Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Went to a Store and Could Have Bought My Own False God

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.

6 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Wow! What an awesome opportunity! We have been amazed at the opportunities to God has given us to interact with people who need to know of his love. We've met neighbors in the check-out line at the grocery store. We've come to know the owner of a local restaurant. We're meeting parents and coaches on Jeremy's football team. God has put us here for a reason, just as he has placed you exactly where he has you for a reason. What a mystery! And how amazing!

-Alan

Eric said...

Alan,

It does seem like if we are willing and open, God will bring us all into contact with those who need to hear the gospel.

I'm excited for your new opportunities, especially in your neighborhood.

Eric

elder's wife said...

Eric-
Are you aware of SIM's cross-cultural ministry here in the US? Friends of ours, Lynn & Sylvia Haines, work with SIM in Charlotte, NC. The following link will give you some contact information on them if you'd like to know more. http://www.maranathabible.org/missions/haines.htm
They've had wonderful opportunities to reach out to ex-pat foreign nationals from a multitude of countries through their ministry here Stateside.
Over 25 years ago, I got to know a family from Laos when I volunteered to teach them English just after they moved down the street from my house. God truly does bring the "mission field" to our own doorsteps when we are willing to look out the door.
Kat

Eric said...

Thanks Kat,

I'll take a look at the site you gave me.

Your ministry to the Laotian family is exactly what I am talking about. We are clearly no longer just a white country (as if we ever where). More people from more cultures are piling into the USA every day. I am convinced that if we are open to ministering to them, God will bring us into contact.

Eric

Anonymous said...

Eric,

I was thinking of this in light of the 40 Filipinos who have just arrived in Savannah to teach this year. They are all living in the same aparptment complex. What an opportunity. Any ideas on the best way to go about it?

Mom

Eric said...

Without knowing much about the situation, I would say that the best way to start would probably be to just try to get to know a few of them at school. People are much more willing to listen to the gospel from a friend. Maybe it could be another Lara-like situation for you. Also, some of them may already be Christians. You could encourage them. I'm sure that an invitation to your home to any of them for dinner would be well received.

Eric