My brothers family and I all gathered around Skype and watched as Pastor John showed us the beginning of the construction of bathrooms and a kitchen for the children's home. The children's home had long since been built, but only now was there enough money to build bathrooms and the kitchen. So we watched as the children smiled at us, and some man I don't know, in a country I've never been to, dug in the ground to begin the work.
As the children smiled at us, one child was specifically introduced. His name is Prasad. He is 10 years old, thin, and his already brown hair looked dusty. His arms were hanging straight down, but crossed together in front of him as though he just couldn't help but be shy now that the camera was pointed at him. Exactly as you see him pictured again on your right. He smiled. And ohh what a smile it was. A beautiful smile with white teeth showing, and eyes that will one day melt the heart of his very blessed wife.
And Pastor John explained for him. All the children are about to go to school - except him. A year ago Prasad's mother had died. His last remaining parent. He had only his grandparents who couldn't care for him and so they sent him to live in Pastor John's children's home. They also could not afford the funeral for the mother though. So they went to a rich man in their village and took a loan.
1 year later, the rich man comes to them and they still cannot pay back the loan. So they gave Prasad to him. He lives at the children's home, but for the past 20 days, instead of going to school, he had been working for this rich man. His job? He is a buffalo shepherd.
Through my mind rolls my one time seeing a buffalo. I was in a minivan with 2 other adults and leaving our campground in South Dakota. The buffalo was rolling in the dirt next to the stop sign, giving us a fantastic view. I was well aware he had the power to decide to mess up my van, us, and anything else he got it into his head to mess up. I was awed, and a little afraid.
Yet here was this 10 yr old charming boy... an unwilling, debt-paying, buffalo shepherd.
It helps only slightly that once I googled "Indian buffalo" I found out that theirs are not as intense looking as ours, but I still wouldn't particularly want to make one angry with me.
The saddest part is the debt. This great debt that kept this boy from his education? It was 7000 rupees. Approximately $115 US Dollars.
I talked to Pastor John and ask him to make the child free.
So what does it take to make a child free?
He had to talk to the rich man, who demands an extra 1000 rupees for the loss of his help.
He had to fill out legal papers so he was essentially buying the loan, so that the grandparents are now indebted to him - this protects Prasad from being sent to work off any other debts the grandparents might decide to take on.
Then he takes pictures, beautiful pictures of a smiling face. A charming boy who looks very happy. It's been 25 days, and on Monday, Monday this child will become a child again. Not a buffalo shepherd, not someone paying his family debts, just a child. A child who needed parents to protect him.
It's been so profound thinking about this child. I've been using the word "redeem", and Pastor John used the word "deliver". But whether Prasad was redeemed or delivered, the significance doesn't change. He could do nothing to help himself. His life was not his own to live. But then he was redeemed.
He can only know that someone paid his debt for him. Someone took that debt.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, which knew no sin, that we should be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21