Here is the second part of my response to Jon Zens' article on a dialog between Missionary Cram and Red Jacket:
A classic example is the red dot on the forehead of an Indian woman. Many missionaries have insisted that this is removed when a woman becomes a believer because it is a Hindu tradition. But for an Indian woman to remove her red dot is the equivalent of asking a Western woman to take off her wedding ring. It is the symbol of her married status.
There is no reason to ask someone to abandon their culture when they become a follower of Jesus. In many nations, it is the same as giving up their nationality. All cultures have bridges to the Kingdom of God in their traditions and sacred writings. According to the Quran, no one can be a perfect Muslim (surrendered) without acknowledging the divinity of Isa Al Masih (Jesus). Victor Choudhrie, an apostolic church planter in India writes in his new Book of Insights, “The sacred books of the Magi talked about a star that would herald the birth of a King. This encouraged them to take a thousand mile ride on camelback across the desert. Similarly, God has put the “Unknown God” in Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and other sacred texts. So in them lie buried the secret keys for unlocking the minds of these people.” These keys or bridges can be used to lead a person to Jesus.
If Missionary Cram and associates had been sensitive to the culture of the people they were trying to reach, and if the settlers in America had demonstrated a lifestyle worthy of their claim to be followers of Jesus, the Indians might have responded very differently. In spiritual terms, we are still dealing with the effects of our betrayal of them.
But let us learn our lesson from this piece of history. As we reach out to different groups of people, whether that be here or in other nations, let us approach them with humility, seeking to learn from them and their culture rather than always insisting that we are right. And as we find pointers to Jesus in their culture and way of life, let’s use those to lead them to Him.
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6 replies on “What have we done? (part 2)”
“Similarly, God has put the “Unknown God” in Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and other sacred texts.”
How interesting. Isn’t this exactly what Paul tried to do when he evangelized to the Greek philosphers on Mars Hill in Athens? Paul didn’t try and tell them to disregard this inscription, instead he told them that it pointed to the one and true God.
I watched a video clip of an evangelistic walk with Heidi Baker (Iris Ministries) and a local Christian pastor in the middle east. They were sharing with a local muslim woman. Heidi beautfully made the point of loving the woman, and everything she was, while the local pastor was irritated that Heidi did not try to convince her of her need for a saviour while they were standing at her door.
He simply couldn’t see the need for love, pure and simple, as action from which the love of God could be demonstrated. He was trying so hard to convince her of her need for repentance. Love is a universal language, and the kindness of God, demonstrated by those who know Him, still leads people to repentance.
Don Richardson’s book the Peace Child shared alot about this very thing. It totally changed how I saw missions, other cultures and my heart toward evangelism.
I’ve always had a strong bend toward evanelism in my walk with God. when I read this book years back and saw Richardson at a missions conference, it really touched my heart.
I’ve recently read a fascinating book on this subject called “A Deadly Misunderstanding” by Mark Sijlander. He was a congressman whom God challenged to meet with Moslem leaders around the world. Fascinating!
I am from India and came to the Lord from a Hindu background. I have witnessed the red dot (called “Bindi”) issue from close – in fact my Mom decided to not give the Lord a chance, because she was asked to stop putting the “Bindi” if she accepted Him.
I blog about my unique perspective on my faith in Jesus, and especially this entry might shine some more light on what a traditional Hindu person is up against when making a decision to follow Jesus Christ – this is my own personal experience: http://noconversion.wordpress.com/2008/02/02/paying-the-cost/
Hi, I was very encouraged by what you said about non-believers abandoning their culture to follow Jesus. When I talk to Chinese Malaysians, they are distraught at the idea that they cannot hold joss sticks and worship their ancestors, if they choose to follow Jesus. Because in the bible we are to worship only God and no else. What would be your response?