MARG Network

Review of Christian Barriers to Jesus

Editor’s Note: We are excited about the recent release of Dr. Paul Pennington’s book, “Christian Barriers to Jesus”. You can get a copy through the William Carey Library, Amazon, Pothi (India Only), and even Walmart :-). Follow with Paul here.    Dr. Paul Pennington has written a valuable book about the Christian-Non-Christian interface in India….

Disciple Making Among Hindus – Review by HL Richard

Editor’s Note: We’ve featured this book earlier, but wanted to also share this review from HL Richard.    Disciple Making among Hindus: Making Authentic Relationships Grow by Timothy Shultz (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2016) reviewed by H. L. Richard This book is short and in simple and clear English directly makes its points; yet it…

Keep Bhajans Close to Your Heart

Songs have been an essential element in the life of the individual disciple and in the life of the local congregation. Songs stir up a person’s heart to adoration of God. They also have a powerful influence on gathering a group of people together and developing a unified spirit of worship. The Bible clearly reflects…

The Value of Language Learning

During most of my time walking alongside international students from all over the world, I have told others how wonderful it is to not have to worry about learning another language. Since international students have to demonstrate proficiency in English prior to coming to the U.S., I can communicate with them in English. I had…

All Paths Lead to the Same Destination

As I visited an older Sikh gentleman in my California city we discussed a number of topics, but were focused mainly on the Bible, Christ, and his Sikh family and traditions. He was familiar with Christianity from his days living in Punjab, India, and was very positive about it. He even seemed to portray himself…

Book Review of Disciple Making Among Hindus

  Disciple Making Among Hindus. Timothy Shultz. William Carey Library, 2016. pp. 136.   Tim Shultz’s recently released book, Disciple Making Among Hindus, should quickly become the default introductory book for anyone who wants to walk alongside Hindus as they explore a relationship with Jesus. This is an extremely accessible book for people just beginning…

Visa Wives – Book Review

Visa Wives: Emigration Experiences of Indian Women in the USA By Radhika M. B. Gurgaon: Penguin Random House India, 2016, pp. 332 + xxv Reviewed by H. L. Richard This book seems to be for and about Indian women but is very highly recommended reading for Americans who are interested to befriend Indian women in…

Default Christianity

As Christians first interact with Hindu believers practicing their faith in contextual ways, some see a problem with it. When bhaktas chant, wear a tilak, light lamps, etc., some people begin to question whether it is ‘right’. For these people, they feel it would be much safer to stay with the default version of Christianity,…

Do You Have the Right Spirit to be an Alongsider?

Recently I read an article from Hinduism Today where the Hindu author described a fairly common Christian practice at universities. Christians are taught to befriend Hindus and then try to get them increasingly connected to Christian activities, then Bible studies, then eventually conversion. “The subtle conversion program,” he opened, “which Christians call ‘friendship evangelism’ is…

Review of The Other One Percent

  In The Other One Percent: Indians in America, published late in 2016, three Indian American professors make a case that the immigration of Indians to the U.S. is unmatched in history by any immigrant group coming to any country in the world. Their data and observations confirm what many experience as they encounter increasing…

Bible Studies in Hindu Contexts

As with most things when Christians walk alongside Hindus, the use of scripture is as complex as it is vital. It is complex because Hindus interpret what they read in the Bible without any Christian assumptions. But it is vital because their experience of Jesus needs to be clarified by the truth of the gospel…

23 Characteristics of Jesu Bhaktas

The term ‘bhakta’ means ‘devotee.’ I use the term ‘Jesu Bhakta’ to refer to a devotee of Jesus who follows Jesus on a path in accordance with traditional Hindu beliefs and practices. There are many statistical and sociological research studies of this phenomenon.1 Some estimates say there are around ten million nationally. Jesu Bhaktas primarily…

Teaching Biblical Concepts in Hindu Contexts

The following is a slightly edited excerpt taken from HL Richard’s article entitled “Cultivating Reticence” (available here).   This paper is suggestive rather than prescriptive and seeks to introduce a change of perspective in those who seek to convey biblical teaching to Hindus. Four core issues in biblical understanding will be briefly considered. Thinking and…

Can I Say “Merry Christmas” to a Hindu?

Over the holidays, a friend called me and asked if she could say “Merry Christmas” to a Hindu business client. She was worried that she might unknowingly offend him.   Another friend wrote and was puzzled what to say to a Hindu work colleague who regularly visits synagogues, churches, and Hindu temples. The colleague was…

Rooted or Uprooted?

This is a summary of Herbert Hoefer’s article entitled “Rooted or Uprooted:  The Necessity of Contextualization in Missions” (Int’l. Journal of Frontier Missions, July-Sept. 2007).   In a previous article, I discussed the authorization the first church council gave for contextualization. Yet, we see in the biblical account that this decision did not settle the matter…

5 Ways to Ruin a Relationship with Your Hindu Friend

Hindus are a very socially tolerant and forgiving people. Many alongsiders can tell endless stories of how they have been forgiven for a major faux pas. However, like all people, there are certain things that are harder to swallow than others. Most of these will look like simple cultural differences on the outside, but that…

Is Maha Prasad the Same as The Lord’s Supper?

Many in the traditional churches of India and the West have been offended by the celebration of the Maha Prasad among Jesu Bhaktas. This criticism has arisen because of a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Maha Prasad is. It is not a celebration of the Lord’s Supper; it is its own thing.   Christian Views…

Kalagara Subba Rao

Kalagara Subba Rao (1912-1981): Christo-Centric Avoidance of Church and Christianity K. Subba Rao was a Kamma from Andhra Pradesh. He grew up as a cynic against religion and led a rebellious life against religion and religious leaders. He managed to get an education and a job as a teacher, and married in 1937. His dissolute…

The Song of the Heart

Click here to order copies of Song of the Heart.   Within the MARG network, we are continually looking to learn from Hindus who live as disciples of Jesus. One such person is Dhanjibhai Fakirbhai, a Gujarati Hindu who converted to Christianity in the mid-20th century. Fakirbhai was a very educated man. He was a physicist…

Manilal C. Parekh

Manilal C. Parekh (1885-1967): Moving beyond the Church, Christianity and Christo-Centrism   Manilal C. Parekh was a Gujarati from a family that was traditionally Jain, but his father converted to Vaishnavism and Krishna bhakti. Through a friend he became attracted to Christ by reading The Imitation of Christ. When he learned about Keshab Chandra Sen…

What is an Alongsider?

Editor’s Note: We have adopted the term ‘Alongsider’ to describe someone who wants to help Hindus explore what devotion to Jesus means. The foundation for this term comes from a paper written by HL Richard, which in turn was based on a paper by John and Anna Travis. You can read HL Richard’s complete article…

Narayan Vaman Tilak

Narayan Vaman Tilak (1868-1919): A Christo-Centric Move beyond the Church and Christianity When Ramabai published the first collection of Christian bhajans she included a few of her own publications but relied mainly on the work of Narayan Vaman Tilak. Tilak grew up under the influence of the Marathi bhakti saints, known to the world through…

Pandita Ramabai Saraswati

Editor’s Note: This continues our series on biographies of Hindus of the past who joined the Indian church. Living with the Tension of Conflicting Heritages Pandita Ramabai’s story is widely known, but has also been surrounded with myths and exaggerations. This brief account will try to clear some of the fog and raise some of…

The Best Friends are Vulnerable

When we think about making new friends cross-culturally, it is important to come into the relationship as a learner. You have to put everything aside that you already know or think you know as you step into this new friend’s life. I am reminded of how Jesus approached Zaccheus in Luke 19. Zaccheus was a…

The Story of Naaman: Life Among Other Gods

Can you live as a bhakta of Jesus as part of a group that worships other gods? Does your very presence in these worship contexts compromise your devotion? Can you participate in family and community religious functions even when others know you don’t believe as they do? Is it better to feign participation to avoid…

Kali Charan Banurji

Editor’s note: We are starting a series of five brief but very interesting and significant biographies of Hindus from the past who joined the Indian church.    Kali Charan Banurji (1847-1907): Restarting the Church in the Hindu Context Kali Charan Banurji was a Kulin Brahmin Bengali who was born in Jabalpur in M.P. where his…

20 Ways to Give a Warm Welcome to a Hindu

Whether it’s the family next door, a new coworker at the office, or a mother you see routinely at the local library, many people have trouble making an initial connection with newcomers, especially if that person is from a different culture. You want to be polite, but you can’t seem to get much beyond “Hello.”…

Counting Hinduism

Editor’s Note: This article is one of the best answers to the very tricky question, “What is Hinduism?” It is a great foundation for any Alongsider’s understanding. It originally appeared in the Journal of Advent Mission Studies and is republished here with permission. Richard, H.L. “Counting Hinduism.” Journal of Adventist Mission Studies. 9 no. 1…

But God Commanded It (Acts 15)

What Commands to Obey? The Bible is full of God-given commands. There are 613 commands in the Pentateuch, all of which are taken seriously by pious Jews. But Christians have tended to dismiss the ceremonial and civil laws, with only the moral Old Testament laws accepted. “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4)…

Why You Shouldn’t Invite Your Hindu Friend to Church

As the gospel has moved into different cultures, it has adapted. The core message of Christ puts on flesh and blood and incarnates in different ways into different societies.   Christianity in North America Most modern evangelical North American churches have these hallmarks: The defining criteria of community is geographic location Teaching is systematic and…

The Importance of Remaining a Learner

You don’t know anything. This is the single most important mantra to keep in mind when you are walking alongside Hindus. With every interaction, you start at zero. Every person is unique and has an individual story. What you learned from a previous interaction may have absolutely no application with the current person you are…

What It’s Like to Be a Hindu Indian Student

  I recently visited some Indian students at their campus. Many Indian students live in apartments close to their college or university because dorms are relatively expensive. Also (and potentially more important), dorms don’t normally have individual kitchens that can be used for cooking Indian dishes, which is essential for life far from home. I was…

2 Essential Principles for Establishing Relationships

Over the past few years I have talked with a number of believers who wanted to engage with Hindu co-workers, neighbors, or students. Many of them get acquainted and then rush into a Bible study as soon as possible. Within a short time, the friendship diminishes and the relationship has no foundation. The urge to…

Reading List for Hindu-Christian Interactions

Understanding Hinduism Papers: “The Cultural Core of Hinduism” by Timothy Paul (link) “Religious Movements in Hindu Social Contexts” by H. L. Richard (link) Comparing Hindu movements with Christ-movements “Religious Syncretism as a Syncretistic Concept: The Inadequacy of the “World Religions” Paradigm in Cross-Cultural Encounter” by H. L. Richard (link) Moving away from seeing Hinduism as…