Priya Morgan is an Alumna of Moore College
“When Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, what he meant was that you or I were the way, the truth and the life, our god-origin leads us in the way we should go.”
Such were the words that my first boss, a committed Hindu, said about Jesus’s exclusive claim of access to the Father.
And according to the Hindu world view, it made sense. There are many ways to the one destination, and we are in a sense little ‘g’ gods, striving to make our way back to the one, big, all-encompassing deity.
I remember wondering, how would the exclusive truth of Jesus shine brighter in this overwhelmingly versatile religion? A religion where a statue of Jesus would be welcome amongst the many idols in private worship.
It might be a question many of us will be asking as the tide of South Asians arriving in Australia rises. For the first time in a long time, the largest volume and growth in non-Western peoples migrating to Australia is not the Chinese. It is the South Asians, led by Indian and Nepalese background peoples. You may have noticed the changes in your neighbourhood, work, and even within our Christian schooling system. And with the new India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (I-AECTA), the movement of trade and people is only set to increase. And it will be a migration of primarily tertiary education students and working professionals. What new challenges will this pose, especially for churches in cross-cultural settings, who may have geared themselves for asylum seekers and refugees?
What is the SATYA Network?
In the Sanskrit language (an ancient foundational Indian script) the word “SATYA” means “truth” or “truthfulness”.
For many years, individuals, groups and churches have been quietly pottering away, praying and labouring to bring the truth of Jesus to this people group.
In this mix, what was previously known as the “Subbies Committee” in 2012 has been now renamed as the SATYA Network—a revitalised initiative of Evangelism and New Churches (ENC).
SATYA exists to promote gospel ministry to people from the subcontinent, with a particular focus on evangelism and discipleship of people from a Hindu background in the Sydney Diocese and beyond. The network has a heart to see a South Asian Tide turning to Yesu (Jesus) in Australia and following him as Lord and Saviour. It has a particular focus on reaching Hindu people.
Under God, its current activities include:
Hindu MENTAC (Mentoring Across Cultures Program), a once-a-month training program for clergy and lay active evangelists in understanding Hinduism, praying for Hindus and sharpening each other in sharing Jesus in culturally helpful ways (and over a South Asian meal).
Churches and individual groups can also request experienced trainers to attend their meetings and conduct training sessions relevant to their contexts.
Developing and Distributing Resources for prayer and evangelism
Prayer is critical to our efforts and an important resource edited once a year is the Hindu World Prayer Guide to encourage Christians to intentionally pray, considering different elements of the South Asian culture and Hinduism.
The team also continues to work on sourcing and developing evangelistic literature, as well as writing and releasing short articles across several Christian platforms to resource Christians in prayer and evangelism.
Partnership and Promotion
A critical element of the network’s function is to create partnerships with local churches to promote the urgency of reaching this dominant migrant group with the gospel, primarily through attendance at outreach and networking conferences.
2023 Big Things
A significant move in 2023 is the employment of the diocese’s first ever dedicated South Asian Evangelist and Trainer, Clive*, whose heart for this people group was stirred in his days on the university campus in 2001. He will be responsible for evangelising and discipling people from Hindu backgrounds, providing training to individuals and churches in evangelism through Hindu MENTAC and other discipleship programs, and raising up further partners in the ministry.
Further, on 19 August 2023, we will re-launch the annual Satya Conference (formerly Subbies conference)—a half-day conference (including dinner) that invites Christians from around the city to grow their understanding and love for the Hindu people. Speakers include renowned philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi, and Archbishop Kanishka Raffel. The conference will include testimonies, talks, ministry spotlights, and a variety of seminars designed to encourage and equip both ministry workers and keen Christians in their everyday evangelism.
If you have Hindu family members or are building relationships with them in your workplace, sporting teams or schooling communities, we would love to invite you to participate in this conference, as we encourage each other and are challenged by what Scripture says about sharing Jesus with those around us. Visit https://www.satyanetwork.org/satya-conference-2023 for more information about the conference.
One of my favourite go-to passages in the Bible that helps me persevere, especially amongst this group, is Acts 17:22-33. The apostle Paul is confronted by the sincere but false worship of gods that require temples and depend on human hands (like the gods of so many of our South Asian neighbours). Yet he eagerly makes known to them an unknown God, who ordained people for the place and time they are in, in order that they might seek and find friendship in him before the fixed day of his Son’s return as Judge. The time of ignorance has passed, and the time to call people to repentance and dependence on him continues with urgency. As the Lord brings a tide of South Asians to our shores, would you prayerfully join us in loving and proclaiming to them Satya—found not in ourselves, but only in our Lord Jesus?
*Surname withheld by request.