India (MNN) — Research is confirming the Gospel’s transformative power. A pilot study from Georgetown University shows how becoming a Christian is helping India’s Dalit women overcome poverty.
“Conversion actually helps launch women on a virtuous circle,” Rebecca Samuel Shah told the National Catholic Register in recent days.
Shah is a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. She conducted a pilot study examining the impact of faith conversions on hundreds of Dalit women in Bangalore, India.
Although the tide is certainly shifting, women are typically viewed as second-class citizens in India’s patriarchal society. Dalits, or “Untouchables,” are the lowest-ranked caste, making Dalit women truly the least of the least.
But according to Shah, following Christ offers Dalit women “a radically different way of seeing themselves: seeing themselves as a new creation, a new identity, made in the image of God, seeing a better life for themselves.”
At the same time, a recent national report shows Dalit literacy rates are on the rise. A census official told The New Indian Express that the literacy rate among Scheduled Caste (Dalit) women has risen 11%.
Spiritual changes through salvation in Christ, as well as educational changes through literacy training, are both needed for a life to be completely transformed. Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India pairs the two in their Adult Literacy Classes.
A year of volunteer-led, biblically-based training empowers women with a fifth-grade education in reading, writing, and math. Most importantly, women learn about Jesus Christ and His salvation. Many graduates start their own home-based businesses through the education and business training they receive through this course.
Pray that more Dalits will find freedom and hope through Christ.