During a time of door knocking around the streets of Auburn, I met S. He and his family had moved from Maharashtra relatively recently. He was keen to chat about God, but our conversation very quickly revealed his lack of assurance. S’s acts of ‘spiritual’ worship fell on the deaf ears of idols that meant he was always concerned about pleasing gods, without ever receiving any guarantee that what he was doing made any impact at all. India has more than a billion people who are impressively religious but to no avail. Many of these are people who do not know our Lord Jesus Christ and are therefore without security or hope. Many in India desperately need the gospel, and God has presented us with a new opportunity to minister to Indian brothers and sisters as they flood to Australia.
Before the end of his term as Prime Minister, Scott Morrison signed the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IA-ECTA), set to take effect in full force in the second half of 2022. In summary, this agreement will see a significant increase in the temporary migration of Indian citizens to Australian shores. Post-graduate university students and professional workers alike will begin moving into major cities in Australia. This will have an impact on the landscape of suburbs already teeming with sub-continental peoples, not to mention the nature of international student intake. With the huge influx of educated, young professionals from India arriving on Australian shores, are we ready?
Are we ready to come alongside our Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, and Jain neighbours and help them to walk on a journey to know Christ and all that he has done for them? Are we ready to tell them stories of Jesus’ power, authority, and lovingkindness? Are we ready to take the time to open up Scripture week after week, month after month, year after year? My experience has been that Indian friends have loved the opportunity to open up the Scriptures and hear about Jesus who has such authority over the spiritual world and yet who loves the littlest and most vulnerable. It is often a slow process of peeling back the layers of opposition to Christians (let alone the Christian message), yet my experience is that Jesus as he is revealed in Scripture is irresistible for those thirsting after a genuine relationship with God.
Are we ready to invest significant relational capital befriending young families around food and fellowship? Are we ready to love our sub-continental friends through acts of kindness, always ready to share the hope we have in Jesus in every season, at every opportunity? These acts of kindness are almost always relational, as so many Indian friends leave their familial comforts in order to brave new opportunities in Australia. Fostering genuine friendship and companionship becomes significant in building rapport as Christians in a Western country – especially with some of the current anti-Western sentiment propagated by Hindu nationalists in India. Even more significant is that the genuineness of our relationships speaks volumes about our motives. It is not that proselytisation is a matter of boasting, but that we love and care for our Indian brethren so much as to share the message of everlasting life.
And of course, are our churches ready to do the same as well? There will be very few geographical areas that won’t be impacted by the flood of Indian people. So we ought to prayerfully ready ourselves with hearts willing to learn, and resources to expend. We ought to be on our knees praying that God would be pleased to use us as clay jars to present his life-giving Word to people, that they might be gripped by the love and assurance of Christ, and turn to him for life to the full.
We ought to creatively consider how we engage with peoples with a polytheistic worldview, and an honour-shame or fear-power culture, to provide avenues to share the love of Christ. And we ought to consider afresh our understanding of church, and how we might welcome those from every tribe, tongue, and nation together under Christ. Might we challenge our seating arrangements, styles, sensibilities, understanding of fellowship over food during morning tea, and all else that might hinder our Indian brothers and sisters from seeing ‘God really among [us]’ as we gather at church (1 Corinthians 14:25).
join me in prayerfully preparing for this new opportunity to bear witness to
our Indian friends. Let’s pray that the Lord might save some, and that when they
return to India, they might go back with the gospel to save even more. Perhaps
one way to do this is to set aside Sunday 3 July this year, ‘Indian Christian
Day’, as a way to pray that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ might spread
like wildfire amongst Indian peoples, and that more and more Indians are raised
up to serve Jesus. To help with your prayers, you can use the Hindu Prayer Guide produced by Interserve Culture Connect.
 https://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/negotiations/aifta/australia-india-comprehensive-economic-cooperation-agreement and https://ministers.dese.gov.au/tehan/education-big-winner-india-trade-deal