Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sadness in Calcutta

In the late 70’s, ACTION had a missionary couple serving in Calcutta, India, and I would visit them from time to time from Manila. On one occasion we visited the ministry of Mother Teresa and were saddened greatly knowing again that there was no gospel-centered message or activities. It is wonderful that the patients were being cared for, but there was no ministry to the soul from the Bible in preparation for dying.

While the nuns were taking a siesta one day, several Indian believers, missionaries and I were able to visit the patients. We went from bed to bed praying, sharing the gospel and giving them a gospel booklet of the Word of God. We were received with much appreciation. The patients begged us not to leave, but to stay because their souls were so dark, they lived in fear and they all knew they were dying and they were not prepared.

Mother Teresa’s approach was simply to take care of anyone, but to allow them to die in their own faith: Muslim, Hindu, Confucius, Atheists, Christian, Catholic and so forth.

Recently I read the biography written about Pastor John MacArthur. In the book, the author, Ian Murray, shares a similar experience to the one just described:

“Two of the most frequently visited tourist spots were within walking distance from the Mission House, and, with misgivings, they scrambled along sidewalks, between dogs, people, and filthy oozing drains to these locations. Naked children, pleading for money, were on all sides:

Patricia, with her tender heart for the little ones, found it especially difficult to give them nothing. They sensed her sympathy and so clung to her in clumps. We resisted giving them anything on account of urgent advice given to us on how to act in urban centres.

Their first stop was at Mother Teresa's convent where they spent some time with the aged lady whose care for the sick and dying had made her famous. They were impressed with her success in recruiting helpers, with the abundance of medical supplies, but sad at the vacuum where gospel truth was needed. Conversation with Mother Teresa revealed a very vague understanding of Christianity. ‘All my people die beautiful deaths', she assured them. 'I love and respect all religions, but I love m Jesus.' But in a city where Hindus believe Jesus was the seven incarnation of Shiva, and Krishna the eighth, the 'Jesus' was not presented as the only Lord, Savior, and Mediator. Nor had Roman Catholic teaching helped Mother Teresa in that regard. ‘May you enter the heart of Jesus through Mary', she wrote in Bible of one visitor.

If this convent visit was disturbing, still more so was their second stop that afternoon. 'Crushed between the dilapidated buildings of the crowded city, and down an obscure alley next to Mother Teresa's home', they found the temple of Kali, the wife of Shiva, a member of the Hindu trinity of gods (Brama, Vishnu, and Shiva). This appeared to be the religious focal point of Calcutta, and the place where animal sacrifice was carried on every afternoon at 3 pm. Amid noise and incense, demon worship was busily in progress, including the disgusting worship of a male phallus:

Staring Satan's worship cold in the face was a chilling experience-my inside felt icy though I was dripping with the sweat of heat and sickness. To think that Mother Teresa was there and helping people physically but not confronting Satan's hellish domain was sad. It all looks so hopeless and so dishonoring to Christ. I felt I had really seen the kind of idolatry the Old Testament speaks of and there was a form of Christianity tolerating it. Truly these are a people in bondage to fear all their lives.

MacArthur's feelings in the temple of Kali were akin to those of the psalmist when he wrote, 'Indignation has taken hold of me, because of the wicked who forsake your law'” (Psa. 119:53).

John MacArthur (Servant of the Word and Flock) by Iain H. Murray
Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2011 (Pages 100-101)

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