Christian Perspective

Christian Perspective: By Monica Clevenger born

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.

Statistics from: http://www.templeton.org/sites/default/files/TraffickingReport_Final.pdf

                                    “There is nothing called hope in my future.” -Avijit

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:

bornn

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

bornnn

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.

Photo Credits:

1st photo: http://microscopiq.com/2005/02/calcuttas-red-light-kids/

2nd photo: http://article.wn.com/view/2012/09/02/Indiaborn_UK_academic_faces_deportation_n/

3rd photo: http://www.pixoto.com/rudroniel

Final quote: http://www.thoughts-about-god.com/quotes/quotes-life.htm

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20 thoughts on “Christian Perspective

  1. Although Christianity was not displayed in this film; however, I believe some of the children had hope of receiving an education. Zana Auntie’s actions in providing support and belief in the children depict the Christian way of life. In the beginning of the movie, the children did not have any skill or hope. Many of children wondered why Zana was teaching them to take pictures. Zana continued to work with the children showing another way of life; even those who were shy and withdrawn. Although she has an education in Christianity, I found it interesting that we never saw her praying with the children and teaching them Gods way. Instead, her actions depicted God images of Christians. She encouraged the children to be strong and to be proud of the work they were doing while taking pictures. Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Deuteronomy 31:6).

    • What an appropriate verse! I also wondered why Zana never took a moment to teach the younger kids more about her Christian faith. I feel that sort of robbed the children from a better view on life. They had the photography, but why not Christianity?

      • I would say that I disagree that it robbed them of a better life view. We never actually saw whether she shared her faith with the children or not. The filmmakers could have simply not put that aspect in their in order to obtain a larger viewing audience. However, I believe that we are more of an example by the way we live than by the words we say. It was easy to see that Zana lived her life differently. Her passion and love for these children was evident. I believe that was enough to share her faith with them. Most, if not all, of them have never had someone care about them in that way before. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This verse shows us that we don’t necessarily have to tell everyone what we believe. We are to exemplify Christ in all that we do. So, this is why I believe she was still a great testimony and evangelist to these children. She showed Christ’s love to them. She sacrificed herself, her life of comfort back home, and she did it all for these children. Her actions and faithfulness to these children eventually led almost all of them to life changing events (if you look in the short interview I posted, she explains how the children are doing now). God uses not only the words we speak but the way we live as a witness to others around us. Christ can make bring the best endings to the worst beginnings as is exemplified in the following song by Gungor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR7VOKQ0xJY

      • In other cultures that do not have the basic Christian understanding about God and Christ, I believe that sometimes it is more affective when a person’s actions are their defining factor rather than their words. In this example, Zana exhibits who Christ is to the children. They may not understand who God is or what He is about, but what they do understand is how Zana treats them differently than other people do. When they become older they may come to a point where they wonder why Zana is so different. She can then explain to them that it is because of God and his love for her.

    • Cheryl,

      I agree that Christianity was displayed throughout this film through example. I think that God would have been proud of Zana for sharing her knowledge and gift of photography with people less fortunate. However, I think that Zana should have verbally shared her faith too because people of the culture might not understand why Zana is doing good. I think that she could have incorporated Christianity into her teachings about photography.

      Great response,
      Misty Olinger

      • I also agree that God is proud of the work Zana did in Calcutta with those children. I think one problem with sharing her faith verbally with them could have been the fact that they may not have understood. The prominent religion there is Hindu. Their faith and ideas are so different that the children really may not have understood the idea of God and what he has done for them. Also, there could have been some barriers keeping her from verbally sharing. Maybe she would have been in trouble for bringing up the idea of God? Maybe she didn’t want to risk the future that she was helping to create for the children by getting in trouble for something she said. She gave them hope and opportunities like no one would have imagined. This was all possible by the hands of God. In this link, there is a video about half way down the page. It is a short interview with one of the children from the movie, Avijit, and what he is doing with his life now. This wouldn’t have been possible without the care and time provided by Zana: http://www.kids-with-cameras.org/houseparty/

      • I think that Zana did display her Christianity by reaching out and helping the children. I don’t believe that she had to preach to them to get her point across. She showed the type of person that she was by “doing”. Had she began to preach, she may have alienated some of them. Calcutta is a place where religion is not always practiced and 80% of those that do, practice Hindu.

        “Hinduism, as a faith, is vague, amorphous, many sided, all things to all men. It is hardly possible to define it, or indeed to say whether it is a religion or not, in the usual sense of the word.”
        (Nehru, 1960, p. 63)

        Although these children may not have been exposed to a structured religion, they did get a taste of what it feels like to be special and to have someone give to them as opposed to taking.

        Katrina Dix

    • I agree with your idea that she was showing them the ways of the Lord without telling them. Oftentimes, our testimony is stronger through our actions than our words. It’s easy to say we will do something, but actually doing that thing says a lot more about who we are as people. Zana did a wonderful job at showing rather than telling. As you said, many of the children didn’t understand why they were taking pictures in the beginning. Just as she taught them about photography, she taught them about how a Christian lives their life. Titus 2:7 (NLT) says, ” And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.”

      • Jocelyn–Now that you put it in a different perspective, I can understand how Zana could be this “Christ” that could motivate the children throughout their lives.

  2. I do agree with you on the fact that Christianity was shown in this movie, not directly, but in a subtle way. Yes Zana Briski, wasn’t a missionary per say, but her actions show otherwise. I believe this verse showcases what Zana was doing for these children http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2015:13&version=NLT
    She was giving her life to serve these children. She was following the example of Christ by showing love to these children. God would rather have us demonstrate his character rather than tell people about it. People always say, “actions speak louder than words.”

    • That is exactly what I was trying to say! God wants us to show not tell. Not saying that he doesn’t want us to tell people about our faith, but as we see in the book of James chapter 2 verse 17, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” We are to show others our faith. We are the light to the world.

    • I agree with you that following the example of Christ and showing love to these children was showing Christianity. Actions do speak louder than words, especially in this case.

    • I think her willingness to unconditionally serve and love was exemplified in the moment of the film when Zana found out that all the children had to go to the doctor and be tested. I’m sure that was not going to be a cheap or quick visit. You could see the exasperation on her face when that message came over the phone, but that did not stop her from doing what she knew had to be done for the sake of these children.

  3. I think that Zana displayed Christianity through her trade of photography. God gave her a talent at the age of nine and she was able to share this with other individuals. Although, Zana displays Christianity through her actions, I think that the children needed to have faith in something. Zana could have taught the children about Christianity too. Teaching the children photography was one way to display God’s gift and love for all. Zana definitly used her gifts of photography to glorify god beccause she was teaching the children to believe in themselves and be proud of their accomplishments in life.

    Misty Olinger

    “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6,NIV).

    • I love the verse you provided! That’s what I was thinking about as well. The Lord has given each of us different talents and abilities. Zana’s gift was definitely photography. Maybe her gift isn’t in evangelism, so that is why God chose to place her in this situation where she could showcase talents instead of using words. I also really like your idea that the children needed to have faith in something. We struggle in life, and as Christians, we have God to lean on. Who did these children have? The only people in their lives wanted to sell them off into an industry where they would be abused, taken advantage of, and harmed. Zana was someone they could look up to, trust, and have faith in. In this modern day song, we hear about struggles that people have, but they know that they can turn to God. This is what the children should be able to feel in their lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEzas-F_aKA

  4. There’s a quote I’ve heard of. I honestly don’t know who it’s from. There seems to be some debate on who actually said it.

    “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.”

    I fee like this was how Zana was spreading the word of God to these children. As far as we saw, she never explicitly talked about religion or God to them, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t doing God’s will and introducing the kids to Him through her actions. You did a really good job of point these actions out and also showing how some of the aspects of their culture align with Christianity. The children in the movie display respect for their parents very well, in fact I would say that, generally speaking, the children in the movie seemed more respectful of their parents than the average child in America. That is interesting because based on the way many of them are treated by their parents, you wouldn’t think they would.

    • I really like that quote; I’ve never heard it before! You’re exactly right that just because she wasn’t speaking about God doesn’t mean she didn’t have an influence for Him. I also agree with your idea that they seemed even more respectful than children here. One would think that the children here would be more respectful because of the opportunities afforded to them. However, these children were nothing but respectful to their parents no matter what. Most of them weren’t even upset that they would be sent off to the brothels. It was as if they knew they’re family had to do it to get money, and they had reconciled with it. I don’t believe any child, or anyone at all for that matter, should go through life thinking that the path they are headed down is the only way to go. This is what Zana showed them. She allowed them to make a better life for themselves. This is what the Lord does for us. In the following YouTube video called “Cardboard Testimonies” we see how people have turned their lives around with and for Christ. This is what these children are capable of. This video is a little lengthy (8 minutes), but it is worth the experience of seeing how everyone is able to change their lives. These children are able to change their lives for Christ also. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvDDc5RB6FQ

  5. Although Zana Briski did not go to India with intention of being a a missionary, she definitely serves and fulfills a mission on her trip. It is not straightforwardly mentioned in the film, but Zana’s actions exemplify her faith. Likewise, as a few people have mentioned above, she has a background in Christianity and religious studies.

    I definitely think it was the filmmakers choice to not include a Christian emphasis. One person stated that they had the photography, but then asked why not Christianity. I really do think it was for the appeal of a larger audience which includes many people who are not active believers and who are not as interested in a religious/faith-based story. It’s unfortunate in our perspective, but it is probably the truth.

    Zana did an excellent job in stimulating a sense of strength, achievement, and pride into her students. She also embraced her commission as a Christian to be an ambassador of Christ. Although it may have not been verbally mentioned in the film, Zana’s actions definitely show her faith. She connects with, watches over, and teaches the children. Ephesians 6:4 speaks to fathers, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord;” however, I know there to be a role of everyone to train and instruct the young.

  6. I have to agree with the other comments posted and with the section in general. I do believe that Zana displayed her Christian values. I also agree that she did it through actions and not words. Although it is said that Christianity is not a legalistic religion, I still believe that actions really convey the message of true belief. Although works are not required for salvation I feel that works and how one handles them-self shows belief. Zana definitely did a good job of showing this point. She also did it by helping children. Jesus places emphasizes children in the Bible like for example, in Mathew 19:14 where he speaks on not being in the way of children on their path to him. I think Zana was helping these children to see Christ and was a good example to them while many other places in their world are not.

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