LOS ANGELES – The Bishop of the Epsicopal diocese of Los Angeles has issued an apology to Hindus worldwide for what he called “centuries-old acts of religious discrimination by Christians, including attempts to convert them” reports India Abroad. The apology was given in a statement read to over 100 Hindu spiritual leaders at a mass from Right Reverend J John Bruno. The ceremony started with a Hindu priestess blowing a conch shell three times and included sacred chants.
This meeting was the result of a dialogue, started three years ago, between Hindu leaders and Rev. Karen MacQueen, who was deeply influenced by Hindu Vedanta philosophy and opposes cultivating conversions. “There are enough Christians in the world,” she said.
Each Sunday morning, Kumar sits in a folding chair, waiting for the rock band to start up, and the preacher to give a seeker-sensitve sermon. The chairs are partly filled, in a school gymnasium, just outside Washington, D.C.
He’s a small man, from Chennai, India, and here, in the rows for the audience, he’s part of someone’s Big Vision. Like many others, the church start-up has a visionary, who hopes it becomes the next Willow Creek, even hoping to buy 40 acres in suburban D.C. (Anyone got a half-bil for that?)
And Kumar, who’s 36, drives each day to his office job at Sun Microsystems, where he spends a lot of time checking urgent email from very far away.
Friday night, I walked with Kumar, and our mutual friend, Woody, to a crowded Whole Foods Market in Alexandria. I made a salad about four times bigger than his, but when we got back to the hotel room, it took him a couple hours to finish. I kept asking questions. He kept answering.
Kumar was on a crowded bus in Chennai, India. He heard God’s voice. “Unmistakably,” he says. I heard God say, twice, ‘Seek Me.’ That was it. Twice.”
Just “Seek Me”?
“Just ‘Seek Me’. And I knew it was God, but which God? I was Hindu. Was it Vishnu? Calli…? No idea. I just knew it was God. Somehow, I knew it. Unmistakable.”
And Kumar isn’t the gullible type. He has multiple advanced degrees in Aero Engineering and Physics, for starters, from the M.I.T.-equivalent in India.
He studied and researched, but just wasn’t satisfied that it was one of his familiar gods, and eventually found a friend with a Bible — a “good luck charm” — and traded a textbook for it. He started reading, got confused, but eventually was pointed to Jesus.
He became a Jesus-follower. Costly decision.
His parents weren’t happy. They scheduled an arranged marriage. Kumar met his wife-to-be on Friday, told her and his parents on Saturday about his Jesus decision, and got married on Sunday. “They thought it would blow over,” he says. It didn’t.
Six months later, there was an intervention. Her family, his family, neighbors, friends — 150 people strong — all telling him to repudiate his faith. He refused. His parents, fearing for their reputation, said he should leave the area immediately. They would tell everyone that he was dead.
A few years later, he went back to India. Kumar took his vacation from Sun, and headed over with no plan. He just went door-to-door, and told people about Jesus.
The first day, 45 people decided to become Jesus-followers. How’d THAT happen?
“I don’t know. I just went door to door, and neighbors would introduce me to others, and I was amazed.”
Kumar still takes his vacations, two weeks a year, and heads to India. But things have grown. From those first 45, and from his trips over the past seven years…
More than 100,000 conversions. 139 communities. More than 100 pastors. Model orphanages for children suffering from AIDS Schools for Dalit children, the lowest-of-the-low in India. Shelters for little girls, now rescued from prostitution. Food. Medicine. Jesus.
Read the whole thing. Seeing both of these stories on the same day, well …
“To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart.” — Wendell Berry.
What could be more mad than to be a Christian who doesn’t want to tell people about Jesus?
And yet … in the grand scheme of things, I’m far more like +Bruno than like Kumar.
Mea culpa. Kyrie eleison.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; prayer therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”— Luke 10:2