FORT WORTH, Texas (Christian Examiner) — Over Spring Break I had the opportunity to visit a country in South Asia, a country brimming with kind people, a rich history, and many beautiful cultural traditions. However, during the trip, I got to observe men and women practicing Hinduism, and I was struck by the absolute futility of it.
My heart broke for these people who are blinded by this false religion. As I saw temple after temple scattered throughout the city erected to one of the millions of deities in Hinduism, I recalled Isaiah 2:8:
"Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made."
Instead of reading a textbook about Hinduism, this trip afforded me the opportunity to observe the daily lives of those who claimed to be followers of Hinduism. I wanted to share just a few of the things I experienced so you can join me in praying for these people.
A Sleepy god: Every day on the trip, I woke up to a next-door neighbor of my friends ringing a bell. One morning the ringing went on for over twenty minutes. The purpose of this exercise? The man did that every morning to "wake up" his god.
When I found that out, I was amazed and wondered who in the world would want to serve a god like that, one you must work so hard to rouse from his slumber? Praise the Lord that our God neither sleeps nor slumbers (Ps 121:4) and never grows tired or weary (Is 40:28). When we are sleeping, He is active. When I struggle to wake up each morning, I can be thankful that God never has to sip coffee in the morning to become alert or sip Red Bull at night to stay awake. He alone is from everlasting to everlasting. He created the universe. He certainly doesn't need me ringing a bell every morning as his alarm clock.
A Fear-based Tradition: One Sunday during the trip, I had the opportunity to go to a village house church. I have never seen such poverty as I did on the trip out there. Once we arrived, I noticed several of the babies in the village had black markings on their foreheads. The reason for these markings? To ward off evil spirits. I was told that mothers mark their babies in this way to make them less beautiful so that an evil spirit will not steal the children. Within Hinduism, there are actually believed to be goddesses (Mātrkās) that steal children.
Rest assured, the one true God of the Bible is not slinking around trying to steal children; our God displays a protective nature for children (see Mark 10:13-16) and desires that believers display that same protective nature for children (Jms 1:27).
The Value of a Life: Several times during the week, traffic would come to an absolute standstill as a cow lazily meandered its way throughout the city. Cows are honored and respected among Hindus—if a car struck a cow, the result would be disastrous for the person who caused the harm. Because this false religion believes in reincarnation, a cow could be someone's reincarnated ancestor so the people treat this animal with great respect. The problem, though, is that the life of a cow is treated with greater dignity than the life of a young girl. Though banned by South Asian governments, the devadasi system (a Hindu practice of temple prostitution) is still used today. Parents dedicate girl babies to the goddess Yellamma, and once the girl reaches the age of 11 or 12, she begins a life of prostitution. The only hope offered to this young girl is the chance that she will one day be reincarnated in a better life.
When the life of a girl is less valuable than a cow, something is terribly wrong!
As Easter approaches and you reflect on the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross, remember that Christianity is the story of the God who sacrifices for His people to make us right with Him. The only hope for that man who rings a bell every morning to try to wake up his god is Jesus. The only hope for those mothers who fear evil spirits stealing their babies is Jesus. The only hope for those young girls being used and abused as temple prostitutes is Jesus. Nearly a billion people in the world today identify themselves as Hindu, and the only hope for each one of them is Jesus. He is the only hope for you and me, too. Pray that followers of Hinduism will see the futility of this false religion. And, pray for workers who will point these people to the only, true God, Jesus Christ.
One final thing. My trip to South Asia gave me the opportunity to watch just a handful of Hindus and observe snippets of their life and how their religion impacted them. Since coming back, I have wondered what people would think of Christianity by observing my life. Does the way I live out my faith point to the hope and joy people can experience by knowing Christ? Would someone watching me for a few minutes in my day see a difference? Would someone watching you? I pray that each of us would live lives worthy of the Gospel, lives that point people to the hope found only in Christ.
This blog article first appeared on BiblicalWoman.com, a ministry of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.