Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Should Christ-followers Show Hospitality to People of Other Faiths?

Below is an interesting article that describes how a number of migrant (mostly refugee) groups have gone about establishing places of worship for themselves in Utica, New York.  It isn't often that I get a chance to hear about this process for non-Christian groups and appreciate the chance to learn about some of their struggles.  The article begins with a focus on the Bhutanese-Nepali Hindu community but also talks about Burmese Buddhists and Bosnian Muslims.

As a follower of Christ, I desire for all Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and (for that matter) Christians to know and find salvation in Jesus.  However, I also can't help but to inquire of myself about the my responsibility to show hospitality in my relationships with diaspora people who are my new neighbors in the USA.   Is there are line to be drawn related to the extent of my hospitality towards these people?  Not sure.  Do check out the article, and feel free to weigh in.


Hindu latest group in need of worship place in area - Utica, NY - The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York: "UTICA —
    In a bedroom in East Utica, statues of Hindu gods peer out of a converted entertainment center. The inside is decorated with glittering wrapping paper. Around the three statues are offerings of paper flowers, and light from battery-powered candles.
    This is the home of Ganga Rijal, a Hindu priest and his family.
    “This is our temple,” Mukti Rijal, Ganga’s son explains. He bows in front of the temple and gestures to guests to remove their shoes before coming in.
    There are 170 Hindu Bhutanese living in Utica. They arrived from a refugee camp in Nepal’s jungle between 2009 and 2010."

3 comments:

  1. My first thoughts on the article...

    Honesty and helpfulness would play a part. Would I be honest and helpful if I told a refugee I'd like to help you find a place to carry out activities that I know are hurting you?

    In the book of Acts the Christians were the refugees, and they faced huge opposition and danger for what they believed in most places. Since we are in the position to receive refugees these days, we understand the need to do everything possible to help them, not hurt them.

    Yet I would feel very unloving and hypocritical offering to help them build places where things are done that oppose God and lead others away from him. Of course, they don't see it that way, and our Biblical example is to explain our differences with gentleness and respect. I have seen this done effectively, and the people here seem to respect that and still want to be friends.

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    1. Thank you, Chris. Great and helpful feedback.

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  2. My gut says there is a difference between being hospitable to people and facilitating the worship of another being. One dramatic example of hospitality that comes to mind is in 2 Kings 6 when Elisha directs the king of Israel not to kill but to feed and then release a group of Syrians who were essentially prisoners of war. I cannot imagine Elisha helping the Syrians to organize some kind of worship act to their god.

    A long time ago we had a party at our house. There was a huge spider on the floor and I shrieked at the nearest male, who was a Buddhist, to kill it. He very politely and apologetically told me that it was against his beliefs to kill anything and asked if instead he could put it outside (and he did). Maybe in a similar way, I could express my personal belief politely ("because of my devotion to Jesus I cannot help others worship another god") and offer an alternative ("I can pray for/with you").

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