3/26/11 Raman, 26
At the IIT student center, after introducing myself and getting his permission to ask a few questions, I sat down to talk with a student there named Raman. He grew up in a Hindu family in India, with a devout mother and a father disinterested in religion, and has just graduated with his master’s degree in computer programming. Raman had followed his father’s non-religious path until only recently, when he started attending “Krishna Consciousness” (Hare Krishna, a sect of Hinduism) seminars at IIT on Fridays. After just two of these meetings he was becoming very interested in their beliefs. With this background it is easy to understand that Raman had a very different worldview than my own. He seemed passionate about his beliefs and explained what he knew of Krishna philosophy for a good amount of time. Then it was my turn, and I asked what his experiences were with Christianity. His only encounter had been attendance at a dinner given in celebration of an Indian holiday at a nearby church. Apparently all the IIT students from India had been invited. They didn’t share any Christian beliefs at the church so I asked if he’d like an explanation of them. He did, and after I had talked a while I began to notice that Raman, like so many of my listeners, began replacing his nods of affirmation that he understood with looking up and away in thought. This sort of body language usually means the person doesn’t agree with what I am saying and doesn’t want to keep nodding like he does, so I paused to say “I realize you may not agree with these beliefs, but do you understand what I am saying?” This gives my listeners freedom to listen without committing themselves to agreement, and allows me to share and answer questions freely, giving them the “big picture” of the gospel without getting bogged down in the details. We need to give our unbelieving friends – especially those with a very different world view – time to process what we are saying intellectually before we can expect them to receive it spiritually.