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Hungry for justice: Christians plan fasts for oppressed in India, Africa

Church members on two continents plan to refrain from food in hopes of helping those with little to eat.
In India, Vijaya Raju Gaddapati plans a 48-hour hunger strike on Nov. 28 in protest of the treatment of Christian Dalits in his country.
Dalits, often called “untouchables” in India, are a persecuted, impoverished underclass, once denied education and other benefits, said Gaddapati, evangelist for a Church of Christ in Annaram, a city in India’s Andhra Pradesh state.
In 1950, the Indian government granted equal rights to its Dalits in its constitution — but only to those who identify themselves as Hindus.
Gaddapati is the founder and president of the All India Christian Federation, which works for the religious freedom of Dalit Christians. Gaddapati’s brother, Jyothi Raju, travels the U.S., speaking to politicians and churches about the plight of Christian Dalits. Jyothi Raju works with Paul Swindle, a missionary to India.
The date of Gaddapati’s fast coincides with the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who used hunger strikes and nonviolent protests in his quest for India’s independence. Recently, Gaddapati delivered a petition on behalf of Indian Christians to Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister.
On Nov. 4, church members in the U.S. will fast for 24 hours and donate the money they would have spent on food to help impoverished children in the African nation of Zimbabwe.
“You don’t even have to leave your couch to make a difference. You can do this fast anywhere and everywhere,” said Kellie Bird, the organizer of “One Day’s Difference,” a fundraiser for Nhowe Mission, a church-supported school and medical mission in Macheke, Zimbabwe.
Money donated during the fast will be used to build an orphanage near the Brian Lemons Memorial Hospital at Nhowe Mission.
The number of orphans in Zimbabwe may surpass 100,000, relief groups estimate. Many lose their parents to the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa.
The hospital is named after Bird’s brother, who participated in missions in Zimbabwe and was killed in a 1997 car wreck while returning to York College in Nebraska. The orphanage will give a home to children up to 6 years old, Bird said.
The elders of the East Point Church of Christ in Wichita, Kan., manage the hospital jointly with Nhowe Mission’s board of directors.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the plight of Christian Dalits, see vijayarajugaddapati.com. Donations may be sent to Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ, 1207 Sherrod Avenue, Florence, AL, 35630, with the memo “India work.”

TO PARTICIPATE in “One Day’s Difference” for Zimbabwe orphans, see www.facebook.com/LetsBuildAnOrphanage or nhowemission.org. Funds may be mailed to Nhowe Mission — Let’s Build an Orphanage Fund, 747 N. 127th St. East Wichita, KS, 67206.

  • Feedback
    As a missionary to India I have witnessed first hand the treatment of the Dalits. Working with Jyothi has been an eye opening experience for me. Members of the body of Christ must become aware and more concerned for the condition of our brethren and friends that are suffering so terribly. My son, Greg, is a missionary living in Zambia and similar conditions exist there. The Dalit problem is different in that the suffering has endured now for over 3,000 years and mostly at the hands of the Hindu people that currently are the majority religion.
    Paul Swindle
    Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ
    Florence, Alabama
    October, 12 2012

Filed under: International

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