“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela
Unfortunately, education still has its facets of discrimination. A family in Bangalore once approached my office with a grievance, that their son was denied admission at a secondary school in Bangalore, on the basis that his parents were uneducated. When I had spoken to the principal of the school about the rejection, he dispassionately stated that, “the parents are uneducated, who will help the boy with his homework”? I was devastated at his response, knowing that this was a reputed school, founded on the basis of helping the poor. My response to him was, “Because his parents are uneducated, is it right that the result of your rejection of his candidature, meant that his generation would also go down, uneducated?” I fought tooth and nail for this child. Now, contrast this with the former principal of SIGA, Br. Julian Santi.
This Salesian brother had left his home in Italy over sixty years ago, and dedicated his life to educate the underprivileged in India. The more underprivileged your family was and the more uneducated you were, the more love he demonstrated and educated multitudes of school dropouts, who now are spread across the world with their heads-held-high. What Br. Santi did, was not just educate these young boys with uneducated parents, he essentially gave them their dignity as a human being; infusing in their minds that though they were school drop-outs, they have same dignity as a college graduate, that all are equal in the sight of God and everyone must be given an opportunity at life, and a good one. Here’s what I enjoyed most about SIGA: I was a school dropout, and several of my classmates were college graduates, who had come to get a trade certificate at this institution. The playing field was now leveled, and all students had a shot at life – both school drops outs and graduates. Upon completion of the three years course, in utter amazement, some of the school dropouts got better jobs, international opportunities and better salaries, than some of those who had a college degree before joining SIGA.
I come from a family of poverty, which effected my education resulting in me dropping out of school (I was actually thrown out). But, soon I realized that if my family were to starve the poverty out of us; education would be my gateway. I embarked on distance education, then regular college, and completed my doctorate. I even studied at premier institutions as Harvard University and the University of Oxford. As a result of my education, I’ve authored nine publications, including two textbooks on Human Psychology. I’ve made several representations at world institutions, and the United Nations, something that no one could fathom, not even me. This is the power of education, in the hands of a poor, school dropout.
As reported by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, about 258 million children and youth are out of school, for the school year ending in 2018. The total includes 59 million children of primary school age, 62 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary age. This is nearly one fifth of the global population in that age group. And more than half of all children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.
The UN SDG on education stated that, in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, a majority of countries announced the temporary closure of schools, impacting more than 91 per cent of students worldwide. By April 2020, close to 1.6 billion children and youth were out of school. And nearly 369 million children who rely on school meals needed to look to other sources for daily nutrition.
Corruption in the Indian education system is reprehensible, as parents are forced to bribe for admissions of their children, many times mortgaging their homes or selling their vehicles and jewellery to pay those bribes. Institutions are ever so corrupt in coercing the parents to pay a “donation”, or a “building fund” as part of the admission prerequisite. Furthermore, according to a UNESCO report, India’s education system is mired in corruption and a high rate of teacher absenteeism in the country was a key factor for it according to the new global study. The UNESCO’s International Institute of Educational Planning study on corruption in education released recently says that 25% teacher absenteeism in India is among the highest in the world, second only after Uganda that has a higher rate. The global average of teacher absenteeism is about 20%. Teacher absenteeism does not just affect quality of education; it is also a huge drain on resources resulting in the wastage of 22.5% of education funds in India the study said. Politics in teacher appointments and transfers is a major reason for teacher absenteeism according to a professor at National University for Education Planning and Administration.
Addressing the need to educate our children in India, the Ministry of Education, now headed by Shri Dharmendra Pradhan has mentioned this for its policy inititatives: “In line with the goal of nation building, India has been committed to providing free and compulsory education to all children. Towards this end, Indian Parliament has enacted a legislation making free and compulsory education a Right of every child in the age group 6-14 years which has come into force from 1st April, 2010. Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan has been launched recently as a step to universalize secondary education. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to create a robust and vast system of higher and technical education.”
At UNADAP, the right to education and promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG-4) is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and has seven targets and three means of implementation.
The Holy Bible gives us a glimpse of the power of education, as with Moses; Acts 7:22 “And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.” In order for Moses to deliver Gods’ people from the land of Egypt from slavery and bondage, God had prepared Moses well in advance through education. In stating that, I would appeal to young people to aspire in becoming civil servants to serve your country if you want the world to become a better place. Anyone could earn a living and take care of their own family, but it takes a special person, with a heart to serve, with a mind to remain steadfast in helping people who are downtrodden.
Updated: Jul 17
Nature is one of God's most beautiful, living creations. Through nature, God is able to teach us, speak to us, and provide for us. Psalms 95:4-5 reminds us about God who created nature. “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.”
During the lockdown of 2020, we felt nature reclaiming its space with the nostalgic chirping of birds, cool weather and the non-verbal melodic chanting of Mother Nature; “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalms 19:1); which was silenced over the decades with the noise of the industrial revolution and climate change.
Greenhouse gas emissions may perhaps have dipped during this season of humans being in lockdown, but, sadly, our dreaded history of pumping of indiscriminate amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere with the industrial revolutions, mainly, mass production; will come back to haunt us, post the lockdown, and perhaps increase as we continue our greed to over consume whilst being under judicious. Now, with the fourth industrial revolution of social media, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), Isaiah 24:4-5 gives us the bitter reality of what we’ve done to the earth: “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.”
Both Bitcoin and NFTS (Non-Fungible Tokens) which are the digital equivalents of cash and collectibles, generates the same amount of carbon emission and footprint per transaction, equivalent to 680,000 plastic card transactions at super markets, or an equivalent of over 51,000 hours of YouTube gorging.
India has constantly committed to its responsibilities and obligations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). India is a forerunner in Climate Action, and the Climate Action Tracker has rated the India’s efforts as ‘2 degree compatible’, which means that if all countries made efforts like India’s, the average global temperature rise could be limited to 2°C by the year 2100, in keeping with the Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocol. According to Babul Supriyo, MoS Climate Change, GOI, “India is the world's only major economy to be rated so. India’s intensity of GDP reduced to 12% between 2005 and 2010 while a reduction of 24% was achieved between 2005 and 2016.”
Therefore, let us be mindful that we are stewards on God's green planet, and we must take care of it, as Mother Earth takes care of us.
During my daily devotions, I had come across the story of Mephibosheth (Mef-ee-bo’-sheth in Hebrew meaning ‘shameful thing’ or ‘dispeller of shame’) and was amazed at the chronicles of his life. In Biblical times, people were given names based on the situation existing at the time they were born. Can you imagine his friends in school calling him ‘hey, you shameful thing’? When I had done a Hebrew study, I was even more amazed at what his name meant and what his destiny was. There were two different contrasts.
Mephibosheth meaning ‘shameful thing’ 2 Samuel 4- 9
Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, and grandson of Saul (2 Sam. 4:4). He was five years old when his father and grandfather fell in the Battle of Mount Gilboa. The child’s nurse hearing of this calamity, fled with the boy from Gibeah, the royal residence, and stumbled in her haste, dropping the child on the ground, permanently paralyzing him from the waist down (2 Sam. 19:26). He was carried to the land of Gilead, where he found a refuge in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar (dry places), by whom he was brought up.
Have you been paralysed due to a certain incident or incidents that have taken place in your life? Perhaps those incidents have ruptured your emotions and behaviour. Perhaps your definition of Church or ministry has become very negative because of those incidents. May be another Christian did something that has hampered your life and even permanently damaged your reputation. Or may be, you’re a Servant of Christ and an ordinary Christian has caused disrepute to your name or ministry.
On a different level, may be you’re a young widow or you’re financially in the dumps or you’ve been duped and now you’re a victim of a major scandal that’s left you on the threshold of despair. What do you do in such situations? Do you blame God for permitting those things to happen? Do you blame people for what has happened? Do you hold a grudge against people?
Mephibosheth reminds me of some of us Christians. The devil dropped him one day and in the fall, his feet became lame and all this time the devil – through people have been telling him, “God did this to you and it’s because of God that you’re this way, it’s because of your sins and the sins of your forefathers. It’s because you are cursed that you can’t get off the ground. You can never do anything right and you will never do anything right. It’s your fault that your family is falling apart. It’s your fault for your financial condition. And finally… God is not mindful about you!
When people say such things with grave accusations, I’m encouraged by the Scripture that says “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” John 9:3
Sadly, the man in the world believes the devil, because he does not even know about the covenant that was drawn up before he was ever born. Does this sound like you? For years, ignorant of what God had done? Blaming God for your situation? Thinking God was the culprit? Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of people who were serving God as missionaries, are now into the world, worst than people of the world. Why? Because they either blame God for their circumstances or they’re still living in Lo-debar, the dry places.
Quit living in Lo-debar, the dry places, move into the land that flows with milk and honey, be planted like a tree that is planted by streams of running waters. Let the running waters of the Holy Spirit fill your being with the love of Christ and the joy that comes from God even in your darkest and driest moment of life.
God ordained Restoration - COVENANT between David and Jonathan
Some years after this, when King David had subdued all the adversaries of Israel, he began to think of the family of Jonathan, and discovered that Meribbaal was residing in the house of Machir. So he sent royal messengers there, and brought Meribbaal and his infant son (Micah) to Jerusalem, where he resided from that point on (2 Sam. 9).
And David said, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (II Samuel 9:1) Ziba, a former servant in the house of Saul, tells him of Jonathan’s son,”...which is lame on his feet”(2 Samuel 9:3-6).
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” The king asked, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.”
“Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honour.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“Your servant,” he replied.
“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Just when Mephibosheth thought that he was written off and that his fate was fatless, and that he would never be known or held in honour and that the only name he would have was to be called a crippled shameful thing… Mephibosheth. But God showed up and blessed him. Sometimes, just like Mephibosheth, we need to just wait upon God for the duly appointed time for our blessings. David had never forgotten the covenant he had made with Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20.
There are people of honour out there, who keep to the covenant and manifest that covenant even if the world around them collapses. It perhaps may be difficult to believe anyone who says that they would make a covenant with you because of the revoking of covenants in the past and the betrayal of those who have committed and let you down. Some people think that people make covenants because of insecurity, which is a false notion. In our ministry, the leaders have made a covenant and it’s because of that covenant we remain faithful to God and to each other. A covenant is made between two or more people or groups. The covenant was God reconciling man to Himself.
The only thing to do is to trust God in all situations. I am so convinced that there is absolutely nothing that can happen to me that is outside the will of God.
Who am I that You are mindful of me, that you hear You me, when I call?
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 2 Samuel 9:8
David made a similar prayer in just two previous chapters. 2 Samuel 7:8
“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?”
Mephibosheth in all awe, asked David the question ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’ It is true, dearly beloved, that God is mindful of you, he knows every situation. As David said in Psalms 8:4 “What is man that You are mindful of him, that son of man that you care for him?
Through every storm, God is always there.
When the good Lord first touched me, I was determined to give the Gospel to everyone I met. I then realised that the Church was divided based on denominational differences. Although I’m a Catholic, I used to go to the Pentecostal Churches simply because I wanted to know more about Jesus. Because I used to go to the Pentecostal Churches, one of the most prominent Catholic ministries in the city decided to mince me piece by piece and to spread rumours of wars against me. They conspired against me in every way possible. Eventually, the Bishop called and asked me to present my youth missions projects to the Christian media leaders of the Province. In addition, when my first book was released, a Vatican official approved the book and the Archbishop released it.
At this point, no one would dare to speak out against me, until an opportune time that is. But the greatest part of it all, is that God has restored me way above what they or I could imagine. Since then, our ministry has represented Christ across all continents. The international secular media had interviewed us and Christ was presented. We are only three years, and God has used us in domains of influence including the setting up of India’s only Internet Christian Broadcasting Network.
Conspiracy OR Unfaithfulness
When David was a fugitive, according to the story of Ziba (2 Sam. 16:1-4) Mephibosheth proved unfaithful to him, and was consequently deprived of half of his estates; according to his own story, however (2 Sam. 19:24-30), he had remained loyal to his friend, the king. After this incident he is only mentioned, as having been protected by David against the vengeance the Gibeonites were permitted to execute on the house of Saul 2 Sam. 21:7. Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his moustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him,
“Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?” He said, “My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. (2 Samuel 19:24-26)
It is possible that David didn’t entirely believe him, because he divided the estate he had given into two, giving the other half to Ziba, but he continued to protect Mephibosheth until the end of his days.
The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the LORD between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 2 Samuel 21:7
David made a covenant and he kept that covenant. In times when Mephibosheth was accused, he remembered the promise he had made to his beloved friend in the presence of the Almighty God. When David had heard of the accusations about Mephibosheth, he did not say ‘I heard things about him that scare me”, instead, he kept his word. Jonathan, whom David had made the covenant with, was rest assured that David would keep his word for David was a person of noble standing even though he was a murderer, an adulterer and what not!
No matter what happened, God proved Himself faithful. The same faithful God is there for you, to restore you. Go, seek Him, love Him, and make Him known.
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