For missions and evangelism class, I came up with an interesting assignment and I wasn't sure how it would go, but God blessed it! I will tell you how in a minute. Each student individually, or in pairs, had to go and try to talk to a Hindu person in town. While there are some Indians in Kenya who are Christian, by far the vast majority are Hindu and they are one of the unreached people groups in Kenya. Unfortunately, there is a very bad relationship between most Kenyans and most Indians, without much mutual respect. I've seen Indians look down on and treat Ugandans very badly as well. But like everyone else, they need God's love, they need the Gospel. Unfortunately, most Christians don't ever bother trying to talk to them (myself included most of the time). And my students, like most Kenyans, are very afraid to talk to them.
The assignment in summary was that the students had to go find an Indian, a Hindu person, and talk to them. They could offer to pray for them, or try to share their faith, but most of the students chose the basic option of telling the Indian that they were doing an assignment and needed to learn about their beliefs, about Hinduism. They talked to people that they happened to be walking by, or people working in shops, and other places. I told the students to be very gentle, very loving, very humble, and very respectful if the Indians told them they did not wish to discuss. I know the students followed this instruction carefully. In the process, they were able to build relationships with Indians, and learn about the beliefs of Hinduism. This is a picture of the students who did this assignment, even though it is a photo taken during Sara's farming class.
Unfortunately, some of the students' fears were validated. About half of the students were rejected. Some students tried to talk to as many as four different Indians, and each time were rejected. Sometimes it was just that the person was too busy working, but other times people shouted at my students to go away. One shop owner accused the students of being thieves and threatened to call for security. But they left so that threat was not carried out. Another student in a different situation was slapped hard across the face, and he ran out of the place in fear and embarrassment. But for this student, he was a witness for Christ by not returning violence with violence. For these students, I thanked them for their courage, and we talked about how the work of mission involves suffering and at times rejection, and that they are following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul who was also rejected.
But about half the students were not rejected, which is awesome because they expected that all of them would be rejected. Two students were able to talk to a shopkeeper, after waiting for two hours for him to finish with customers. They were able to hear about his beliefs, but he also let them share about their Christian faith. One of these two students was even able to share his testimony, how he used to worship idols, but how now he is a worshiper of Christ. The Indian man even let them pray for him. They hope to go back again and keep getting to know him.
Two other students were able to talk to a salesman who was very interested in their Christian faith. His boss would not allow him to keep talking, but he was so interested that he gave them his email address, and they will continue talking over email.
Another couple of students talked to a different salesman for a long time. For some reason, he did not want to tell them about his beliefs, but he was very interested in hearing what they believed. They were able to tell him all about their beliefs and go through the whole Gospel message with him. He was very attentive, and they hope to go back to talk to him again and keep building the relationship.
My favorite story though, is of another student who alone talked to an Indian man. My student was working at the time, but the Indian came to the shop and they got to talking. He allowed my student to make an appointment with him at a hotel for the next day. They met and talked for a long time and both were able to share their beliefs with one another. The Indian was suspicious of who gave such an assignment. He apparently said that he could not imagine it was a Kenyan who gave such an assignment. He expressed that he was very grateful for such an assignment, and he wished that more Christians and Hindus could come together in love and peace to discuss their different beliefs. This Indian man also expressed that it's very hard to go against his culture, and that there would be consequences in the family if someone was to become a Christian - they would become rejected and isolated. My student then shared his personal testimony about how he also previously would put culture first and shared how his tutor (me) helped him to realize how Jesus needs to come first before everything else in his life (see this previous post). After their talk, the man let the student pray for him. Incredibly, he even expressed a wish to get together all of his extended family, and have the student come and continue the discussion about Christianity and their Hindu beliefs, with that whole group of family together. You can please pray about this. My student is going to try to follow up (he has the man's number), and try to make this happen. If it works out, I plan to travel to Nairobi and join my student in this if I am welcome, so that he is not alone for it.
Pray for all of these students as they follow-up! God has used their willingness and courage to make a change. Even if these Indians don't come to faith, this assignment is building bridges of peace among Kenyans and Indians. But also pray that God would work in the hearts of these Indians, that they would come to know God's love, and come to know Christ and the salvation that is found only in him!
Again, these are the students you are praying for as they follow-up: