She was a Dalit, of the lowest of the lowest caste in India.
Reviled and abused, there was no hope for the Dalit.
This man at the front of the gathering spoke of strange things to Anamika’s ears.
Anamika started to rise up from the floor and the baby in her womb kicked her hard. Oof! Better sit down a moment.
She looked around herself. Many other women squatted on the floor around her. Did they not notice she was Dalit? Someone had kindly given her a new pair of sandals and handed her a bowl of hot food. It had tasted foreign to her, but good. First good meal she had had in a long time.
The man up front had seen her on the street and invited her to this strange gathering. He said his name was Khushi Ram, and that he wanted to help her. He said he was with the GFA. Her puzzled look brought a laugh to his face as he explained the foreign sounding letters.
Gospel For Asia. He had to explain that one, too.
Why would he help a Dalit?
The baby kicked again and Anamika listened harder to Khushi Ram. What was that he said?
The Aryans had created the caste system, and not the gods? How could that be? This God that Khushi Ram worshipped loved the Dalits, too?
This was hard to believe!
Anamika tried to get up again, but the woman next to her laid a hand on her arm. It was Shama, the woman that gave her the sandals.
“Please don’t go.” Shama said. “Khushi Ram is getting to the good part.”
Anamika settled her swollen belly on her lap and resigned herself to listen to this strange talk. She rubbed her stomach through her sari as she listened. Khushi Ram talked of God the Father. She did not know her own father, and her baby’s father was her rapist. What kind of Father would this God be?
She continued to listen. She was amazed to find herself believing this man.
Hope and peace, such foreign feelings came over her. Her heart struggled with her head.
How could hope and peace help her survive? What about her baby?
Shama put an arm around Anamika’s shoulders and began to whisper in her ear.
“Everything is going to be alright.” Shama said. “God will take care of you and the baby. You will come and live with my daughter, and me. You will be safe. You will be a part of my family.”
Anamika looked closer at Shama. She was not Dalit. How could Shama touch her? Did the caste system really not matter?
She looked deep into Shama’s eyes. All she saw was love.
Anamika melted into tears. She sobbed until everyone else had left the gathering.
Khushi Ram came to her. “Anamika?”
She wiped her face and looked up. “For as long as I can remember, I have been living on the street. I do not even know my own name. The people I knew called me Anamika, ‘girl without a name’. But now, I want to be called Sameena, ‘happy’. Because I am now happy that I have learned of your God and know that I have a place in His world.”
Shama hugged her tight. “Welcome home, Sameena!”
Author’s note: Gospel For Asia is a non-profit organization that recruits and trains native peoples to be missionaries. They particularly focus on the Dalits, also known as ‘the Broken’ or ‘the Forgotten’.
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