The celebration of the “500th Year Anniversary of the Reformation” (October 31 to November 2, 2017) was a time of much rejoicing and reminding ourselves of the great doctrines of the Reformation. Discussions on significant Reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, featured prominently in the celebrations. Students from nearby Bible colleges - New Theological College (NTC) and Doon Bible College (DBC), joined PTS for the celebrations.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, brought home to us the meaning of the Reformation simply and succinctly. His sermon expositions each day were inspirational. He presented papers on “Luther, Calvin, and the Reformation;” “Truth at Stake: Costliness of Reformation Witness;” “Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin: Strands of the Reformation;” “The Lord’s Supper in the Reformation Tradition.” Other presenters included Dr. Ashish Naidu, Associate Professor of Biola University who spoke on “Held Captive by the Word: Luther and Reformation,” and Dr. Santosh Sahayadoss, Professor of Theology at NTC who presented a paper on “Relevance of the Function of the Secular Realm in Luther’s Thought.” The papers, followed by lively interaction, were opportunities for all those present to clarify issues and become more aware of the larger context of the Reformation. Students present discussed the idea of continuing reform, by presenting their thoughts on various contemporary issues. A faculty panel discussion on “The Reformation and Leadership in Asia,” brought out some important insights relevant to the Indian subcontinent. These days were so special that one student commented, “I learned so much about Reformation history and our rich tradition and Theology and these three days have greatly shaped my understanding of evangelical unity. It was a great blessing to hear Dr. Lillback and I'm sure others would concur with that statement". That says it all!
The Reformation 500 celebration was followed by the close of the semester with examinations. Soon afterwards, 2nd and 3rd year students left for their annual outreach assignments. The locations ranged from the PTS campus (Covenant RPC), to other churches, schools, and hospitals reaching as far as Delhi and Uttarkhashi in the hills. I had the opportunity of visiting Herbetpur (about 40 kms away) along with two faculty members. The women’s team at the Herbetpur Christian Hospital (HCH) was busy visiting and praying with patients and leading daily devotions; the men’s team worked with a local church fellowship where Mr. Anand John (PTS “17) is assistant Pastor. The students looked cheerful in their labors. It was our joy to meet Ms. Bishnu Maya (PTS ’17) who is serves as a Matron of women students at the HCH. This mission hospital has a tremendous missional impact in the area.
Pastor Raj Kumar and Seema
This visit also included a brief stopover to meet Pastor Raj Kumar (PTS ‘97) who lives in that area. While visiting PTS alumni in Nepal over 15 years ago, I met newly married Pastor Raj Kumar and his wife, Seema, in Parasi, near the Indian border. He had planted a church and was excited at how God was working. Gifted and humble Brother Raj Kumar became the focus of our prayers recently when some anti-Christian radical group barged into his fellowship on Sunday and threatened to harm him and his family, if he did not promise to close down his ministry. His wise manner of dealing with the people diffused the tension; but he still needs our prayers for faithfulness to the call to teach, guide his people lovingly, and trust the Lord for continuing strength to persevere. Pastor Raj Kumar is one of PTS’s many graduates serving quietly and faithfully. At times when we are discouraged wondering whether our ministry at PTS has any direct impact on the church, pastors like Bro. Raj Kumar encourage us so much.
As the outreach teams were engaged in field ministry, the pre-theology and first year students participated in seminars on campus. This year seminars were held on Inductive Bible Study (Mr. Yeshuratnam of the Union of Evangelical Students in India); Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse (Mrs. Amy Sykes); Slum Ministry and Healthy Sexuality (Mr. KunalVasisth); and Child Abuse (Mr. Ansel Pronk).The seminars were well appreciated by the students.
Students left for their winter holidays leaving the campus free for some urgent renovations. Thanks to some of our faithful supporters from Holland (DVN) two major projects are underway. The men’s hostel is being fully renovated. We hope that this will change the appearance of the hostel and present a more pleasing atmosphere conducive for living. The other project is the main kitchen of the campus. The kitchen will be completely overhauled and installed with a safer system of accessing cooking gas, and practical and thoughtful design to facilitate cooking. One important addition will be an electric kneader that will enable more efficient preparation of food (up to now this has been done manually). Let us pray that these projects will be completed in time for the beginning of the second semester.
Some churches that meet on campus celebrated Christmas with the traditional worship, followed by refreshments or a special lunch. Very few students remained on campus this year, as the Christmas break was longer than usual.
Students are expected to return by January 15, 2018. Pray with me for a blessed semester. Please also pray for a good opening class for the next academic year. We have placed advertisements in suitable magazines. The need for a good opening class is particularly important since we will be graduating a large class this year! Do pray with me for this. May the Lord bring more students eager to study His Word and to be His servants for His Name and for the extension of His Kingdom.
Wishing you a Blessed and Wonderful New Year!
(Dr.) Matthew Ebenezer