Walking in Singapore today towards Chinatown I passed several places where a god was worshipped. First I walked by St. Andrews Church. Then almost next to each other on South Bridge road was a Mosque, a Hindu Temple and a Buddhist temple. It is a relevant question today for people – is there a one-and-only, living God?
I think that one simple and still decisive way through which one can get on the right track to God, is to follow the stories. Stories, testimonies are like signposts. Good stories will lead to a good God. And the “signposts” leading in the same direction will somehow be connected by using tha same “colour-combinations” although all are put there by different people.
In our morning Bible Study Groups (during International Conference of Leaders) personal stories often came up as a way of understanding God’s word. Some were shared by Colonel Prema Varughese who together with her husband Wilfred are leaders in India Northern Territory. This is a story she retold.
In the state of Orissa there is a lady in the Salvation Army working with self-help groups among Hindu women. She came to hear about a man who was in need of blood transfusion for an operation. No one in his community offered to give theirs so the woman said that she could do it. The man was a bit worried as the thinking is that it is not OK to mix hindu blood and Christian blood (and a woman on top of that). But he had no choice and accepted the donor as the blood groups matched. The operation went well and he was healed. When he came home he went to his community leaders, and specially the priests, and said: “Look here, I was in need of blood and you did not help me but this Christian woman did. And you consider them enemies and prosecute them! I saw real love in them and I’m going to join this group.”
Colonel Prema does not know what has happened after that but she will follow this up. I’m praying that there will be another good story to tell.
Self-help groups, by the way, are organized in areas where Christians are not allowed to preach or to pray. They are reaching out to women, who are considered second-class citizens and traditionally not allowed to handle money. They are teaching the women to address issues in their society, get micro-credits to start small businesses and generally empower them and lift them socially.
This story encourages me. So different from explanations I read in the buddhist temple during my walk. There were descriptions of several halls, all with 16 places of punishment where people fall until they have completed the punishment. Thank God for the story about Jesus. And he is creating ongoing stories which leaves signposts coloured by forgivness and grace.