The popular conception of a missionary as a pale-skinned, pith-helmeted traveler in a distant, "primitive" land is amazingly hard to dislodge. Ram Gidoomal fits none of these stereotypes. But he is certainly on a mission, if not many missions at once. Having arrived in London as a refugee from India by way of Africa, Gidoomal chose Imperial College for his undergraduate degree, because it was a short bus ride from his family's shop. Today, after building several successful businesses and running twice for Mayor of London, he has built a reputation as a tireless social entrepreneur whose activism encompasses race relations, financial opportunity, and environmental sustainability in Britain and South Asia, as well as Christian ministry among the South Asian diaspora. He spoke with the Christian Vision Project's editorial director, Andy Crouch, over lunch at his alma materwhere he is now a member of the board of governorswith the wide-ranging enthusiasm of someone who has spent his life exploring our "big question" for 2007: What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world?
You come from a Hindu religious background and attended Muslim schools in Africa, yet you became a follower of Jesus during your studies at university.
At the university, I was out of the family context, with the need for something that could make sense of the wider world in which I found myself. I started reading about Jesus. I was intrigued by the strong basis for his historical existence.
In my cultural context, the biggest religious problem is your karma: your karmic debt. What you sow, you reap. You come to this earth with a karmic account, then you die and you're reincarnated, and that depends on how you've done ...1
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