Summary: Your faith, what you have been taught, what you believe about God & His will for your life, makes all the difference in the way you act, in the values you hold dear, & in the standards that guide your life. (Powerpoints available - #116)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #116.)
A. Forty-five years ago Ethel & I became acquainted with Dr. Vijai & Pushpa Lall of India. The story of their family’s introduction to Christianity & their subsequent efforts to serve Christ in a very hostile environment is an amazing & thrilling one.
Dr. Lall died a few years ago, but the Mid-India Christian Mission which he & Pushpa established continues on as an ever-expanding witness in India & beyond.
The Mission now includes several hundred churches, a Bible College, two hospitals, numerous village clinics, two Christian schools with nearly 3,000 students, & a Media Centre which produces professional quality radio & television programs which are being used all over India and Southeast Asia.
In fact, so highly regarded is the work of the Media Centre that the government-sponsored Indian National Television network, during the Christmas & Easter seasons, has used some of the programs they produced about Jesus to show to the entire nation.
Over the years, Vijai & Pushpa have been guests in our home a number of times, & we had the opportunity to hear them speak again & again.
And the more we heard, the more we came to understand what it is like to be part of a very small Christian minority in a pagan land. Their spirit, their faith, their dedication & love for God & his people shone through every time they spoke.
But I was dismayed when he told how Christians were almost universally depicted as immoral people in Indian television & movies. In them, prostitutes, murderers, the dregs of society, are given Christian names, leaving the people with the impression that is what Christians are like. Is it any wonder that the average Hindu shuns contact with Christians?
The very idea that the media in India would deliberately present such a distorted picture of Christians & Christianity is terrible to imagine.
But wait a minute. How do most of our own movies & TV programs portray Christians? Christians are often pictured as simple minded, gullible fools, manipulated by hypocritical leaders.
Anyone "religious" is almost always pictured as a fanatic, eccentric, a pain to be around, & the laughing stock of the community. Isn’t that how Christians are generally portrayed in American movies & TV programs today?
B. Dr. Lall also talked about the Hindu belief in reincarnation, the belief that when people die they are reborn again into another life. And that the cycle goes on & on through countless rebirths or reincarnations.
Now most of us are already aware of that. But I’m not sure we realize the terrible effect that has on how many Hindus treat each other, especially how they treat those who are in need, or those who are suffering.
How come, when the world thinks about someone caring for the old & poor & sick in India, the name of Mother Theresa comes to mind? Why, when we hear of hospitals & orphanages in third-world countries, do we discover that they were almost always started by Christians seeking to help the helpless?
How come, when famine arises & people are starving by the hundreds of thousands, that Church World Relief, & World Vision, & IDES are names that pop up over & over again?
Are the people of India so callused, so unfeeling, so heartless that they don’t even care when people suffer? No, it is not that at all. The way they react is a result of what they have been taught & what they believe.
You see, their Hindu faith teaches that whatever blessings or sufferings they experience in life is a direct result of their previous incarnation. If they are suffering today, it is because they’re being punished by the gods for something that happened in their previous life.
So, a Hindu can walk right by terrible pain & suffering & not even consider helping, because to do so would be to thwart the punishment being meted out by the gods. The gods might turn against you, if you dared to interfere.
C. Now let’s leave India, & go to another subject that lies heavily upon our minds terrorism in particular, the kind so prominent in the Mid East.
We don’t want to be part of the conflict between Jews & Palestinians. We don’t want to be part of the unrest in Iran, but for years we have been treated with pictures of crowds, wild with hatred, screaming "Death to America!"
We didn’t want to be involved in what was happening in Iraq, but Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, & we found ourselves deeply involved there, too. You see, our nation knows about war. But we don’t understand terrorism.