The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Evangelist comes looking for orphans in a 747 Boeing


'It is the longest journey I have taken by road during the past many years. In the time that took for me to reach here from Chennai, I would have made half the journey from New York to Chennai'. So said jet-setting K A Paul, an India-born US-based Christian evangelist, at the coastal village of Thazhanguda in Cuddalore on Thursday, soon after speaking to a small group of people affected by the tsunami.

Paul is here in Tamilnadu looking for children who have lost their parents in the tsunami. He can accommodate 5000 children in his 'world's largest' orphanage in Hyderabad and his second concern is the outbreak of water-borne diseases.

Soon after his Boeing 747 (for the uninitiated he takes pains to explain that there are just two such planes in the world and the other one is used by the US President) touched down in Chennai, he had called on the Tamilnadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

He is a bit peeved that he had to go and meet the Chief Minister. 'If it is Chandrababu Naidu, a good friend of mine', I have no problem. He comes to receive me whenever I am in town', says the evangelist, born in Andhra Pradesh.

His plane has come with loads of relief material, including medicines. Though he could not specify as to what the assorted materials are, he makes it clear that it is for the tsumani affected people and that there are 15 kinds of things. His next destination will be Sri Lanka. Then....

The group that he has brought to India comprises celebrities like Evander Holyfield, Miss World runner-up Nazinin Afshin-Jam from Canada, a Fox TV reporter accompanied by a videographer and several other such people.

Driving in a luxury bus into the deserted beach in Thanzhanguda, where the surging waters killed at least 38 people and rendered hundreds of others homeless, the group of foreigners carrying cameras drew the attention of the villagers, particularly children and women, who almost besieged them. Many people in the group - under the banner Global Peace Initiative - seem to enjoy being with the children and just go around having a look at the remains of the ravaged village.

But the condescending Paul finds the crowd that has gathered on the shores an ideal audience for his sermon. He seeks to drive home the point that they were all alive because of Jesus Christ through his translator. To that crowd Paul also makes a appeal to send orphans to his establishment.

To the couple of journalists from Chennai, who were on the beach at that time, he says that he has Rs 4000 crore ($ 800 million) at his disposal for providing immediate relief to 10 countries in the next one and a half months.

He even seeks the help of one of the journalists in identifying orphans. For their plight is the worst, feels Paul, who is only keen on taking care of them all through their lives. His establishment in India will continue to look for orphans even if he takes off in his 747 after the fleeting one-day visit with the assorted group of people, including those celebrities.

Paul is skeptical of the help that other agencies are offering for tsunami victims. 'They just come and announce something and go'. The orphans are the ones who need help most.

Of course, there will be children in the State who had lost both their parents, ripe for the picking by this preacher. But is it not time someone told him that most of those killed in the tsunami were children?


At 6/22/2005 08:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People like these ones are really a shame and disgrace for the true christians.


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