I was in my final year at medical school when I decided to start following Jesus. When I told my father he was very upset. ‘Have you become a Christian now? I suppose that means you’re going to eat beef, drink whisky and live an immoral life…?’ Rajesh, a psychiatrist
What happens when a person puts their faith in Jesus? Should they change their diet or cut their hair? Do they have to go to church? Do they need to change their name? Is it wrong to continue fasting during Ramadan or to pray five times a day?
Within every culture there are some things that honour God and some that don’t. God does not ask people to reject every aspect of their past and you certainly don’t have to embrace western culture if you are following Jesus. God is not concerned with how we dress or behave as long as it is not dishonouring to him or offensive to others. In fact, many aspects of Asian culture, such as sacrificial hospitality or respect and care for the elderly, are in line with teaching from the Bible.
Similarly, elements of religious practices such as prayer and worship are often linked to particular cultural forms. Worship in Asian culture involves taking off your shoes or sitting on the floor, something which rarely, if ever, happens in Western churches. But whilst it is common to link different religious beliefs and practices with certain parts of the world, Jesus was not European but Middle Eastern and, although his first followers were Jewish, people from other cultural backgrounds quickly began to follow Him too.
South Asian Christians in the UK are a ‘minority within a minority’. Figures are difficult to come by but estimates are usually 50-70,000, although more research is needed to establish accurate numbers.
The largest number of Protestant Christians are Punjabi, from both India and Pakistan. Many are part of independent Asian Christian Fellowships who worship in Urdu/Punjabi languages using traditional music and styles. There are a few Gujarati fellowships of this kind, and an increasing number of Tamil churches. More recently the presence of newly arrived professionals from South India has meant an increase in Malayalam churches and fellowships.
There are also a few smaller language based fellowship networks, such as Marathi, Bengali and Telugu. Some people, especially those who do not live in a strongly South Asian area, may be part of local churches from the majority community, usually in twos or threes. Roman Catholic groups are mostly from Goa and more recently from Sri Lanka or South India. There are Syrian Orthodox and Mar Thoma congregations in London.
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India: Anglo-Indian Concern/Vine Charitable Trust in Chennai give thanks for the yp who have been helped in education and obtained good employment. Pray for those who help bring them into a place of comfort and security following abuse or family breakdown. prayermate.net/praye…
Pakistan: Having returned to Pakistan Mand AV have been refused permanent visas. They expect to leave within the next few months. Pray that their heart for the country can continue to be expressed in God’s service. prayermate.net/praye…
Maldives: Pray for political stability and for greater freedoms for religious minorities. prayermate.net/praye…
Pakistan: Pray for continued safety for Asia Bibi, recently released from prison. Pray that the Lord will bring her full deliverance and asylum in a safe country. Pray for peace to be restored in the country and for right judgements to be made. prayermate.net/praye…
Pakistan: Prem Fellowship give thanks for Mr Abel’s safe and fruitful last trip of the year to the far north. There were renewed contacts with BMBs and much seed sown, including scripture SIM cards for phones. prayermate.net/praye…
India: Praise God for the fruitful ministry of the Indian Evangelical Mission’s General Sec.during Sep/Oct. Many opportunities for future IEM prayer meetings were created. Pray for these and give thanks for the good amount of money raised for the work. prayermate.net/praye…