During a time door knocking around the streets of Auburn, I met S. He and his family had moved from Maharashtra relatively recently. He was keen to chat about God, but our conversations very quickly revealed his lack of assurance. S’s acts of ‘spiritual’ worship fell on the deaf ears of idols, leaving him concerned about their displeasure and unsure that what he was doing made any impact on them at all. S and his family were left vulnerable. India has more than a billion people who are in a similar predicament: impressively religious to no avail. Many of these are people who do not know our Lord Jesus Christ and are therefore without security or hope. Many in India desperately need the gospel and as we speak, God has presented us with an opportunity to minister to Indian brothers and sisters as they flood to Australia.

With the huge influx of educated, young professionals from India arriving on Australian shores, are we ready?

Before the end of his term, Scott Morrison signed the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IA-ECTA)[1], set to take effect in full force in the second half of 2022. In summary, this agreement will see a significant increase in the temporary migration of Indian citizens to Australian shores. Post-graduate university students and professional workers alike will begin moving into major cities in Australia. This will have an impact on the landscape of suburbs already teeming with sub-continental peoples, not to mention the nature of international student in-take. With the huge influx of educated, young professionals from India arriving on Australian shores, are we ready?

Are we ready to gather alongside our Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, and Jain brothers and sisters as they walk on a journey to know Christ and all that he has done for them? Are we ready to tell them stories of Jesus’ power, authority, and loving-kindness? Are we ready to take the time to open up the scriptures with them week after week, month after month, year after year? My experience has been that Indian friends have loved the opportunity to read the Bible and hear about Jesus, who has such authority over the spiritual world, and yet loves the smallest and most vulnerable. It is often a slow process of peeling back the layers of opposition to Christians (let alone the Christian message), yet my experience is that Jesus as he is revealed in Scripture is irresistible for those thirsting after a genuine relationship with God.

Jesus as he is revealed in Scripture is irresistible for those thirsting after a genuine relationship with God.

Are we prepared to invest significant relational capital required to spend time getting to know these new members of our communities? Many of them need friends—they have left the security and comforts of family far behind in order to brave new opportunities in Australia. Will we befriend them? Will we share our time, help, food and fellowship? Will we be ready to share the hope we have in Jesus in every season, at every opportunity?

Sometimes there might be fear on their part—Hindu nationalists in India have been working hard to drum-up anti-western sentiment. But the genuineness of our relationships will speak volumes.

The same questions apply to churches. I wager that there will be very few geographical areas that won’t be impacted by the flood of Indian people. We ought to prayerfully ready ourselves with hearts willing to learn, and resources to expend. We ought to be on our knees praying that God would be pleased to use us as clay jars to present his life-giving Word to people, that they might be gripped by the love and assurance of Christ, and turn to him for life to the full.

We should also be thinking about how to speak about Jesus to these newcomers. How can we creatively engage their polytheistic worldview and both an honour-shame and fear-power culture? How might we alter our seating arrangements, styles, sensibilities, understanding of fellowship over food during morning tea, and anything else that might hinder our Indian brothers and sisters from seeing that ‘God is really among [us]’ as we gather at church (c.f. 1 Corinthians 14:25).

Please join me in prayerfully preparing for this new opportunity to bear witness to our Indian friends. Let’s pray that the Lord might save some, and they might go back with the gospel to save even more. Perhaps one way to do this is to set aside Sunday 3 July this year, ‘Indian Christian Day’, as a way to pray that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ might spread like wildfire amongst Indian peoples, and that more and more Indians are raised up to serve Jesus. To help with your prayers, you can use the Hindu Prayer Guide (https://hinduprayerguide.weebly.com), produced by Interserve Culture Connect.

[1] https://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/negotiations/aifta/australia-india-comprehensive-economic-cooperation-agreement and https://ministers.dese.gov.au/tehan/education-big-winner-india-trade-deal