The boy with a hole in his hand

Some time back, while traveling in south India, I met this kid and his cow on the street outside of my Chennai hotel:

He was collecting tips by getting the cow to do tricks for passersby.  But as the cow stomped its hoof and shook its head, my eye was drawn to a big round mark – about the size of a half dollar – on the boy’s right hand.  So I asked him about it.  He explained that when he was younger, he became very sick.  His parents were very superstitious and sought the advice of a witch doctor who told them that their son was ill because he was possessed by an evil spirit.  The witch doctor’s advice?  Burn a hole on the boy’s hand to allow the spirit to escape, and then he would get better.

So they did.

Naresh's Scar

India is no stranger to superstition. Purveyors of black magic are common, and fear prompts poor – sometimes tragic – decision-making in every corner of the subcontinent.

That’s why superstition is one of the many topics that our ministry partners include in their Bible-based adult literacy primers. In fact, the lessons go way beyond teaching someone how to read and write and do basic math.  They also tackle topics like dowry abuse, child marriage, hygiene, citizenship, and even first aid.  Real, tangible lessons that help people discover and experience the love and hope of Christ right where they are.

By the way, when I asked the boy if the burn healed him, he answered:  “No – but it hurt terribly!”