Dr. D’Souza also facilitated a multi-denominational meeting on religious freedom with India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, Oct. 14.
HYDERABAD – This year, through its economic development, educational, medical, and anti-human trafficking initiatives, the Good Shepherd Church of India, under the leadership of the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza, impacted over 12 million Indians in 6,000 communities, empowering men, women, and children to overcome poverty and discrimination.
The church movement—which consists of 4,000 congregations—provides education to over 26,000 children through 107 schools, economic opportunities for more than 30,000 women through grants and vocational training programs, and easy access to basic health to an estimated 1 million people through community health workers and clinics. Anti-sex trafficking initiatives also have helped provide a safe environment and education to 40 girls.
“From inception, the mission of the Good Shepherd Church of India has been to restore the human dignity of people in the name of Jesus,” said Dr. D’Souza. “Everything we do—from rescuing girls trapped in sex trafficking, to empowering women to achieve economic emancipation and training men to become church leaders—helps further this mission. We believe that the gospel beckons us to address humanity as a whole, redeeming not only what is spiritual but also what is physical, and that as Christians we are called to cooperate and work with our government on issues of common concern.”
In October, Bishop D’Souza also facilitated a multi-denominational meeting on religious freedom with India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, strengthening cooperation between India’s Christian community and Prime Minister Modi’s government. Over 1,000 Christian leaders convened in New Delhi with the home minister and Member of Parliament Dr. Udit Raj to express their support for Prime Minister Modi.
At the meeting, D’Souza thanked the home minister for his constant support for India’s Christian community and for the introduction of a bill to amend the 1955 Citizenship Act. If passed, the bill will prioritize the naturalization of ethnic and religious minorities—including persecuted Christians—from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The Dalit Freedom Network, an organization also led by Dr. D’Souza, played an important role this year in advocating for the transformation of the lives of Dalits, tribals, low-castes and the poor. These groups are often marginalized because of their place of birth in the caste system. Dr. D’Souza was an outspoken supporter of their emancipation, especially as the Dalit uprising spread throughout India in the wake of the Una incident, when cow vigilantes attacked a group of Dalits. Dr. D’Souza supported Prime Minister Modi’s call to end the millennia-old discrimination against Dalits.
“We are proud of the work the Good Shepherd Church has done in 2016,” Dr. D’Souza added. “Every life we have touched matters and is worth the time, investment, and effort. Our love for people is unconditional regardless of religious or caste background. This is indeed the Christmas message for the whole world: Christ’s unconditional love.”
“Yet there are countless more that still need our help, and we plan to continue working toward helping the marginalized and oppressed find justice and freedom. In 2017, we are planning on building a nurse training Hospital in Hyderabad and a shelter to house more girls rescued from sex trafficking in Telangana. We need all the help we can get. The job of restoring human dignity is not up to a single person, but to the whole community of believers across the world.”
Photos of Dr. D’Souza are available here.
Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza is the Moderating Bishop of the Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries of India. He also serves as the President of the All India Christian Council. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work as a human rights activist. He is also the founder and International President of the Dalit Freedom Network. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional biographical information is available here.