Monday, September 21, 2009


A hand went up in the back of the room.

“Dr. Lewis, thank you for coming and telling us about India and things we should be aware of as we prepare for our [ten day] trip.  I found the things you shared with us about Hinduism and the Indian culture very interesting.  But….”

Ah, the dreaded ‘but.”  By the tone in her voice I could see this shoe fall the minute she started to speak. 

“…I was expecting you to help us with how we can share the gospel with the people.”

So, I said to myself, “What part of my lecture did she not understand?"  Each person in the room received an outline.  Part of that outline included these seven points:

  1. Do not criticize or condemn Hinduism.
  2. Avoid all that even hints at triumphalism and pride.
  3. Never allow a suggestion that separation from family and/or culture is necessary in becoming a disciple of Christ.
  4. Do not speak quickly on Hell, or on the fact that Jesus is the only way for salvation.
  5. Learn more about Hinduism and each individual Hindu.
  6. Share your testimony, describing your personal experience of lostness and God’s gracious forgiveness and peace.
  7. Center on Christ.

Expectations can be a messy thing.  Perhaps this dear lady expected me to give her the formula that is most successful in reaching people for Christ in Asia.  If there was such a formula (a) I would have been more than happy to share it and (b) the country would have a Christian population greater than 2% (c), the national church would be using it and therefore (d) less of a need for outsiders to come and evangelize.

The crux of this woman’s concern was in her statement that, “We are spending a lot of time and money for this trip and I want to make sure we are using these resources wisely.” 

I admire evangelists.  They are bold and sincere in their witness for Christ.  I must admit that I am convicted by my timidity and sometimes wonder if I am more like the faint hearted Peter who denied Jesus three times before a little teen-age girl than I am the bold and rash Peter who lopped off the ear of the man who came to arrest Jesus by night.  Is my timidity cowardice?  Is her boldness just another name for foolish religious zeal?

Expectations are often obstacles in learning.  Having an agenda is grounded in pride. Methods are easier to do than building relationships.  I felt badly that this person deemed I had wasted her Saturday morning, but there is only so much one can do in three hours.

To add to my outline I should state clearly,

  1. No one becomes a Christ follower except through the work of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Prayer precedes all conversions.
  3. Recognize that most people come to Christ, not always but more times than not, through a relationship that spans a long period of time.
  4. If being a witness and planting the seed of the Gospel is not enough, stay home.
Even with that addition I suspect there will still be a hand raised in the back of the classroom.