BANGKOK (BP) -- He wept for them. His heart broke for them. He now feels called to serve them.
Chris McKean, a senior at Truett-McConnell Christian
|"Americans have a huge need to become educated in other religions." |
College in Cleveland, Ga., knows God has placed Sikhs on his heart.
McKean says he was heartbroken when he read about the Aug. 5 shooting in a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wis. The shooting left six Sikhs dead, plus the shooter, and four wounded.
"Many people in the Christian faith don't know about Sikh people," McKean says. "A year ago, I didn't know who Sikhs were. I thought they were a branch of Islam."
There are 25 million Sikhs globally. The majority live in India's Punjab state, but there are large populations in Great Britain, Malaysia, Canada and the U.S.
There are roughly 700,000 Sikhs living in the U.S., according to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF). The largest populations live in California and New York.
"I'm praying God would use this event to open the eyes of the church," McKean says. "[I'm praying] that the church would be awoken ... to pray for them."
McKean and 13 students majoring in world missions from Truett-McConnell recently visited Bangkok as part of their senior capstone to learn about what Sikhs believe. They spent time with IMB workers Bryan and Anne Evans,* whose ministry focuses on the people group.
Bryan, who is preparing to start doctoral studies in Sikhism, has spent hours reading and learning about the people and their culture; his passion is to see Sikhs come to know Christ as their Savior.
Growing up in New York, Bryan says his friends were two Sikh brothers. Every Saturday, the three would hang out and eat Punjabi food.
"From a young age, He's [God] given me a heart for Sikh people," Bryan says. "God's put Sikhs in our lives. Our heart is to share with them."
He was devastated and furious when he heard about the shootings in Wisconsin.
"This is not only heartbreaking but also embarrassing as an American," he says. "I have many Sikh friends around the world. I appreciate the contribution of Sikhs to their communities around the world."
Says Anne of their close Sikh friends in Asia, "They are really lovable people. They go out of their way to be friendly. They put other people before themselves."
Bryan says he knows of Sikhs who were beaten after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, because they were mistaken for Muslims.
A Sikh tailor in Bangkok told Truett-McConnell students about one of his friends who was strip-searched in an airport because of his turban. The tailor says he's been mistaken for being Muslim many times. Read More