Vinu Subashini Rajus, an international student from India, was born a Hindu, accepted Jesus as Savior in 1997, and serves with the ISMC Ottawa team while continuing her studies. Vinu’s advice on how to engage students from a Hindu background is particularly relevant in light of recent reports that indicate Canada now has more students from India than China.
Talk about families
Students from India have close family ties and many will email and connect with parents nearly every day. Starting your conversation by asking about parents, siblings, and childhood is helpful. Be prepared to talk about your family—who they are and what they do. Family and vacation photos lead to good conversations.
Culture and food
Indians love to explore other cultures and food. A traditional Canadian meal in your home is not only a great way to share culture and traditions, it can easily lead to a conversation about faith. Students from India miss the delicious dishes prepared by their moms, so your tasty Indian food creates memorable experiences.
Caution: never ask about their culture of caste, unless they choose to talk about it. Students from lower castes find this offensive, and may be suspicious about what you are up to.
Build authentic friendships
Most students from India are eager to have sincere Canadian friends who treat them with respect and love. If you want to talk about the gospel, ask if they would like to hear about Jesus. Usually, they don’t mind listening.
Sharing your personal walk with God is helpful, because few Hindus have a personal relationship with their god. Don’t say anything offensive or put down their beliefs. Asking polite questions and listening to opinions are part of a healthy debate on any topic.
Offer hospitality (especially during the holiday seasons)
The holiday seasons are hard on many international students because they can’t afford to return home to be with family. Hosting students and surrounding them with good food and company is a great way to share Christ’s love and alleviate loneliness and homesickness.
Yes, prayer is the key before any conversation with a student from India.