Mumbai is the economic and cultural powerhouse of India, home of the stock exchange and the hugely influential film industry, Bollywood. It is also a city in great need of prayer.
a) Mumbai's huge economy pulls in migrants from most of India, resulting in a massive influx of people, most of whom end up in slums. This results in great diversity, but also tension and desperation. It is host to India's largest slum (Dharavi, with over one million people and 16,500 people per square mile population density); in fact, 60% of Mumbai's population live in slums.
b) Human need and suffering in Mumbai are great. There are 200,000 victims of the sex trade, over 100,000 street children and nearly 300,000 AIDS cases. The slums especially are rife with crime, pollution, disease, poverty, unemployment and, too often, hopelessness.
c) Mumbai has the second-highest Christian population of India's megacities, but the Christian percentage has actually gone down in recent years from 5% to 4%. There are many Catholics and a growing number of Protestant denominations and churches. Pray that Christians may be salt and light in their city. New Life Fellowship has won many non-Christians through a house church/cell model and Scripture distribution. They have now planted 4,200 cell churches and have a vision to plant a church in every village of the state.