Collecting heathen souls

At a weekly morning-coffee session in the university ‘caf’ (cafeteria) of a handful of Asian students (from India, Ceylon and Malaya), there arrived a young lady tutor in the company of one of the regulars. One morning, after they had come together for a few weeks, the tutor asked me about my faith. I told her.

I was then surprised at her next question. Would I consider becoming a Christian? By then I had become aware of something terrible – the bitter sectarian divide between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Australia. While the back of my mind fleetingly wondered which brand of Christianity I was being invited to join, I became curious as to why I was receiving such an invitation. Did I look like a lost soul? Did I so miss my usual practice of reaching out to God at home that it was perceivable by my new friend?

With this invitation, I decided to ask a different question. I said, “You know about my religious beliefs. I have also told you that we live our faith; we practice it. I do it here. So, should I become a Christian, what would I do differently? Would my behaviour need to change?” “I’ll consider your question until we meet again,” she said.

At our next meeting, she said, to the surprise of everyone present, “No, you will not be behaving differently. There is no need for you to convert.” I was pleased. Religion is for living, not for spouting dogma or soul-hunting, surely!