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Reaching India’s emerging generation
Caroline Anderson, Baptist Press
September 29, 2011

Reaching India’s emerging generation

Reaching India’s emerging generation
Caroline Anderson, Baptist Press
September 29, 2011

INDIA – Young men and women gather in small groups at a

shopping mall in India, deep in conversation. Curious passersby lean over the

railing and listen to the conversations about gods and God between American and

Indian students seated amid the mall’s decorative palm trees.

Cali Mendel*, a junior nursing student at Clemson University, asked an Indian

student to share a story about one of her Hindu gods.

Hinduism, the student replied, is her parents’ religion, telling Mendel she

knows little about it. The two students easily converse back and forth as

Mendel tells a story about her own God.

Mendel was one of 10 collegians and two short-term volunteers from Crosspoint

Church in Clemson, S.C., who came to India as part of LINK (Laborers Impacting

Nations for the Kingdom) – a six-week summer missions/discipleship program –

partnering with a local house church and International Mission board (IMB) representatives.

Interacting with their Indian peers about Christ is nothing new for the Clemson

students. Students from India are the largest group among Clemson’s

international student population. Crosspoint makes an effort to reach out to

the students in the United States and, via LINK, connects their local student

ministry directly to India.

The Clemson volunteers admitted they expected to find more traditional Indian

culture than they experience with their friends at the university. Instead,

they found iPhones, Justin Bieber and a widespread addiction to social media –

not too different from their own U.S. culture.

Many young people in India identify more with Western culture, said IMB

representative Rodney Cregg*, pointing out that some Indian students dress in

Western clothes instead of “kurtas,” Indian shirts that look like tunics.

“Spiritually, while they still practice Hinduism, in their heart, they’re

tending to be more materialistic, spiritualistic (and have a) modern worldview,”

Cregg said.

Church plant

Through volunteer teams like Crosspoint’s coming to India to work with youth,

Cregg saw a need for planting a church, The Fold, to reach this generation of “westernized”

Asians.

The Fold utilizes contemporary worship songs in English; most of the people

read their Bibles on iPhones and Blackberrys; and they study the Bible and

discipleship in group discussion settings.

In India, Clemson students Sage Watson,* left, and Karli Jacksbury* share their faith with peers in a mall.

*Names changed

Prakash Achari* fits the image for new believers who are members of The Fold.

Achari got connected to The Fold through Clark Barner*, a volunteer from

Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. Barner and his wife Mandy* came as

team leaders with the Crosspoint team and will help The Fold for one year as

short-term volunteers.

Barner met Achari in a mall. Dressed in designer jeans and a crisp button-down

shirt, Achari listened intently when Barner shared about a God who doesn’t

require good works to save a soul.

Later that week, Achari brought his cousin to hear more about the gospel from

Barner and the other summer volunteers. “I was so fascinated,” he said.

Achari said he knew Barner and the college students spoke truth. Both Achari

and his cousin decided to become followers of Jesus that evening.

Discovering discipleship

Achari already is getting connected to The Fold. He’ll begin a six-week

discipleship course that will ground him in his faith and encourage him to make

disciples – much like the Clemson students did all summer.

Crosspoint’s involvement with LINK, which includes a one-year internship,

entailed volunteers this summer traveling to India, Boston and several cities

in South Carolina.

In India, Crosspoint partners with The Fold and IMB representatives Dave and

Caroline Tucker*. Prior to coming to India, Tucker was involved in the

International Mission Board’s LINK program as assistant director.

Both The Fold and LINK focus on the same key components: discipleship,

evangelism, community and leadership, Tucker said. The aim is to teach and

equip this generation to make disciples, whether on the mission field or in the

business world.

Discipleship is the key to reaching this generation, whether in India or the States,

Cregg added.

“The best way I can describe it to people, especially Americans, is what is

happening in India, and really around the globe right now, is the same thing

that happened in America 15 or 20 years ago – the younger generation shifting,

and as the church, we’re missing it,” Cregg said. “I think where we missed it

is engaging their worldview with the truth of scripture, which happens through

relational discipleship.”

A lack of discipleship is how Laboni Radha* fell away from the church.

Radha grew up in the church but was never challenged to own her faith. She

spent her high school years in a hostel, where she started going to nightclubs,

drinking and taking drugs. She recently connected to The Fold and found

discipleship and community there. It got her life back on track.

Radha spent a portion of her summer sharing the Gospel alongside the Clemson

students, who understand Radha in a way only peers can in reaching their peers

on two continents with a timeless message that connects with their generation.

*Name changed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Anderson is a writer living in

Southeast Asia.)