On March 2 Indians all over north India celebrated
the colorful Hindu festival of holi.
Holi signals the advent of summer.
Celebrations include the throwing, splashing, spraying, of colors on one
another. It’s unsafe to go out during
the reveling as one may become the target of a group of people intent of having
some fun. Holi, and many other
celebrations in India, bring up the question of living in a context that is
considerably different to the Judeo-Christian way of living that is endorsed by
the Bible. The key question often
discussed by theologians is contextualization of the gospel. One well-known Indian Christian, Sadhu Sundar
Singh, referred to this as “Giving the Water of Life in an Indian cup.” Though Singh was closely associated with
Western missionaries he saw the drawback of presenting a gospel that was not
translated into the cultural and societal context of India. Singh travelled the length and breadth of
India (and the West), clothed as an Indian holy man that gave him free access
to people everywhere. His parables,
taken from Indian life experiences, instantly struck a chord in his
hearers. Though Singh stands out as an
exception because of his unusual conversion and many experiences that endeared
him to thousands of Indians, his concern for contextualization of the gospel
should be noted.
One may argue that with India’s economic progress and global presence there is no need to emphasize contextualization. The reason given for this is that Indians are now living on par with their business partners abroad, but this is a false assumption. If statistics are right, close to seventy percent of Indians still live in villages (Rural 68.84%; Urban31.16%., Govt of India Census 2011). Rural India sometimes is referred to the ‘heart of India.’ This is where time stands still and customs and practices that are very ancient still have considerable influence on the masses. It is reaching people in these areas that are a challenge for the church today; a challenge that PTS is taking seriously (see below).
I am now giving some excerpts from the Principal’s Report on Graduation Day, April 28, 2018.
One of the highlights of last year was a three-day long celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Our main speaker was Rev. Dr. Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. With his rich historical theological background, Dr. Lillback brought some relevant messages and lectures. Other speakers included Dr. Ashish Naidoo of BIOLA University, USA, and Dr. Santosh Sahayadoss, Professor at NTC. These talks were supplemented with debates, discussions, and other activities by students of PTS, New Theological College and Doon Bible College. It was a wonderful time of learning and appreciating the legacy of the Reformation and its relevance to the Asian and Indian context.
The annual outreach of students was from November 12-23; senior students went for outreach to several places and the junior students stayed on campus for lectures on various missional subjects. Sunday, April 8 was set apart to share the ministry of PTS among Reformed churches in India. Once a semester we gather to pray as a community. There is no doubt that the prayers of many are sustaining us.
We opened a The Children’s Playground on campus. Rev. Phil Fiol took the initiative for this project and invested his time to raise funds and to ensure that the project got underway. He also laboured with his own hands to make this a reality. This has brought smiles to the kids on campus and in many respects it is a safe playground for all the children on campus. We extend our appreciation to him.
One of the exciting happenings in the past few years has been our Hindi Diploma program. We have several satellite centers where students gather for lectures. Our faculty members go to these distant places to teach grass-roots level evangelists. They are farmers, shop keepers, businessman, and self-employed persons, with one common bond: they love the Lord and are serving Him. The training we give has helped many of them to have a grasp of the Bible and basic Theology. Since this program is done in modules the length of the program may take anywhere from two years to three years. We are proud of these men and women. The Hindi Diploma program graduates in this academic year alone are 69. So the correct number of total graduates is 97. We thank the Lord for this ministry.
Pray with us as we plan to enhance this important ministry of the seminary. Please remember to pray for new students with a call to serve the Lord. Every year we prayerfully select candidates to study at PTS. Pray for us to have a good opening class to offset the 28 graduates who completed their programs on April 28. Thank you for your partnership in the ministry of PTS.
Finally, our heartfelt thanks to our numerous supporters – DVN in the Netherlands, MTW in the US, the APWM in Australia, ARMA and several faithful churches, institutions, and individuals have partnered sacrificially and liberally to enable us to serve the church in India. We need to increase local giving even though it is an uphill task. May the Lord bless each of you!