As Jo Beth and I surveyed the area for unreached peoples, we journeyed along the road east from Calcutta deep into the delta region of the Ganges, known as the Sundarbans. We continually drove past mile after mile of massive brick factories in the clay flats along the Ganges.
We were surprised when our driver turned into the main gate of one of these brick factories and we found a gathering of families and many children waiting for us. As Michael shared a Bible story, the children sat absolutely still, as if spellbound.
Later we learned that every factory we had passed along that road was filled with families who lived on the factory property. Some of the workers are in such deep debt to the factory owners that they will never pay off what they owe. As a result, the children born to them on that property are also drafted to work for their family’s debt. Our eyes were pained to see children barely able to walk, scraping the clay with their little hands onto small trays and staggering up out of the clay pits. This is against the law but there are not enough police and far too many corrupt politicians who look the other way for personal gain.
As we left, the children crowded around our vehicle to receive a gift bag including a toothbrush & toothpaste, some soap, a small toy, and a Bible story picture. But we couldn’t simply forget them. Thanks to our faithful supporters, we have been able to support a children’s worker from Calcutta Christian Fellowship–Sulehka–who regularly visits these children to give them a basic education and also to teach them God’s Word. I asked as we drove back to Calcutta just how many children were located on the factories we were passing. The answer: no one really knows.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 Jesus knows.