Consider it a great honor to introduce this book, Strangers in a Foreign Land: The Indian Christian Community in the United States, compiled and edited by Dr. Thomas Idiculla.
Although the focus of this book is on the Indian Christians in North America, it will be of great benefit to all Asian Christians in this continent, since it deals with the spiritual and cultural struggles associated with the immigrant experience.
A vast majority of the Indian Christians are from Kerala, a small state on the southern tip of India. Many of their parents and grandparents were pioneers of the Pentecostal movement in India. Keralite Pentecostals are staunchly evangelical in their philosophy, steadfastly puritanical in their outlook, vehemently fundamental in their faith, and openly conservative in their practices. Those who arrived in the United States and Canada, between 1965 and 1980 are generally classified as First Generation Keralites. Their children and grandchildren, born in the United States and Canada are classified as Second Generation Keralites.
It is obvious that when members of the first, and second generation Keralites live, worship, and fellowship together, there will be frequent clashes perpetuated by cultural differences. The values and convictions of the first generation are deeply rooted in the Pentecostal heritage of their native state, Kerala. Their children do not understand the values and customs of their parents. To make matters worse, these children naturally perceive that many of the values and practices which the parents try to enforce on them are in direct conflict with those of America.
Dr. Thomas Idiculla is very concerned about the survival and progress of the Indian Pentecostal communities throughout North America. He prayed, searched, and worked to find solutions to the struggles the community faces. This book is a result of his effort to understand, evaluate, and resolve the issues that confront the Indian community. His effort has brought together more than a dozen thought-provoking articles from writers in the community. Dr. Idiculla shows good foresight, especially in his including young writers among the contributors.
The articles in this book, contributed by scholars, professionals, academicians, and ministers, effectively articulate the issues that confront the Indian Pentecostal Community in North America. The authors also offer constructive suggestions towards minimizing the struggles faced by immigrants and their children. The book will certainly prove to be a valuable tool for parents and ministers who aspire to lead the young generation to spiritual maturity.
The opinions of every writer may not be the last word on the issue. However, there is no doubt that these challenging articles will promote further discussions. Such discussions will eventually assist in finding solutions to the moral and social problems that presently threaten the spiritual progress of ethnic Christian groups in America.
Dr. Idiculla is one of the best qualified persons in the Asian Indian community to put together such a book that deals with cultural conflicts. He has gained firsthand experience of the problems and challenges of the Asian Indian community. Recently, I have observed with delight that he is taking an active leadership role in the Asian Indian community. He shares his vision through seminars, focus groups, and youth panels, as well as through his insightful articles.
The effort of each contributor deserves commendation. The constructive and Bible-based suggestions in this book could favorably impact the spiritual direction of the Indian Pentecostal community in America. I hope that this book will be widely read by ministers, teachers, and evangelists who work among immigrants in America and Canada. This book also can be used effectively as a resource book for the senior Sunday school classes in the Indian Pentecostal Churches.
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