It is always a thrill to meet other South Asian sisters who are stepping into ministry beyond their own extended family and serving through their local church, a mission agency or, sometimes, just by themselves.
Upon meeting each other we recognise how refreshing it is to be around those who are like us. It makes me think of my own beginnings as a missionary and how I wished for others from my Hindu background to show me the way and, perhaps, encourage me a little.
So much of the South Asian culture is about learning by being around older sisters. I can think of many examples such as religious rituals, food preparation, raising children; all of these and more are passed on through lifestyle learning. I remember hearing someone say, ‘It is hard to model what you cannot see.’ With this in mind, I gathered a small group recently and we enjoyed an evening of food, prayer and sharing stories:
Kam is a follower of Jesus from a Sikh background who has been working with a church for a few years. She prayed that God would send someone to work with her and soon met a Hindu background believer. Together they translate Bible passages into Urdu from Hindi for a weekly Bible study with a group of Muslim women. They also visit families and help them in their journey to Jesus.
Tracey and her husband John have been ministering together for many years. Her strong Punjabi culture offers a great way to connect with other South Asians and share Jesus with them. As we sit bahen sathe – praying, teaching and working together – she has found a new sense of confidence.
For first generation followers of Jesus from Hindu, Muslim and Sikh backgrounds, stepping into a ministry role is a big challenge. There are so few role models for understanding the sub cultures of ministry and trying to navigate a path without feeling out of our depth culturally and, sometimes, educationally as well.
The evening ended with a plan to meet regularly as a group and to set individual goals. I will continue to walk alongside them and challenge them to lead others who are also on the journey bahen sathe (with sisters).
Church Relations Manager
South Asian Concern