Niraj* seemed to be a confident, easy-going medical student. But at night, it was a different story. He was haunted by nightmares and always slept with the light on. What he learned in medical school had not been able to help him, so he kept a knife under his pillow to keep the bad dreams away.
An attractive community
Niraj is one of around 1,500 students from India, studying in Yerevan, Armenia’s ancient capital city. He’s a regular at the IFES student Bible studies and even attends their prayer meetings, along with other Hindu classmates. He loves the community. It’s a place of escape, away from the Indian international student bubble; it’s a place of acceptance, unrelated to his academic performance. No gossip, no back-biting, no pressure.
As for the Christian stuff – he could get on board with much of it. Jesus seemed like a good idea, and didn’t seem incompatible with his loose Hindu beliefs. But his Christian friends told him that he had to choose: you can’t just add on Jesus to another set of beliefs. It’s all or nothing. Following Jesus will affect every part of your life. Your work, your marriage, your speech, your money, your free time.
It sounded a bit intrusive to Niraj.
Hinduism plus Jesus
Niraj’s story is not uncommon. Each year, hundreds of Hindu students from India arrive in Armenia. Tuition is cheaper and university places are easier to find. Medical students like Niraj are there for six years – so there’s time to invest in them. And they’re keen to be part of IFES activities and community. But many, like Niraj, adopt a ‘Hinduism plus Jesus’ framework. A whole-hearted leap of faith to trust in Christ alone is hard. Niraj’s friends have been praying for him to come to faith in time. For some, it’s a matter of small steps.
Recently, Niraj took another small step.
He no longer sleeps with a knife under his pillow.
Instead, he prays:
“Jesus, You are with me. You are watching over me. So I’m going to bed.”
Pray, with Niraj’s friends, that he’d come to trust more and more fully in the God whose ways are better, whose grace is sufficient, whose love casts out fear.