|12.3 million People are sold into slavery each year. Many are sold by their own families. 63% of these people, in India, are children ages 8-15.|
From the start of the movie, we could see that Christian views and ideas were going to be challenged. However, there were also a few Christian views this film showed which were in accordance to what we believe and follow today. Our hearts and minds are challenged and forever thinking about these children who have no control over their own lives.
According to www.kolkata.org.uk/culture/religion.html, the dominant religion in this area of Calcutta is Hinduism. Hindus have many sects and varying ideas. Some are monotheists, while others are polytheists. There are a variety of other religions practiced in this area, but Hindus are the most prominent. This short YouTube video explains the basic beliefs of Hinduism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AYL9_-PQyQ
No one in the community which we saw ever talked about religion. They never mentioned any gods, and they were never seen praying or singing praises to the Lord. This doesn’t mean they didn’t have any faith, they could very well just practice differently than we do as Christians. However, I would say that their community was very void of any religious beliefs or any religious affiliations. No one seemed to have hope as we saw in the quote from Avijit.
Zana Briski, from the beginning of the movie, seemed to be somewhat of a missionary to these children. This is definitely a Christian idea supported by the film. Even though she wasn’t teaching them about the Lord or reading the Bible with them, she was a missionary in a different way. She does have a religious background. According to www.zanabrinski.com, she received her “master’s degree in theology and religious studies.” She didn’t go to India to become a missionary. Therefore, she was not necessarily a missionary like we would think of in our churches today. Although the work she did was definitely that of someone with a missionary’s heart. If we look on dictionary.com, there is a definition of the word missionary which doesn’t have affiliation to a church:
“A person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others.”
In this sense, she was a missionary. I believe she was doing the work of the Lord. She was in favor of giving these children a chance at a good life. She wanted to convert their way of thinking so they would see how much potential they had. She didn’t have to read the Bible to the children for them to see she was different. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” She was showing these children that they could do better for themselves. They could improve their lives and their situations, even though they were children. She was young herself, but look at all she accomplished for the Kingdom. She wasn’t converting them or even telling them about the Lord for all we know. However, she was showing love and care for them like no one had ever done before. She was concerned for their wellbeing rather than their monetary value. For instance, she made the opportunity possible for Avijit to go to a world-renown film agency for a week in order for him to fulfill his dreams. She made it possible for Kochi to go to school (also a few other girls to go to school, but they either dropped out or were pulled out by family). She followed her calling to these children in India, and God made them prosper like no one could have imagined. These opportunities would not have been available without her willingness to go and support, love, and encourage these children. In this short interview with Zana, we see the great outcomes that came from her spending time with these children http://archives.citypaper.net/articles/2005-02-24/movies3.shtml
Now, when it comes to the children in this film, it was easy to see that many of them had no control over the purity they maintained. They knew they were being raised in order to go into the sex slave industry. For girls like Suchitra, she would soon be sold by her aunt so that her aunt could make money off of her. Despite their situations, the children obeyed their parents and caretakers very well. This is a Christian idea that was supported by the film. For example, Avijit says of his father, “… he smokes all day, and no one cares about him. I still try to love him because he is my father.” This is a great example of how we are told to obey our parents in the Bible. Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” These children have probably never even heard about God, but they are following one of his greatest commandments. In the photo below, this young girl’s mother calls her filthy names. She speaks down to her, and has no reverence for the things she says to her daughter. This is how her daughter reacted:
You’re probably all wondering why I haven’t brought up the obvious idea which was challenged in this film. That’s because, I didn’t want anyone to have the idea that this film was solely showing things that are against our beliefs. There were aspects, such as missions work or obeying our parents, which go right along with what we believe. Often, we think other cultures are bad because Christianity isn’t their main religion. I would love to see the entire world have the views of Christianity, but even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean their culture is bad or less meaningful than ours. Now, the obvious problem in this film is the fact that this entire Red Light District functions on drug dealing and sex trafficking. The Bible has a clear stance on the selling and buying of humans. Exodus 21:16 says, ““Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.” Obviously, this is not something the church either condones or encourages. Humans are to be treated with respect and care; they are not to be taken advantage of and harmed. The Bible also has a clear stance on sexual promiscuity of humans. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says:
“No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
With this verse, we see that this sin of having sexual relations with another person, other than your own marital spouse, is a sin against your body, and therefore, a sin against the One who made your body. God created our bodies, and he wants us to respect them and treat them as a temple for him. However, it isn’t these children’s fault they are born into this industry. So, where do we go from here? What can we do to raise awareness for this trafficking or stop it altogether? There are many corporations who are trying to do just this. Because this is not only an issue in foreign countries, there are also organizations in the US trying to help. The following short video exemplifies one small organization trying to end the trafficking and rescue these girls from a life of enslavement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGewT_u4qR4
His organization is for the rescue of those girls living in India. He is a young boy who can inspire us. Just as the verse said before, “do not let them look down on you because you are young.” Many of us probably think, “I’m a college student in America, what can I do?” Well, the first thing we should do is pray. As Christians, we are called, not only to pray for ourselves or pray everyone now and then, but as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” Christ is not calling us to only pray when we are hurting and when we are in need. We are called to love our brothers and sisters, and pray for them as well. Second, we can give, either our time or our money, to organizations such as Caleb Pond’s ministry. Lastly, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. We can become informed about what is going on in the world today in order to prevent this from continuing. Zana showed us that we can make a huge difference with only a small group of people. Her work with these children allowed not only them to prosper, but it allowed for an outgrowth of awareness on this topic. This is the influence we should want to have as Christians. These are the kinds of life-changing events we should strive for in our lives. R. Falcon once said:“Each day is a brand new opportunity to be Jesus to the world.”
The most important thing we can do with our lives is listen and follow the calling Christ has for us. Zana knew her calling, and she followed it. She made a difference in many people’s lives. We don’t all have the same calling, and our calling may be on a much smaller scale than hers. However, this doesn’t make us less important or significant in the eyes of the Lord. We each have spiritual gifts, and we are here to serve a purpose and serve a loving and gracious God.
3rd photo: http://www.pixoto.com/rudroniel