Missionary School Admits Converting Hindu Children with Free Meals
Posted May 29, 2005
St James Plaindealer News
By Paul Murray, News Editor
The Rev. Nirmala (Peters) Reinschmidt, originally from Chennai, India, did her seminary internship at Augustana Lutheran Church in St. James back in 1994-1995. On Sunday, May 22 she returned to Augustana Lutheran as guest speaker, taking a short break from her duties as Associate Pastor at First Lutheran Church of Crystal in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Although Pastor Nirmala focused upon Trinity Sunday in her sermon, she afterwards talked briefly with the Sunday School classes and gave a slide presentation about the Church in India, including her involvement with a missionary school in east India.
Parents in India often send their children to Christian schools, Pastor Nirmala told the Sunday School kids, but this does not mean that either the parents or their children convert from Hinduism to Christianity. Sometimes, it is a matter of the children simply getting a good meal at school during the day which draws parents to send their children to Christian schools.
Hindus feel that they must struggle to get to heaven in comparison with Christian beliefs, Pastor Nirmala added, with Hindu children believing that they must be very good and must try hard to get to heaven.
Privately, Pastor Nirmala expressed concern for the present state of Christian denominations in India. "Christians can no longer conduct outdoor evangelical rallies like they used to," she said. "The fundamentalist Hindu government won't allow it." Anyone converting from Hinduism to Christianity, moreover, must go to a government office and testify that the conversion was totally voluntary and that the individual was baptized of his/her own free will.
Pastor Nirmala explained that she herself is a "third generation Christian," and that her family was originally converted by missionaries from Denmark. Now, however, missionaries can only come into India as "visitors" and not as permanent residents. Read more on this story in the May 26 issue of the St. James Plaindealer.