LandMarks Magazine  
   

December 2011 Table of Contents

 
 

A Call to Prayer - India
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India is the world’s second most populous country, with 1.2 billion people. It prides itself to be one of the oldest civilizations with the world’s oldest religion – Hinduism. Ever since Great Britain colonized that part of the world in the nineteenth century, the Christian world has been sending missionaries to India. After two hundred years of mission efforts, only two percent of India is Christian – really Catholic. Protestantism is nearly nonexistent. We have to admit that the efforts to evangelize India have been unsuccessful.

 

What is the cause? What do we know about the Indian culture and religion? After all, other Asian countries have been successfully made Christian. Hinduism, deeply intertwined with the Indian culture and traditions, is a way of life that believes in nonviolence and sanctity of life.  This reaches to the extent of not killing animals. Therefore, the majority of the Indian population is vegetarian. This has been the Indian way of life for centuries.

 

How do we appear to them? As blood thirsty and cruel Westerners. We don’t even have to mention the violent history of Christianity. Our meat-eating culture is outright disgusting to any Hindu. For centuries, there has been nothing that our Western culture could offer to Hindu India, nothing that would be appealing to the Indian eyes.

 

Globalization

Today, we live in a global world and India can’t escape it. Under the weight of globalization, Hinduism suffers serious wounds, and there is nothing to replace it. Retail outlets such as McDonald’s and KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) are mushrooming in large Indian cities. These establishments serve mostly a vegetarian cuisine, but chicken products are also offered. Only very few Western fast food chains, at selected locations frequented by tourists, dare to sell beef burgers. This is still a taboo in the Indian society that believes in the sanctity of the cow. Children from well-to-do families are discovering these Western fast food outlets and beg their parents to buy them a treat. By the time they are in high school, they go there alone and taste chicken for the first time in their lives. When mom asks at home, “What did you have for lunch today?” teenagers reply, “Oh, I ate at the school cafeteria” (always vegetarian). The reality is that the student stopped by McDonald’s for chicken nuggets. This is such a taboo in the Indian society that young people would not dare to tell the truth at home. They could be literally disowned by their families.

 

There has been a significant Indian immigration to the United States in the past 20 years. These new immigrants are young, educated, and successful. Mingling with them, you find out that some of them eat meat. When questioned about it, they answer: “Yes, I started eating meat when I came to the United States because the vegetarian options were so limited. I could never tell my parents; they would be devastated and could disown me.” Meat eating, even in today’s Indian society, is a taboo that a Westerner cannot imagine.

 

India’s young people are discovering other lures of the Western world as well, and are starting to question their Hindu traditions. What missionaries could not achieve in centuries, globalization has achieved in one single generation. As a result, India’s young and educated population in large metro areas is no longer traditionally Hindu, at least not to the same extent as their parents. Young people hold so many secrets from their parents that Western teenagers pale in comparison. Indian young people do have deep, culturally ingrained respect for their parents, which causes their parents to be even more in the dark, simply because their children would not tell them about any of their new Western vices. The worst and most offensive vice of all? Meat consumption.

 

All this has been happening because young people in India want to be like Westerners. They admire fast food outlets on television, and now in their own backyards. They want to watch the same movies, live the Western way of life. Once they are college age, they question everything else, including their Indian values and religion. When I talk to India’s young and educated, they want to know why America has been such a successful country, especially when America is such a young country. I explain to them that America has been founded on the principles of Christian Protestantism. They are curious and want to know more. Many of their parents have never even spoken to a Westerner. Yet, these Indian young people in the United States are the brains of today’s American software companies. These young people are open minded and hungry to learn. Most of them don’t know much about Christianity, but they want to learn, they want to know. This is in sharp contrast to their parents who shun everything Western. Because we live in a global world, the young people in India are not any different from their Indian peers in the United States. They also travel, are globally minded and want to know who Christians are. Moreover, they want to be like them.

 

What do we do about it? It is now or never that we have the chance to explain the gospel to them. Such opportunities happen only once in centuries, and the Christian world has the chance of a lifetime. As other Asian countries became Christian, such as South Korea, for example, the result was a sharp increase in development, because people adopted Protestant work ethics. As Christian values will be adopted by the Indian young generation, India will flourish as well. But someone has to tell them about the gospel, about Protestantism, about Adventism. The vineyard is ripe, but the workers so few. Make it a matter of your prayer; the time to reach India is now.

 

Extra bonus

As Adventist Christians, we have an extra bonus up our sleeve—the health message. Imagine, for someone from the vegetarian society of India, what version of Christianity can possibly be more appealing than Adventism with its health message? This health message can bring down walls even with the older conservative generation, as the worst thing about Christians is that they eat meat. Becoming a Christian equals becoming a carnivore in the Indian eyes. And that puts up a big wall. The Seventh-day Adventists have more respect for the Indian diet than any other Christian religion. Every Hindu will shake our hand with no fear. The time to bring our message, including the health message, to India is now. Are we up to the task?

 

 

We all have special burdens on our hearts, most of which are common to many people. Let us share one another’s burdens and pray together for those things that are applicable to a whole group of people.

 

Please contact us with your requests by writing or emailing to: landmarks@stepstolife.org, so we can pray together to hasten the coming of Jesus and help others to be ready for that day.

 

December 2011 Table of Contents

 

       
 

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