Pioneering training course in Asia offers Christmas inspiration
Christmas will be very different this year for the Revd Rajitha Ishara Demel, from Sri Lanka, thanks to a USPG-supported programme for training young church leaders in South Asia.
Rajitha was one of 18 church leaders – from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – who attended a three-week course, in Sri Lanka last month, that has been designed to meet local contextual needs.
He said: ‘I wanted to learn something new which would be helpful for my ministry and my life.
‘I realised that what we preach should be seen by others, and we should practice it before we speak. For example, every year for Christmas we preach to give others and help others. But most of us just say these words with no action.
‘So this time in Christmas, as a church, we hope to go to a rural area – to a widows’ village – to share the Christmas love with them.’
The training programme is just one initiative of the USPG-funded Asian Theological Academy (ATA).
ATA director the Ven Dr Rienzie Perera said the aim of the academy is to help men and women explore new thinking in theology in a language and idiom that is meaningful for Asian Christians.
Also participating was the Revd Saleem Khokhar, from Lahore, Pakistan, who spoke highly of last month’s training course.
He said: ‘My understanding of the kingdom of God has become more sound and clear: God has chosen us to proclaim among the nations and bring hope and joy in the midst of broken world.
‘But to do this, I think we need to understand what Jesus meant by the kingdom. Jesus avoided proclaiming God’s judgment on the nations. He wanted to show the power of love which could bring reconciliation and salvation to all people.
‘This means we should not be judgmental but share this hope with those who are poor, marginalised and suffering in difficulties.’
USPG Director for Global Relations Rachel Parry said: ‘We are thrilled, as a historic mission society, to be partnering such a dynamic and significant movement, sharing in the richness of the cultures and peoples of South Asia. This is a living example of the evolving nature of mission – a demonstration of how local and global understanding of our faith is being redefined in every generation.’