“The Indian girls took us by the hand, and led us through the chaotic and noisy traffic. The three girls have been best friends throughout their youth, and their different faiths in the group were always accepted by one another in the group. During our visits to them, we attended their daily prayers, first in the temple and then in the church”.
This according to Danish high school students Sissel Lindberg & Mette Marcher, who talked about their meetings with three Indian girls and their faiths. Together with their classmates from 2X at Rønde Gymnasium, the 2 Danish girls have recently returned from Tiruvannamalai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the students visited a Christian school called Danish Missionary Higher Secondary School and the interfaith dialogue centre Quo Vadis, which Danmission has established in cooperation with the Indian Lutheran Church called Arcot (Arcot Lutheran Church = ALC).
The English teacher of the Danish high school science class 2X, Peter Westergaard, tells of a great cooperation with Quo Vadis and the Centre’s charismatic leader, the Indian minister Joshua Peter Joshua.
“We were presented with exciting presentations on the historical importance of Danish missions in Tamil Nadu, but also learned a lot about other religions, and visited the enormous Hindu temple in Tiruvannamalia. The students thought it was all very interesting, and kept an open mind concerning
the situation, including the Christian presence in Tamil Nadu, which is found in many places throughout the region”, said Peter Westergaard.
Christa Herum, who is Danmission´s dialogue and communication consultant, posted in Asia, recognized Quo Vadis’ ability to inspire particularly young people, who for the first time venture into meetings with other religions, other people’s beliefs and cultures.
Not one right belief or faith
The Danish high school students also learned that one does not have to be a Christian, or a Christian in a certain way, to be a student at the Christian school Danish Missionary Higher Secondary School in Tiruvannamalia. “The student I visited was Hindu, and his family had very religious and colourful decor all over the place in his home. I am not even sure, that we have a cross in our home in Denmark”, said 18-year-old Andreas Bilstrup to the local newspaper “Syddjurs” after the students had returned last month.
Andreas Bilstrup´s classmate Christoffer Ebbesen added in the newspaper, that he had found that the Indians didn’t care so much about what or who you believe in, if you believe in something.
“One student I met came from a Protestant family background, but he himself was not religious. He said that his parents had had a hard time with him not being religious. But he said that it was not due to the parents wanting him to believe in the Christian God, in Jesus. They simply preferred him to believe in something. So, religion is very important to the Indians”, said Christoffer Ebbesen.
In Tamil Nadu, app. 90% are Hindu, 6% Christian and 4% Muslim. Read more about Danmission´s work in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu here.