Escaping a World of Ignorance

It’s been said that only those who escape the limitations of tea estate schools have any chance of succeeding in the sphere of education,1 and Nadette was fighting to escape.

The young girl knew getting an education would change the course of her life, but her parents and brothers didn’t think it was important for her to go to school. They needed her at home to earn an income. As tea estate workers, Nadette’s family were considered among the poorest group in their region.2 Earning about $4 a day was insufficient to cover basic needs and compelled many to take loans from their employer, making it common to have children work alongside their parents to help pay off the debt.3

Nadette’s parents faced an agonizing decision. Investing in Nadette’s future could lift her out of poverty, but their current financial situation made it difficult to spare the extra hands. Yet Nadette was adamant. She wanted a better life, and she would not live a life of ignorance.

Crossing Villages for a Dream

Escaping a World of Ignorance
Nadette moved in with her grandparents so she could fulfill her desire of getting a quality education.

Knowing Nadette was set on getting a good education, Nadette’s parents sent her to live with her grandparents whose village had a government-funded school. Though Nadette’s grandparents also worked on a tea estate surrounded by poverty, they, too, were not content to live the average tea-estate life. Whereas most workers rented housing on the estate, Nadette’s grandparents scraped and saved for years until they had enough to build their own home. They happily cared for Nadette, offering her a safe place to nurture her desire for learning.

As Nadette grew, her passion for learning grew. She graduated from high school and wanted to further her education by learning about history and different religions. A degree would help her break the generational cycle of poverty, improve her chances of work outside of an estate, and erase the stigmatization of estate work.4 But Nadette had a problem. The cost of tuition was too much for her grandparents to afford. There was no way they could send her to university. A world of opportunities stretched in front of Nadette, just out of reach.

Girl Receives Gospel Literature

Trying to find peace, Nadette often went to the temple with her grandmother, Rivekka, to meditate and pray. If Rivekka wasn’t available, Nadette went alone. She may have been thwarted in her aspirations for her education, but she could pursue a godly life and learn what she could through worship.

Escaping a World of Ignorance
Gospel literature allows people like Nadette (not pictured) to hear about the love of Jesus. The literature is rarely discarded. Instead, people pass it along, sharing what changed their life.

One day, while walking down the village road, Nadette received a small piece of Gospel literature from a man dressed in a long, white tunic. Seeing his clothing, Nadette knew he was a missionary who belonged to a church, but because poverty had crushed her dream of studying other religions, she knew nothing of Christianity. The literature intrigued her. Here in her hands was an educational resource, and it was about a different religion. Any type of literature was a valuable commodity,5 and Nadette devoured it. She wasn’t able to study through school anymore, but that wasn’t the only way to learn a subject. She found the church’s address on the back of the pamphlet and decided to experience it firsthand. She wanted to learn more about Jesus, who, according to the literature, could bring joy into her life.

That Sunday, Nadette searched for the church and found it nearly four miles from her house. The building cast long shadows in the evening light. Voices drifted from inside. Nadette didn’t know what Christians did or how they worshiped. She had no idea what to expect. Should she have told Rivekka where she was going? Should she give up her desire to learn and go home?

The tenacious spirit that fought to escape life on a tea estate, that allowed Nadette to defeat the odds and go to school wouldn’t let her back down now. She crossed the threshold.

Discovering a New World of Opportunities

GFA pastor Shmuel saw Nadette and welcomed her in. She had arrived toward at the end of a service for young adults, but Pastor Shmuel invited her to join. A few people gathered in the humble building. They greeted her with kind faces, and Nadette sat among them. Afterall, they were also here to learn. As the program progressed, she saw they didn’t just study these beliefs, but they practiced them. Their easy manner made Nadette feel comfortable. Her fear and doubt fell away.

After the meeting, Pastor Shmuel prayed for Nadette. He invited her to come back the following week and told her about the worship service that happens beforehand. Pastor Shmuel promised to visit Nadette during the week and pray for her family. Nadette left the church with great joy.

Escaping a World of Ignorance
Nadette found a subject she could study for the rest of her life.

When she reached home, she told Rivekka where she’d been and shared about the service, the God the Christians worshiped, and the new friends she’d met who also loved learning and wanted to live a godly life. Nadette said she was going back next week.

Rivekka listened attentively through her granddaughter’s excited account of the evening. She knew there was no deterring Nadette when she set her mind to something, but she also needed to make sure her granddaughter stayed safe. Rivekka had to see the church for herself and meet these young people her beloved Nadette would be spending time with.

A New Passion

The next Sunday, as Nadette and Rivekka joined the worship service, the young girl’s heart flooded with peace and joy after praying to Jesus. Rivekka also felt blessed when Pastor Shmuel prayed for her family. Nadette stayed for the young adult meeting and excitedly learned more about God and the Bible. There was a world of information she could spend a lifetime studying. Nadette made up her mind to return every week, and Rivekka agreed to come with her.

“I am so blessed and happy to attend [the] church, . . . I am praying to God to bless . . . all missionaries of the church. I am also praying to God to speak to the hearts of my parents and brothers so they will also come to church one day. I praise God for everything He has given me.”

Two weeks later, Nadette dedicated her life to the Lord. She received a Bible, which she brings to church and reads to her grandparents. Pastor Shmuel set up a weekly prayer meeting at their home. After Nadette found the love of Jesus, ignorance had no power over her, and she wants the same for her family. Nadette is praying earnestly for them to learn the joy of Christ’s love and sacrifice. She’s thankful Rivekka shares her new beliefs.

“I am so blessed and happy to attend [the] church,” Nadette said. “I am praying to God to bless … all missionaries of the church. I am also praying to God to speak to the hearts of my parents and brothers so they will also come to church one day. I praise God for everything He has given me.”

Escaping a World of Ignorance
Pastor Shmuel (not pictured) visited Nadette and her grandparents to conduct a prayer meeting, like this one, in their home.

You Can Ignite Passion

Nadette knew getting an education would change her life, but she never expected it would be by learning about Jesus. Her desires to live a godly life and study different religions collided when she received a piece of Gospel literature, which led her to find a community of faithful believers who fueled her desire to learn.

By giving to Gospel literature, you can alter lives like Nadette’s. You can bring together likeminded individuals and give people the peace and joy they’ve been searching for.

Give to Gospel Literature

You can help share the greatest message the world has ever heard with people who still need to hear it.

  1. “Child labour in the tea plantations in Sri Lanka.” Daily Mirror. September 2015. .
  2. “Labour Statistics Sri Lanka.” Department of Labour, Ministry of Labour and Trade Union Relations, Sri Lanka. 2017. upload/statistics/ls2017.pdf .
  3. “Hidden and Discounted: Child Labour in Tea and Tourism.” Groundviews. June 2021. .
  4. Neranjana Gunetilleke, Sanjana Kuruppu and Susrutha Goonasekera. The Estate Workers’ Dilemma: Tensions and Changes in the Tea and Rubber Plantations in Sri Lanka.” Colombo: Centre for Poverty Analysis. 2008. .
  5. “Fruit from Gospel Tracts.” GFA World. February 2006. .

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

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