The coach moves along leaving Jaipur and heading to Delhi. And yes, it is another world. On the one hand, we are all God’s creation sharing a common humanity. On the other hand, we are unique individuals impacted by DNA, culture and history.
Size has something to do with it too. Within the next few years India will overtake China as the world’s largest country.
It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the scope of either. I believe the USA has a population of roughly 300 million. Soon both of these countries will surpass that 5 times over meaning each country will roughly have a population of 1.5 billion! Let’s do some more math to help us visualize the size.
They say that around 2% of the population are Christians. That does not sound like a big number, however, 2% of 1.5 billion is 30 million. I'll have to check with Barna but I believe that is the total number of committed evangelicals in the United States. 80% of India residents select Hindu as their preferred way of living and 15% select Islam. 15% and 85% of 1.5 billion is a lot of people. And that is just India.
A few years ago, upon traveling often to Laos, I learned that the country had about 7 million people composed of 64 tribes. When India was unified 70 years ago, it was comprised of over 600 “kingdoms” with 70 different languages. Large, complex, and diverse are some descriptive adjectives that come to mind when articulating the many dimensions of this country.
Our guide, Sanjay, when answering hundreds of “why” questions from Judy, myself, and our own distinctive traveling companions, often reverted to the following insight: we have the people, we have the resources, but we must find the will to change while removing graft and corruption.
Sanjay is very upbeat and hopeful, yet realistic about his people and country. When queried about trash and litter, he observes that they began a campaign 3 years ago and it is slowly beginning to work. He reminded us that the US’s big anti-litter campaign started in the 70s. “Give us some time too,” he adds with a grin that extends from one end of his mustache to the other.
From a business perspective, the opportunities here are unlimited. As a friend observed, 1 penny a day for each person adds up to a lot of pennies…. or Rupees. The numbers are astounding. The challenges are too.
After visiting an NGO that serves roughly 3,000 children a day in Jaipur, I asked what the number of street children were in that city. The answer of 200,000 took me back. So many families from the countryside are coming to the city with high expectations for work and support only to be disappointed. Many of the children are then abandoned to fend for themselves, or die.
As Jesus followers, there are so many ways yet to demonstrate his love and God’s personal concern. As Americans, there are immense ways to demonstrate new methods of living that do not destroy their culture, but enhances it. And as individuals there are so many new friends to make, help, and learn from.
Another road on Life’s Journey