entering the land of the gods

a study abroad journey

Pearl City Church

After an amazing spiritual experience last Sunday, I was thrilled to be able to check out a church here in Hyderabad! One of my new friends, Katie, had heard about a place and invited me to come along. It so turns out that an Indian student on campus was also attending the same church so he offered to take me there. Perfect planning!

The church is called Pearl City Church. From the web page, I realized that it was a very evangelical church so I was not surprised to walk into the “sanctuary” to find a stage, theatre seating, and concert lights. (Check out the website here:Β Pearl City Church)

The service was your classic evangelical service you find in the U.S.- contemporary music, full praise band, shouts of alleluia, and “call-t0-action” preacher. I was surprised to find that I did not know a single song we sang! After a few tunes the offering was passed and then communion was shared. Instead of walking up to receive the elements, they were brought to us in our seats and we consumed both together.

As is the format to evangelical worship, the sermon is the pinnacle of the service, and takes up the most time. The pastor spoke about the book of Hebrews. He explained how the book develops a case for Christ and urges the reader to take belief in Christ. It was a very good overview of the book of Hebrews but what threw me off was that he kept making references to Jews saying that if they would read Hebrews than all doubt would vanish and they could convert to Christianity. It made me wonder, are there Jews in the audience that are struggling with this or is he just using this example excessively? I do not feel like that was an effective way to make his point. However, he is right in the fact that Hebrews makes a great case to believe in Christ.

Hearing this message made me realize that I do not have a evangelical-missonary heart and I need to be more respectful of people that do. I personally do not feel like it is my place to change another person’s beliefs. I cherish the faith conversations I have with others in discussion of differences, similarities, and values. It is these beliefs that make our world so diverse and with which so many cultures have been formed. I am, rather, one to show my faith through my actions and words. If one is curious by what I believe than I am happy to explain and help them discover Christ if they desire it.

The ultimate truth is that no one honestly knows which faith is actually “real” in our world. Hinduism, Buddism, Judiasm…have all been around for centuries, claiming that they are the truth. Now, I full-heartedly believe in the ideas of Christianity due to a crazy concept called faith, but who am I to disregard all those other religions that have shaped our world!? I feel like we need to almost preserve these faiths. Could it be possible for a religion to go extinct? Probably not, but what a sad day that would be. Gosh that sounds so weird because ultimately I was raised to believe that without faith in Christ, one will not be saved at the time of trial. But what about God? Christians, Jews, and Muslims all share the same God…doesn’t that mean anything? I think it is so beautiful that we have that common aspect and that we can join in worship (and we do thanks to the Interfaith Council in Lincoln) to praise our Father in heaven!

I’m sorry, I am rambling.

Afterwards there was a call to prayer which was very dramatic with music. The pastor asked people to raise their hands if they were physically hurt, in financial trouble, etc, etc. While I usually enjoy prayers of the community, it felt very staged and strange to me. I yearned for some time of peace and quiet.

All in all, the service was not my style but I sort of knew that going into it πŸ™‚ However, I did meet a diverse group of people. There were people of every race and age at that service! I met the most gorgeous couple from South Africa with fair skin and bright blue eyes. They grew up in South Africa, got married, and are studying at another university in Hyderabad. They have been her 7 months and are earning their entire degree here- how ambitious for newlyweds!

I do hope to go back simply to keep meeting people and challenging my mind of topics of faith. However, I would like to try to do some church hopping as well πŸ™‚

 

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