September 01, 2023


Rekindling Passion for India: Pastor Ben Marsh

Hosted by

Pieter Friedrich
Rekindling Passion for India: Pastor Ben Marsh
Dialoguing on South Asia (DOSA)
Rekindling Passion for India: Pastor Ben Marsh

Sep 01 2023 | 01:12:43


Show Notes

With Pastor Ben Marsh, the former DC Director for Dalit Freedom Network. Discussing what pulled him into the South Asian sphere, his work on caste and religious freedom issues at Capitol Hill, his views on why American Christians are apathetic towards persecution of Indian Christians and what can be done to rekindle their passion for social justice, and more.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Dialoguing on South Asia, we explore the lives of its people, hear their stories and the histories of the black discover its beauty and encounter, its conflicts, complexities, and harmonies in a search for liberty, peace and prosperity. Interacting with leaders, activists, academics, and common folk from the South Asian sphere about their work and their passions, their dreams and their life journeys, their immigrant experiences, advocacy efforts, religion, politics, and so much more. With this, your host, journalist and author, Peter Friedrich, hand in Hand. We meet and stand with South Asia. This is Doza. Speaker 2 00:00:43 Welcome to the show. Uh, pastor Ben Marsh, thank you for joining and, uh, good morning to you. How are you doing? Speaker 3 00:00:51 Good morning. I'm, I'm doing really well. Happy to be with you, brother, and, and happy to chat about, um, all things India and cast, and all the things that might be on your mind today. This is great. Speaker 2 00:01:03 Awesome. Well, I know that we talked a little bit before about what we intend to cover, but I, I'm seeing the Boba FET helmet in the background there, so maybe we can redirect the conversation towards the topic of Eastern religion and as it appears and, and influences Star Wars. Speaker 3 00:01:21 Yeah, I think that'd be great. I, I, uh, I'm a big Star Wars fan. Um, I have been since I was a little kid. Uh, I think there's, uh, a great deal of Eastern influence in there. I think there's a lot of, um, Jewish mysticism that's built into that. I think there's even christological pictures that you can get out of it. So I've always loved it, but anything you see behind me, uh, you know, my wife designed the background. She said, just a wall of books look terrible. So I had my Yoda up top. I've got my Golden Darth Vader over here and Boba, so yeah, I'm exposed. Um, but no, it's, it's a, it's a, just a, a great series of entertainment and very, very rich, uh, for anybody that wants to exe, uh, modern culture. It's a good place to start. Speaker 2 00:02:08 Excellent. Well, no shame here of, uh, got, uh, my own, my own, um, fair share of, of geek culture that I'm into. Star Wars doesn't tend to be where I veer so heavily, but, uh, I'm more of a Lord of the Rings guy. But definitely have some, uh, star Wars Marvel fans, uh, that are within my Orbit network. Speaker 3 00:02:30 Awesome. So Speaker 2 00:02:33 Ben or Pastor Ben? Um, Speaker 3 00:02:35 Either one's fine. Speaker 2 00:02:36 So, so what's your deal? I, I see that you are an I anti identitarian Christianism, uh, pastor. That's a denomination that I'm actually not particularly familiar with. <laugh>. You could, you could elucidate that and just as, uh, what is your deal? Speaker 3 00:02:52 Yeah, so that, that's so funny. Uh, I'm part of the Christian Missionary Alliance, so if you won't my mind, denomination, that's the, the real deal there. But, uh, that phrase, anti Identitarian Christianism, uh, I got from Samuel Perry and some others online, uh, who are sociologists looking into this kind of current movement of, uh, people who are using Christian language and identity, but more, uh, in the sense of building off of secular cultural milestones and, uh, political milestones. So what I'm trying to do in everything that I do is separate what is really of Christ and of the church versus what is culture using, um, Christian identity, Christian cultural, uh, you know, milestones or touchpoints to support what is really secular achievements or a secular culture. Um, you know, the biggest one that kind of started off this thought in my mind is like the whole thing about Starbucks, uh, holiday cups versus, you know, Merry Christmas. I mean, you got Starbucks saying Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas, and people making a big deal about this. Well, if Christmas is really of the church, I, it, it doesn't really matter what, you know, secular, capitalistic corporations are, are making as their centerpiece for the holiday season. It's just, it just doesn't matter. It shouldn't be something that, that we care about. It certainly shouldn't be something living in a First Amendment country in America should care about. Let 'em say whatever they want. They sell, sell Speaker 2 00:04:30 Coffee. So are you, are you arguing then that the culture wars that are being fought in America, especially from my perspective over the past 10 to 20 years, are not actually the, the core, uh, of the Christian faith? Speaker 3 00:04:43 Yeah, I think they're a gigantic waste of time and money and really just lend themselves to political manipulation. Um, and to the feeling, this is what really bothers me as a pastor to the feeling that you're doing something Christian that is actually something secular, but because you're using the word Christ or Christmas or whatever you feel like, and you get the approval of others around you as though you are doing something that is uniquely Christian when, when you're actually not Speaker 2 00:05:11 Well and, you know, doing something Christian, feeling like you're doing something Christian, when the end result is that you're actually creating this kind of hostility and this polarization, for instance, with the Starbucks issue, you, you know, it's, uh, as you mentioned, it's this giant secular corporation. So in, in, in a great sense, who cares what they do under, especially under this first Amendment perspective. But at the same time, by hammering them for, for not using the terminology that you as a Christian think that they should use about, uh, Christian season or Christian holiday, all you're ultimately ending up doing is, is pushing them away and creating Speaker 3 00:05:51 <crosstalk>. You're pushing 'em away. And also I think you're giving a pass to, uh, the real question, which is, what does it mean for the church to be Christian? Hmm. I mean, who, who caress if Starbucks is Christian, what does it mean for the church to be uniquely Christian? And that's a question that just seems to be lost in the ether nowadays. Speaker 2 00:06:12 Yeah. Well, I have been very, um, keenly aware of these culture war issues, especially over the past couple of years because of my own work. Uh, of course, as I say, the questions raised in the culture wars, whichever side you fall down on, are, are important questions. Um, although I think that the way that people place the level of importance on them in terms of, of, uh, determining that they need to have political solutions mm-hmm. <affirmative> rather than just really, uh, need to have, uh, uh, uh, uh, settled answers. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, is, uh, certainly problematic. But it's especially drawing my attention because of my work, because my experience has been that with the American Christian Church on, on both sides of, of this culture wars debate, that very few of them, uh, have time to pay attention to anything else beyond, um, the, the bickering back and forth at each other and the polarization of, of left versus right within the church in America. Speaker 2 00:07:18 While there's so many pressing issues going on in the rest of the world, outside of America, beyond our borders, which are issues of, I would argue far greater urgency issues, not just of, you know, does, does Starbucks say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas, or, uh, you know, is this book banned in in a, in a library or not? Or what, what have you? But issues of, of life and death of, especially for the church, of not even being able to safely assemble up for Sunday service, which is something that we have basically not never had to worry about, uh, by and large, um, with some exceptions depending on the issue, but never had to worry about as Americans is, can I safely go to Sunday service? Speaker 3 00:08:08 Right. Speaker 2 00:08:08 So you're a, you're a Pastor Ben, um, you're based out of North Carolina. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how long have you been a pastor? What got you into it? Speaker 3 00:08:17 Yeah, I've been a pastor for, oh, almost about 20 years. Um, when I was coming outta college, I actually had a political science background, went to Duke, and I really had no idea what I was gonna do when I graduated college. Um, and my wife and I were invited to some family friends of hers. Uh, we were engaged at the time we weren't married, but, uh, we went to some family friends of hers where we heard a gentleman who, uh, is a person of low cast background sharing his story of conversion. And, uh, after he converted to becoming a Christian, he was beaten. Speaker 2 00:08:52 This gentleman, uh, originated from India. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:08:55 This story is in India. So the meal that I was having was, was here. Speaker 2 00:08:59 This happened in India. Speaker 3 00:09:01 Yeah. But what happened to him was in India. Speaker 2 00:09:03 I, I understand. Speaker 3 00:09:04 Yeah. Yeah. So he, he was sharing at a dinner in the States to do some fundraising and raise awareness. Um, but what he shared was about how he converted was beaten by people in his, in his local village, was actually paraded through the town, um, on an animal, some cattle. And, uh, they mocked him, said, be like Jesus, be like Jesus. And, and actually threw acid on his face. His face had the acid, uh, burns on it still. So he shared this story, and my thinking at the time was, well, I, I was gonna do something in, in the nonprofit world, in politics, whatever. And at that moment, really, you know, for the first time discovered this issue of untouchability and the nexus of that with caste and the politics of India. And I was invited, um, by D F N to go out and, um, visit India. You Speaker 2 00:09:56 Know, I'm, and this was about when? 2003? Speaker 3 00:09:59 Uh, yeah, this was 2003 that I, that I first went 2003, 2004. Um, it would've been in oh four 'cause it was spring break. This, Speaker 2 00:10:07 I'm sorry to interrupt, but, uh, you've met this gentleman, you said from a low cast background. Was he, was he dallet or, or, or a different, uh, Speaker 3 00:10:15 I think he was dallet. I, I, I think, you know, in my recollection, uh, that he himself was d he's, he's since passed. He was an older gentleman Speaker 2 00:10:22 And the haze of, in the haze of memory. Do you recall where in India he was from? Speaker 3 00:10:27 Uh, hi. He and his family, uh, were from northern India. Okay. But I don't remember which state, um, particularly that his family was from. Um, I just remember being motivated, motivated by the story to say, yes, I'll go to India. And came back from India. So enchanted, uh, with the idea of doing whatever I could do to help, uh, people whom across India were being, um, shunted because of their caste status and because of their religious conversions. Um, of course, I became aware of what was happening in Gujarat, uh, at the time. Um, uh, Speaker 2 00:11:09 And this is, this is 2003, four that you went to India? Speaker 3 00:11:13 Yeah. This is, uh, how Speaker 2 00:11:14 Long Speaker 3 00:11:14 Did you go? 2004 is when I went to India. 2003 is when I met this guy. Okay. Uh, and so after I came back, that was my spring break, my kind of college, senior year spring break, I came back. Oh, were you Speaker 2 00:11:26 There for a couple of months in India, or a few Speaker 3 00:11:28 Weeks? Goodness, no, a week. Just a week. That's all I had for spring break. Speaker 2 00:11:32 Okay. Speaker 3 00:11:33 Uh, but I came back and that summer, well, summer, Speaker 2 00:11:35 That beats Miami Beach. Speaker 3 00:11:36 Yeah, it did. <laugh> in heat and in flavor, um, <laugh>. Yeah, it was, we were mainly in South India. We did some travel to the north, but boy, it was hot. And you come off that plane and they give you a hot cup of chai and, you know, you're sharing a plate, uh, of food. And that was one of the things, you know, we don't eat with our hands here, and here I'm landing on a plane sitting with, uh, d people, and everyone's eating with their hands. And your immediate thought as a westerner is, well, I'm not gonna eat with my hands. And then you realize you're all sharing one plate as a symbol of oneness and commonality. Yes. And I realized in that moment, no, there's a humility here, but also a respect that needs to come into play. And I gladly shared the delicious biani, um, hydro Bani is still something I can't find anywhere else in the world. Um, and so after that, I said, yes, I'll serve in any way that I can. It's Well, Speaker 2 00:12:29 So let me, uh, uh, you said you would serve in any way you can after that, but I just don't want it, uh, to go Yeah. Uh, to pass unnoticed that actually eating with one's hands, um, a aside from Yes. Well, within the cast paradigm, uh, represents this oneness that there is no cast between us. There is no untouchable, but it's also takes a lot of skill, a surprising amount of skill versus, Speaker 3 00:12:55 Especially with the biani <laugh> Speaker 2 00:12:57 Versus shoveling food in, in with a fork. Speaker 3 00:13:00 Yeah. And it was spicy, so I had to coat everything in yogurt just to down it. Uh, and so I had these very yellow, Speaker 2 00:13:06 And don't touch your face afterwards until you've washed your, washed your hands. Speaker 3 00:13:10 Very yellow yogurty fingers that I was dealing with after that. It's funny, Speaker 2 00:13:15 <laugh>. So after that, um, you said Yes, uh, your, you would, your heart was touched, you would be interested in serving. Speaker 3 00:13:22 Yeah. And so the D FN said, great, we're gonna send you to DC and, and what is Speaker 2 00:13:26 D Speaker 3 00:13:26 Event? Just to go Freedom Network, uh, which was an organization birthed out of, um, partnerships with churches in India and the United States, uh, to do a few different things. Um, one was, you know, child sponsorships at the time was a big thing in American Christianity. So I was doing child sponsorship for schools, uh, that they were opening, um, in, uh, outcast, low cast areas. Speaker 2 00:13:53 Um, and, and, and that's, that's where here in America, for instance, you can sign up for like 20 or $50 a month. Exactly. And that will sponsor one child's education over there. Speaker 3 00:14:04 Exactly. Yeah. And that was all the rage in the early two thousands. Um, it was to do, um, in the context of those schools and those communities where the schools were to do economic development, um, micro loans were becoming a very big thing. And so developing microloan programs and, um, cooperative work environments, especially for women, uh, and then, uh, to do the political activism, uh, the social justice piece, which was what I was doing in Washington, dc and they were doing on the ground in India. So to coordinate a partnership of raising awareness in the United States on behalf of, uh, that community in India. Speaker 2 00:14:47 So you graduated from university with this political science background, and then after you encountered, um, this, this gall or lower cast, gentle speaking in America about his conversion experience, you, uh, got a chance to hook up with Scholar Freedom Network with D f mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and go over there, spend a little bit of time on the ground, and then come back and decide, make the choice that you wanted to serve. And you ended up, um, getting hired by D F N, uh, I believe 2004. Speaker 3 00:15:17 Yeah. Hired is a, uh, a wonderful term. It, they were like, Hey, we want you to do this. We have no money, and we can't pay you <laugh>. So it was a self-funded hiring. Um, but I was so in love with the issue and, and just so desperately wanted to help in any way that I could. My wife was fortunate to work for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, so we were able to afford to live and work in DC as a result of that. Speaker 2 00:15:40 Is that where you were from originally? Speaker 3 00:15:42 No, um, from the Raleigh area, although I was, I was born West Coast. I was raised a little bit in upstate New York. I'd lived in North Carolina, uh, since I was, uh, fourth grade, so whatever that is, nine years old. Speaker 2 00:15:55 I can imagine. I mean, I'm raised and brought up, or the same thing, I guess, born and raised, um, in the rural gold country of California and in the Foothills. So I'm a, I'm a country boy at heart, so I have a lot of things I enjoy in dc especially the museums. But, uh, tell you, when I get out there to DC or I've been in, uh, now New York City, uh, probably a good three, four times in the past two months, uh, still, uh, you could take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy <laugh>. And it's still, I don't know about you how you found DC when you got there. Um, but, uh, you know, maybe talk a little bit about that. And, and then especially, um, when you got there and you were focused on politic, this political advocacy work, uh, for, for D F N, what sort of stuff did you do, uh, from that perspective? Well, they were, they were doing sponsorships, economic development, micro loans, the cooperatives over in India. But what was the, what was the need for the advocacy work, and, and what did you put your, uh, hand to? Speaker 3 00:16:59 Yeah. So, DC Boy, we, we, um, we fell in love in many ways. It, it, it, one of the reasons why we'd eventually leave is we wanted to start a family. And I feel like one of the drawbacks of DC is it's a very challenging and expensive place to, to have a family. Um, and so that was kind of one of the long-term limitations. But as two young married people with no kids, it was great. You had culture, you had concerts. Um, I was able to connect with other people who were lobbyists in the religious freedom space. Uh, and at the time, uh, you know, during the, the Bush administration, there was just a lot of conservative Christian political activism of all stripes there. And so we were able to connect with people who were young adults like ourselves that were in the State Department, uh, in the White House, in, in, uh, the halls of Congress. Speaker 3 00:17:54 Um, one of the things that wasn't d f n specific, but which I was able to connect with, was a, um, a, a congressional group of staffers. Some people from states, some people from from the White House, uh, that would meet monthly just to pray for the persecuted church. Uh, and it was fabulous. We'd get together, we'd grill up some food in someone's backyard, and, and we would pray. Uh, I got to coordinate with people that were working on issues of persecution in North Korea, uh, in China, uh, in, uh, Sudan, uh, in dealing with the Civil War in Sudan at the time. There were a lot of connections that I was able to, to deal with, and I was partnered with, almost seconded to an Institute on Religion and Public Policy, uh, that ended up sending me to Sudan, to, uh, Marrakesh, Morocco, to Bangladesh. Speaker 3 00:18:48 Uh, and of course, I would go back to India. So I just, as a young adult, I mean, I had no money, but I got to do all this religious freedom advocacy work, kind of all over the world. Um, it, it made my, my visas in my passport quite questionable. I actually got stopped in Delhi one time trying to head home, because I had been to Sudan, Morocco, and Bangladesh in short order. And it made me a little suspicious <laugh>. Um, but it was captivating. It, it was, um, heady, almost intoxicating, being able to go and as somebody with no money, and just fresh outta college, meet with political leaders all across the world. I, um, I went to the swearing in of Jean Garang as the vice president of a newly, newly united sedan before he, he died in a helicopter accident shortly thereafter. Speaker 3 00:19:33 Um, got to teach classes in Bangladesh on the importance of religious freedom. Uh, so it was, it was kind of all over the place. It was just a fascinating time in my life that I, that I thoroughly enjoyed. And particularly on the India front, what we tried to do was, um, and what I learned from other successful advocates in Washington, DC is try to leverage what little voice you have for maximal effect in news media, uh, and in politics. So rather than come in and say, look, I'm gonna solve all the problems in the world. It's say, what are the current avenues for, for sound, for noise, for, for advocacy to actually be heard and, and work within those channels? So, what existed at the time were, um, of course the, the, um, council for International Religious Freedom in the State Department. Uh, the State Department, uh, had many people working in religious freedom. Speaker 3 00:20:30 We have a US Ambassador for Religious Freedom. We have a us, uh, segment of the State Department focused on trafficking, um, people working on child trafficking in particular, um, people working on justice issues in general. So what we began to do is work with different avenues within the State Department of the White House to elevate the issue of, uh, caste and untouchability within the context of those reports. And so, gradually they started to become more important to where Indio was actually identified, uh, because of goro. And the rim there identified as a major violator of international religious liberty, which they hadn't been identified, um, before, uh, was identified, uh, in new ways in the reports on trafficking, uh, in the reports on justice in general. Um, all these kind of reports that come outta State Department. And then you build on that. So we're able to take those reports to the Congress and say, Hey, can we have a hearing on untouchability? And so we were able to have the first time ever, Speaker 2 00:21:33 Once, once you've done all that groundwork to establish that foundation within the bureaucracy, the State Department, and not them coming out with all the reports that gives you the stack of, of evidence to then go and, and do the second layer of advocacy directly to Congress. Speaker 3 00:21:50 Yep. And then also to connect with that, with the bureaucracy within, you also connect with the, uh, larger voices outside. So we work with the Southern Baptist, um, you know, ethics, uh, and religious liberty group. Um, at the time Barrett Duke was there. And so we would meet with him, uh, we would meet with the National Association of Evangelicals Leadership. They put out a statement of conscience on, uh, untouchability in India. And so you kind of are able to take all these disparate resources that are all factual, they're all, you know, based in what's really going on in the ground in India. And we were able to actually get this hearing on Untouchability and bring people from India over to speak to, um, members of Congress, including a D woman, which is huge, given their status, um, in, in, you know, in India. Culturally. Speaker 2 00:22:42 When was this hearing? Speaker 3 00:22:44 Uh, I wanna say it was 2005 or oh six. I, I, I, I could give you, I could send you the, the actual date. Sure, Speaker 2 00:22:51 Yeah. Yeah. I mean, approximately. But, uh, so this hearing, um, you were able to bring over, uh, these people from India, including a Dali woman, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, couple of questions. Um, would love to hear your perspective. Uh, one is, um, how do you feel that, uh, uh, now from my understanding, this may have been, uh, the only hearing that occurred, um, on this specific issue, which is makes it historic and significant. So, um, I'm curious, um, you know, somebody that was there, what kind of, uh, a turnout did you have or reception did you have from the actual elected officials as far as members of Congress or their staff or that sort of thing that we're participating? Speaker 3 00:23:36 It was 2005, so I just looked it up. And the magnifying effect of this isn't the number of people in the room. 'cause you never get a lot for a hearing unless it's on tv. Uh, whenever you see on tv, all these 20 members sitting there listening to a hearing, I've been in many hearings, and there's like three people in the room. It's like, whatever's minimal to hold the hearing. Um, but the magnifying effect is that it, it made the news in India, front page news in some of the papers in India. And the church in India was able to, uh, evidence this is, Hey, we really care about what's going on with the people on the ground. Um, this matters to us when we, uh, try to treat Doss with respect when we go in and we share the gospel with people. When we live as Christians in the world, we're not rice bowl Christians. We're not trying to convert people just with money and with food. We actually have a genuine concern and care for, for the people that we minister to. Speaker 2 00:24:26 And just to, just to make a note, that is a extremely common allegation raised against converts in India. Yeah. Actually to most religions, but, uh, especially to Christianity, is that, uh, the only reason they're converting is, is it's never out of conscience or sincere, genuine change in heart and belief. It's only ever because they were paid off. Right? They were forced. They were, they got economic incentives. They got a bag of rice that was enough to make them switch their religion and start going to church. Right. Um, that there's this general concept that's propagated in order to, um, uh, advocate against religious freedom, uh, and even mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, advocate for implementation of laws which formally deny religious freedom, which, uh, specifically, um, has this, uh, theory behind it that, uh, genuine conversion just doesn't occur. Right. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:25:27 Right. And at the time, you know, and I'm sure they're wrestling with it now, that's one of the reasons why they would abdicate for these anticon conversion laws. And you have to pay a fee to show your conversion. You lose your cast status. If you convert, you know, all this sort of, Speaker 2 00:25:41 You, depending on the laws, you, you may have to actually go down to the local magistrate and inform 'em, get permission from 'em, uh, formally, uh, undergo a waiting period, et cetera. Speaker 3 00:25:54 Right. So, um, we had this hearing, and I've found the title, uh, India's Unfinished Agenda, equality and Justice for the 2,000,200 million victims of the Caste System. Um, the, the chairman, Chris Smith, um, who is the chairman of the subcommittee that hosted this, has always been an advocate on these issues. Uh, he is a great guy, Republican out of New Jersey, and Yeah, Speaker 2 00:26:16 I, but he may still be in office. Speaker 3 00:26:18 Yeah, I think he is. Um, you know, it made, it made several Indian newspapers. Um, it made newspapers in the United States. Of course, there was big news in the, in the American expat Indian community. Um, and that kind of coincided with the effort to, uh, cancel the visa of Narendra Modi, um, as the, uh, so before Speaker 2 00:26:41 We get to that mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I really would love to talk with you about that, because I know you were involved, but especially for, uh, anybody listening who may not already be in the know, um, what exactly is, is this, uh, is the relevance, you know, in the 21st century of, of talking about caste, talking about, about ditz, those formerly known as untouchables, uh, considering as far back as since 1950 in the Indian Constitution, caste discrimination was banned, was outlawed. The practice of untouchability was, was, was outlawed under the Indian Constitution. So hasn't this all been taken care of? Speaker 3 00:27:19 Yeah, you'd think, um, <laugh>, of course, we as Americans should know very well the, um, difference between words on paper and the law and what gets practiced in, in our courts and criminal justice system, and on the ground. Um, the parallels to the United States, uh, civil rights movement are, are very, I think, keen. Um, and, you know, what has been dealt with in India is actually older and even more culturally entrenched, uh, in many ways than what the United States did as a relatively young country, and certainly a younger culture than the Indian culture. Um, so I think it's wishful thinking on any of our parts. If we ever were to think that words on a page would dictate what happens on the ground, particularly when you get into, you know, villages where, um, police and local authorities can easily be paid off or related to the perpetrators of violence. Speaker 3 00:28:15 Um, you know, it has ramifications in the United States. Uh, there are people that are killed in the United States because of, um, you know, marriages out of cast, high cast to untouchable or low cast. Um, there was instances of that, uh, in, even when I was in DC at the time, um, in Detroit, there were people that, uh, were reporting that would happen. 'cause there's a large expat community there. Um, and I read of another case in Chicago where a person who was of an upper cast background, um, married a Christian person and there ended up being, um, some abuse. And I think either a murder or some criminal activity there, I don't remember the specifics. Um, but, you know, one of the realities is as the church, when we hear the words of Jesus, um, blessed are the poor that that has to mean something. Speaker 3 00:29:06 And when we look at the activities of Christ on Earth in his specific and intentional love for people, uh, who were cut off from the community either because of disease or because of, um, cultural, um, boundaries that were drawn, uh, when you look at the story of the Good Samaritan and the question resounds, who is my neighbor? Uh, I find that a big part of the answer to your question of why does this matter? Why we do this, is do we have a consistent witness that what is wrong is wrong, and what is right is right. And if we can't speak to an issue, uh, like Untouchability, and, uh, if we can't speak to the injustice across the board that occurs as a result of that, whether it's legal or not, uh, even if it's just rooted in culture, if we can't speak to that, then what can we speak to? Um, what, what right do we have? What two legs do we have to stand on if we can't call evil, evil? Um, and at the time, there were a lot of young, um, active Christian evangelicals that held to that belief that we really could be politically active in a positive way across the aisles for people that were facing severe injustice. And, Speaker 2 00:30:25 And, and that the answer to who is my neighbor is, you know, uh, we go back and we read, actually read the story again. Uh, the answer to who is my neighbor, uh, is not the, the always the person in the pew next to me who happens to share my theological, and especially my political beliefs Speaker 3 00:30:44 And my cultural background Speaker 2 00:30:45 Yeah. And my cultural background. Right. That, that is not the answer. Speaker 3 00:30:48 Right. Speaker 2 00:30:50 So, within, within this, uh, context of your work with, with D F N in, uh, 2005, that would've been, I guess probably only about a year or so into, into you, uh, beginning with, with, uh, D f N formally, uh, you were, uh, involved, um, in helping to get, um, Modi's, uh, visa denied for travel to the US. Now, why, who, who, who was Modi at the time, um, and why, why were you interested in getting his, his, his visa, uh, denied for him to come here to the u uh, to the us? And what did that have with, what did that have to do with the work being done at Dollar Freedom Network? Speaker 3 00:31:36 Uh, so, you know, one of the realities of being an advocate is you're always working in network, right? So, uh, I, this wasn't even my idea. I would never claim it to be my idea. I don't know whose idea it was. I, I can't remember which kind of nonprofit person or which person within the context of, uh, Congress or state came up with the idea. But, um, there was a law, there still is a law, uh, significant law on religious freedom. Uh, that was, uh, passed shortly before this time. Um, I, I can't remember if it was 2002 or 2008. I believe it was Speaker 2 00:32:08 In 98. Speaker 3 00:32:09 Oh, was it 98 was the other, if Speaker 2 00:32:11 I recall correctly. I, yeah. Speaker 3 00:32:13 And one of the kind of unused, and hasn't really been used much since, um, parts of this law was that people who have been identified as severe violators of religious freedom could have their, uh, visa revoked specifically for that reason, even if there was no other cause for their visa to be denied or revoked, if they were a severe violator of religious freedom, uh, that they could have their, their visa revoked. And so we, uh, started to advocate within the State Department, and again, at the time, you had a lot of really great young, sharp minds that were advocating within the State Department already. And so, having outside voices like the Southern Baptist, like, uh, the n a e, um, uh, you know, voices from Congress lobbying as well, uh, the State Department, um, denied his visa. He was coming to speak at a hoteliers association in Florida, a lot of hotels, Florida, in the United States, Florida, yeah. Speaker 3 00:33:11 A lot of hotels in the United States are, are owned by Indian Americans or by Indian expats. And it's a very, very big deal. Um, and the reason why they denied it is the United States said that as head of the state, uh, government in Gora between February and May in 2002, that he was the one responsible for the performance of state institutions and particularly withholding, uh, police during, uh, violence and gura in that period of time. It was a comprehensive failure. This is a quote, comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violations of rights to life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state. And so it was, it was a big deal. I mean, this of course, made massive waves o over in India. Uh, it made some significant waves here in the United States. Um, Speaker 2 00:34:02 Was it a, was it a difficult thing to achieve? Speaker 3 00:34:06 You know, because I wasn't part of the internal conversations in the State Department. I don't know. But if I were to guess, I would say it was because partnership with India was a significant, uh, motion within the context of the Bush administration. And Speaker 2 00:34:25 This was actually right around the exact same time as the US India, India nuclear deal was being pushed through 2005 six. Speaker 3 00:34:32 Yeah. You have the, the new deal. You have, uh, anti-terrorist activities, um, you know, in, in the constraint of, uh, terrorism and Pakistan, Northern India and, and, um, you know, Bangladesh and other parts in South Asia, uh, you, you have the economic ties are becoming increasingly important as, uh, there's the outsourcing going on. Um, you know, call centers, tech centers, things like that are being outsourced at the time. Um, so this was, this was massive for somebody who's part of one of India's major political parties, um, uh, an up and coming leader. I think in retrospect, it was probably a, a, a misfire or a backfire in the sense that elevated his position in the eyes of many, uh, Indians in India probably got him money that he never would've gotten before and support, uh, from people in the United States. And because of technology, he was still able to show up and speak, uh, over the internet, uh, at that conference of hotels. Speaker 2 00:35:29 That's a very interesting point. Um, I've never actually heard that it, it, a lot of, a lot, uh, in that that does seem to make some sense. Um, of course, in retrospect, we, we never actually know mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, because it didn't happen. But that's something interesting to consider is if that, if that ban hadn't been pushed through, would it have elevated, uh, Modi to the status that, uh, this, this cult status, would he have, uh, continued to, to rise? Or, or would, uh, it have allowed things to kind of just ripple away and, and they, the B J P over there, uh, or their supporters here, maybe would've turned their attention to somebody, somebody else, uh, somebody that might've been maybe ultimately a little bit less of a problematic, problematic personage. Interesting point. Speaker 3 00:36:15 You know, it's, it, there's some significant, I think, parallels with, you know, people puzzle over, every time Donald Trump gets indicted, it seems like his pulling numbers have gone up over the last, you know, three months. And I think there's significant parallels there. And I, I think that you have to take a realistic assessment of, um, how do people that are able to capture a cultural identity, uh, able to grow amongst their followers and even attract more fans the more that they're hated? Well, the reality is, is, um, you know, if if somebody is hated by somebody that I hate, then now I'm interested in them. Now I'm curious about them. Now I want to know more. Why, why do these other people, you know, um, why did American Christian, you know, uh, conservative evangelical people, uh, ban Modi from coming over to to America? We don't like those Christians, uh, as the B J P, we're tired of seeing conversions happen, and all of a sudden we're gonna elevate Modi to this kind of centerpiece of, of our whole political and sociological and even religious movement. Um, it, it was, I, I think it was, it was a misfire in that regard, or a backfire in, in that regard. And retrospect, of course, Speaker 2 00:37:25 The quantities of advocacy is, is, you know, if as you're trying to draw attention to the issue, you know, does, is is it possible that if you do manage and succeed in drawing large amounts of attention to the issue and achieving what seems to be a victory, even, is that down the road gonna actually result in unintended consequences? Speaker 3 00:37:46 Big, big, big question. I mean, huge, huge question. And it's, it's one that you, you, you can't know the future, so you think you're doing the right thing at the time. I certainly felt like we were doing the right thing at the time we wrote in support of this effort. Um, but it was just, um, I think in the end, something that, that might've fanned the flames, uh, especially for the extremism, uh, and the Far Wings, you know, the R s Ss and others that support Modi's work in India. Speaker 2 00:38:14 Well, so that was 2005. And, and when did you leave, uh, uh, dollar Freedom Network, and what prompted you? What pulled you away? Speaker 3 00:38:23 Well, I, I ended up being called into the pastoral ministry. I, I started seminary in part because I, I wanted to actually continue work in the nonprofit world. Um, but my wife and I were, were thinking of having a family. And, and then when she got pregnant, we realized that, you know, it was gonna be very difficult to raise funds, have a family, and do all the work that we wanna do in DC at the time. So my heart remained there, something I always wanted to go back. Um, there was also some, within the context of the organization, um, some internal conflicts. Uh, there were some accusations of mismanagement. A lot of that I was not privy to. I mean, I was very low man on the totem pole. I wasn't in any kind of c-suite leadership position. Um, but it was sufficient for me as a young man to say, I'm in over my head. Speaker 3 00:39:09 I need to have more experience in the world. I need to not just be, um, a pawn that kind of, you know, goes from one part of the chess board to the other. Uh, I need to be able to take a step back and, and really evaluate, you know, what do I believe and how do I accomplish what I believe? And so I went back to seminary, and during the course of seminary felt, uh, called to ministry, uh, was hired back at the church where I grew up actually, and was there for 15 years. And, and now I've been a lead pastor where I'm for five. Um, and so I could see myself going back into this world. Um, I, I love speaking on, talking about advocating in the, in issues of justice at present. I work, uh, on a nonprofit board. I'm, I'm the chair of a board, uh, for an organization called Monarch that provides mental health services in the state of North Carolina. We're one of North Carolina's largest providers in that area. Uh, so I've loved the nonprofit world, and I love the advocacy world. It's something I'll never leave. And definitely one day, you know, if God frees me and says, go, I'd, I'd love to go back and advocate whether it's the, the issue of Ds, religious freedom, or there's some other issue that God might have for me, um, always have kept that in my heart. Speaker 2 00:40:18 Well, I know for a fact that, uh, things in India have only gotten a lot worse. Yes. Uh, since you, you left and, uh, in 2007, right? 2007. Speaker 3 00:40:29 Yeah. It got got a lot worse since I've left. But I don't think my leaving had anything to do with that. <laugh> <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:40:35 We, we, we could hope and pray. That's the truth. And, and, and I, I, I think yeah, uh, you know, um, that probably had had a little to do with it, but, um, things have gotten a lot worse, uh, yep. Since, since you, uh, departed, uh, this work, um, now when you were, when you were there and you were engaging with, uh, US government, US Congress, and the bureau, the bureaucracies, uh, behind the scenes as well, from what I've seen, uh, the history of, of what happened there, not just with your work, but with other advocacy organizations that were there on the hill, uh, talking about human rights issues, religious freedom issues in India at the time, back in 2000, early two thousands, 2005, 2007, there were some significant issues, you know, as we discussed the issue of casts and, and, and, and, um, d civil rights. Speaker 2 00:41:28 Um, there were also issues, of course, 2002, uh, Modi and Gura, but Gujarat at the time was, was just one of, one of, uh, I think it was then 29, uh, states in India, and just one of the states, Modi. Uh, and his party didn't hold national power mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and yet we still saw the US government, both electeds and, and the, the, uh, civil service paying a fairly large amount of attention, uh, to what was going on in India. Um, and being willing actually to generally, uh, publicly, uh, speak about what was going on in India. Uh, I, I know that, uh, there were quite a number of members of Congress who would often actually take the floor of the house on a fairly mm-hmm. <affirmative> regular basis Yeah. And raise these issues. Um, we, we saw resolutions, um, um, coming up, uh, in, in Congress. Speaker 2 00:42:22 I believe there was, at the time, I don't know if it was during your tenure, but I believe I recall one specifically about cast, uh, within that same era mm-hmm. <affirmative> or general era. But what do you think has really shifted then since then? Because this was a time when the US government was willing to talk publicly about these issues, but things were, were probably like 10% of the bad or less that they are now mm-hmm. <affirmative> now, as things have gotten radically worse over the past, what is it, 14 years mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, 15 years. The, uh, number of folks over there in our government, whether it is elected or unelected, that are willing to, uh, even touch these issues, let alone mm-hmm. <affirmative> consistently speak publicly about them, is reached practically zero, thank God, not entirely. Zero. Especially within the, the sphere of, of electeds. Um, it's, it's bottom of their compared to what it was, what it was then. Why, why do you think that is? Speaker 3 00:43:25 Well, I think that a big part of that is, is leadership. Um, I think that within the context of the Bush administration, there were significant conservative voices who had a justice bent, particularly when it comes to international justice. Uh, the church, the evangelical church in America, was also starting to broaden its understanding of what it meant to live justly in the world. And so you had a, a group of both more seasoned politicians, and then also these novices like myself, who really felt like there was an open door to bringing the ideas of justice, human rights, um, uh, religious freedom and all these sorts of things into the American governmental machine, particularly in international relations. Uh, American international relations for most of its existence has been dominated by the kind of, um, uh, politics of necessity, um, by a real politic by, uh, the sense of we're gonna do whatever it takes to ensure American economic stability and, and American economic success internationally, and to prevent the loss of American lives, um, and business. Speaker 3 00:44:39 And there was this narrow window. And occasionally in American politics, there are these narrow windows where it seems like, no, maybe we can accomplish more. Maybe we can bring some sense of justice and peace into other countries, uh, and then those windows close. And so I think that's what we had, is we had this narrow window where you had a, a set of leaders in the Congress and the White House in the State Department in particular, that were willing to advocate for and really do politics according to a sense of right and wrong, that wasn't just kind of reduced to, um, international security concerns or to international American economic interests. Um, Speaker 2 00:45:18 Yeah. And not to, you know, certainly from my, my end, not to offer any defense of, of, uh, Bush whatsoever. But within that, that context, do you think that the reason for that was because of him and his administration? That they were packing out these positions with these types of international justice people who were willing to look beyond the pragmatic and, and focus more on the principle? Speaker 3 00:45:40 Yes. I, I actually do believe that. 'cause I knew a lot of 'em at the time. These are people that have gone on out of the State department to work at, um, you know, some significant, uh, nonprofits across the globe. Um, you know, uh, people that I worked with at the time in the Congress and in the State Department are now people that work all over the world. I mean, there's friends of mine that I, that I had at the time that I follow online, that are working on, uh, human rights issues in Ukraine now with, with the war in Ukraine. Um, people that are working, uh, at International Justice mission, people are working, I mean, just all kind of all over the map. Everybody kind of spread and went to the fore winds. Um, but there are people that had genuine personal, even faith-based conviction that justice was an issue that had to be dealt with. Speaker 3 00:46:25 And, um, again, there's all sorts of things that you can say negatively about Bush, and I would rally behind all of them. But one thing that he did do was tap a talent pool of people, uh, in international relations that didn't just have, as their focus, uh, the constraint of, you know, real power and economic interest. There, there were some justice issues that really started to come to the fore and, and gain significant focus. And it's not to say that that changed completely under the Obama administration, but one thing that changed that I noticed as I was kind of headed out the door, um, was one, you have all the turnover, so you lose the institutional knowledge after eight years of, of power. But, but two, you Speaker 2 00:47:08 Had a, uh, I knew you were headed out the door leaving D f N just as Obama was coming in, right? Speaker 3 00:47:12 Just as the, all this kind of change went over. But the other thing that that happened that was significant was, um, the renewed interest on, uh, the geopolitical problem of China and India suddenly became this major player, and how do we constrain China in Asia? And I think that that reduced the interest in America, uh, on focusing on the human rights issues that were on the ground in India and elsewhere in, in South Asia. And the other thing that happened too was it was a real focus on, um, on counter-terrorism in Pakistan. Uh, and India became a major partner in constraining terrorism that was arising out of Pakistan. And those two things combined with over the last, you know, decade and a half, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, um, you know, the, in the last six years, the, the rise of kind of Russia as this, um, cyber attack oriented kind of strategic, you know, elections, meddling, all this sort of stuff, we're, we're almost back into this kind of cold war mentality of viewing everything through the lens of, well, how does this secure, uh, American, uh, national strategic interests, not, how, Speaker 2 00:48:29 How can we pull this string and pull that string in order to maintain the balance of power all around the world? Speaker 3 00:48:33 Exactly. Yeah. And that's the mindset, at least in my assessment of, of the last, you know, couple administrations among, in both parties, um, and, and in the Congress, and much less so the, the, the narrow window of this kind of social justice, um, heartbeat that was happening. And, and I think part of it too, um, just to be frank, is that during the Bush administration, they had this genuine belief that, uh, not only was it good to do these justice issues as justice issues, but also this was part of their counter-terrorism strategy, which is, if you can support maligned communities across the globe, give them, uh, real voice and make sure that they're not continually repressed, restrained, uh, economically devastated, et cetera, you can prevent the spread of, uh, terrorism amongst the impoverished peoples of the globe. So there is a counter-terrorism piece to that. Speaker 3 00:49:29 And I think that part has also gotten lost in many ways, the whole idea of, of economic development as a counter-terrorism strategy. It's just not something that's discussed that, that I've seen at least as much in international relations circles as it was in the Bush administration. So there's this unique nexus of people that were justice minded, and then also people that worked in counter-terrorism and international relations that saw those justice movements if they were economically based, if they were, um, positively done, you know, not, not negative, as in we're gonna tear down the crown and kill the king, but positively done in a sense of we want to help people, uh, that those could be effective counter-terrorism, stability oriented kind of motions. Speaker 2 00:50:13 Well, speaking as a pastor, pastor, um, and you know, I, I especially appreciate, uh, your, your perspective, uh, conversation on all of this because you are able to also speak from this informed, uh, political science perspective. But as a, as a pastor, um, you know, I know you haven't been, uh, from what you've told me following as closely what's happening in India today, but you're aware of, uh, how, well back then when Modi's visa was stripped away, that was because of this 2002 pogrom, which was targeted against Muslims. Um, and, uh, since 2014 when Modi came to power for, for a long time, the, some of the primary targets of violence were, were Indian Muslims. Um, but Christians increasingly, uh, have become, uh, particular targets of mm-hmm. <affirmative> of, of violence by this internationalist movement, especially over, I would say, over the past couple of years. Speaker 2 00:51:14 And, um, I've sat down over the past year and a half or so with, uh, quite a number of, of clergy members, um, in who general I'm introduced to them by members of the Indian American diaspora who ask 'em to meet me and, and talk with me about what's happening to Christians in India. And I've sat down for coffee or lunch for, for an hour or a couple of hours, um, usually one-on-one, and tried to discuss with them what's happening. And my experience is that one, uh, speaking, you know, outside of the, outside of the political realm, you know, off, off the, off the hill. Um, but within the religious arena of the Christian faith throughout the us, my experience is that most of these clergy one, have no idea that any persecution is happening at all, let alone to know how severe it is. Speaker 2 00:52:06 And it oftentimes takes me about an hour and a half to really kind of convey the point what's happening, why it's happening, how bad it is, uh, who's doing it, et cetera, et cetera. But I distinctly recall one conversation over lunch I had with, uh, uh, elderly clergy member, um, very sharp guy who af after the, about an hour and a half in, I thought I'd conveyed the point. And he finally gets around to asking me, so what does persecution of Christians in India actually look like? And he starts asking, does it look like job discrimination? Uh, you know, economic boycotting, housing discrimination, et cetera, et cetera. And I thought I'd already made the point 90 minutes into the conversation, but I'm like, well, yes, you know, that's part of the package, but that's not the worst of it. That's not the stuff that's of major concern for the global church. Speaker 2 00:53:02 What what happens is you have Sunday service, you have a mob of 50 or a hundred or two 50 or 500 people usually armed, oftentimes with the police accompanying them assemble outside of a, uh, sanctuary during Sunday services. They bust into the sanctuary, they start smashing it up, they start beating everybody up, they drag their clergy and the congregants outside. If the police aren't already there, then the mob hauls the clergy and the congregants down to the police station to hand them in, and the police file charges against the Christian victims, not against the pers the, the perpetrators, the prosecutors. And this gentleman I was having lunch with, it was like a light bulb finally went off in his head, and he's like, oh, like, like, like the Nazis. And I'm like, yes, exactly. But just like the Nazis. Just Speaker 3 00:53:53 Like the Nazis, yeah, thank you. Speaker 2 00:53:55 And he finally got the point. But unfortunately, he, and actually 99% of everybody that I've spent hours, uh, over coffee, over lunch with as far as clergy members or church leaders, as a, as an end result of, of this time spent and educating them, informing them about this, the, you never hear back from 'em again. Um, and, uh, there's, there's never any follow up. There's never any, any, any interest in, okay, well, what can I do? Um, you know, I would love to hear from you as a, as a pastor, um, why, why do you think there is? Because what, from, from what I'm seeing, there's, there's both ignorance mm-hmm. <affirmative> broad, broad ignorance in the, in, in the American church about what's happening in India. And I'm very familiar with, I, I grew up with, with, uh, stories of Cory 10 boom. Yep. Stories of, of, um, Bibles being smuggled, uh, uh, behind the Iron Curtain stories of persecution of the, of the church, the underground church in China, et cetera, et cetera. Speaker 2 00:55:00 All of this, um, that's the sort of church environment I grew up in. Um, and which, uh, seemed to be, from my experience to be rather, rather broadly, um, uh, the, the interest, uh, within, within the church, even outside of my own, it was, was an interest in the persecuted church and an awareness of it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> the day that I, what I'm seeing is in the American church, this broad ignorance about what's happening in India, and then also what strikes me as a pretty deep level of apathy. Yeah. What, why do you think that is, and what do you think could be done about it, if anything? Speaker 3 00:55:36 Well, the second question I think is, is a little bit easier to answer than the first. The first is actually I think, has so much to do with, um, technology, with the changes for the American church, and I'll come back to that. I think, I think the second thing, what do we do about that? Is what pastors, what people in general are looking for is just to be told, do X, this is the one thing that you need to do. Uh, if you do this, you know, if, um, I don't know if you've ever been signed up for, uh, election emails, um, from these politicians, but one prank that my Speaker 2 00:56:14 Friends, uh, I, I try to hit the unsubscribe button. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:56:17 As soon as you get it, go ahead. But it's always, you know, the world is ending today unless you press this button and give $23 and the most amazing and mind-boggling thing about that is that it works. These things, you know, these guys bring in tons of small dollar donations. Um, the reason why the child sponsorship thing worked, even though I I, in retrospect, I don't think it was the best model and it was rife with abuse all across the globe. It worked because somebody could say, I'm doing a thing to help this problem. And so the work of raising awareness, here's the problem, uh, people don't like living in that space. They don't like living in that, that, uh, okay, I got a problem, but I can't solve it. Nobody likes to just have a problem sit on their chest. Uh, they want to know what's the one thing I can do, you know, I can, I can throw my Coca-Cola can in the recycling, and that's gonna help the environment. Speaker 3 00:57:13 You know, I can, I can, uh, uh, bike to work, and that's gonna, you know, uh, reduce carbon emissions, whatever they, they want to know the thing. And so if you arrive at, or advocates can arrive at a clear sense of press X to solve y even though we know that's not how the real world works, at the very least for the people we're appealing to, it allows them to feel like they're addressing the issue that you've raised to them. Now, why that has to happen, I is because one, attention spans are shorter because of technology. I mean, this is just like verifiable scientific stuff right now. People aren't paying attention. Uh, but two, I think within the context of the American church, um, churches are either becoming mega churches or tiny churches, or disappearing. And the missiological work of sending a missionary to a foreign country and then having them come back and report or reading magazines about missionaries where you would read about this kind of persecution and have a prayer list that you would subscribe to, does not happen the way that it happened for probably a hundred years in the American church, or the very least 80 years. Speaker 3 00:58:22 And so you, you don't have, you know, somebody who has, uh, been trying to do church planting in villages in India coming back and saying, Hey, we planted a church, and then it got burnt down. And, you know, here's what you need to do, is you need to call your representative and tell 'em, you know, tell Indy to stop burning down churches because you don't have that reputable source of proximate information. A missionary that you have personally supported to go overseas. Church is now a platform, a stage, a screen, 10,000 people. You know, it's not the relationship one-on-one that you had with your pastor or with your missionaries or whomever before, uh, all of a sudden that information isn't reaching your ears. And we know it's not on C n N, it's not on M S N B C, it's not on Fox News. It's, it's not on the major media that they're consuming. So if it's not coming through the church through somebody that's on the ground that you trust, you just, you're literally not hearing it. And so the barrier to hearing it, uh, when you come along, when I come along when somebody outside of your church space begins to share, um, man, when I was in India, uh, in 2005, I think I went around, uh, with Cayman's call a major Christian band, and we recorded an album Share the Well. And so I could just, Speaker 2 00:59:39 I remember that song. Speaker 3 00:59:40 Yeah, great song. Great. I Speaker 2 00:59:41 Didn't know you were involved with that. Speaker 3 00:59:43 Well, I wasn't hugely involved, but I was kind of like a little bit of a guide for, for part of their trip to India, and I gotta hang out with 'em for a few nights. Um, and they went to, I think they went to Ecuador in some other countries as well. But, uh, you know, that kind of thing, man, you got a band every concert they're sharing about this, they have speakers from India come speak. You know, all of a sudden the awareness is, is super high through the roof. Um, but the final piece to this too, that I think has to do more with the Church of America than anything going on, even with our information channels or anything, is that a lot of people that I know in the millennial and younger generation who have a heartbeat for social justice have flamed out of the church. Uh, they have deconstructed out of the church, they have had their eyes open to the abuses of the church. So I, and they no longer Speaker 2 01:00:31 Just, uh, I want to, if you can, yeah, go ahead. And then, uh, the continuation of that thought, I just want to like note, as I'm very aware of this deconstruction movement, you know, like, like you said, a lot of these young people mm-hmm. <affirmative> who have a heart for social justice, those are exactly the sorts of people that would be the, the, the vanguard of any type of involvement in a, in a potential movement like this, to raise awareness, for instance, about the persecuted church in India. So Speaker 3 01:00:57 Yeah, one, 1000000%. So, you know, in, unless you have, um, somebody that they look up to, that crowd looks up to, you know, unless you have, um, Suran Stevens stands up and does a, you know, concert, and then he says, Hey, we're gonna focus on India or Taylor Swift, you know, answer concert with the, uh, Christian bands used to do like a 30 minute sermon at the end of their, of their concert set and, you know, share the gospel or call for a response. You know, unless Taylor Swift does that at Madison Square Garden, it is just not gonna get into the ears of younger people that by and large aren't going to church anymore. So even if you're able to penetrate the church, um, the church is shrinking in America, and there's fewer young people that have a justice heartbeat in the church. So you, you have a smaller audience, and that audience is largely comprised of people who don't view the world through the lens of, I can do something to change the world for good, uh, in the sense of, you know, social justice. So I think it's, it's a, it's a man. It's, it's like a dwindling fire that's, that's being stamped on and poured on. And, you know, that whole notion of we can do good in the world, uh, we can help persecuted Christians across the globe, it's just shrinking. That whole mindset is shrinking. Speaker 2 01:02:12 Yeah. And it's really disheartening for myself when I look at that fire and that passion, that burning in the soul that is present for some people. Like for instance, I just saw the, the headline a couple of days ago, I believe in Ohio, uh, supporters of, of Trump for president and supporters of, of Ron DeSantis for president, uh, got in a bar fight, right? Uh, at, at, uh, uh, uh, as they were hanging out, um, in the day or whatever before, uh, Trump and DeSantis were supposed to both be in town for the same event, right? Right. And so there's, there is that burning in the soul that drives people to young people to, to be so passionately supportive of a cause. Like, let's select Trump, or let's select DeSantis, or let's select X or Y or Z to the, to the point that they'll even get a, in a bar fight with the right supporters of the, of the opposite team. Speaker 2 01:03:12 And yet, when it comes to, to issues that really matter, um, and really actually do make a real world difference. Not, not to say that whose president, uh, doesn't matter, but when it, when it comes to issues like, like this, especially for the, for the Christian Church, I, I, I've not seen that fire, uh, in the soul and pretty much anybody that I, I've encountered, um, certainly old, but um, generally also also young as well. Yeah. I see it for other issues, but not for, not for a lot of these issues that matter, and not just India, but, but other issues related to the faith. Speaker 3 01:03:51 Yeah. And I, I think that it's, um, I think that it's magnified too by the fact that the church in America shrank that question down, that question I told you about. Somebody wants to see a problem and have an answer. They shrank the answer to go vote for this person. And so even people that are just mind justice minded on both sides of the aisle that I've encountered, um, find their only outlet for their advocacy is electoral and partisan in nature. And that is so disastrous when compared to the biblical record, when compared to the work of the gospel and the life of the believer that it, it, it just robs us of our efficacy in doing any kind of good in the world. If we, if we reduce our impact in the world to what we do at the ballot box, man, I mean, we might as well just crawl in a cave for the, the other, you know, 11 months out of the year. Speaker 3 01:04:48 But it's, it's what I see happening, uh, to do justice, to walk uprightly, to, to love the widow and the orphan. If, if all that means is vote, I mean, what just, I mean, the church is, is done for, if that's what that boils down to. But that's what I see. I mean, what is the question people ask you? It's not, you know, what, what is your impact on the world, your community? How are you loving your neighbor? The question is, who'd you vote for? Who'd you vote for? Who'd you vote for is madness. It's absolute madness. And Speaker 2 01:05:17 The answer to that question determines whether or not I'm going to even continue speaking with you. Speaker 3 01:05:21 Yeah. Whether, whether your view of the world even matters, whether your words will even reach my ears. And it's, it's just, um, it, it's so destructive to the soul and it's destructive to the life of the church, but it's, it's just the reality. That's the question that seems to matter more than anything right now. Speaker 2 01:05:39 Well, I feel like, um, you know, now it's not, this conversation is not of course, even necessarily the time for the solutions, but I feel like we've spent a lot of time discussing the problem, uh, which, um, uh, I think has been enlightening actually. And I think the first step to finding a solution is identifying a problem. Um, I I think that's been really, uh, cogent, um, insightful what you, what you offered there. And it, it really is disastrous that here in, in America, whether as, as just broad American citizens or I agree. Uh, I think, uh, from my experience, especially also in the church, um, which is typically focused on making a difference in the world, um, that the, the how of making a difference in the world has been boiled down to nothing more than just hit that voting button for right. This party or for that party, or, and that stands in contrast to what I know of, of so much of Christian history where, uh, making a difference in the world. Speaker 2 01:06:37 You know, we look for instance at, uh, Christians that, that went out and, uh, went to, uh, to the what were them for in lands. And for them, that oftentimes meant you, you, you had to learn the language. You had to go, uh, uh, to that land, immerse yourself in with the culture, live with the people, completely eat the food that they ate. Right. You know, if, if it's far out in the jungle, you live far out in the jungle, in, in, in the same mud house that, that the local people live in, and that, that's, that's, and you do that for years at a time. Maybe you do that for your entire life, maybe you got there, right? Right. And that, that's the sort of making a difference in, in the world type of tactic, um, that has been employed historically by the church for so, so very long. So, and so very disappointing that. So I don't know what the solution has Ben, um, <laugh>. Um, but you know, as we, as we come to a close of, of, of this current conversation, um, our first and hopefully first of of more to come. Sure. Um, what, what thoughts do you have, uh, final thoughts do you have and do you have any solution, uh, on hand? Because I'm certainly looking for one myself. Speaker 3 01:07:53 Yeah. Uh, I think when it comes to the particular situation in India, um, I think that the, the first and best thing that we can do is try to create a tangible redeeming relationship between Christians in India and Christians in the United States, so that we can create an identity that transcends national or partisan boundaries. Um, this is one of the problems in the United States, of course, is that, uh, Republican Christians don't think democratic Christians are Christians, and, you know, it's a big deal. So we have to find a way to create a Christian identity and clinging to a Christian identity that transcends partisan boundaries in the United States. But I think actually an international one is easier. In some ways, it's probably easier for our American Christians of both political persuasions to look at Indian Christians and view them as Christians <laugh> than it is to view their neighbor down the road here. Speaker 3 01:08:47 Um, so I think that, you know, the beginning of healing, you know, this current disconnect with the persecuted church globally is that churches here need to be able to have Christians that they can speak with Zoom calls, um, visits, uh, vision trips. Um, I just came back from a trip to Thailand where I was able to visit with Thai, um, pastors on the ground there and hear their perspective. I was actually able to meet with some people that, uh, work in Laos that are entering in the country and preaching the gospel illegally. You know, Laos has a, a massive problem like India does. Um, so the more that we can create those tangible, concrete relationships with churches and institutions in America, I think that the, the better off we can be long-term in raising the overall level of awareness, um, that, uh, people will begin to listen. Speaker 3 01:09:44 Um, you know, it sounds silly, but why, why can't a guy like Steve Furtick, you know, stand up in front of Elevation Church and be like, Hey, I'm gonna show you guys a video of what happened to a church in India, and we're gonna go rebuild this church. We're gonna go, you know, I mean, if you could do that or you could get a pastor, I mean, they got the money. Goodness knows. You get a pastor Yeah. The audience too, yeah. Have the audience. You get a pastor from India that comes over and stands on the stage in Charlotte, you know, and gets translated and shares their, their story of what they're facing over there, and can you help us, you know, asks right then, can you help us? That, that creates the, the momentum more than, than you or I, as you know, gringos Americans, you know, I mean, we just don't have the cachet and we're not Indian. Speaker 3 01:10:29 We're not living the experience that they're Indian, that they're living over there. And, and I think that kind of connects back to the, the bigger piece of how do we as, as a church, uh, in America, um, begin to heal some of these partisan divides, begin to assess. Um, we have to speak truth, but we have to live in people's lives. And I think the second part is the thing that people struggle with more than the first, uh, absent relationship. Our words just don't matter. Um, my mentor in the ministry, uh, who just went to be with the Lord, um, Mitchell Gregory, he taught me the first rule of preaching is that people don't care what you have to say until they know that you love them. And so, if you get up in front of a church where that you obviously despise and you try to preach to them, people will see that through that veneer and you'll be kicked out the next day. And I think that that's the reality of, of loving our neighbor in America, is that we want to speak truth without loving. I know that's a struggle for myself and many others. Um, but we have to find a way to reclaim a relationship. As Speaker 2 01:11:33 I recall, if you speak the truth without love, then it's like you're clanging symbol. Speaker 3 01:11:38 That's right. <laugh>, you're, you're just walking around with a gong strapped to your back. So, um, I think that relationship is the key and, uh, we have to find ways creatively of, of establishing those relationships here that that's the American problem. But going back to the, to, to the India thing, um, we have to, we have to hear from people that we have a relationship with. And so cultivating those relationships is what's gonna build an audience to be able to understand what's really going on with the persecuted church there. Speaker 2 01:12:08 Well, pastor Ben Marsh, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you, to hear your thoughts, sounds to work on cultivating a relationship, uh, right here today. Um, and hopefully, uh, this, uh, this message, um, this conversation gets out to some people. And once again, thank you for your time. Speaker 3 01:12:25 Yeah, thank you, brother. It was great talking with you. Speaker 0 01:12:28 Thank you for tuning in. If you liked what you heard, please remember to subscribe and follow for more to come as we look forward to dialoguing once again on Dosa.

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