Throughout history, across diverse societies, nations, and eras, Christians who carried the Gospel into pagan cultures defended and protected abandoned and abused children.
In his new book, 32 Christians Who Changed Their World, Senior Colson Fellow Dr. Glenn Sunshine tells the stories of Christian heroes, most of whom are unknown today, whose courage and faithfulness changed the way children are seen and treated. You can receive a copy of 32 Christians Who Changed Their World with a gift of any amount this month to the Colson Center (please visit colsoncenter.org/July).
For example, 19th-century India was a particularly brutal place for girls. Women were considered inferior to men and were not allowed to be educated or employed. Child marriage was a fairly common practice. Though the practice of sati (burning widows on their husband’s funeral pyres) had been abolished, the treatment of widows remained harsh. They were considered cursed and often subjected to terrible abuse at the hands of their husband’s family.
The family of Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922) was different. As Dr. Sunshine explains, Pandita’s father, a member of the priestly caste known as Brahmins, encouraged her to read the Hindu scriptures. Not only did she learn to read, but her skills and mastery of the text also earned her acclaim. Her study also led to growing doubts about the truth of Hinduism.
After she was married, Pandita found a copy of the Gospel of Luke in her husband’s library. Drawn to Christianity, she invited a missionary to their home to explain the Gospel to her and her husband. Tragically, not long after hearing the Gospel, her husband passed away.
Shortly thereafter, Pandita was visited by a child widow looking for charity. Pandita not only took her in as if she were her own daughter but, moved by the situation, started an organization called Arya Mahila Samaj to educate girls and advocate for the abolition of child marriage.
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