Argh! Again, no picture, and I REALLY wanted one, alas! After the dedication ceremony, a young girl (maybe 16?) approached Raj at the platform. I immediately liked her! You could tell that she was driven. She had an intense look in her eyes, the gleam of intelligence, but balanced with a gentleness and calmness that simply bespoke the fact that she wasn’t a raving freak, but was definitely “on a mission” to talk with Raj. When she finally caught his attention, they went on for about 5 minutes, and I could tell that there was more to the conversation than just your simple, “thank you for the beautiful message, pastor!” thing going on. Raj would speak machine-gun-style for a few minutes and then she would whip right back to him with some staccato of her own. Finally, Raj wrote something down on a piece of paper and gave it to her. She smiled at him, bowed in the cursory gesture of polite gratitude, turned and smiled at me (against what I’m sure was just a bewildered look on my face), and then walked stealthily out of the room. When I finally got my camera, she had already left, so I couldn’t ask her and Raj to pose for you to see. Sorry.
Anyway, I asked Raj later what she had asked him, and his eyes brightened as he explained:
“This girl heard me speak, and came to ask me about when I said that she would have to be born again to follow Jesus. She said, ‘I have already been born once to one mother, and I have one name already. How can you tell me that I must be ‘born again’? Am I to abandon my mother and her name when she gave me life just to follow this Jesus of yours?’”
(Wow! Remind you of John 3 when a man named Nicodemus approached Jesus with the exact same question?)
When I asked Raj how he responded to the girl, he explained to me that in India, one of the big things is that people have mistakenly assumed that once you decide to follow Jesus, you have to abandon your Indian culture, change your Indian name to a “Christian name” (like Joseph or John or Mary), wear western clothing, and distance yourself from your family. Raj explained that more and more, they’re seeing that what people (like this bright young girl) are asking is if it’s okay for them to still “be Indian” and follow Jesus. Raj deftly explained to her that Jesus is about a commitment in your heart and in your life, not in how you dress, what you name yourself, or alienating yourself from your family (quite the contrary, in fact!). He explained that she said that she wasn’t sure about all of that, and so Raj told her to go home and ask God for wisdom. Then he gave her his phone number and told her to call him if she had any more questions.