…God gives me valuable insight into Hinduism and an opportunity to share the Gospel.
As the plane boarded, it became obvious that the seat next to me was empty. As it started to sink in that I would have an empty seat next to me, I was thankful for a bit more space for this 14+ hour flight that was 95% full! God, however, had other plans for me.
About an hour into the flight, an attendant asked me if a young man could use the open seat. His TV screen was not working, and I suspected he also sought to benefit from the extra leg-room of our “bulkhead” seats. I must confess that I was initially “bummed” that my extra space had just been forfeited. Gautum was a 24 year old Hindu man who was living in Denver and going to school. He was surprising his family back in India with his first visit in two years. He told me he had timed his visit to coincide with two Hindu festivals. I confessed that I had never personally spoken to a Hindu and asked him if he minded if I asked him some questions. He was so gracious and open about his beliefs (as well as his struggles with his faith). He was so polite… and kept calling me ma’am as soon as I told him I had a son nearly his age.
He started by explaining why Hindu’s don’t eat beef. It was pretty simple from his perspective. He said he received milk from his mother, and cows give milk. You respect your mother, you respect the cow. When that seemed to be the end of the story for his conviction, I asked him if it also had anything to do with the belief of reincarnation. He looked at me for a moment and said “I don’t believe in reincarnation.” I said, “Oh, I’m sorry… I’m showing my ignorance. I thought all Hindu’s believed in reincarnation.” This moved him to give me a list of reasons why reincarnation can’t be true. I silently rejoiced at this point of agreement for us… and listened carefully while he explained.
Since he didn’t believe in reincarnation, I asked what he thought would happen to his soul. He stated he didn’t know… but said he didn’t really care either. He said he was just living his life, trying to do good, and that Karma says if he does good, good will happen to him. Outside of the here and now, he didn’t really care about his soul. I said “What if you knew that one option was amazingly beautiful and awesome, and the other option was horrible, tormented and eternal. He said “You mean heaven and hell…” I said, “Yes, and it seems like after we die is a bad time to find out that something really does happen to our soul.”
I then asked him how many gods are part of the Hindu teaching. He said there were millions of gods. I asked how one person could worship so many gods. He said, “You can’t. You basically pick one to worship. I looked at him sincerely and asked, “What if you pick the wrong one??? I mean, what if you pick like the 3rd biggest god, but you didn’t know it? Wouldn’t that make the biggest god angry and jealous that you were worshiping someone other than him? He nodded sort of hesitantly. I then asked him, “Does Hinduism teach of a god who created everything?” He didn’t seem quite sure, but he said… “Yes, I think so.” I said, “Well, it seems to me that would be the biggest god… I mean if he created everything, it seems like he’d be in charge over all of it.” I said, Christianity teaches that there is one God. He is the creator of everything; He made us in His image. That is why you and I are not so very different. We are image bearers of the one true God.
We talked about standards and how God’s standards are different than ours. God is perfect and does no wrong. He created us in His image and without sin, but Eve was deceived and disobeyed God when she was tempted by Satan. Adam, on the other hand, chose his wife over going God’s way. When that happened, all of creation fell… and now we have a sinful nature. I asked him if anyone ever taught him to do the wrong thing or be selfish. He laughed and said, “No.” I said, ”It’s just in us, isn’t it? We want our own way. We have evil in our hearts.” He laughed again and said, “It’s good dog, bad dog.” Now it was my turn to chuckle and say…. “Is that what you call it?”
I said, “You see, that’s the thing about God’s standard… it’s perfection, because He is perfect. It wouldbe one thing if the standard was you or me, or even your neighbor, because then maybe we’d be okay. But God is perfect, so all who are with Him in Heaven must be perfect…. But we’re not. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news… God sent His Son to take our punishment. He is God; He is perfect and didn’t deserve to die. But He died in our place, taking the punishment I deserve. Because of my sin, I deserve death and hell, but the free gift of God is forgiveness and eternal life.” (Rom 6:23)
I asked him what “sacred” writings he had read of his religion. He stated two small ones (about 30 pages each) he had committed to memory. I then asked him if he’d ever read any of the Bible. When he stated no, I asked him if he would be willing to read just two books from God’s Word. He said he would, and I grabbed for my menu to write them down for him so he wouldn’t forget. I told him that John tells us about Jesus, and Romans tells us about ourselves and the truth about our condition. For a moment, I seriously thought of giving him my Bible. I mean I could always get another one… add new notes, etc. But just as I was deciding if I should, or if he’d just throw it in the trash after we parted, he stated… “It’s on the internet. I can just read it there.”
We talked off and on for probably 4 hours or so. Sometimes interrupted by attendants offering food, bathroom breaks, etc., but God allowed us to keep returning to our conversation. Please pray for Gautum. I told him I would be asking God to show him the truth, and that I cared for his soul. I also told him I wished I could see his mother’s face when she saw him As we parted, he pointed at me and said “John and Romans, right?”
We had landed in New Delhi, and wouldn’t be traveling on to Bangalore until the morning. I was tired, but excited as I realized what an awesome opportunity God had just provided. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of anticipation for what God had planned for us in India.
By Sherri Stocker