Last week Alice and I found out that there is a small Indian store in the middle of Savannah. Having lived in India for four months, we have developed a taste for Indian food. We were excited to be able to buy the ingredients needed to prepare tandoori chicken, pakora, chapattis, butter chicken, and more.
The store was difficult to find at first because it is tucked back in a small plaza. When I saw the name of the store, I should have known what to expect. The name is "Shivam." Well, Shiva is one of the main three gods of Hinduism, so I should have known that the store would sell more than just food.
As soon as we entered, we didn't feel like we were in the South anymore. The smells of the spices instantly transported us back to India. As we began to look around, we could see many of the foods we had missed. Then I looked to my left.
About 15 feet from me, I could see several statues of all-too-familiar false gods. Curiosity got the best of me, so I strolled over for a look. I'm not sure what the store owners thought about this, since I don't look at all like an Indian who might purchase a statue to take home to worship. Anyway, they had all the main false gods there such as Shiva (pictured above in the circle), Vishnu, Ganesh (the elephant headed god above), and Hanuman. Although interesting, I didn't purchase any.
What struck me about all this was that we were not in India. We were standing right in the middle of Savannah, Georgia. We were in the midst of the "bible-belt" no less!
This illustrated for me the fact that God is moving people into positions to hear the gospel. Yes, we do need to send missionaries overseas. However, what a wonderful opportunity we all have to reach out to lost folks in our communities. We should certainly share the gospel with people from our own culture, but let's also focus on those from other cultures who are increasingly living amongst us.
This task is certainly a difficult one; however, I can see many positives to the situation. For example, an Indian family in India will face great pressure from the Hindu-saturated culture to remain Hindu. If they are living in the USA, however, and are surrounded by at least a nominal Christian culture, they may be more open to the gospel.
Let's get to know our neighbors - those like us and those unlike us. If you have Latino neighbors, learn something about their culture and then try to befriend them. If your neighbors are Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Nigerian, Swedish, or Indian, then God must have put them close by for a reason.
May we all get to know those around us. It seems that God has brought the world to the USA for a reason. Wouldn't that reason be to hear the gospel?
I want to go back to that Indian store in Savannah. Yes, I want more Indian food, but I also hope to make some new friends.