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.

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Wardrobe Basics

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Excuse the spelling error for jewelry!

 

For this week’s video, I’m sharing some wardrobe basics that I personally find so essential in my daily wardrobe. Watch the video of me explaining my picks by clicking here! Below the  YouTube video you’ll also find links in the description with some recommendations to specific products. jewelry

How To Make: Momma’s Beef Curry (Kerala)

I’ve taken AP classes, graduated from high school and college, worked full time- the list goes on. Yet, the idea of making beef curry is more intimidating to me that any academic endeavor I could ever take. In this blog post I’ll be walking you through poorly taken pictures that outline very simply how my mom makes beef (in our case pork) curry. This blog post is for me to look back on but hopefully it can serve as a guide to you as well.

image-1Spot my mom’s feet in the corner- agh this picture quality is cringe worthy but please bear with me.

Sauté ginger + garlic + oil (lots)

The bottom of the pot was coated in a layer of oil with ginger and garlic beginning to brown. 

Add in onions gradually.

We added enough to also cover the bottom of the pot completely. 

 

Add one heaping tablespoon chili powder

Add 2 heaping tablespoon coriander (gives the gravy)

Add 1 heaping tablespoon garam masala

Add 1 teaspoon of cumin powder

Keep in mind, this is not a science, it’s an art. My mom adds in spices based on what she sees is necessary. 

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Add a Sprinkle of asafoetida powder

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Add in beef, in our case we actually used pork instead.

Add water as needed so the pork won’t get dry.

Again, add in as necessary. Too much water and it was watery, not enough and it dries out. Use your discretion. 

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Cook, stir occasionally on high heat (approx 30-40 mins, we ended up needing to wait 50 minutes)

We added 1 additional tablespoon of chili-powder because the dish seemed to be lacking color.

We also added 1 tablespoon of tumeric to adjust to what the dish seemed to need.

When the dish is almost done, add in 1 more tablespoon of garam masala.

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IT’S DONE! This ended up taking 50 minutes instead of the 30 minutes we anticipated. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHANNON! (Sari Sunday: November 15, 2015)

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This week’s Sari Sunday features the phenomenal Shannon Mathew. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHANNON! I’ve known this beauty for her entire life and I’m so happy to feature her in this week’s Sari Sunday. Thank you to Susan Mathew for taking these pictures! I hope our poses aren’t too offensive….

Sari Sunday- September 13, 2015

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I don’t know if anyone else’s parents do this but my mom has a suitcase where she saves all my extra special salwars. It was inside my mom’s secret suitcase that I found this stunning salwar. It was a gift from a close family friend who goes to my church. My favorite aspect of this salwar is the neckline. To be honest, I dressed up because it felt wrong not to do so in such a beautiful salwar.

The bracelet I’m wearing here is from Baublebar, my friend Anitha and I have the same one. It’s our friendship bracelet! Because we’re forever on vacation. 😉

Sari Sunday- August 23, 2015

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As much as I love dressing up and having my picture taken, I love taking pictures of others even more. This week the beautiful Liz is featured. She is wearing a sari from north India that we reworked with some of my mom’s sari wrapping magic. I think I might do a post explaining how to wrap a Sari like this. Comment down below if you’d like that!

As always, have a great Sunday! 🙂

Sari Sunday- August 9, 2015

imageI’m bringing back the Sari in #SariSunday! I wore this sari with a blouse that has a longer sleeve and it honestly made me feel like I was dressing up for someone’s wedding. The blouse doesn’t even go with this Sari! The colors somehow worked and I was in luck. I decided to just pin my hair back because the Sari felt so extravagant.

That’s all for now, I hope you’re enjoying your day. 🙂