I really enjoy sharing my Christian walk with people. Years ago I wanted to evangelise. I didn’t know what to do so I used my bus pass and boarded buses. Strategically I would sit near the driver and the stairs to the upper deck and then sing every Christian hymn or chorus I could think of. After a couple of days I was a greatly saddened that I had to abandon my mission as the bus drivers would drive past the bus stop without stopping to let me on. Needless to say, there were no reports of mass revival breaking out on the West Midland’s buses.
I decided to follow my passion by becoming a missionary. I’ve had a wide variety training and teaching on numerous methods and strategies to evangelise. While all taught me something, they were from a perspective very different from my own. So I would try to use techniques that were literally foreign to me. Finally, I realised that while that approach worked for a Western perspective it didn’t necessarily work from mine.
For me to try to theologically explain the gospel does not come naturally. I’m aware that part of this is cultural. I was born into a Hindu family. In Hinduism the rituals hold more importance than theology. There is an understanding theology will be learned along the way through discipleship.
Hindu rituals are not purely ‘religious’ as in prayer and worship. They’re present in daily life, as spiritual duty in fulfilling one’s role in everyday life in family, occupation and society. This reminds me very much of the approach Jesus used with his disciples.
So when I look at my reasoning behind my failed evangelism attempt, it was because I was trying to copy what I saw in church. I had no real idea how Christians behaved outside of church so I tried to mimic a church service on the bus. It took many years for me to build an identity as a British Gujarati Christian and through it my own way to share the gospel.
Through this process I’ve learnt that building relationships in line with my cultural understanding enables me to share the gospel in a genuine manner. Relationships hold a different significance in majority world cultures. They speak of acceptance and with time encourage discussion and even guidance on meaningful matters. The importance in this is the idea of gentle reciprocity that values living experiences and relationship, above a religious duty to convert someone.
My parents’ individual journeys to Christ spanned several decades. My mum had passed away before my dad accepted Christ. They both acknowledged that their journey began when a 22-year-old school teacher back in the 1960’s reached out to their children and befriended them, becoming a living example of Jesus.
Here are some thoughts I have found helpful in my approach to sharing Jesus.
- Genuine friendship is more important than theology.
- Do not presume to know what Hindus believe.
- Allow discussion on what it means to obey God. You will be surprised!