Tag Archives: Hindu

But I Have to Respect my Mom

Lucien A. and I spent a bit of time spreading the gospel at the bus stops at Sheppard and Victoria Park this morning. Here is a summarized account of our discussion with a Hindu man whose god is his deceased mother. We’ll refer to him as H, Lucien as L, and me as P.

Context: He was puzzled by the bus routes so we approached him and helped him figure out what he needed to know; then the conversation went something like this …

P: I have a question I want to ask you: what do you think about Jesus? I’m a Christian. How about you? Do you have a religious background?

H: I’m Hindu, but my kids are baptised. I go to church sometimes, but I’m not baptised so I don’t take the sacraments.

P: So what do you think about Jesus?

H:  Well, I’m Hindu; but I believe in some Buddhism and some Christianity. So, I respect Jesus, but really, it’s my mother’s beliefs that I hold onto. What do you think about that?

P: Well, I’ll tell you what Jesus says. It’s not my opinion that really matters. He said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.”

H: I need to respect my mother and she wouldn’t want me to go another way. Isn’t it good that I respect my mother?

P: Well, it’s good for us to respect our parents, but in this case, you have to choose God or your mother. It sounds to me like you are putting her first. (He affirmed). I’ll read to you what Jesus says (I pulled out my little Bible and turned to Matthew 10). “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (I explained the passage briefly). What do you think?

H: I do believe in God.

P: But Jesus said that if you don’t honour him you do not honour the Father (who is God). And correct me if I’m wrong but it sounded like you want to honour your mother more than you want to honour Jesus.

H: At home we do have many gods, but it is the feet of my parents that we kiss. (He must have been referring to ashes is some sort of container or an idol attributed to them).

[a few minutes later]

L: Do you believe in heaven and hell?

H: Yes, I believe in both.

L: Well, if you believe in both, what is the way to avoid hell?

H: You must do good things. Those who do what’s right will go to heaven, but those who do what’s wrong will go to hell.

L: What about you? Do you ever do wrong things?

H: Yes, we all do. But If we are trying to do what is right we will be okay.

L: Yes, even if someone does what is right 99 times and then they do what is wrong they will be corrupted by their wrongdoing.

H: Yes, I agree.

P: Do you know what sin is?

H: Yes, it is doing what is wrong.

P: The Bible says that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s standards and his glory. Now, even though God is loving and gracious, he is also just. He will punish wrongdoing. So he will punish us for our sins. And that’s why Jesus came; he came to live in our place and die in our place, and he rose from the dead and is alive now. And (pointing to the Bible) this is his Word to us. He is calling us to believe in him – that he really lived a righteous life in our place and he died on the cross in our place, taking the punishment upon himself that we deserve for our sins. Yes, he was being punished for our sins, in our place. And he rose from the dead. He is alive. Jesus taught that this is the only way we can receive the forgiveness of our sins – it’s by believing in him, yes, fully trusting him and his work, his life and his death for us. This is from Jesus. It’s his Word. Do you believe Jesus?

H: Yes, I believe.

P: I’m confused. It sounded like just a few minutes ago you were saying that your mother is first.

H: Well, I believe both.

[bus was coming; I gave him my info]

H: Where is your church? (I explained). I will contact you if I’m having any problems.

P: Sure, and please call me or email me if you’d like to talk more; we can do coffee.

H: Okay.

L: thank you for allowing us the time to speak with you.

H: You’re welcome. Thank you too.

P: Yes, thank you. Have a good day.

Advertisements

Excuse me, Can I Ask You a Question?

Praise God for co-workers!

I was working at Starbuck’s last Friday and I left the store only to see my dear friend, Daniel Thabet, on his way in! What a kind providence! Even better, his appoinment was delayed and he was able to hit the streets with me – oh what a blessed joy to co-labour with dear brothers in the Lord! After some time in the 2 Timothy 1 and prayer … leaning on the Lord we went out.

Excuse me, can I ask you a question?

It is not everyday that I do this, but waiting for the walk sign to flash (at a cross walk) and feeling strongly compelled to speak to the man beside me, I asked, “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” He said, “sure.” “What do you think about Jesus Christ?” Smurking with a bit of chuckle, he replied, “That’s a pretty open ended question.” Open ended it was. But it lead to a very pointed and profitable discussion about the claims of Jesus Christ.

Respectful but lost 

He was a friendly Hindu. We talked for maybe about 15 or 20 minutes. I cannot recall exactly what he told me about Jesus, but he told me his plan – it was to live a good life in hopes that God will reward him accordingly. He suggested that all religions are similar. I agreed that many religions have many things in common, namely, do good. But when it comes to Jesus Christ, true Christianity is very different from everyother way (vastly different!). God gave me the grace to relay to him what Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) expect through me” (John 14:6).”

Being very respectful (and apparently interested), he wanted to hear more about “why?” Why is Jesus the only way? God gave me the grace to talk about our sin (Rom 3:23) and how we are all guilty before God. He was kind enough to give me time to explain how guilt cannot be removed by payback (good works). The pennies seemed to be dropping and he seemed quite agreeable, not only that we are all sinners, but that is a serious offense to sin against a Holy God.

Gospel

By the grace of God I was able to tell him, “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) … even more, to talk about the reconciliation we can have with God through Jesus Christ. He wasn’t in a rush. He didn’t have a Bible and he wanted one. So I gave him one. I also challenged him to seek God and the truth about Jesus Christ. I admonished him to seek God by reading the Scriptures and asking God to reveal Himself.

Oh that he might seek and find! But not only him. Me too! May we all be seeking Him at all times (Ps. 105:4). This entire discussion started with two questions: 1) Can I ask you a question? and 2) what do you think about Jesus Christ. Daniel and I were encouraged by how God answered our prayers t0 lead us to someone who would be open and willing to listen to the Gospel. Praise God!

A Couple of Huge Questions

A.W. Tozer argued that what you think about God is the most important thing about you. I agree … and add that a good question  put to ourselves and to others is this: what do you think of Jesus Christ?

One Huge Question

This past Saturday I talked to a man who told me he was Hindu and Christian. He was a kind man. We had a good conversation. At one point I asked him, “What do you think of Jesus – who is he?” He replied, “I don’t know how to answer that.” I followed up, “What thoughts come to your mind when you think of him? How would you describe him?” He said one word: “Saviour.”

This opened the door for me to talk about Jesus as Saviour. I explained that very reason Jesus came was to save us from our sins (Mt 1:21). We entered into the treasures of Matthew 1. We focused on Jesus as the Son of David. He listened as I explained the promise of a son who would be given to David. We considered how this Son of David would rule and judge the world. This led us to think about the judgement.

Another Huge Question

Earlier in our discussion he expressed his opinion that God would accept him (if he were to die today). But he also confessed that he has sinned. So, at this point I asked him about judgement: “How do you believe you will receive the forgiveness of sins?” He answered, “I’ve never thought about that.”

At this point the Lord gave me the grace to teach about sin, guilt and the forgiveness of sins found in Christ work on the Cross … but suddenly his bus arrived and off he went. My last words were simply encouragements to read the Bible (to learn more). May the Lord quicken him to do so … and I hope he grapples with those questions all the way to Christ. No one can be a true follower of Jesus Christ and a Hindu at the same time.

Gospel on the GO Bus

Late night on the GO

Recently, I was travelling from Toronto to Guelph on the GO bus. The trip was late at night. By the time we were getting close to the Guelph there was only one other passenger on the bus (sitting near the back). I was sitting right at the front . . . in a great spot for a conversation with the bus driver.

I did not feel like talking, BUT . . . 

I did not feel like talking. However, I sensed that it would be best to try to talk to the driver and hopefully spread the Gospel to him. Yet, I found a war being waged within myself, “Just read your Bible instead, it’s too awkward to say something to this guy.” But on the other hand, “Have faith in God, just say something; who knows what the Lord may do?” “No, he is going think you are weird; just read, that makes more sense.” Yet, “Why wouldn’t you try to evangelize; be bold, open your mouth and speak?” The war continued, but finally, by the grace of God, I spoke (praying much).

I opened my mouth

“So how long you been driving bus?” I forget the exact amount of years, but he said something like, “Ten years.” I said, “How do you like it?” He replied, “It’s good.” I said, “Do you always do this route or do they switch it up?” He responded, “They switch it up.” The small continued for a bit and that was it. Silence. Attempt made. Good little chat, no Gospel, but at least I tried. A little discouraging that the conversation ended so soon. But, I cannot force things – I guess the Lord was not opening the door. Or was He?

I sat in silence for a little while, wanting to say something, but having no idea what would be suitable to say. No longer we went without speaking the more weird I felt resuming the conversation. Finally, he passed a truck and said to me, “This truck was holding us up and all the traffic behind us, now we can go faster.”

I thought, “Wow, he said something! This is an open door to respond . . . somehow . . . in someway.” I said, “I notice you have an accent. Where are you from?” He said, “Sri Lanka.” “Really!” I replied. Then I went on to explain how I have friends from Sri Lanka. He found this interesting. I learned that has been in Canada for over twenty years now. I went on to ask him about his religion. He told me that he is Hindu though Sri Lanka is largely Buddhist.  

Talking about Jesus

I told him that I was a Christian and asked, “What do you believe about Jesus?” He did not really answer my question but assured me that he is not very religious and that religion has been the cause of great problems in the world, especially war. I agreed to this sad reality but told him that Jesus Christ came to give peace, to reconcile people to God. He seemed quite intrigued. [Now for those of you NT scholars, I know it is also true, in another sense, that Jesus also came “not to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34), BUT this is in reference to personal relationships with family . . . on the cost of following Jesus.]

I asked him, “Do you know the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” “No.” I asked, “Can I tell you what it is?” He said, “sure.” I started by explaining Genesis 1-3 (in summary fashion). I focused on how God is the Creator and that He created all things good. I told him how God created us to be with him. God was to be our God, we were to be his people and He was to dwell in our midst. But Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and this rebellion had deadly repercussions. I stopped and asked him if he understood what I was saying. He affirmed that he did. So I went on.

Romans 5 with people from the East

From this point I basically explained Romans 5:12-21. We talked about the difference between the individualistic culture of the West as opposed to the East. He agreed that the culture of Sri Lanka is much more familial. He seemed to have a clear understand of how the SIN of one family member serious affects the rest of the family. So, I explained Adam and Jesus as the two representative heads of mankind. If my memory is correct, I think I talked about the consequence for sinning against God, which is everlasting punishment. I talked about the guilt of our sin and how the entire human race is unable to somehow undo our guilt. It is too late.

Thus, I explained how God has shown his great love toward us in providing a way to be saved from our sin, guilt and punishment. He sent Jesus to be our representative in two ways. He came on our behalf, acting as a substitute, both in his (1) life=representative righteousness for us, and (2) death=representative bearing punishment for us.

From this point I explained how the only way to benefit from the work the Jesus has done on our behalf is being stopping to live our lives our way, and to turn to Jesus, putting all of our trust in Him and the WORK that HE HAS DONE on our behalf.

If my memory is correct, I think I stopped and asked him if he understood what I saying. Again, he said that he did. Sometimes I ask this often because it gives the person a chance to ask questions and to gain clarification on anything I said that may be unclear to them. Whatever the case, he really seemed to be listening and understanding (at least on an intellectual level). I asked him, “Have you ever heard this message before?” He said, “No, but it is good to hear this teaching.”

The Gospel is a message of command

I continued, “There is one more thing you need to know. This message is not just an option. The Bible says that God is commanding all people everywhere repent, that is, to turn to Christ (Acts 17:30-31), even you and me – all people. Everyone will face the judgement.”

A weighty feeling of intensity and awkwardness

At this point I could feel the intensity of our conversation. This was not a light conversation. I was telling him that God is commanding him to turn to Jesus Christ. There was a weight that I could feel in the air. I was uncomfortable. I was tempted to say something to lighten things up a bit. Possibly I could say, “Well that’s Gospel. Thanks for listening,” or “So, how many kids do you have?” or “Do you have a place where you meet with other Hindu’s for worship?” I often make the mistake of saying something to lighten things up at these really intense moments. This time God gave me the grace to let it sit. I endured the awkwardness and said nothing. Neither did he. I wondered what he was thinking – only God knows. That was it.

Eventually, we had some brief small chat when he dropped me off in Guelph. He was very friendly. I gave him a copy of the NT and a Gospel tract inserted. He was thankful for it. This is the ministry of planting. You never know what kind of ground you are planting on AND who God may send to water.

Praise God for His Grace

Praise God for shaking off my fears and giving me boldness. This evangelistic break through was because of God’s grace. I am thankful to God for this grace. I was filled with joy after sharing. People come to faith by hearing the Gospel (Rom 10:17). May the Lord give us the grace to keep spreading it!

Two Weeks Off, but Lots to Blog: Reflections from Alex P.

Two Weeks Off

Well, as an engaged man, I have learned that working full-time in evangelism, while trying to do a Master’s thesis is tough to say the least. There are some who could likely manage, but not me. I am thankful to the elders at Grace Fellowship Church (GFC) for giving me two weeks off to work on my thesis (the written part is due August 20th!). Accordingly, my 8 week internship has now become a 10 week internship. I will be working for GFC into the first week of September. 

But, even though I am officially off work, there is a lot of “unposted stuff” from the first 5 weeks – especially from co-labourers. Accordingly, this blog will continue to be active during my two weeks off. Furthermore, I am going to two weddings on my two weeks off – please pray that the Lord would open doors for the spread of the Gospel at these events . . . I will keep you posted.

The post below was written by my friend Alex P. (who I just met this summer). I just learned that he is the chaplain at Peoples Christian Academy. I was delighted to have him co-labour in the Gospel with Phil and I on Saturday afternoon. I was encouraged by his love for the truth, his sincerity, his boldness and his concern for the spiritual condition of people. He was certainly a blessing to me. I am thankful that he responded to my request to write a post – I hope that you will learn from him the way I have and that it will be an encouragement to you as well.

Reflections from Alex 

I have been asked by Paul to capture some of what happened on Saturday, August 1, 2009.  Having come to learn about Paul’s work, I faithfully tracked his progress through this blog and, with my wife, prayed for him and the advancement of the gospel in Toronto. 

Wanting to bless Paul, I asked if I might join him.  He graciously agreed and invited me to participate.  I met him that afternoon in the parking lot of Grace Fellowship Church.  He was accompanied by Phil.  Paul invited us inside to spend some time in the Word of God and in prayer.  We feasted on a sizeable portion of 2 Corinthians and digested some of the meal with each other – sharing any encouragements or insights from the word.  We prayed and sought the favour of the Lord on our preaching.

Upon leaving the church, we walked the short distance to the Islington Avenue.  Along the way, Paul shared about some of the residents in the homes we passed by.  It was evident that Paul was incarnating the heartbeat of his namesake when he wrote that he loved the Thessalonians so much that he not only the gospel with them but his life as well.

Hostility to Jesus

With ESV’s in hand, Christ in our hearts and the gospel on our tongues, we approached the bus stop where a half-dozen or so individuals stood.  Phil went to one direction while Paul and I approached an elderly looking gentleman.  When we introduced ourselves to the gentleman and asked him if he had heard of the 10 Commandments, he seemed to come alive with a spirit of contradiction.  Although I had difficulty understanding him at points and although the conversation seemed to spring from subject to subject, my overall impression is that this man found the judgement and punishment of God on some and not on others to be deplorable.  Let me explain.  This gentlemen informed us that he had trained for the priesthood but at some point abandoned it.  As such, he seemed to have a working knowledge of the Biblical narrative.  It was the story of God’s judgement against Ananias and Sapphira that seemed to upset him, especially in light of the fact that there were many others who were similarly disobedient but did not face a similar fate as they did.

His concerns were expressed with great force and certainly found a hearing.  We explained to the gentleman that Ananias and Saphira received what each of us deserved but God is gracious and does not treat us as our sins deserve.  Therefore, the dichotomy he feels is not a dichotomy between “fair” and “unfair” but actually between “fair” and “gracious.”  If God treats us as our sins deserve he is only being fair.  Ananias and Sapphira experienced God’s fairness.  We, who have not experienced that, are enjoying God’s grace.

During our conversation this gentleman worked himself up to the point where he bombastically declared that Jesus was the “worst sinner in hell.”  The comment flattened me under both confusion and fear – fear for him for carelessly blaspheming Jesus and confusion in regards to the source of his conviction.  I asked him how he could support such a statement.  He admitted he could not support it at the moment.  To this, we encouraged him to read the 4 gospels again and reassess his view of Jesus.  The bus arrived and Paul offered him the New Testament to read. 
I pray that God would lead this man to repent and that the beauty and purity of Jesus Christ might dazzle him.

Talking to a Hindu: “I am happy with my religion”

After he boarded the bus, Paul and I approached a younger gentleman, seated on the ground who was waiting for a bus.  At first he did not seem interested in speaking to us but as we sat down beside him, on the grass, it seemed that he opened up more and more.  He shared with us that he was happy with his religion, Hinduism, and that he was using it to find peace in his life.  Asked how he was achieving this peace he said “meditation.”  I shared with him that true peace is found through mediation, not meditation.  Because of our sin and rebellion, the wrath of God is upon us.  However through the mediation of God’s son, Jesus Christ, who bore the wrath of God on the cross, we can enjoy peace with God.

This gentleman agreed with us until we mentioned Jesus Christ as the only means of having peace with God.  He said that “Jesus” was the same as Allah, Ram and Krishna.  We explained that a real 20 dollar bill and a Monopoly 20 dollar bill had some superficial similarities – they were rectangular in shape, green in colour and had a 20 printed on them.  However, these superficial similarities paled in comparison to the substantial differences: one was real, the other was not.  We hoped to continue sharing with him but his bus arrived and he departed.

My prayer for this gentleman is that the excellence of Jesus Christ would loom large in his life and that the false gods with which he is associating Jesus would be revealed for what they are: worthless idols.

Evidently Interested: This Man Let the Bus Pass Twice!

Paul, Phil and I recollected and spent some time in prayer for the individuals we had met.  Afterward, I joined Phil and approached a middle-aged couple.  I led the conversation asking if he knew the 10 commandments.  He named 2: do not murder and do not commit adultery.  We read through the commandments from Exodus and asked him if he had violated any of them.  I was surprised by his sincere but negative response.

We informed him that according to God’s word, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.  Furthermore, the wages of our sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.  This gentleman was sincerely interested in what we were sharing with him, although the woman with him seemed correspondingly uninterested.

He inquired about why a person could not simply obey the law in order to gain salvation.  I explained to him that if I did good for the sake of impressing God or earning His favour, then the good things that I was doing would be shot through with selfish motivation.  Thus, they would not be good.  The only way that we could be free to do good for “goodness’” sake is through the gospel.  For, in the gospel, Christ earns the favour of God through His obedience, even unto death.  Now, the favour of God is upon the repentant believer in Jesus.  That believer now can actually go out and do good without the nagging ambition of trying to impress God.

The gentleman seemed intrigued by this and let not just one but two buses pass.  He was genuinely interested in the gospel and its relationship to works of righteousness (though he did not use that term).  He wanted to know what place obedience had in relationship to the gospel.  I explained to him that true obedience was the product of faith in Christ.  Obedience to the law was a good way to live but a terrible way to be saved for only one person could ever and has ever accomplished it – Jesus Christ.  We warned him to not build his life on the platform of his own obedience but on the platform of Jesus’ obedience for the former will crumble but the latter is strong.

His final issue concerned the exclusivity of Christ.  How could we claim Christ as the “only” way when there were so many other religions available?  We asked him how many numbers there were.  He replied “billions.”  (In fact it is significantly more than that already large number.)  We asked then asked him, how many of those numbers answer the equation 2 + 3.  He replied “only one.”  Similarly, while it is true that there are many religions and religious teachers, there is only one who adequately addresses the problem of sin – Jesus Christ.

The gentleman was sincerely grateful for the chance to discuss these matters with us and told us that he had a KJV at home. It is my prayer that if he has not already done so, he would take the Bible he already possesses and feast on it. After this conversation, our time had come to an end.  We returned to the church’s parking lot where we sought the Lord’s favour on our efforts and asked that God would bring revival to our city.

Grace Chapel’s Childrens Outreach: Week #2

The Gospel was proclaimed again! Thursday evening was another beautiful night at the park area of Lincoln Alexander School in Markham! I was delighted to co-labour with many of the saints from Grace Chapel. This evening was very different than week #1, for we had more kids to minister to (which was great!), but not nearly as many adults to interact with afterwards.

We started the evening program with a boys versus girls game (and the caterpillar competed as well!). The kids solved a word puzzle, which read, “God’s Power Points to Christ.” God’s Power is the second P that points to Christ in our summer series in Exodus: Exploring Egypt to Sinai: 4 P’s that Point You to Christ! Here is a picture of the word puzzle by the end of the game (which the boys won this time!):

gc.boysvsgirls.w2

Thereafter, Daniel S. taught a truth using a trick. He taught that God has power over all things in the universe. He is the one who holds all things together. Here is a picture of the climax of his trick (how is he holding up the pole?!!):

 gc.danieltrick.w2

Mary K. led us in a really fun and dramatic song again! Afterwards, I preached the Gospel using the sketchboard. Here is a picture of me preaching Christ from the Passover:

gc.mepreachingcross.w2

In our first week, we had around 6 to 8 kids (or so). By the grace of God, this time we had around 15! Here is a picture of what the final sketch looked like (the title was supposed to say “God is Powerful to Save!”):

gc.finalpicture.w2

In the first square (top left), I taught about God’s power displayed in the the first 9 plagues in Egypt. I explained how each of the plagues represented that God was more powerful than the Egyptian false gods. We talked about the fact that we too have false gods. In the second box (top right) I explained how we are like Pharaoh in that we have sinful and hard hearts like him (with a host of our own false gods). I taught that “we want to be the kings and bosses of our lives,” but that such sin is the reason why we die. Just like Pharaoh deserves death, we deserve death.

In the third box (bottom left), I described the plague of the death of the firstborn. We looked at the Passover and how the firstborn sons of Israelites were saved by the blood of the lamb.

Thereafter, in the last box, I preached on God’s power displayed in the parting of the Read Sea. This was a great way to talk about how God can save us from our sins. Thus, I went back to the third box and painted the Cross, preaching the Gospel and emphasizing how God’s power points to Christ and how Christ is powerful to save us from our sins.

Though we were not able to have many conversations with adults afterwards, Pastor Habib was able to give a NT to a Hindu man who allowed his two children to enjoy our entire kids club because “it is good for them to learn more about Jesus.” This man listened to the entire message himself! Praise the Lord for his glorious Gospel – may it spread throughout all of Markham.

Week #3 (of our 4 week series) is this Thursday night at 7:30!