For Hindus in Trinidad and Guyana the solution to the missionary conversion crisis should be logical and urgent. You simply can’t afford to be losing members at the catastrophic rate of 10% per year.
One logical approach is the comparative. Are there any models of success in holding off the missionaries in a comparable situation?
The answer is yes, and common sense dictates that the Hindus should learn from this model. Which is the Muslims in Trinidad and Guyana, who have beaten off the missionaries quite noticeably over the past several decades.
How have they done it?
They make sure to educate their children on the basics of Islam, how to defend Islam against attacks and conversion attempts. So pretty much all Muslims know the simple basics of the religion, and most important, how Islam relates to other religions.
So on the simplest level, when a missionary tells a Muslim young or old the good news is that Jesus has come to save us from sin (original sin) that Muslim will say we don’t believe in such sin and therefore don’t need Jesus to save us from it.
Missionary says we would like to come to your home to do Bible study. Muslim is primed to say no thank you we have the Koran as our Bible.
Missionary says we would like to leave this pamphlet about Jesus, we would like to invite you to the church service or special service coming to your area, we want to invite the children to our Sunday school, the Muslim politely refuses.
Missionary says you are worshipping a false god, Muslim shuts the door in his face. Missionary asks the Muslim to become a Christian to get salvation and the Muslim rejects him off the bat because he knows leaving Islam is big trouble.
In short, the Muslim has pre-programmed answers for the missionary line of attack and many know what is the aim of the missionaries so they don’t bother even to engage them in discussion.
I understand too that the Muslim maktab education program at least in Trinidad is generally very simple, very basic, and pitched at elementary school level, though some can go higher. It doesn’t equip them for high level theological discussions, but only enough to know the simple skeleton of Islam that they follow, and how to stave off attacks by missionaries or critics. They are serious about every young Muslim having some of this education, and that is critical.
Can the TT and Guyana Hindus start doing something like that for ALL the kids and the parents too who didn’t get it at an early age?
If they can’t do it, then they might as well admit Caribbean HInduism is toast and stop fooling themselves.
And for those who will say why don’t you do that Hindu education program for your Hindus in Canada as an example to follow, I will have to answer: We haven’t done it and probably won’t be able to do it soon either, but then we don’t have that Christian missionary conversion problem any way as bad as you do.
And of course the mass Hindu education program is not all needed for Caribbean Hindu survival, and I stress mass program because little piddling programs here and there are not going to do it.
Hindus should also learn from the successful operation of the Christian churches sending out the missionaries. They have enjoyable Sunday schools for their kids, done by well trained people. I’ve been to one in my youth and I swear it was better for us kids than any puja where we were only spectators.
Their pastors and lay preachers are specifically trained in how to give dynamic and inspiring sermons and speeches, and they outclass most pundits by a mile. Their churches have women’s groups, youth groups, counselling services for those having problems, employment assistance, programs for seniors, people visiting the sick in hospitals and prisons, home Bible study programs (other than the basic Christian education), pre marriage counselling services, enjoyable outings and excursions, sports programs, music training programs, you name it they have what we Hindus don’t.
Missionary conversion is not the only thing they are good at. They take care of their own, they make their people feel good, they alter behaviour for the better in most cases and they are on a roll with a winner wave.
When I was in university I did a project paper on the growth of the Open Bible Church and I was blown away by the dynamism, the organization, the enthusiasm and bubbling satisfaction of those Pentecostals in what they were doing.
Check them out or any of the major Christian churches and see for yourself how an ongoing franchise functions.
Here in Canada I have done a quick study of the United Church, which by their own admission is losing members and going down hard like all Christian churches here.
They are going down but going down fighting and still full of vigor and hope. Their organization, their structures, their pastors, their training programs, their 400,000 members in 2,774 congregations are a marvel to behold and in organization and systems they outclass any and all of the Hindu groups in Canada that claim 500,000 members.
To the Caribbean Hindus I say, look over what the competition is doing in your neck of the woods before you run your mouth with pie in the sky plans.
If this was a military operation with invaders raiding our territory and stealing our riches, or if it were a commercial business with us losing customers to a sharp and focused competitor we would know what to do.
How come we Caribbean Hindus cannot respond effectively when faced with spiritual competition?