Who are we? Sometimes we need to be reminded. Keeping our vision and values in front of us is an excellent way to do that. The following is the second part of a blog series about our Friends Network Vision and Values.
The second part of our Friends Network Vision Statement includes a training statement and a community identity and communication statement. You can see that both of these are very broad and include many activities such as contextual training, teaching how life cycle events (sanskaras) can be practiced, creating centers which are safe places for Hindus to encounter Jesus and even developing music, dance, drama, and poetry to communicate the gospel! In our previous blog, we talked about how narrowly focused we are in Friends Network. Now let’s talk about how broad we can be!
We’ve seen that Friends Network must be more narrowly focused than Frontier Missions or the rest of YWAM because our specific goal is to reach Hindus and pursue movements of Hindu Followers of Christ. Our Hindu specific focus is a narrow one. However, there are other ways in which we must learn to become much broader as well. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to working with groups of Hindus; therefore we may be very broad in our outreach styles as a network. In typical Christian work, the new believer is brought directly into the existing church. There is already an established foundation and a network which exists for them in the traditional church. Though the church planter may not teach on these issues, the traditional church (even if it is a house church) tells the new believer how a marriage ceremony should take place, how their parents must be buried, what is acceptable dress and jewelry and a myriad of other things. As Friends Network however when we see new Hindu Followers of Christ come to faith those foundations are not laid as we are not inviting them into the established Christian community. Therefore some of us may need to work alongside these new believers to create and train others how to perform contextual Yeshu Bhakt marriage ceremonies or contextualize last rite ceremonies. We cannot just expect that they will be able to do these things on their own with no instruction. If we don’t help new believers think through how to adapt these practices in their contexts, they may default to westernized Christian practices which can alienate them from their community. The gravitational pull of the traditional Indian Church is powerful. Hindus have only ever seen people follow Christ in the way that the traditional Indian Church does. When they come to faith in Christ, they think that the same things are expected of them. Unless new believers see an alternative modeled, they may fall into the practices of the traditional church assuming that this is what God requires of them.
We cannot stop short at sharing the gospel and discipling new believers. We must help them lay the groundwork for future generations of Hindu Followers of Christ. Laying this groundwork could mean that we may need to help Hindu Followers of Christ discover and navigate the process of practicing cultural festivals in a way that doesn’t compromise their faith in Christ but instead helps them express their faith in Him. It may mean that we are inspired to create or commission contextual works or art that speak to Hindus or work with new believers to make songs of worship to Jesus in their own style and language. It may mean that we help build or design Centers or Kendras of focus within Hindu communities such as Ashrams, Sanyasi Orders, Bible Translations or works of Literature. We may need to produce contextual audio, video and written resources in Indian languages which can communicate the gospel to Hindus in ways they can understand and disciple and equip Hindu Followers of Christ. We could develop Bible courses or training programs that prepare new believers to share their faith. We may be involved in helping to establish Kingdom conscious businesses that influence society and uplift the poor, or schools which instill kingdom values. Alternatively, we could be called upon to model for Hindu Followers of Christ what it means to reach out to the poor, the sick and those in need.
In Friends Network we may be called upon to do some or all of these things. Our vision statement gives us the freedom to pursue these things! We need to continue to be narrow in focus remembering that our goal is to see movements of Hindu Followers of Christ. However, remember that we also have the freedom to be broad in what we do to reach that goal and to lay the groundwork for future generations of Hindu Followers of Christ.