The Mentoring Across Cultures apprenticeship, or Mentac, is adding another string to its bow in 2024 with the establishment of a training program to reach Sydney’s growing Hindu population.
Until now, Mentac – which operates under the umbrella of the Church Missionary Society – has focused on ministering to Muslims. Apprentices immerse themselves for two years in Muslim communities such as Lakemba, and are supported and mentored as they live among people from very different backgrounds, love them well, share Jesus with them and consider long-term cross-cultural work here or overseas.
To date, half the people who have completed Mentac are serving in Muslim-majority countries, with several more continuing to work among Muslims in Sydney.
Last month a Mentac stream for Hindus was launched at CMS Summer School. At the helm is Clive B, who has had a heart for ministry to Hindu people for the past 20 years.
Last year he left his role as an assistant minister at Merrylands to train churches and individuals for ministry to Hindus and other South Asian people in Sydney.
“Twenty years ago, there weren’t many people thinking about reaching people from Hindu backgrounds, but God has been bringing more and more Hindus to Australia and South Asians are now the largest migrant group in Australia,” Mr B says.
He says that as he sought to learn about Hinduism in the early 2000s, “the more I learned, the more I realised how diverse and confusing it can be.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just read the Hindu scriptures’... but there are so many! It’s said that no human being can read all the Hindu Scriptures in their lifetime. There’s no single founder like Mohammed or Jesus, and no creed or doctrine that defines what Hindus believe. Hinduism is practice and experience.”
Over the years, God has taught Mr Buultjens a good deal about the Hindu worldview and South Asian cultural values.
“As we share the gospel, we often try to engage with people intellectually or theologically,” he says. “But most Hindus are not engaging intellectually with their faith. It’s much more experiential. They want to know what the Christian experience of following Jesus looks like... They want to see if following Jesus works. Does Jesus really change my life? Does he make sense of everything? Do Christians actually live with Jesus as Lord?
“In addition, we often focus on an individual and try to evangelise or read the Bible with people one to one. But Hindus just don’t think about their lives as detached from their family or community. Every decision is seen in light of the impact on the group... So [we need to] help Hindus get to know Jesus while honouring and staying connected to their community.”
“Never walk in darkness”
Mr B now partners with five Sydney churches to reach out to Hindus and South Asians and holds a monthly meeting with those keen to increase their skills in ministering to this growing people group. He says the highlight last year was when everyone came together in November to make connections and do Bible storytelling at the Diwali festival in Wentworthville.
“It was awesome. We asked people what Diwali, the festival of lights, meant to them. There was a range of things, but for most there was the general hope that light will defeat the darkness – to which we were able to say, ‘Did you know that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world?” So, if you trust in Jesus, you will never walk in darkness’. It was such a great opportunity to connect with people.
“God has been answering my prayers for believers and churches to realise the need to reach this massive mission field. There’s so much need and so few workers, so that’s why I’m excited that CMS has agreed for us to start a Hindu Mentac.”
For general details about Mentac visit the website here.
- Give thanks for the 28 people who have completed the Mentac Muslim apprenticeship and are sharing their lives and faith with Muslims here and overseas; pray the ongoing work and training will change many lives for God’s glory.
- Pray the Lord would raise up people to take part in the new Hindu Mentac program, and that many Hindus would come to trust and worship Jesus.
- Pray for both Mentac pathways to honour God through their ministry, remain faithful to his word, and rely on his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.