Our lives are often filled with news of Brexit, the latest on the Duchess of Sussex and getting our children into the ‘right’ schools. In Puri their daily goal is to eat. Add to this the effects of the recent Cyclone and you can imagine a community in total desperation.
Until Alison’s talk I never realised the impact of the community of Puri being both ‘outcastes’ (Dalits) and Christians. Dalit means suppressed, smashed, broken to pieces and untouchable. So doubly persecuted. Persecuted for being Dalits and persecuted for being Christian.
In the UK we often moan about political correctness and the anti discrimination laws. But wow how lucky are we to have the Equality Act 2010? I had never really thought about this until now. However having a law does not necessarily stamp out such atrocious prejudices and unkind actions. There are indeed laws in India - however in India they do not go much further than a statement of fact. The prevalent belief in the population is that the Dalits are untouchable and until this culture changes this will continue.
Which brings me to the UK again. We do have these laws of protection, but it is down to us to create a culture of acceptance of all and we must never allow divisions such as this to happen in this country. Presently we have an exceptional situation of a large influx of refugees to the UK. It is vital we make sure that these do not become the outcastes in our country due to race and alternative faiths.
As Christians we should follow the example set by Jesus in terms of his relationship with Samaritans, lepers and other such marginalised people. Jesus set a wonderful example for us all. Just as he accepts us all through faith alone - then we must accept others nonjudgmentally, and persuade others to do so too.
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.
In May of this year, the community of Puri was devastated by a Cyclone - destruction to a community who already struggled. But what did they do after the cyclone passed? Worshipped to God on the beach to give thanks that they had survived. Still thankful to God despite what had happened to them. An act of such committed Christian faith. God bless them.