A Terrible Sacrifice

Welcome to Ron’s Adventures,” the podcast that highlights the adventures Ron Pearce has experienced throughout his 30-plus years following God around the world. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce. Welcome back! Oh, I love Ron’s adventures! I can’t wait to hear what we have next!

Ron- Well, today we’re going back to India and we’re going to be talking about an adventure I had, it was probably the saddest adventure that I’ve ever experienced, and we’ll let you judge at the end where this ranks as far as sadness.

Joy- Well, I trust you so now I am worried, maybe I don’t love Ron’s adventures.

Ron- Well, it’s real life and that’s what we’re dealing with here. I was over there back in the late 1990s or early 2000s, somewhere in that period, and we were up in the Lucknow area which is up in the northern part, and to an area that had just celebrated the Maha Kumbh Mela, which is a big gathering in the Hindu religion where everybody comes together in the holy river to wash away their sins, hope for a better future, worship the gods in many ways, but we’re not talking a few people, we’re talking millions and millions of people. It doesn’t last one day, this is over a period of time and so people will come and camp out. This is a throng of people from all backgrounds from all over India, probably from all over the world.

Joy- Would it be a tourist place to go to?

Ron- No, not really.

Charis- Maybe a religious tourist destination?

Ron- Probably something like that.

Joy- But the average traveler wouldn’t necessarily go there.

Ron- I wouldn’t think so because there was nothing there. This was a river, hillside, all the grass had been worn off because I was there at the end of the celebration, it was drawing to a close and there were only 100,000 people and it was a small gathering down by the river, a few people walking around. I went because they told me what it was and I just basically wanted to see it. So my driver let me out, a young pastor from a national church operation there, let me out a little ways away and I went and stood on the crest of a hill. And I was looking down over the hill and I remember seeing all those people there, some were in the water, some were washing, some were bathing, I don’t really know what they were doing but they were splashing around near the edge of it. People were watching, there were {Hindu} priests all around I think taking money or giving blessings or a combination of both, I’m not really sure of exactly what was all going on.

Charis- And was this a big river, small river, a stream?

Ron- This was a medium-sized river at this point and it was something you have to see to believe, it was dirty. I mean it was filthy! It could have been just stirred up because of all the mud and the people and the silt and everything, or it could have been from upstream. I’m not really sure of all the details. To be absolutely honest with you, people at home are probably going to be wondering why you didn’t ask more questions. I really didn’t want to know. I saw it. My heart was absolutely empty for these people, I could just see how futile this whole thing was and it broke my heart. And then as I was standing there, I saw something I will never forget. More and more people were coming down from somewhere at this point when I was standing on the hillside and there were a lot of men, a LOT of men. I would say it would probably be three-quarters young men and one-quarter other people and when I say other people, I mean older men, women, young girls, that sort of thing. But far less women, I noticed that. So I’m standing there watching this for about five or ten minutes when all of a sudden, I saw this couple not too far away from me, they took their little baby and together, they threw it into the middle of the river, out from the crowd.

Joy- They threw the baby?

Ron- The baby was alive and it was a sacrifice to the gods, trying to ward off evil, command a blessing from the gods, I don’t know, whatever the case may be.

Joy- And what did the people around them do?

Ron- They just stood there and watched because this is a regular occurrence. This wasn’t a one-off. I don’t know how often this happens but it happened in front of me and I know a good friend of mine who is a leader in the church in India saw the same thing happen when he was down there one time, as well. I watched it and I just froze. It was too far away for me to do absolutely anything and too many people in the way. I knew that the baby was gone. I lost the parents in a crowd because everybody thronged around them for some reason, either consoling, congratulating, doing whatever, but I lost sight of them. Then all of a sudden, down from where I was up on a higher point, down by the river, there were a bunch of young men and they saw that I was looking and noticed that I watched that. I must have looked stunned, because then they were shouting and yelling at me and running towards me. And I’m thinking (their thoughts) he saw something that was holy and he’s impure, he’s an infidel, I don’t know.

Joy- So they weren’t running at you in a good way.

Ron- No, no, this was turning into a violent mob. It spread up the hill bank and all of a sudden I watched my driver pull up in the car, right behind me, he jumped out, ran around, and opened the door and I was almost petrified just standing there looking at all these people coming and what had just happened. He threw me into the back seat of the car and I hit my head on the far door in the back seat. He closes the door and he took off. Well, they pelted us with rocks, broke windows, everything like that and I was the object of their ferocious rage because I think I was an infidel watching this happen. Maybe {they thought} I was a reporter, maybe I had taken pictures, maybe I was going to cause them a hard time, maybe I was just bad karma of the situation.

Joy-So definitely not a tourist place then.

Ron- Well, no not really. I was very Western dressed, I look very Western and they took that as I was bad, and, therefore, they tried to stop me and probably {tried to} kill me. So we took off from there and got back to the head office and I was calmed down by that point but mildly shaken. I told them what had happened and they said you are fortunate you got out of there alive, so I thanked the driver. That’s the adventure and that’s why I’d say it’s not on your top ten list.

Joy-It’s not, I didn’t like that.

Ron- I know that, but at the same time I’ll tell you this; that’s the real world of darkness. That showed me, and I live with it and I understand what it is, that’s when people really think that that sort of religious observance of killing a baby is gaining them something with their gods. And remember in Hinduism there are a billion gods or something like that, and they are trying to get a blessing and a reprieve from punishment from their gods or whatever the case may be, and that little baby suffered the consequences. That family lives in darkness. That community lies in darkness. They do not know the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, therefore, this is something that I live with because I saw it. Fortunately, I have been able to, over the years, put it in its place and not live there every day, but there is nothing that I’ve ever experienced quite like that moment of shock, almost when your heart stops and your eyes can’t believe what they’re seeing and you see a little baby in the waves. And that’s it.

Joy- It puts into perspective the necessity of the Gospel. It’s heartbreaking these people are looking for hope and clearly not finding it.

Ron- I don’t blame them. And you can say well you should blame those parents! In one way yes, from a Western point of view, from a Christian point of view, I understand that thought. On the other side of it, they don’t know what they’re doing because they’ve never had an alternative. We have to present an alternative to them at all costs because that is in their mind, all that they know and, therefore, I don’t blame them for not being knowledgeable about the Gospel.

Charis- It’s like in Ethiopia the one church planter told us they don’t realize how far they are in the darkness until Jesus comes in and shows them the light.

Ron- Exactly! You know we are very fortunate, those of us listening to this podcast because I suspect most of you have experienced the light of the Gospel. You understand what it means to be born again. These people don’t, and, therefore, when the church over there is trying to explain it to them, the Holy Spirit has to come in and illuminate their mind and open their mind to thinking in a totally different way. I would not want to be that young couple that threw that baby into the river once they came to know Jesus. That would be tough and then the mother would wonder why you didn’t tell us half an hour ago about Jesus. That’s it, Joy.

Joy- Okay, I’m a little stunned. It’s a tough thing to hear and yet I think it’s a very important thing to hear, so thank you.

You’ve been listening to another Ron’s Adventures,” the podcast that reminds us that God’s grace is completely sufficient and that there is hope in the Gospel.

when all of a sudden, I saw this couple not too far away from me, they took their little baby and together, they threw it into the middle of the river, out from the crowd.

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