Christianity should help reverse social norms, poverty

Rethink missions  in the Banquet Hall at 7 on September 16, 2013  Robby Hirst | Lariat Photographer
Rethink missions in the Banquet Hall at 7 on September 16, 2013
Robby Hirst | Lariat Photographer
By Jordan Corona

Millions cry and nobody seems to be able to hear them.

Monday morning during chapel, Dr. Jayakumar Christian introduced students to the story of a girl he met in India. Christian is the national director of World Vision India.

The girl, Radhika, lived in a slum in the northern part of India. She poked at the lumpy trash beneath her feet looking for some recyclables to sell. She wanted to go back to school, but her dad owed money to a cheat and needed help to pay it back.

The smelly, grimy work of a “rag-picker” became priority. Rag-picking is a sizable industry in that part of India. Folks who need to make some money, scour piles of garbage for trinkets and materials other people will buy. The thought of school faded to streams that fell from her eyes.

“God hears a weeping Radhika,” Christian said. Later in his talk he returned to Radhika’s story, who he said, would most likely become one of the statistics about the illiterate, the hungry and poor in India.

Christian’s talk assessed the Christian community’s response to helping the needy, specific to the college-aged dempographic represented. His wife Vidhya watched from her seat in row E at Waco Hall, as Christian spoke from Nehemiah 5. Christian is one of four keynote speakers slated to talk as part of the Rethink Missions conference taking place on campus Monday and Tuesday.

From the prophet’s experience, Christian told attendees to become discontent with the status quo that exploits the poor, and to be about the business of reversing it.

Christian said students should use their education to read reality excellently.

“You are not making decisions in a vacuum,” he said. The way people perceive reality shapes the way they make solutions. He told his audience to be part of the solution and not to forget that behind every statistic there’s a “real Radhika whose dreams were crushed.”

Become angry about reality, Christian said. Expressing emotion leads to action.
“The church needs a theology of anger,” he said. “If your bones don’t burn, you will not be part of the solution.”

Christian returned to the text, and cited characters in Nehemiah’s narrative — the nobles who were “struck silent” after they’d oppressed the people. Part of missions, he said, means redefining accountability.

“If your faith doesn’t disturb the status quo, there is something wrong with that faith,” Christian said. Then he encouraged his audience to use social media to give a voice to the voiceless. The Christian community owes it to society to have a voice in public forum, he said.

The reversal of status quo is the nature of Christianity, Christian said.

Austin freshman Roxann Rodriguez said she’s not been able to afford a mission trip, but the thought is exciting.

“I found it interesting Dr. Christian talked about mission work,” she said. “It’s deeper than religion.”
Christian concluded his talk on a note about character.

“You and I are no simply pizza delivery boys who just keep delivering messages,” he said. “Our faith must apply to our lives.”

After the benediction, Willis Point freshman Rachel Stewart said Dr. Christian’s talk made her think about her role in sharing her faith.

“I want to figure out a way to help people,” she said.