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  Greetings to all our readers and patrons
         
Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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  DEVOTIONAL  
 
   
Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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  COUNSELING
 
Back to infancy -- they n
 
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
     
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  ACHIEVER  
     
 
With CASA always
   
 
  By A.J. Philip  
  "UNDESERVING grace from God", that is how Dr Sushant Agrawal, Director of Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), explains all the success he has achieved in his life.

Born on April 14, 1955, he shares his birthday with that of Dalit messiah Babasaheb Ambedkar. A turning point in his life was when he started teaching in a mission school in Chaibasa in Jharkhand. He found to his annoyance students falling asleep in the class. There was no point in scolding them as he found out when he tried to probe the reasons for their drowsiness.

Most of the girls came walking from villages as far away as 7 to 10 kilometres from the school. They were so poor that all that they could get by way of food was some roots or rice and a little leafy vegetable. It would have been a miracle if they did not feel sleepy once they reached the school. That steeled Agrawal's determination to choose an unconventional career -- to serve the needy.

One of seven siblings, Agrawal's parents were in the teaching profession. The S.P.G. Mission Girls High School, Chaibasa, owes its growth and success to the untiring labour of his mother Delphin in whose memory they have set up a 'Delphin Memorial Charitable Trust' run entirely by the contributions of the Agrawal family. The family became Christian when his grandfather accepted Jesus as his saviour sometime in the second decade of the 20th century.

As was the practice, the family wanted one of the children to work in the Lord's vineyard. Agrawal is happy that though he has not taken to the priestly path, he has all his adult life been promoting the cause of love, justice and peace, the cardinal principles that should govern Christian life. In an interview to The Herald of India, Dr Sushant Agrawal answers a whole lot of questions about himself, his family and CASA. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Question: How did you join CASA?

Answer: As I told you, my teaching experience left me with a strong desire to do something to improve the living conditions of the people. I had nearly got admission to the Vellore Medical College but the Jayaprakash Narayan-led agitation for "Total Revolution" stood in the way. Because of the agitation, no intermediate examination took place that year in Bihar and I could not, therefore, join CMC and pursue a medical career. After my graduation and teaching experience, I joined Xavier Institute of Social Service at Ranchi to do post-graduation in rural development. During the campus recruitment, I had the option of joining a local NGO, the Industrial Development Bank of India or CASA. Since I wanted to be closer to the church, I opted for CASA.

Q: Do you ever regret not becoming a doctor?

A: On the contrary, I rejoice in the fact that God placed me in CASA in which capacity I have been able to do a lot of service to several hospitals and through them to countless doctors and patients.

Q: Why did you stick to CASA and not leave for greener pastures?

A: I never for once thought of leaving CASA. I joined at the lowest level as a Field Officer in 1981 and worked my way up. All through, I received "undeserving grace from God". And when the post of Director fell vacant in 2001, the CASA Board entrusted the job to me. When I completed 25 years in CASA, my colleagues brought out a Festschrift -- "Theory to Praxis: Standing up to Challenges" in my honour. It was a humbling experience. (His Executive Secretary Indrani Michael concluded her piece with these lines: "There are so many sides to Sushant Agrawal, so much to write about, so much to learn from. Where does one start and where does one end?")

Q: Have you been able to bring about any significant changes in CASA?

A: CASA is over 60 years old. It was set up primarily as an agency to provide need-based relief. But, over the years, we realised there was a need to address some of the basic problems facing the people. For instance, in 1989, the government unfolded the new economic policy. We could see the government abandoning welfare economy to pursue market economy. Its emphasis was no longer on ameliorating the conditions of the poor. There was a gradual withdrawal of the government from key sectors like health and education. Farmers began losing their freedom. Multinational companies began asking them to cultivate potatoes and tomatoes to suit their convenience. The choice was no longer the farmers. At one time, Kerala was known as a rice bowl. Today it is the demand for rubber and other cash crops that guides the farmer. We at CASA could not remain mere onlookers. We had to choose advocacy as one of our objectives.

Q: How did this change in perspective influence CASA's functioning?

A: In our country, the people are entitled to many rights guaranteed by the Constitution. But because of factors like illiteracy, casteism, gender discrimination etc, they are not able to access these rights. Our job is to enhance the dignity of life. You know the story of the lame person in the Bible. When Jesus' disciples looked at the eyes of the man, they could see the missing dignity. When they cured him of his infirmity, he danced with joy. That is what we also want to do -- bring dignity back into the life of the poor. Nearly 60 per cent of our population has a daily income of not more than Rs 40. Out of them, at least 50 per cent has an income of less than Rs 20. They have no choice. We are primarily concerned about them.

Q: How do you express your concern in practical terms?

A: We have 33 village-based resource centres. Each centre caters to 60 to 300 villages. At these centres, we provide all kinds of training to the people. For instance, how to get the maximum benefits from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or the Panchayati Raj Act? We train elected representatives in performing their duty to their constituents. There are special programmes for women and the unemployed.

Q: What about disaster management?

A: Our core competence has always been in disaster management. We have a well-equipped system to reach relief where it is required within the shortest possible time. When Aila struck West Bengal and flood inundated vast swathes of land in Bihar, we were one of the first to reach there with relief consisting of foodgrains, blankets, matchboxes and other essential items.

Q: Do you provide permanent relief in the form of houses?

A: Ten years ago when the Super Cyclone hit Orissa, we constructed cyclone shelters for the permanent relief of those living in the coastal areas of the state. During the Tsunmai that struck the southern coast, we realized that the Dalits, who lived a little away from the sea than the fishermen were equally affected. But their needs were overlooked by the government and other agencies. We have, therefore, constructed 1333 houses for the Dalits in Cuddalore and Nagapattanam districts in Tamil Nadu and Prakasham district in Andhra Pradesh. The construction is now more or less complete.

Q: Did the economic meltdown affect CASA?

A: Our turnover in 2007-2008 was Rs 54 crore. It grew to Rs 67 crore in the next year. But when the Government of India is advertising about the "Shining India" and the "Incredible India", it is bound to affect the flow of funds from abroad. The "Invisible India" and the 'Dark India" will naturally suffer. I can foresee that in the next ten years, flow of foreign funds into India, particularly for agencies like CASA, will stop. We have to be prepared to face this eventuality. The CASA Board has prepared a strategic plan in this regard. There are 24 Protestant and Orthodox churches supporting CASA. Though they have their own social service programmes, I feel, they can contribute better to the financial health of CASA.

Q: Tell us in brief about your family.

A: My wife is Iris Dhira Agrawal. She teaches in a school. We have a daughter Ida Shilpi and a son Joel.
 
   
Making Section 377 history
   
 
  By Pamela Philipose  
  FOR Anjali Gopalan, the Delhi High Court judgment striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that outlawed same sex relationships between consenting adults came as a personal vindication. It was The Naz Foundation, of which she is the executive director, which had fought against this archaic and regressive law in the courts for eight long years. Gopalan now hopes the judgment will bring about a change in attitudes and reaffirm the values of equality and inclusiveness. Pamela Philipose interviewed her in Delhi.

Q: When did you first take cognisance of this issue?

A: I had been working on HIV from 1985 in the US, and one could see what the disease had done to the gay community. It had decimated it. So when I came back to India it really made sense to work with the community.

I began working with the gay community in 1994 and quickly perceived the constant harassment it faced. The police would use Section 377 as a means to get couples to pay up, even if they were just sitting together or walking down the street.

What also became very clear to me is that if one was looking at working with the community, it was important to build it. But a law like Section 377 didn't allow that to happen.

From the perspective of HIV, too, it was clear that infections would not be prevented if people didn't value themselves. When you are trained in the West you have a very clear idea about whether people are gay, straight or bi-sexual. Here I found that there was no such thing as a gay identity.

Many gay men were married but were sleeping with men. I could see how this was impacting on their lives and that of their spouses.

Then take the attitudes of parents. We did a lot of counselling of parents of gay people and they were constantly telling us, 'Okay, you want us to accept the fact that our child is gay, that our child is really normal and natural. But if that were the case, why is it criminalised?' That was when we decided that we really needed to look at this issue very carefully and do something about it.

Q: So is this what drove you to challenge Section 377?

A: Yes, we approached the Lawyers Collective with that intention. The law, as you know, is very strangely worded. It said carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal was deemed to be criminal, it didn't say anything about homosexuals specifically.

Obviously this meant that anyone and everyone could be brought under the purview of this law. But definitely not anyone and everyone was being harassed. Those who were being harassed were from the gay community. We then realised that there was no law against child sexual abuse and that this law was also used for that. So we said, okay, let's look at reading down the law where consenting adults are placed outside its purview. That's precisely what we asked for, and that's what we got.

Q: What were the challenges you faced while fighting this case?

A: First of all there were a lot of people who asked: 'There are so many important issues, why this?' There were negative responses from the gay community, too. Some asked: 'What are you getting out of this, after all you are a straight woman?'

For me, it was the injustice of it. Many of us who do this kind of work believe in a just and equitable society. To me it was so bizarre that citizens of one's own country should be seen as criminals because they loved someone of the same sex. It was as simple and straightforward as that.

There were also groups that made wild allegations about us, accusing us of being paid by western agencies. They said that we were actually promoting a western ideology; that we didn't care about our country or its moral values; that our organisation, The Naz Foundation, was not registered. Complete falsehoods.

I didn't see them as challenges; I saw them as irritants. I thought, well these people too have the right to believe in what they believe in, and that I had to do what I had to do.

Also, initially, we had a difficult time in court. The court actually threw the case out, saying that we had no right to challenge this law because we were not directly affected by it.

Q: What do you perceive as the single most pertinent aspect of this judgment?

A: You know, we couldn't have asked for a better judgment. I can't think of another judgment that better reflects two of the values I hold most dear: Equality and inclusiveness.

I think this judgment really expresses the spirit of our Constitution and the thinking of people like Panditji and Ambedkarji.

Q: So now that the Supreme Court has admitted the petition challenging the judgement, what next?

A: People like Baba Ramdev want to challenge this judgment in the Supreme Court. I don't know what that means. Everyone has the right to his/her point of view. If that is how some people respond to the judgment, they must do what's right for them. So now I guess we will just have to deal with this after consulting members of the community.

But I believe that it will be very difficult to overthrow this judgment because it's based on very sound legal arguments.

Q: Legislation is the next logical step then?

A: We need legislation. Without that there cannot be a national consensus on this issue. If the people in the community are to have legal rights, we need to build that consensus. I do hope our leaders will take a stand that makes it very clear that India is a secular, democratic country and that they resist the efforts of the religious right to hijack the issue.

Q: Will the judgment impact on how HIV/AIDS is perceived in India?

A: For people to access health services, the behaviour of health providers to those from marginalised communities -- whether they are gay or merely poor -- is the key. The judgment will not impact this.

The impact will be when people change their mindsets and that is a slow process. We need attitudinal changes. For instance, many believe that gay people are paedophiles. People don't realise that most paedophiles are heterosexual men. All the cases that have come up in courts are of heterosexual men who have violated young children. So what are they talking about? Why are they linking homosexuality with paedophilia? Society has to be made aware of these realities.

Q: So with this judgment has India finally entered the 21st century?

A: There is change, certainly. Even if you look at the period from when we first started our work until now, there has been a significant change in attitudes. We've seen how the dominant viewpoint in the media has altered radically. For me this is significant because the media reflect the attitudes of wider society. We hear of many families accepting their children's homosexuality. We know of families who have got their sons married to other men, their daughters married to their partners. It will take time. After all, we are demanding a transformation in some very basic ways of thinking. But it shouldn't be an inhibiting factor. We also need to continue our dialogue with those who don't agree with us. Especially because we look at the issue from the perspective of rights, we must not stop this dialogue even for a second.
(© Women's Feature Service)
 
   
New vision
   
 
  By Archana Sudheer  
  GEORGE KURUVILA CHAVANIKAMANNIL was born and raised in a Christian family in Kerala. He accepted Jesus as his personal saviour at the age of 19 while he was a student. After doing his master's from the University of Kerala, he taught English in a private college for one year. In 1972 he resigned his teaching job to serve the Lord with India Every Home Crusade ministering among university students.

From 1973 till 1986, George and his wife Leela lived in the US. After graduating from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977, he worked with World Vision for nearly 10 years. In 1986 he resigned his position as Director of Telecommunications with World Vision to pioneer the ministries of Good News for India. He set up the New Theological College, Dehra Dun, the largest fully accredited evangelical/charismatic theological seminary in north India.

George is a very effective communicator who has ministered in a number of countries around the world and in hundreds of churches all across the US, including several mega-churches. In addition to his favourite subject of World Missions, he also speaks on Islam, Hinduism, and Christian apologetics. He is acclaimed for his insightful teaching of God's Word from the eastern perspective.

George and Leela have been married for 36 years. They have two sons and three grandsons. The following is the text of the interview he granted to The Herald of India:

Q: Please tell us about the origin of New Theological College. How did it start?

A: The story of Luther W. New Jr. Theological College, commonly known as New Theological College or NTC, is the story of an ordinary couple that has received an extraordinary measure of the grace and mercy of God. It is the story of God using common vessels to do what He pleases to do.

The story begins over four decades ago in Kerala. While being a university student, I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal saviour in 1967. I was 19 then. My ambition and plans were to become a lawyer and dedicate my entire life for a career in politics. But when I met Jesus I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Christ. Though it was the last thing I wanted to do, there was an unmistakable call on my life to preach the Gospel in north India.

In the meantime, God was preparing my future life-partner, Leela, in similar ways. She had given her life to the Lord at a very young age. After completing her university education, God opened a door for her to become a teacher in a very prestigious school in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. She also had committed her life for the ministry of the Gospel in north India.

We both ended up in the US in the early seventies and were married in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1973. God truly works in strange and mysterious ways! Though the call and conviction came in 1967, I did not reach north India until 1986! God took me through a full 19-year preparation course. This course consisted of formal training in two theological institutions -- North Central Bible College, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California; and almost a 10-year tenure with one of the finest Christian organisations in the world -- World Vision.

In December 1984 and January 1985, we, as a family, toured north India. As we were traveling, we waited on the Lord for directions from Him. In obedience to this command from the Lord, I resigned my position with World Vision on January 15, 1986. In the meantime, God prepared my nephew Rev. George C. Kuruvilla (affectionately known as Babu), to be our right-hand man in fulfilling the Lord's call upon our lives. I left for India on January 16, 1986, the day after I resigned from World Vision.

Q: Why did you choose Dehra Dun as the venue for NTC, as there were already Christian seminaries there? Were you confident it would succeed?

A: Ever since we decided to go back to India, Leela and I have been regularly praying: "Lord, lead us to the exact place you want us to be at." Though we prayed 'exact place,' we had no idea that God was going to answer our prayer so precisely. We were in for a real surprise!

As soon as I got back to India, Babu and I began traveling through north India looking for the place that the Lord wanted us to be at. We developed a habit. Wherever we would go we would meet with the local Christian leaders and share with them the vision that the Lord had given us: vision to build a center where leaders can be trained for the Indian Church.

Our travels took us to a north Indian city called Gorakhpur. There we met a man of God by the name Ray Eicher. In those days, Brother Ray was serving as the All India Director of Operation Mobilisation (OM) founded by the visionary leader George Verwer who is, most probably, instrumental in sending more young people into missions in the 20th century than any other person. He patiently heard our vision and then spoke in no uncertain terms something like this: "You must go and see Dehra Dun before you pick a place. I believe that's the city for you."

We were not even planning to go to Dehra Dun, a city about 180 miles north of New Delhi, as we knew that there was a Bible College there already. Known as Doon Bible College (DBC), it is one of the oldest Bible Colleges of north India. Our thinking was that since DBC was already there. we should try to go to a place where there were no Bible Colleges. (Soon we learned that Presbyterian Theological Seminary also was located in Dehra Dun).

But Brother Ray Eicher insisted that we should visit Dehra Dun and talk to the Christian leaders there before we finalised the choice of a place. Respecting that man of God, we caught the next train to Dehra Dun. The picturesque city of Dehra Dun, situated at the foothills of the majestic Himalayan mountains immediately impressed us as a very beautiful location. As we learned more about the city and the surrounding areas we felt that Brother Ray's counsel was wise indeed. That impression was all the more confirmed as we began to talk to the Christian leaders in the city. All of them were very enthusiastic in welcoming us to the city. That was how we chose Dehra Dun as the venue for the seminary.

Our first goal was to acquire a five-acre plot of land. Initial investigations showed that it would take at least Rs 500,000 (then around US $50,000) to purchase that much land. With this goal, I went back to the US and started to raise funds in April 1986.

Within a short time God used my wife, Leela, to start a prayer movement. One day early in June 2006 we had dinner with our pastors, Herb and Judy Maydwell, and a few other friends in our home in Glendora, California. During our conversation, Leela spoke up and said something like this: "We are trying to raise $50,000 to buy five acres of land in India. What will we do with the land after we get it? I feel strongly that the Holy Spirit is telling us to trust the Lord to give us five acres of land for $25,000. Then we will have $25,000 left to start construction."

As soon as she said those words, our pastor, Herb Maydwell, said: "That's the Lord's counsel to us. Let's pray." And we held hands around the table and Pastor Herb led us in prayer. The next Sunday morning Pastor Herb announced it from the pulpit and asked the whole church to pray. Though our church was persisting in its prayer for the land for half the quoted price, I wanted to raise the whole $50,000 before I went back to India to purchase the land.

Then the Lord began to do a series of miracles for us. The first miracle was an article that was published in World Vision magazine. As far as I know, it had never published an article about one of its own staff members that started another ministry. But that is exactly what happened.

The August-September 1986 issue of the World Vision magazine carried an excellent, two-page article on the vision that the Lord had given us. This widely read article generated much interest among many concerning our desire to do what we could for the evangelisation of India. As a result, we received many letters and gifts from different parts of the world.

One letter we received was from Dr. Janie Fountain New, a Southern Baptist believer from a small town called Elberton in Georgia. She expressed great interest in what we were planning to do. She shared our conviction that the best and most effective way to evangelise India was by training Indian Christians. Dr. New concluded her letter by stating that she would be interested in knowing more about us.

As I read her letter, the Holy Spirit clearly spoke to me. Though I did not hear an audible voice from the Holy Spirit, I felt strongly that the Lord said to me: "Something very significant will happen with this person". The letter was not written in an impressive manner at all. In fact, Jim, our accountant friend who volunteered his time to collect the mail, read the letters, deposit checks, and send out receipts gave Mrs. New's letter to me saying that it looked like a child's handwriting to him. He almost threw away the letter thinking it was written by a child.

Jim was correct; her handwriting was very poor (I learned later that she was in her eighties and her hands shook a little when she wrote.) So I replied to Mrs. New detailing our vision and our plans and waited for the "significant" thing that the Lord promised to happen. Nevertheless, we did not hear from her again for a long time.

I was to fly out of Los Angeles on November 6, 1986. On the evening of November 5, the day before I was to leave for India, I got a call from Jim, our accountant friend. When I answered the phone, there was excitement in his voice. He said: "George, we got another letter from that lady in Georgia. She wants to give you $200,000 to build the Bible College in India!" I couldn't believe my ears. Mrs. New in her letter offered to give $200,000 as a memorial gift to her late husband, Mr. Luther W. New Jr. Immediately, we had a Board meeting of the Board members of Good News for India. The Board unanimously decided to accept the gift and name the school after Mr. New.

We began to actively look for a property from the second week of November 1986. Nevertheless, all the plots we saw were extremely expensive. Then Mrs. Massey, a local Christian schoolteacher, put us in touch with a man in the Kulhan area known as Babuji.

Babuji, in turn, took us to the village chief (Pradhanji) of Kulhan, a distinguished elderly gentleman. After seeing several plots in the Kulhan area one evening, the village chief took us to see one site across from a dry riverbed. It was getting dark. Mr. Jacob Chacko spoke up and said that this might not be a suitable site to build as it was on the other side of a dry riverbed. Everyone in the group concurred. I think all of us were too tired to go across and see the land. Therefore, we went back home.

Nevertheless, something in the property had caught my attention. That whole night both Babu and I felt uneasy and wanted to see that property by daylight to verify our suspicion. Therefore, the next day we set out again to the same place. This time we did not stop on the near side of the river. We took the narrow, rugged road that led to the property. We were in a jeep, owned by Doon Bible College. Mr. Jacob Chacko, Principal, was at the steering wheel. He stopped the jeep on the near side of the river from the main road. We got off and looked at the property.

It was an incredible sight! From where we stood in that riverbed, the view of the property was exactly like a model our friends had made in Los Angeles without ever seeing India! All the details of the model were right there in front of our eyes! The most striking detail stood at the right-hand rear corner of the property -- a small mount with steps on it, almost like a staircase!

Soon the village chief took us to Dr Goyal, a physician who practiced medicine in the city of Dehra Dun, whose parents owned the land. During our conversation, we found out that the family was very anxious to sell. Here was an agricultural property in which nothing would grow! A six-month deadline was set for the whole deal. Before the expiry of the deadline, we received all the necessary permissions. Praise the Lord! The price of the land with all the legal expenses was exactly the amount that my wife prayed and said it should be!

On July 21, 1987, a good number of Christians gathered on the property to pray and break the ground for construction of the Luther W. New Jr. Theological College. Work on the campus earnestly started within a month or so and the first phase of the College was completed in about 20 months.

On April 15, 1989, Dr. Ted Engstrom, President-Emeritus, World Vision and Dr. Orvel Taylor, President, Christian Evangelistic Assemblies, dedicated the college for the glory of God and the service of humanity. It was of particular joy for us to have the presence of the 82-year-old Dr. Janie Fountain New and her 84-year-old sister, Dr. Lucille Holliman, for the dedication.

Q: What are the motivational principles of NTC?

A: The primary motivation for NTC is to train "spiritually alive, professionally competent, and socially relevant" leaders for the church in the Indian sub-continent. We firmly believe that Jesus alone offers lasting solutions to the problems we encounter in our society. Therefore, men and women who would faithfully and courageously proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus must be trained in large numbers. NTC alone cannot provide all the leadership training that is required to meet the challenges in our sub-continent. Yet, we hope to do all we can to fulfill the Lord's desire that He expressed in Matthew 9:37 and 38.

Secondly, we want to live the Gospel. We don't want to be just preachers of the Word; we want to practice what the Lord Jesus has taught us.

Finally, we believe that we must do all that we do for the Lord with excellence. From the beginning, NTC has kept excellence as our goal. We are far from achieving it fully; pray that we will excel more in all that we do.

Q: What is the greatest challenge a theological college faces these days?

A: There are several challenges that a ministry like NTC faces. I am not sure whether I can categorically categorise one as the greatest. So let me enumerate a few.

Qualified and committed teachers/trainers are few and far between. I am sorry to say, along with the Apostle Paul, that many in the ministry today are looking out for themselves, and not for the Lord Jesus and His Church. (See Philippians 2:21). While there are many who sincerely serve the Lord and lay their lives down for Him, such people are becoming rare. There are many who want to teach; but very few who really live the Gospel.

The same is true with many applicants to the college also. I say this with shame. Many Bible College students today cheat in their examinations; stealing and fighting is not uncommon among them! How sad it is! We who are called to follow the One who said that He is the Truth do not practice truth in our everyday lives!

Another challenge is finding funding for training workers for the Lord's vineyard. Very few in the Church realise the importance of quality workers. While many parents are willing to pay very large sums to send their children to secular professional colleges, very few are willing to share the burden of training leaders for the church. We need to pray for the church in India to awaken to this crucial responsibility.

Q: Tell us about the greatest satisfaction in your life.

A: The greatest satisfaction in my life is seeing young people who are incapable of saying even one sentence well come to NTC and in the course of three or four years blossom to become effective communicators and strong leaders. I have seen this happening again and again in the course of over two decades. I can recall a number of young people whose transformation is nothing short of a miracle. Seeing that is greatly rewarding. I praise the Lord for this privilege He has so graciously given me.

Q: What is the greatest strength of NTC? Also, its weaknesses?

A: I believe that our greatest strength is the family atmosphere we have been able to maintain all these years. We began with just 22 students in 1989 and it was easy to maintain that close-knit spirit in the early days. As we grew larger, we had to work hard and consciously to maintain that spirit. I think we have somewhat succeeded in keeping that. By God's grace we have also succeeded in building NTC up as an academically credible college. Two years in a row, our graduates have been toppers in the whole country. Praise the Lord and all glory to Him alone!

Our greatest weakness is our failure in totally eliminating regional/linguistic spirit from among us. As we have a student-body representing the whole country this has been a challenge for us. As we believe and preach, the Church is the Body of Christ, and, therefore, we are all members of that Body. In that Body there is no room for regional or linguistic feelings or loyalties. Pray that NTC will totally overcome this spirit (which is from none other than the devil himself) and that we would model the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Q: What after you retire from mentoring and taking care of NTC? Has NTC thought of succession?

A: Retirement is not an option for a servant of Christ! We must serve our Master till our last breath. That's my desire.

Having said that, I am fully aware that I must never be a hindrance for the ministry of NTC; I must step out of the way and allow others to carry the ball the moment I become incapable of carrying it. And, by God's grace, we have a strong 'Timothy generation' coming up. Therefore, I am not worried at all about the future leadership of NTC. As it is, I do very little in the day-today running of NTC. There are very capable people in place in all key areas and they are doing admirably well. My wife and I simply set the vision and give occasional guidance; that's all.

Q: You worked with World Vision International for several years. How was the experience and are you still associated with them?

A: I worked with World Vision (US) for almost 10 years and those were wonderful years. I really enjoyed my tenure and I look back on those years as crucial preparatory years for the founding and development of NTC. World Vision gave me excellent training and developed me in so many areas. I am very grateful to eminent leaders like Dr. Ted Engstrom who helped me immensely in my personal and professional development. I am no longer connected with World Vision in any way though many of my personal friends from World Vision still support NTC.

Q: What are the other ventures you have undertaken, other than NTC?

A: BSS, the parent society of NTC and related ministries and sister organisation CEA are the other two major ventures that I am part of. I am also part of Grace International, a family of world-wide ministries, which serves the Lord in a number of countries. I have been serving as the International Ministries Director of this fellowship of churches for about 10 years, in addition to serving on its international board.

Q: You travel a lot. How do you cope with the stress and manage to keep a balance between family and work?

A: By God's grace alone! It is becoming increasingly hard as I am getting older. Please pray for me. But, as the old saying goes, where the Lord leads, He also provides. In this phase of my ministry I have to travel a lot; there is no other option and the Lord gives strength for that. If it weren't for my incredible wife, who carries a huge share of the burden of the ministry, I could not travel as much as I do. She prefers to stay in the background and do all the hard work and doesn't desire any accolades. Without her sacrificial hard work I could not do what I do. She will have the lion's share of rewards from the Lord for our ministries, I am sure.

Q: Tell us about your family

A: I am the most blessed man, when it comes to family. Apart from the grace of God, my wife is the real secret of the success of our ministries. She is God's best gift for me and is my best friend. Then God blessed us with two wonderful sons, Finny and Renny. Both love the Lord and are serving the Lord while pursuing their careers.

Our children were born while we lived and worked in the US and so both had their education there and are settled there. Finny was a national merit scholar and completed his M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. In addition, he also completed a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT and is currently working as a Principal with Clarus Venture, a firm in Boston. He also manages a mutual fund company called Eventide (www.eventidefunds.com) He is married to Laura and they have three boys: Luke (2), Ethan and Timothy, who are identical twins (almost two months). Renny graduated from University of California, Irvine, and lives in Newport Beach, California, and is very active in his home church-Rock Harbor.

 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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