EDITOR'S NOTE: In a third article about how to share Christ with friends of another faith, seminary professor Jeff Brawner focuses on sharing Christ with Hindus. Friday's article focused on witnessing to Muslims; Thursday's article, on witnessing to Mormons.
CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP) -- If you've traveled most anywhere in the United States recently, you've likely had contact with a follower of Hinduism, a religion that is becoming a major factor on the American religious landscape.
Witnessing to Hindus can be daunting. A seminary student described his effort to reach out to a Hindu, saying, "They have all of those gods. I just felt ... helpless."
With 330 million gods, a Hindu's simple response can be, "How can we be wrong, if we accept that everyone is at least partially right?"
Still, increasing numbers of Hindus around the world are trusting Christ. The church in India now encompasses more than 70-million people, the world's eighth-largest Christian population.
To initiate sharing Christ with a Hindu, consider these three steps:
1. Befriend a Hindu. Invite your new Hindu friend to coffee or tea. Invest time in your new friend.
2. Avoid the urge just to be the person's friend. Take a leap of faith and talk about spiritual ideas as soon as possible. Mention how God has blessed you, so the person will know that you are a spiritual person.
3. Look for "spiritual clues" -- indications that God is working in the person's heart. If the person mentions thinking about spiritual matters, recognize that he or she might be open to a Gospel presentation. Seize the opportunity if it is available to take the bold step of presenting the Gospel to your friend.
In my book, "How to Share Christ with Your Friends of Another Faith," I give four different approaches to witnessing to a Hindu. For one of those, I asked "David S.," a veteran pastor who has served in India for more than 11 years, to describe his witnessing approach. Notice David's brief non-intimidating style. David looks for a person's needs and then shows how Christ meets those needs. Also, note how David constantly points his polytheistic friend to the only true God.
"I always start a conversation with the topic of my friend's family, such as his mother, father, wife, or children," David said. "I then continue the conversation by inquiring about their needs. I keep the conversation going until I find some place that isn't going well in the person's life.
"Whatever the stress in his or her life, I would ask, 'How are you feeling about it? Is it worrying you?'
"Whatever the specific needs, I express my concern and say, 'I believe in the One True God because He really loves me. I will pray for you. The One True God knows your problem and knows about you.'
"Then I say, 'Would you mind if I pray with you right now?' I would bow my head and clasp my hands in a posture of prayer. If my friend is a man, I will put my hand on his shoulder and pray RIGHT THEN for that need.
"With that prayer I have ministered to my friend immediately. Then I think of a story in the Bible that would match his dilemma.
"After relating the Bible story, I tell my friend, 'But all those blessings did not make me a true believer. Those were a kindness to me from the One True God.'
"I might give my friend an opportunity to give his life to Christ; however, I probably will wait to do so. Why? I wait, generally, because he still will have to deal with many issues such as idolatry and polytheism. You don't want to rush the process."
David's approach is simple and reproducible. Start now to pray about finding a Hindu friend with whom you can share Christ.
Jeff Brawner is chairman of the department of missions and assistant professor of missions, theology and church history at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tenn. His book, "How to Share Christ with Your Friends of Another Faith," is available at www.hannibalbooks.com and such online sites as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.