Broader story to Christians in India

source:? News Leader, Springfield, Missouri,?? April 3, 2010

?I was happy to read "Mission to India" in the News-Leader (3/13/10). Being an Indian Christian, I was quite surprised at the superficial way many comments have been made about the Indian situation and at the omission of some important facts.

I fully agree on the need of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the non-Christians in India. But the article gives the impression that there is hardly any Christian presence in India as there is no mention of the 30 million Christians who are already there, nor of the fact that Christianity was brought to India by St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. So Christianity in India, though in minority, is as old as Christianity itself. Many Americans, in my experience of travelling the length and breadth of this great country, have never heard this historical truth.

To write that some states are making non-conversion laws and to state that "Some of the religions in India are very radical, " do not convey the reality in India. Hinduism is the most tolerant of all religions in the world. In the recent years some elements in Hinduism have become critical and violent towards Christians due to the questionable methods some overzealous missionaries used in converting the very poor with enticements of food, money, education etc. Such converted Christians are disparaged as 'Rice Christians'. Naturally some state governments have reacted by enacting the so-called 'non-conversion' bills. I do not agree with it at all, but it is caused by few Christian missionaries themselves. Think of the troubles the air passengers here in the U.S. have to go through at the airports: even the shoes, sneakers and sandals must be sent through the X-ray machines at the security. Why? The reaction to someone trying to use shoe-bomb to blow up a plane!

Many missionaries, in their preaching, openly condemn Hinduism as a religion of the devil and that Hindus are going to hell etc. The Hindus being very religious, having an established spiritual heritage, holy scriptures, temples and religious practices many centuries prior to Christianity, are offended by such condemnatory attitude. It is here the missionaries have to learn the noble and charitable approach that St. Paul, the greatest missionary, practiced. Paul addressed the leaders of Athens appreciating their belief in the "unknown god" and building on that to complete their understanding of God by presenting the good news of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:22-28). Many Hindus respect Jesus and Christianity but they are not open to the missionaries. One of the reasons is that the missionaries hardly give any understanding or appreciation of the religiosity of the Hindus.

I respectfully submit these observations to complete an otherwise well-written experience of the ministers who visited India. I wish the ministers God's blessings as they try to spread the good news of Jesus Christ – a common mission of all of us Christians.

Rev. Abraham Orapankal, Ph.D., abyachan@, is based in Plainfield, N.J., and comes to Springfield three times a year for conducting programs at different locations.

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