Why I Stayed in the ‘Indian’ Church

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TLDR: In short, I stayed and continue to stay in my Indian church because though it is largely Indian and specifically Malayalee in population, we have a heart for our neighboring community and have consistently seen people come to faith. When I think about my abilities and resources, I feel as though they’re currently best used exactly where I am. 

When I was fifteen I cried to my mom and begged to leave our church. I desperately wanted to leave and start over somewhere new. She had entertained the idea of us actually leaving or at least she told me she had considered it. It’s now 10 years later and I realize that I had issues. I battled with insecurity, negativity and a host of negative emotions. I still have problems but now I have resources.

I won’t delve into that all deeply here, that’s a different blog post. But fifteen year old me would have never imagined that one day I would come to not only still attend my Indian church, but that I would love it.

Within the Malayalee Indian church, the blog post ‘The Indian Church Must Die‘ spread like wild fire as people of Christian Indian backgrounds felt as though many of the concerns they have long held about the Indian church were voiced, finally. It is really hard growing up in the Indian church for reasons that I will touch on later in this post but the purpose of this blog post is to instead speak about the reasons why despite the longings of my fifteen year old self; I choose to stay.

We’re missional

I swear that almost every week I hear of a new person who came to faith from the Hindi service. This service has brought in a huge North Indian population to my church and has even challenged the idea that my church is Malayalee. It’s not just North Indians, over the years I’ve seen people of different ethnic backgrounds come consistently to my congregation, serve and join our family.

The problem I’ve noticed within a lot of churches is that we can become too attached to whatever rules we have. I recently heard of a church that did not allow members who wore jewelry to take holy communion. How do you expect members of your community to come and join your church with a rule like that? The idea of not wearing jewelry has deep roots for a lot of people and I can respect this decision. But requiring people to not wear jewelry limits who can feel comfortable in your congregation.

If the only reason why your church is growing is because other Indians left a different Indian church- that’s a problem. Our churches are not meant to grow through shuffling church members. But it’s truly transformative to see people who never knew the name Jesus, people who are from or come from different religious backgrounds, all coming together and accepting Jesus as their person savior. If there was every a remedy to lukewarm Christianity it would be to see the fire of someone who has just accepted Christ. There is a passion and love that puts me to shame.

There’s room for Me to Grow 

My church allows women to lead worship, teach Sunday School and even give Sunday sermons. I would often hear from other women at more conservative churches that women are not allowed any leadership position, even choir leader. In the midst of an environment like that, my pastor has spent time and invested in my gifts. He has given me a platform when I know others places wouldn’t. And he doesn’t just do that for me. Through my church I have seen incredible singers developed, talented musicians and powerful men and women who deliver God’s word. Maybe if that happened once you could chalk it up to that one person’s talent. But when you see it consistently happening, I know that God is working in a place.

My Impact Feels Larger 

My church, in many ways, is small. Because it is small by the measure of a lot of other churches, I know that the work I do has a big impact. If I have an idea for an event, I can directly see the people who are influenced. When I want to try something new, I can tangibly see how these decisions impacts others. I’ve grown to learn that there is beauty to the mega churches. There are far more resources that can give an individual a lot of room to grow. But because my church is small, I know my influence means a lot.

The Bad Can be Changed

The author of , ‘The Indian Church Must Die‘, Samuel, also acknowledges that some Indian churches can change and those are the ones that will survive, “the ones that start listening to young people, start integrating them into the church vision and projects”. I believe my Indian church is a place just like that. When I first got my ears pierced I feared the larger implications of this decision. But to this day, I don’t think anyone has really had a problem with it. I remember once recounting an older grandpa who also spoke to me in Hindi. I thought he did this because I wore earrings. But when I shared this incident with my church friends they explained to me that he speaks Hindi to literally everyone. Despite all my fear about what people might think, no-one seems to have really cared. Or at least no-one has told me they cared to my face!

Sundays are my Favorite Day of the Week

We had an annual North East region meeting today that I always try to attend because I love connecting and catching up with familiar faces from different churches in the region. But every year during this meeting, despite how happy I am to see new people, I genuinely miss my Sunday routine. You see, I love my Sundays and I love my church. It’s here that I start off Sundays by sleeping in a bit (till 8:30am) and then spend time catching up with friends until it’s Sunday School time at 10:30am. Then from 10:30am-11:30am I lead the most amazing group of girls through the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. 11:30am-1:00pm when we have our main service that is usually filled with powerful worship and a meaningful word from the bible.

It is here at my church that I imagine and day dream about what ifs and possibilities of ways in which God will move. It is here that I first taught Hindu/Muslim students during VBS. It is in this church that I see my family. Not just those who I am connected to by blood but the aunties and uncles who I grew up with, as well as those who have come in recent years. These people and my friends have become like family. And when I think of God’s vision for my life and I know that for the present time- this is a really great place for me to grow as a speaker, a Sunday School teacher, an informal counsel and as a leader/server.

While I think there are many legitimate reasons for why someone may choose to leave the Indian church or any church for that matter, these are my reasons for staying. This blog post doesn’t mean that I couldn’t ever imagine myself leaving. I always try to remember that man makes plans and God laughs. But what it does mean is that for the time being, I’d really love to stay.

Q&A with a Missionary | Short & Long Term

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In this week’s video we have a special guest, Chelsey M! She’ll be sharing about her decision to become a full time missionary as well as answering some questions for any of you curious about overcoming financial and/or cultural boundaries before going abroad.

The reason I waited so long to write this post.

This is a little bit of an explanation post, to explain why lately I’ve been so MIA and why for the first time in a while I think this blog is a little bit dead.  I had the amazing oppurtunity to go on a mission trip to Guyana from August 16-23rd and ever since then I’ve been too afraid to make a blog post.  I find it so funny because up until this point I had written all my other posts in hopes of reviving my blog so I would have people excited to learn about my trip.

But now that I have actually gone to Guyana I’m so afraid of actually writing a post because I want to describe my experience and give it justice.  I even wrote out almost a full post about Guyana only to accidentally close the tab.  That post didn’t really matter much though, I was just forcing myself to write.  The thing is right now I think I’m reading to write this post.  Or I really hope that I am ready to write this post.  One can only hope right?

Okay.  First, why Guyana?

I was thinking about this question for a long time recently.  Guyana is not my home country, India is my mother land.  But lately I’ve been learning a lot about Guyana and more so about Guyanese culture and I was amazed by it.  I found it so odd that I could go here and feel like the people living in Guyana were just like me yet completely different at the exact same time.  I could go into what I’ve learned as of now about Guyanese culture but I’ll wait for another day to write about that.

So I was learning about Guyana and then my mom comes to me and tells me she’s going on a trip to Guyana.  I asked her if I could go expecting her to say no, and she did.  But shortly after she said that ticket prices dropped and that she could now take me with her.  I went thinking I would be the only 19 year old going in a group of 30+ pastors.  But what ended up happening was a group of 4 of us “younger” folk signed up and we had the perfect amount of people to run a VBS and lead worship in Guyana.

From the get go we were told we were in Guyana for missions work and not for vacation.  That was still a really weird principle for me because Guyana felt like India to me and all the times I’ve been to India in the past, I’ve been on vacation.  We were definitely not slumming it though.  We had the opportunity to eat Guyanese or Guyanese “chinese” food every single meal of our stay and I loved it.

It’s funny because when all four of us young adults were asked what part of Guyana we disliked the most it was always the mosquitos.  The mosquitos and bugs just attacking you out of nowhere while you’re attempting to sing on stage.

That’s another thing about Guyana, before going there I had this high resistance to singing in public.  I didn’t want to sing anymore.  But when I went there it wasn’t about me anymore, they needed singers and I could sing.  End of story.  It reminds me of this post I meant to write before leaving for Guyana but was yet again too afraid to write.

God doesn’t call us because we are qualified, he qualifies the called.  God wasn’t asking me to have the voice of an angel or amazing presentation skills.  He asked me to be willing to go and speak for him when the opportunity arose and he asked me to not be afraid to sing his praises.

And this kind of leads me to the close of this post,  life post Guyana.  I realize that there are so many things I have yet to tell all of you about Guyana but I feel like whenever I tell someone something about my mission trip there, I’m losing a piece of it for myself.  That sounds really selfish but don’t worry I will share it all one day.  But if I want to get at least one post up, I need to know I’m still keeping pieces of the story for myself.

So, what now?  What happens to life after leaving Guyana?

Life after leaving Guyana was actually not hard to transition into, yet really hard at the same time.  I found myself not even really sure of what to do with myself entirely.  On the way to the airport back home to America everyone was saying how they would miss Guyana so much but I was too afraid to miss people.  I told the people around me to stop because they wouldn’t really miss them.  They might miss those around them for a little snippet of time, but that’s all.

This was yet another thing that I was wrestling with and its something I’ve only recently come to terms with.  I live in the city and meet new people everyday that I will never see again.  And this put a toll on me emotionally because I grew up in a small elementary school and a relatively small high school.  It hurt too much to miss all these people around me.  I told myself to stop missing people to feel better, but how could I really?  I was losing my empathy and love for the lost by marginalizing those around me.

As of right now I’m still struggling and dealing with what my life really is post Guyana.  What is my purpose anymore?  And do I leave all the problems I saw in Guyana and default that I’m just a kid too young to help.  I don’t think I can do that.

This is all for now.