Question Text “|: I am born a Hindu (Brahmin). My family is a staunch Hindu one. Unfortunately, Hinduism has rampant caste system, in which our families believe. There are several (I mean hundreds) blind practices our families follow, and we are not allowed to question them! They expect us to follow these traditions and practices (including severe forms of untouchability, casteism, hypocrisy, so on) very obediently. I am very frustrated by such a religion. Just because we were born into it doesn`t mean we need to be in such a dark religion life long! This is where we need your help sir. All of a sudden, I felt being called by Jesus. I started reading more and more about Him, till I realized He has to be my Lord. His forgiveness, His love, His life – all these attracted me to Him. After several months of reflectioion, I am convinced that I should follow Jesus. The problem is I have none to guide me. It looks like I am alone in this journey. In particular, I am drawn to Protestantism. Can you please guide me in whatever way you think will help me? What all should I do in this transformation?
I have some specific questions too: 1. I will be staying with my parents (who are staunch Hindus) for 1 year. So in this 1 year, I cannot take any `visible` steps towards Christianity. I really want to be a Christian, and be proud about it. And I don`t want to hurt my family. If I tell them about my becoming a Christian, they will disown me and get deeply hurt. I am so confused about how to manage this situation. And right now, is there anything I can do without getting baptized? I am not a scripture oriented person. I just want to lead my life as Jesus taught. Can you please suggest me a simple lifestyle till I get baptized? 2. I want to know why there are denominations within Christianity and specifically in Protestantism. 3. There is a Protestant Church in our city (Bangalore, India) that I have been to once. Since I am Hindu now, I feel somewhat weird and a little scared as to how the Pastor and others may feel and react. Is it normal? And what should be my first step towards becoming Christian? 4. How should I pray to Jesus? I don`t have His photo. Is that required? What is the `method` to pray to Him? 5. Should I change my name on baptism?
I am so glad to meet you with your questions. May the Lord guide you in your desire to be His follower.Before answering your queries, let me just give you a link from where you can read about Anand Mahadevan, Business Editor of Outlook India. Anand published his testimony in the opinion column of their magazine and publicly declared that he is a follower of Christ for the last 15 years, though he was born and brought up in a staunch Brahmin family. This he published at the time when riots were taking place in Orissa last year reconverting Christians into Hinduism. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?238770 . For some reason if you can not open that link, this article is published in Oct.27,2008 issue of Outlook India. It is a must read for you.
Now let me try to answer your questions from No.5-1. Your fifth question was whether you should change your name at baptism. If you have been able to read Anand by now, you would have learnt that he not only did NOT change his name, he did NOT throw away any of the cultural traits which was NOT against the Bible. The Bible does NOT require you to change any thing except your heart. In fact, the Bible asks you to continue in the social and cultural stream where you were at the time of accepting Christ. `Each of you should remain as you were when you accepted God`s call` (1Co 7:20). One of the reasons why Christian faith did NOT impact the high castes of India is that the early missionaries did not remove the offence of the gospel as they preached Christ here. The impression that high caste Indians got was that one should become meat eaters and wine drinkers to become followers of Christ!! What a tragedy!! I wish you would remain a Brhmin as far as your food habits and other habits which do not go against the gospel. So, please do NOT think of a new name for yourself or a new way of eating or dressing to follow Christ. NO!!
Now, in your fourth question you asked about praying to Jesus. There is absolutely NO formality at all when it comes to praying to Jesus. Prayer is talking to God. If you want to talk to your friends, you go near or get connected. Like that, if you want to talk to God, go to a quiet place and get connected to Him. The amazing thing is that God has already spoken to us and it is found in the Bible. So when you want to talk to God, first listen to what He has to say by reading the Bible. As you read the Bible desire in your heart to hear the voice of God and tell Him, ` O God, speak to me`. When He speaks to you as you read the Bible, be prepared to do what He says. Then you can open your heart and tell Him every thing as you tell your friend. God`s years are open to our prayers any time. And the first thing we need to get from God is His forgiveness and then invite Jesus to come and live within your heart so that He will live within you.. So, why don’t you go to http://www.4stepstogod.com and pray that prayer at the end of the page from your heart and God will forgive you and Jesus will come to live within your heart. That will get you connected to God through Christ. Now you need to live a thankful life to God and from then on God’s ears will be open to you to listen to all your prayers. You need to pray at least twice daily spending a minimum of half hour each in secret.
Then you asked about the photo of Jesus. We really do NOT have the photo of Jesus. What is circulated as Jesus photo is just imaginary drawing which comes from the middle ages. It is a Catholic invention. Now, I have never seen you. If I draw a face and circulate among friends saying that it is you, how pleased will you be? You would think I am mad. Will you not? Jesus may be thinking the same about those who circulate a picture saying it is His photo. PLEASE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
Your third question is about how Christians react to others coming to church. One of my close friends is Dr. Namboodripad who is a Brahmin convert now in Chennai. He said he walked into a church once just because on the name board it said, `All are welcome`. Though it may not be found written out on the name boards of many churches, the attitude really is the same towards any one who comes to them. So feel absolutely free as you walk in next time. In some churches, strangers are warmly welcomed. Tragically in some churches strangers are ignored. I do not know what your experience was when you went in once. Try not to choose a large congregation because you get lost in the crowd. If it is a small Bible lovers’ group, you really get a family atmosphere there and you can get people to pray for you personally which will be one of the greatest assets in your life.
Now, your second question is a very important one about denominations among Christians. Well, I would put it bluntly like this. Christianity is a living organism. New branches are bound to come when the old become lifeless and useless. I think, you got the point. The Bible is our ultimate authority as it is God`s Unchanging Word to man. As days went by, as Christianity became an organized religion when the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted faith with out real repentance in his life, Christianity began to become corrupted. You and I know that Vedic Hinduism has nothing to do with present day practicing Hinduism. But when that happens in Christianity, God raises new people who will go back to the Bible to rediscover its truths. Unfortunately some among Protestants too have grouped themselves under human heads and headquarters with diocese and bishops which are NOT found in the Bible. The NT pattern of church life is NEVER an organized religion. There are several NT patterned churches/assemblies in India and in Bangalore as well. You need to choose one that you think is doing maximum justice to the Bible.
Now, for your first question, I am so excited that you found Christ to be a unique person. In the next one year when you stay with your parents, do every thing possible to get to know the Bible and the truth of the gospel. Baptism is the final step when you publicly declare your faith. Once you do that, it should be a life time commitment. Even death or severest persecution should NOT deter you from your decision. So before you accept baptism, make doubly sure that this is the faith you want to follow till your death. Read your Bible and pray in secret every day. Remain in close contact with the Lord and now that internet facility is there, you can be in link with many practicing believers like you. Meet me in my personal website which is on prayer. www.mathewpaul.org/2008/10/21.beief-testimony . I do an online Bible study every day at 11 am (IST) and on Thursdays at 8 pm also at http://www.looktojesus.com/chat/study.php?study=4 . I shall be very happy to be in touch with you and guide you in every step of the way for His glory. God bless.