I know the photo looks like a sweating white man with a manic squint has been photoshopped into it but I was really there and I had just finished preaching. (I was especially hot because the electricity went off part way through – no fans – and also because I was wearing a shawl which is a customary gift… see later.)

Regularly Pastor Joshua brings these men together in Madurai. It was exciting to hear some of their stories and to find out what God is doing in South India.

Recommended by Brian Nelson, I read ‘The 3D Gospel’ by Jayson Georges recently. In the section about shame-honour cultures (like India) the book points out that Hindus will find it very hard to leave their families in order to follow Christ. Pastors here in Madurai confirmed that. One man (with the great name of Stalin – he assured me that he had never starved any Ukrainians) answered my question about the biggest issues in reaching out to Hindus – family pressure. A common story is one of a woman becoming a Christian but her husband and/or parents do not allow her to go to church. The book makes the good point that western Christians mostly shrug this off – after all didn’t Jesus say that disciples needed to hate their family in order to follow him? That is true, but western individualism makes it much easier for us to turn our backs on our families. We probably have a blind spot to all those scriptures that lay stress on family┬áresponsibility – honouring our parents, submitting to our husbands, loving our wives etc.

Therefore, in India, it is important to explain that the gospel is pro-family and community and not anti-family.

As the photos show I have been the frequent recipient of Indian customary gifts to speakers. Twice I have been given a shawl and three times a bunch of flowers. (I had to take a photo of myself in the mirror to get a shot the shawl – although looking at the result I now not sure why I did.) Anyway, not gifts that I’m really used to receiving. it’s the thought that counts ­čÖé

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