Day 9: Agni Raksha

The ministry at Agni Raksha is so moving that it’s difficult to know where to begin.

In India, there is a tradition of demanding a dowry for a bride.  This practice has been outlawed, but thousands in India–many from villages–still follow the practice.

The tradition becomes hellish when the groom’s family makes threats to set the bride on fire if a promised dowry is not paid for her.  The bride’s family may pay the ransom (“dowry”), only to find that a further ransom is demanded.

Each year, 25,000 cases of women burned because their families didn’t pay the ransom, or didn’t pay enough ransom, are reported.  This is the number of reported cases, and there are estimated to be many more cases that are suffered in silence every year.

In Bangalore, India, there is one government hospital.  There are five beds for burn victims.

Agni Raksha is a medical-and-more facility founded by Dr. Prema Dhanraj.  The name Agni Raksha means protection from fire.  The facility helps female burn victims, including those who have been burned by their husband’s family.  The women who come to the facility are truly protected from fire as they are given

  • reconstructive and plastic surgery
  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation
  • job training
  • education
  • funding for small businesses

The women who come to this facility come with sorrow almost too unbearable to think about.  Many of them are grotesquely scarred because they have been used like property and treated far less humanely than money-making livestock.  They may feel that they matter nothing to the people who should love them most: their husband, who should have protected them, and their own family, who didn’t pay the dowry price or didn’t find a way to raise the funds.  But I know with all my heart that God loves these women with an unimaginably intense love.  And that is why we must tell them about God’s love.  We must.

The telling of that love isn’t only in words.  It’s in the surgery the woman needs to look more human in the eyes of her society.  It’s in the surgery that can never erase the memory of what has been done to her, but can add a new memory: one that she is deeply loved by Christians in her country and around the world.

Wellspring International has partnered with Agni Raksha to help fund their facility.  Wellspring International is a branch from RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries).  Naomi Zacharias, Ravi’s daughter, leads Wellspring International.  Wellspring has been able to give Agni Raksha gifts like

  • 1 ambulance,
  • 1 air conditioning unit,
  • 1 nurse’s quarters,
  • 1 loan center (non-profit, to help women in starting their businesses),
  • 2 generators,
  • 8 loans for women who started small businesses,
  • reconstructive surgeries for 10 women,
  • 15 hospital beds, and
  • job training in tailoring for 20 women.

You and I can help them expand their facilities and help more women receive protection from the fire they have been through.  You can donate a one-time gift or make a monthly commitment to share the love of Christ with a few of those who have been treated as “the least” of their society.  The significance of what you are doing when you help these women cannot be fully realized in this life.  It would be the same as if you were paying for reconstructive surgery for the burned face of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Would you do that for Jesus?  That is the opportunity He is giving you and I.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 25:50, NLT)

Credibility of Mission: Wellspring International is an outreach of RZIM ministries.  RZIM is an accredited ECFA charity.