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: Praise God for Dr Chering who has settled in well at KCH. Pray for more needed staff: ophthalmologist, gynaecologist, lab and x-ray technicians. Pray for the proposed construction of an Intensive Care Unit, for funds both for building and equipping. prayermate.net/praye…
Bangladesh: Open Doors provides lay leadership training for believers in remote areas where persecution is more intense. Pray for wisdom in teaching and encouragement to press on in the life of faith. prayermate.net/praye…
Bangladesh: LAMB Hospital thank the Lord that an expatriate couple has offered their medical skills from next year. Pray for additional staff so that the full range of services can bring God’s healing, wholeness and love to local people. prayermate.net/praye…
Sri Lanka: In October a pastor was attacked by a mob of 500 Buddhists. Believers are suffering persecution from both Buddhists and Hindus. They are the only community with both these people groups represented. Pray for wisdom, courage and faith. prayermate.net/praye…
Sri Lanka: Pray that no adverse international pressure will be enforced following the recent political crisis. Pray that just leaders will be raised up from all ethnic groups. prayermate.net/praye…
Sri Lanka: In October the President removed the elected PM, installing the ex-president in his place.This was overturned in parliament. Pray for peace and order to be restored and if elections are called, these will be done in a transparent and legal way. prayermate.net/praye…