How do I attract an Indian atheist to our joyful God?


Sr. Louise Zdunich

December 2, 2013

QuestionRecently, I met a young man from India who has decided not to believe in any God since his country has too many gods, one they pray to for this and another one for that. He loves our country and is glad to have a job, but that's it.

I'll likely see him again as he lives in my neighbourhood. I told him that we had only one God who loves us and takes care of us. I'd like to get him to read something but I'm afraid he wouldn't be interested. I'm praying to God for inspiration and maybe God will inspire me through you.

AnswerThis isn't going to be a quick or easy task and you'll need to take small and cautious steps so as not to alienate him.

Probably the only thing to do, at this point, is to pray for him and continue being pleasant to him with no mention of religion. If you show much joy in your encounters, he may begin to wonder what gives you such a joy-filled attitude.

We Christians, too often, encounter others with rules and regulations but with little joy in Christ to show to the world.

We should be singing and dancing at having such a wonderful God who has saved us without our even asking.

In Revelation (3.20), Jesus tells us that he knocks at the door of our heart waiting to be let in so he can sit down and eat with us. Imagine! He is just waiting on us to open up.

Sitting down together for a meal is a sign that God is in our midst. Jesus is depicted in the Gospels as enjoying a meal, even in the homes of sinners and tax collectors. He invites himself as he did with Zacchaeus: "I must stay at your house today" (Luke 19.1-10).

Eventually, you could invite him to some social activity at your church since there too, he would see believing Christians interacting with joy. It might be suitable to invite him to a youth activity in the parish. Perhaps, you could invite him to a religious service where there is much joy and interaction.

These ideas may help you think of ways to make him more comfortable with the idea of God. But, I repeat, time and caution, and especially God's help, are needed.

In encounters with others, I hear: "I like Pope Francis. He is filled with such joy and simplicity." It's true. Pope Francis portrays the joy of Christ to the whole world.

Joy certainly attracts more effectively than gloom. St. Francis of Sales, I believe it was, once said, "You can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar."

Eventually, this young man may be interested enough if you give him something engaging to read about Christ. Don't expect it to happen quickly. Monica prayed for her son, Augustine, for many years before his eventual conversion. Her waiting paid off. Her son became a great theologian and saint.

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