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Rugby - themed gospel

Hot and spicy in India: Val meets UESI

During my time in India I was privileged to spend a few days at Highfield, the Union of Evangelical Students of India Study Centre in Kotagiri, India. Surrounded by tea plantations and high in the Nilgiris hills it is a beautiful place for UESI staff and others to study and to take some recreation.  On my arrival I was able to spend one night with the national UESI staff team, based at Chennai, as they had come for the weekend with their families.

While I was there, there were eleven young trainees at the centre.  Seven were young UESI staff from all around India, many had come to know Jesus while students themselves, most of them working in pioneering situations in the North.  There were also four recent Korean graduates present who were part of an IVF/UESI mission partnership where the recent graduates spend six months in India receiving training and mission experience.  The Korean graduates use English so that they can be better equipped to reach out to internationals wherever God leads them.

This training programme runs for eight weeks and covers basic theological and Christian understanding - with modules covering Learning and Leading, Old Testament, New Testament, Theology and Doctrine, Leadership and Discipleship, Worldview, Mission, Preaching and Counselling, and finally Contemporary Issues.  When the eight-week course concludes some will stay on for the UESI ministry training for a further four weeks for further training on small group Bible study, large group teaching, planning and evangelism.

Comparing this staff-training opportunity to the one in New Zealand I noticed some differences and similarities with the ministry of TSCF.

Differences:

6:00am bell to wake you up to have a quiet time and get ready for breakfast and a 6:15am bell in case you did not wake up with the first one!

Eating curry and rice with our hands  - which is a great freedom!

The final teaching session of the day ends at 7:45pm with dinner at 8:00pm.

Singing wonderful old-school songs - many with hand actions!

Lots of tea and not much coffee (certainly not plunger coffee!)

There is a little bell rung 5 minutes from the end of the session to warn the teacher to finish on time.

There are many references to God as Master.

Monkeys, not Possums, are the local pests.

Badminton is the leisure game of choice.

Similarities:

One person always needs to come to the aid of the teacher in the area of  data projection and technology!

Climate in the hills was similar to a normal spring in NZ - warmer during the day but still cool in the evenings. 

UESI has a cross-cultural team with challenges around language, food, and contextual  application.

Using the Investigative Bible Study method (which we sometimes call Manuscript Bible Study) - observation, interpretation and application.

Mafia is a game played in India, Korea and NZ!

Student workers are more often night people than morning people.

The same Bible, the same God, the same mission - to reach students for Christ!

I have been struck by people’s generosity.  Even those who have so very little are still eager to share what they have with you.   As well as giving money, possessions and hospitality they give generously of their time and although I have observed that they work hard every day I have never heard anyone say ‘I am busy’ in the weeks we have been here. Even though people do not have many things they are keen to make sure we have plenty - it has been very humbling.

I have been impressed by the commitment many of the UESI team have to their calling.  Most student workers I have met are being trained and equipped for pioneering work in the difficult mission field of North India.   They all talk about committing to the work until they are able to raise up a worker from the area they are being sent to and for many that will involve many years of committed service. It is challenge to think about what our commitment is and what our calling is to.

I have noticed that there is a real hunger for God’s Word here. Everywhere we have gone people have been asking to hear the Word of God expounded to them. Scheduling it into their time is a priority - no matter how long the sermon and they are eager to learn to read the Bible for themselves! They have enthused about Paul Windsor’s contribution with the Langham Partnership in Delhi. I wonder if we are as eager to hear the Word of God or whether our busy lives take precedence?

It was a joy to meet with our partners in India and to hear stories of young people who have come to know Jesus at college and also many of the extreme challenges of student work in more remote areas of India in the far north and in Orissa.

Val Goold, Head of Student Ministries

India has the second largest population in the world - approximately 1.7 billion.

It is the seventh largest country by area and shares borders with Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Approximately 80% of the population are Hindu, 13.5% Muslim, 2.5% Christian, 2% Sikh and 1% Buddhist.

UESI works with students and graduates.  The student group is known as Evangelical Union (EU).  Graduates are those who are EU alumni or the non-students who may or may not have a University degree.  The graduate group is known as Evangelical Graduates Fellowship (EGF).

Please pray for our continued partnership with UESI, that it might be a blessing to us all as we learn from one another and support one another in the ministry God calls us to.

Posted by Val Goold on 04/12/2009