By SALTY Admin
by Jon Lash
Influence. We’ve all felt it, and we all have it. It is a simple word that if harnessed properly, can change the course of one’s destiny. Influence is powerful and it is real. It is time for the followers of Jesus to rise up and use their influence for the sake of our King and His Kingdom.
In April of this year, I was provided the incredible opportunity to visit the nation of India for six weeks. What I witnessed during my time there shocked, horrified, and propelled me into action. India is a land of dichotomies. I saw opulence that was unparalleled by anything my eyes had seen thus far, sandwiched right next to some of the most abject poverty imaginable. I was wooed by the hospitality and warmth of the Indian people, only to be appalled by a newspaper articles telling of yet another person murdered simply because of their socioeconomic background.
India is indeed an up-and-coming world power. This is not to be denied. With a booming economy and the world’s second largest population- some 1.2 billion strong and growing – India is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Traveling through Mumbai and Hyderabad, two of the prosperous, burgeoning cities of India, at first glance one might see a progressive, modern society. However, buried deeply below the surface of this “modern society,” ripe with technological innovations and state-of-the-art commercial facilities, lies a pervasive system of government-sanctioned oppression and discrimination that is so merciless, so thorough, and so “normal” – until it has almost become invisible. Underneath this unrelenting taskmaster, some 250 to as many as 900 million people, known as the Dalits, struggle to survive from day to day. Their lives are constantly being threatened by a governmental and social system that views them as less than animals. This is a modern-day tragedy. This is India’s hidden apartheid.
What do you know about the Dalits?
Nothing? Before this trip, I didn’t either. And, after traveling around the nation gathering story after story of systematic religious and governmental oppression, I am firmly convinced that the Dalit situation in India is the human rights atrocity of our time. The only thing worse than the situation is the fact that the majority of North Americans are almost completely unaware of the issue! The Dalits are a group of at least 300 million people (depending on how you categorize the various Dalit groups) who have been and still are experiencing some of the most atrocious discrimination and subjugation in existence today.
If you want to talk about “modern slavery” and human trafficking – the Dalits could make up to 80% of these categories. They are the “untouchables.” However, Indian government officials would and do say, “the practice of ‘untouchability’ has been abolished in our constitution. It is now illegal, and no longer exists.” Oh, how I wish this was true!
I could go on and on about the Dalit’s plight in India- sharing with you story after story, photo after photo and interview after interview that would break your heart. And I will, because God has given me influence. WE ALL HAVE INFLUENCE. The question is never if you have influence, but rather, what will you do with the influence you have been given?
After returning from India, Bible verses like Micah 6:8, where we are called to “do justly and love mercy,” rang out in my heart and mind. I knew that doing nothing about what I had seen in India was not an option for me. As a disciple of Jesus, I am called to follow Him, and He cared about the poor and the marginalized. Actually, in Luke 4, Jesus actually made the poor and oppressed, downtrodden and enslaved His mission. So I follow.
God has given me an area of influence with music, so I intend use that. I am in the process of re-vamping my band’s Web site to use it as a platform to raise awareness and bring a KINGDOM REVOLUTION to the Dalit people. I have partnered with an indigenous, social- justice activist group in India, which will help bring both spiritual as well as socio-economic liberty for the Dalit people. At my shows I have started selling bracelets that are made by women in India, who have been rescued from sex slavery and have formed a clothing company as a means of providing for their daily necessities. All proceeds will go right back to the women, enabling them to pay the school fees for their children. If Dalit children have the opportunity to attend English-medium schools, the cycle of poverty will eventually be broken.
So that’s me. I’m just a normal guy trying to learn to follow a supernatural God who loves people. The issue or the cause that moves you to action may be different. How you respond will probably be different as well. Maybe you’ll influence a crowd. Maybe you’ll just start with one person. But however and for whomever you choose to advocate, my friend, I beseech you in the name of Jesus and on behalf of the oppressed: Don’t Waste Your Influence! Don’t pretend that you don’t posses it. Don’t shrink back in false humility. If God has given you influence, use it for His glory and for the advancement of His Kingdom.
Passionately pursuing our Servant King,
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