Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India

 
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
January 2021   PAGES 52   ` 20/-

                                   Fresh Start
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
Vol. 50 / No. 1
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Editorial                                                            Understanding our Times - The Call for
      Rev. Vijayesh Lal .......................................4     Christian Witness to Freedom and Hope
                                                                            Mr. John Amalraj .....................................29
Great Is Your Faithfulness
      Rev. Dr. David Mende ................................7         How much does Jesus matter to us?
                                                                            Mrs. Surinder Kaur Lal .............................33
New Year Priorities
      Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj ..............................11         The Cross of Christ
                                                                            Rev. Dr. Francis Sunderaraj ......................35
20-20 Vision isn't Enough
      Rev. Kuruvilla Chandy ..............................15         How my Lord Jesus delivered me from
                                                                     Covid death
Reflection History and Future                                               Dr. P V Cherian .......................................39
      Rev. Dr. JN Manokaran ............................20
                                                                     EFI Ministry Report - EFICAR
G. The fruit of the Holy Spirit (Part 2) -                                  Mrs. Aashima Samuel ..............................43
      Rev. Richard Masih ..................................24
                                                                     Prayer
                                                                            ..............................................................47

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                                                                                                           3◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
Editorial
                                                              Rev. Vijayesh Lal

 Empowered by the God of hope
 A new year, and the people look            videos of the great Indian migrant
 forward to a fresh start, renewed          exodus? The photo of a young child
 resolve, a new energy. The                 crying for food besides his dead
 anticipation was even more this New        mother, or the exhausted child who
 Year eve as 2020 has largely been a        slept on a suitcase as his mother
 year of social disruption, economic        pulled the wheeled luggage. The
 catastrophe, and heartbreak. The           pain has been very real.
 Covid-19 pandemic has brought the
                                            But we have also seen the good in
 world to a standstill, its people to the
                                            humanity this year. Random
 brink of terminal despair.
                                            networks sprang up, and good
 But as hard as 2020 has been, can we       Samaritans worked tirelessly to
 still be thankful for it?                  provide relief to the afflicted. We
                                            witnessed the heroic courage of the
 The losses have been deeply
                                            medical fraternity as they put their
 personal and have been felt
                                            lives on the line to take care of the
 throughout our social circles and
                                            infected and the sick. Helplines
 families. We have also seen the blow
                                            came up, manned by young men and
 of the pandemic aggravated because
                                            women willing to listen to
 of incompetent and kneejerk
                                            traumatised callers, and counsel
 government reactions. Who can
                                            them, soothe their nerves, relieve
 forget the heartrending images and

 4◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
their fears with assurances of hope.      something that is sorely needed. Our
The digital footprint in the world        hope cannot rest just on the vaccines
grew larger as our devices brought us     promised to us by scientists and
closer in a virtual world. Some           governments. Our hope cannot be
companies sacrificed instant profits      based on technology for the above
to make the necessary tools available     reasons as well. Our governments
for free so that the world could          cannot give us hope, neither can our
connect. There is much to be              politicians or religious leaders.
thankful for and to appreciate, even
                                          There is nowhere that we can find
in 2020.
                                          hope except in God.
On a personal level, we can be
                                          The Bible tells us that God is the
thankful that we still have breath in
                                          source of hope. He is identified as
our bodies, that we still have life.
                                          the God of Hope. “May the God of
Many of us have families, food on
                                          hope fill you with all joy and peace
the table, and have friends with
                                          as you trust in him, so that you may
whom we can still connect. That is
                                          overflow with hope by the power of
something for which we can really
                                          the Holy Spirit.” (Romans15:13)
be grateful. Food on the table in a
world where 25,000 people die every       The Psalmist says, “But now, Lord,
day of hunger is a big privilege. India   what do I look for? My hope is in
itself loses 7,000 people daily to        you.” (Psalm 39:7)
hunger. The covid-19 pandemic
cannot claim numbers of the dead in       God himself is our Hope. He is the
the same league as hunger does. And       sure foundation on which all hope
hunger is preventable. Eradicating it     rests. It is because He is good and the
should be on our priority list along      source of everything that is good.
with Covid-19. This should be food        What is more is that He is aware of
for thought as we go into 2021 and        the despair that we can feel; He is
should prompt us to action rather         aware of the struggles we go
than to a state of hopelessness.          through, and the hopelessness that
                                          chases us. But that is not all. He is not
Dostoevsky famously said, “To live        only good and aware of all that we go
without Hope is to cease to live.” In a   through, but He also engages with us
world that is dark and cold, hope is

                                                                5◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
and remains with us in our struggles   an escape or fanciful thinking, a
and works with us to produce that      weary longing for a pie in the sky. It
which is good even out of situations   has consequences in the here and
that seem bleak.                       now. Because we are a people of
                                       hope, we engage in a world that
That is why the Lord Jesus Christ
                                       seems devoid of it, we refuse to
came and shared our humanity. We
                                       accept the bleakness. We roll up our
just celebrated His coming into the
                                       sleeves and join with God in His
world. That is why He chose the
                                       mission of hope, of repairing broken
cross and then rose from the dead.
                                       lives, setting the oppressed free,
His resurrection is triumph over
                                       ushering in justice, mercy, grace and
death, and the reason for our hope.
                                       God’s truth of salvation.
And now we wait in anticipation for
His second coming, for He shall        So, as we enter the new year, let us
restore everything according to        enter with thankfulness for the year
God’s design and for His glory. That   gone by and with hope for the year
is why we are hopeful people for we    that we have entered in because the
know how the story ends.               God of hope is with us.

And yet, hope for a Christian is not                     Rev. Vijayesh Lal

     "I can endure all these things through
  the power of the one who gives me strength."
               — Philippians 4:13
6◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
Great Is Your
                                 Faithfulness

                                                Rev. Dr. David Mende

Introduction                             1. We Can Have Hope in the Midst
The solar-powered airplane Solar         of Grief by Recalling the Goodness
Impulse can fly day and night            of the Lord (Lam. 3:21-23).
without fuel. Inventors Bertrand         We cannot create hope by denying
Piccard and André Borschberg hope        our circumstances or minimizing our
to fly it around the world in 2015       suffering. Rather, we can have hope
(and they did fly between March 9,       when we turn our attention to God.
2015, to July 26, 2016). While the       The author draws hope in the midst
plane flies all day by solar power, it   of grief by focusing on God's
gathers enough energy to be able to      character (v. 21). In the same way,
fly all night. When the sun rises,       we can find hope when we focus on
Piccard says, “It brings the hope        God's character. When we feel
again that you can continue.” The        hopeless or depressed, we must
idea of sunrise bringing us hope         consider the right things. Our
makes me think of Lamentations 3.1       spiritual vision can be clouded if we
Lamentations 3:21-24 tells us that       ponder on the wrong things. Even in
we can experience steadfast love and     the stormy clouds, we can see a
mercies of the Lord in a fresh way       rainbow if we can look above instead
with every sunrise. 2020 has been a      of looking at our circumstances. In
difficult year for people around the     times of difficulties, we must look to
world. But God's Word reminds us         Jesus, the founder and perfecter of
that we can make a fresh start by        our faith (Heb. 12:1-2). The
hoping in the Lord.                      goodness of the Lord is seen in four
                                         aspects:
The main message I want to share in
this article is: Hope in the Lord by     a. He recalled that the steadfast
focusing on his goodness and             love of the Lord never ceases (v.
making him your portion.                 22).

                                                             7◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
While NIV translates the phrase in         love and faithfulness.'” Though the
verse 22 as “because of the Lord's         Lord drove into the author's kidneys
great love we are not consumed,”           “the arrows of his quiver” (3:13), he
ESV translates this verse as “The          still proclaims that God's mercies
steadfast love of the Lord never           (plural form of mercy) never come to
ceases.” The Bible affirms both            an end. The author reminded himself
views. As NIV puts it, the reason you      that though God judged his people
and I are alive this day is because of     severely, his mercies never come to
the steadfast love of the Lord. The        end. Even as God punished his
word translated as “steadfast love” is     people, he was doing it out of
hesed (plural form of hesed is used in     compassion for them. God is
3:22) which refers to the covenant         ceaselessly compassionate.
love and loyalty of the Lord. Even         Someone said, “God's wrath comes
the ESV (which some scholars               by measure; his mercy without
believe is more literal) is also true as   measure.” As Lamentations 3:31-32
the second line of verse 22 suggests.      says, “For the Lord will not cast off
God's steadfast love never ceases.         forever, but, though he causes grief,
Listen to what the psalmist writes:        he will have compassion according
                                           to the abundance of his steadfast
“Your steadfast love, O LORD,              love.” Jesus demonstrated the
extends to the heavens, your               steadfast love and mercies of God
faithfulness to the clouds. Your           through his sacrifice on the cross!
righteousness is like the mountains
of God; your judgments are like the        c. He recalled that God's steadfast
great deep; man and beast you save,        love and mercies are new every
O LORD…. How precious is your
                                           morning (v. 23).
steadfast love, O God! The children
                                           God's steadfast love and mercies are
of mankind take refuge in the
                                           new every morning. They are not
shadow of your wings” (Ps. 36:5, 7).
                                           stale. We receive fresh steadfast love
                                           and mercies each day. Since God's
We may be down, but not out
                                           steadfast love and mercies are new
because the steadfast love of the
Lord never ceases.                         every morning, you can claim fresh
                                           love and mercies for the new year.
b. He recalled that God's mercies          No matter how bad the last year has
(or compassions) never come to an          been, as God's people, we can look
end (v. 22).                               forward to the new year with hope
Verse 22 echoes Exodus 34:6: “The          and faith. No matter how much
LORD passed before him and                 you've messed up in the last year,
proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD,           you can start all over again because
a God merciful and gracious, slow to       God's steadfast love and mercies are
anger, and abounding in steadfast          new every morning!

8◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
In Exodus 16, we read that God            “No temptation has overtaken you
provided manna to the Israelites in       that is not common to man. God is
the wilderness daily. In Matthew          faithful, and he will not let you be
6:11, the Lord taught us to pray,         tempted beyond your ability, but
“Give us this day our daily bread.” In    with the temptation he will also
the same way, we receive God's            provide the way of escape, that you
steadfast love and mercy each day.        may be able to endure it” (1 Cor.
That's why the psalmist says, “For        10:13).
his anger is but for a moment, and his
favor is for a lifetime” (Ps. 30:5).      “If we confess our sins, he is faithful
God's steadfast love and mercies are      and just to forgive us our sins and to
new every morning.                        cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
                                          (1 Jn 1:9).
d. He recalled that God's
faithfulness is great (v. 23).            Even when we suffer, we can entrust
The Israelites were unfaithful to         our souls to the faithful Creator (1
God. That's why they were punished        Pet. 4:19). God's faithfulness is
through exile. But God's faithfulness     great! Like Job, we can hope in God
is great! Even as God judged the          even in the midst of trials and
Israelites, he was faithful in            difficulties: “Though he slay me, I
executing his justice as he had           will hope in him” (Job 13:15). Now,
promised earlier. Since we are            may I request you all to close your
humans, we are unfaithful to the          eyes and to recall the worst loss that
Lord sometimes. But since he's God,       has ever occurred to you. For me, it
he is always faithful! As Paul writes,    was losing my parents in a gap of
“if we are faithless, he remains          three months. Now imagine your
faithful—for he cannot deny               worst loss and imagine witnessing
himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).                   that loss right in front of your eyes.
                                          And say to yourself: “The steadfast
Like the author, we can say, “You         love of the LORD never ceases; his
came near when I called on you; you       mercies never come to an end; they
said, Do not fear” (Lam. 3:57)! Jesus     are new every morning; great is your
said that he is the truth (Jn 14:6). In   faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). Do
other words, he is faithful. God is       you find it difficult to say those
faithful all the time. Let me give you    words as you recollect your great
a few scriptures which speak of           loss?
God's faithfulness:
                                          The author's circumstances didn't
“Your faithfulness endures to all         change. Yet, he was hopeful because
generations; you have established         he recollected God's goodness. We
the earth, and it stands fast” (Ps.       can experience the same hope if we
119:90).                                  focus on God's goodness.

                                                               9◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Fresh Start - Evangelical Fellowship of India
Remember: life is hard, but God is                   all of us. But as we have stepped into
good!                                                another year, let our hearts be full of
                                                     hope and full of faith. Let's focus on
2. We Can Have Hope in the Midst                     God's goodness: (a) His steadfast
of Grief by Making God as Our                        love never ceases. (b) His mercies
Portion (Lam. 3:24).                                 never come to an end; they are new
In the Old Testament, God told the                   every morning. (c) His faithfulness
Levites, “You shall have no                          is great! Let's make God our portion.
inheritance in their land, neither                   Then, we will live each day full of
shall you have any portion among                     hope, faith, and joy!
them. I am your portion and your
inheritance among the people of                      P.S. This article is adapted from Dr.
Israel” (Num. 18:20). Even in Psalm                  David Mende's book, Powerful
119:57, the psalmist says that God is                Sermons for Special Occasions. You
his portion. Further, in Psalm 16:5,                 may contact him for copies of this
the psalmist says, “The LORD is my                   book.
chosen portion and my cup.” The
author had hope in God because he
made God his portion.

We cannot have hope without first
making the Lord as our portion. We
will be truly satisfied when God
alone is our portion. God must be our
treasure and inheritance! Is God
your portion? The Lord is more
valuable than a piece of land, an
inheritance, gold and silver, bank
balance, loved ones (family and                      Rev. Dr. David Mende
friends), food, fame, sex,                           is the pastor-teacher at El-Shaddai
smartphones, job, business, and                      Assembly of God Church
everything else! Don't keep                          (elshaddaiag.in) in Hyderabad. He also
grumbling and complaining about                      serves as an adjunct faculty member at
your circumstances. Make God your                    Southern Asia Bible College (SABC) in
portion and rejoice about that                       Bangalore, Hyderabad Institute of
                                                     Theology and Apologetics (HITHA) in
glorious fact! Then, you can                         Hyderabad, and SUM Bible College &
experience unwavering hope.                          Theological Seminary in California,
                                                     USA. He can be reached at +91
Conclusion                                           9 8 4 8 0 0 4 0 9 4             a n d
2020 has been extremely painful for                  davemende@gmail.com.
                       1. Preceptaustin.org, “Devotionals From Our Daily Bread,”
          https://www.preceptaustin.org/lamentations_devotionals (accessed 30 December 2018).

10◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
PRIORITIES WE MUST HAVE
                     YEAR AFTER YEAR
                                                    Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

An annual master health checkup is       that festival that a dance was a noted
recommended by many. What the            feature (Judges 21:21). The people
things that God's Word says we must      of Israel could not sit in one place
do year after year?                      when they thought of the good things
                                         the Lord had done for them. They,
The word yearly or annually occurs       especially the women, had to get up
quite a few times in the Bible. Some     and dance in the Lord's presence! In
of these Bible references give us        this year, we must resolve to be
indications about things that the        people who worship God!
Lord wants us to do on a yearly basis.
These would give us a clue as to what    A devotional reading from Our Daily
kind of New Year resolutions we          Bread reading made this fabulous
should be taking. These Bible            suggestion which will help us
passages talk about the priorities we    practically execute this New Year
must have as believers year after        resolution: During daily family
year.                                    prayer, each family member could
                                         talk about the blessings God gave
THE YEAR OF GOD-WORSHIP                  them on that day. This could be jotted
This New Year, we must resolve to        down in a small sheet of paper. On a
worship God more. Judges 21:19           typical day, a family may have four
which tells us that there was an         or five points for praising God, if
annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh,   each family member spoke up. Each
gives me the specific inspiration for    such point should make into a fresh
this New Year resolution. It was in      chit of paper. These chits should be

                                                             11◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
rolled and tossed in a 'thanksgiving     saying, “May the LORD give you
bowl'. An empty fish tank bowl can       children by this woman in place of
be used. This should be done daily       the one she dedicated to the LORD.”
through the year. And when 31            Then they would go home' (I Sam.
December comes, you can fish out         2:18-20). We know that Samuel's
these chits from the bowl and read       mom, Hannah, was barren for many
them out in mega family                  years. And God did a miracle and
thanksgiving prayer once again,          gave her a son. After Samuel,
praising God for the wonderful way,      Hannah's son, was weaned, he was
He graciously took care of us in that    left in the house of the Lord. He
particular year! If Eric Yuan, the       assisted the priest Eli in God's house.
founder of Zoom was a believer, and      Every year, Samuel's mom made a
if he wrote out these kinds of           little robe, travelled to where he was
thanksgiving chits, this would been      and gave it to him. Wow! This act of
an entry on the April 30, 2020: 'God     Hannah inspires each one of us who
enabled the company I founded,           are part of a family to unselfishly do
Zoom, to jump 10 million daily           loving acts that will put a smile on
meeting participants in December         the faces of other family members.
2019, to 300 million' (Time,             As husbands, we must resolve this
December 21-28, 2020, p.72).             New Year to do something special
                                         for our wives! As wives, we need to
T H E Y E A R O F FA M I LY-             resolve this New Year to do
WOWING                                   something special for our husbands!
The New Year should be a year in
                                         As children, we need to resolve this
which you resolve to be a more
                                         New Year to do something special
responsible family person. The Lord
                                         for our parents! As siblings, we need
has graciously added the New Year
                                         to resolve to do something special
into our life so that we can take good
                                         for your other siblings! Taking good
care of our families. When I read this
                                         care of our families must be part and
portion of Scripture, this New Year
                                         parcel of our annual New Year
Resolution inspiration came to me:
                                         resolution list! Why not place a
'Now Samuel was ministering before
                                         carefully planned and cheerfully
the LORD—a boy wearing a linen
                                         executed family holiday in the list of
ephod. Each year his mother would
                                         'to do' things this year? We can learn
make him a little robe and bring it to
                                         from Virat Kohli in this regard. He
him when she went with her husband
                                         decided to take paternity leave early
to offer the annual sacrifice. And Eli
                                         in 2020 should the time of his wife
would bless Elkanah and his wife,
                                         Anushka's delivery come even

12◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
during an important Cricket tour!         themselves, to destroy, kill, and
                                          annihilate all the forces of any
THE YEAR OF SIN-BEATING                   people or province hostile to them,
What are pointers in God's Word           including women and children, and
when it comes to New Year                 to plunder their possessions” (Esther
resolutions? The New year should be       8:11). “Each and every year” this
a year of Satan-beating! The God-         celebration of God-orchestrated
given New Year should be a year           miracle victory over their enemies
when we win over Satan! I get the         was done among the Jews (Esther
inspiration to form this resolution       9:24-27).
from the book of Esther. Here, we
read the following: “Mordecai             Our primary enemy is Satan. We
recorded these events and sent letters    sometimes think a certain individual
to all the Jews in all the provinces of   is our enemy. We do not think of
King Xerxes, both near and far, to        Satan who is perhaps behind that
establish 'among them an annual           individual, instigating that
'celebration ''on the fourteenth and      individual to act against us and
fifteenth days of the month 'of Adar      discourage us (see Math. 16:23).
as the days on which the Jews gained      Satan often uses human instruments
rest from their enemies and the           to work against us. Our main agenda
month in which their sorrow turned        in the New Year that God has
to joy and their mourning into a          graciously added to our lives, should
holiday” (Esther 9:20-22). There          be to win over Satan. Satan's main
was an enemy of the Jews. His name        agenda is this: to make us sin! So, our
was Haman. Haman tried to harm the        New Year resolutions should involve
Jews, because of his negative             a plan and program to have victory
experience with one Jew –                 over sin! In the New Year we must,
Mordecai. But the enemy of the            enabled by the Spirit of God, seek to
Jews, Haman hung in the nearly 23-        win over the “sin that so easily
meter-high gallows, he prepared for       entangles” – the sin that we often feel
Mordecai (Esther 7:9). God turned         like repeating, be it porn-watching or
the tables on the behalf of the Jews,     outbursts of anger or whatever (Heb.
the apples of his eyes (Duet. 32:10;      12:1). Our New Year may not be
Zech. 2:8). This event eventually led     pain-free, but it can be porn-free!
to the passing of this decree where       Our New year may not be agony-
“letters the king (of Persia)             free, but it can be anger-free (I am
permitted the Jews in each and every      talking about sinful anger here). So,
city the right to assemble and defend     in the New Year, we need to win over

                                                              13◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
sin. This can be done when we have          essay should be our priorities, year
an ongoing cooperation with the             after year! Do a review at the end of
Spirit of God who enables us to put         the day/week/month/year as to how
to death the misdeeds of the body           much time you have given to the
(Romans 8:13).                              activities that God's Word is saying
                                            that we must make as our priority
What should be our priorities in the        “year after year”.
New Year? The book of Leviticus
gives us another clue. If a well-off
foreigner who lived in Israel hired a
slave from Israel, the people of Israel
needed to pay money to the foreigner
to have him released, even if the year
of Jubilee when all slaves would be
eligible for a free release was still far
away. Why? God's children cannot
be slaves year after year. This, I
understand from my reading of
                                            Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
Leviticus 25:47-53.
                                            is the founder of Grabbing the
We must get involved in the work of         Google Generation from Gehenna
releasing people from bondage to sin        Mission, a ministry that reaches out
through our giving of our time,             to present day people via writings,
talents, treasures and truth. We must       pulpit preaching and counselling.
make this task a priority in the New        Find out more at www.dukev.org or
Year that God has graciously added          by WhatsApp to +91-8886040605.
to our lives.                               He is a fulltime itinerant preacher
                                            and writer-in-residence with this
What I have talked about in this            ministry

        "I know the plans I have in mind for you,
       declares the Lord; they are plans for peace,
   not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope."
                     — Jeremiah 29:11

14◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
20-20 VISION
                 ISN'T ENOUGH
                            Rev. Kuruvilla Chandy

It is commonly thought that a person      AIDS has killed about 36 million,
with 20-20 vision has perfect             but over a period of 40 years. from
eyesight. A person with 20-20 vision      1980 to the present.
can see things clearly when they are
standing 20 feet away from what           The worst pandemic of the last
they are looking at.                      century was the Spanish Flu, which
                                          broke out as the First World War was
At the beginning of 2020, most of us      ending. Almost a third of the global
thought that it was going to be a good    population was affected. An
year. We saw 20-20 visions for the        estimated 50-100 million people
year. Though Covid-19 was first           died. India was one of the worst
identified in December 2019 in            affected, losing about 17 to 18
China, it was only a whole month          million people, approximately 6% of
later that it surfaced in India. By the   i t s        p o p u l a t i o n .
end of the year, 1,465,144 had died
of whom 137,621 were from India.          That was almost a hundred years
                                          ago. That means that today there is
The deadliest pandemic recorded in        no one who can remember anything
human history was the Black Death         like a pandemic. It's got us worried.
plague that ravaged Europe and Asia
(1347-53). According to one               Our 20-20 Experience
estimate it killed about 200 million      As 2020 ends, there is news that
people, though the conservative           vaccines have been developed
estimate is 50 million. Almost 50%        against Covid-19, and so we think
of the population of Europe died due      it's going to be better in 2021. At
to the disease.                           least, we hope so. But didn't we feel

                                                             15◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
that 2020 would be better than 2019,      services. Who knows, but they may
and don't we, at the beginning of         demand that on-line services be
every year, wish that it will be better   continued so that they can lounge at
than the previous year?                   home in their pyjamas while just
                                          viewing services without further
In 2020, most people were under a         involvement? The habit of church
sort of “house arrest”. Children          attendance has been broken. Can it
suffered because they had to attend       be repaired - completely? Maybe,
classes on-line. Some didn't have the     but first the habit of not attending
means to do that and some who had         will have to be broken, and then it
the facilities didn't like it because     will take time and multiple
they couldn't understand stuff and        repetitions for the habit of attending
couldn't interact with peers.             church to be reconstructed.

Many lost their means of livelihood       Backward or Forward?
and some of those who were asked to       So here we are at the beginning of the
work from home found it difficult to      year hoping that life will go back to
work in isolation. They missed the        what it was before the pandemic hit
interaction and camaraderie of            the world. Earlier, we always wanted
working alongside others. Some            to go forward. Now, we want to go
unscrupulous and unkind employers         backward to pre-2020 conditions.
took advantage of the situation to cut    Both our earlier desires to go
salaries and/or allowances under one      forward and our new mood of
pretext or the other.                     wanting to back manifest that it is
                                          generally our belief that “time will
Some who were sick wouldn't seek          heal”. No, time itself doesn't heal.
treatment because they were afraid        Time doesn't have the power to do
they would catch catching Covid-19        that.
at clinics and hospitals. Some grew
worse and died.                           Who can tell whether this pandemic
                                          will end soon and life will go back to
Those who love to travel for pleasure     what it was like earlier? The Bible
were unable to do so. Grandchildren       teaches that the world is in a “fallen
have not been able to see their           state”. That means that things are not
grandparents and grandparents their       as they were created and not as they
grandchildren. Those who love             were meant to be. When God looked
adventure holidays are bored at           around at the world after each phase
home.                                     of creation He observed that it was
                                          all good (Gen. 1: 4, 9,12, 18, 21, 25,
Believers have not been able to           31). But when humans, the only
attend worship services in person.        creatures made in God's likeness
Some have adjusted to on-line             (vv.27-28), broke fellowship with

16◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Him by departing from His mandate        their fruit.
for living, they reaped the              No longer will they build houses
consequences of that rebellion. The      and others live in them,
world began to malfunction (3:17-           or plant and others eat.
19), just like any gadget                For as the days of a tree,
malfunctions when we don't follow           so will be the days of my people;
the manufacturer's advice. Paradise      my chosen ones will long enjoy
was lost, and humankind has never           the work of their hands.
been able to regain the lost paradise.   They will not labour in vain,
We gain some and we lose some, and          nor will they bear children
that goes on and on.                     doomed to misfortune;
                                         for they will be a people blessed by
Waiting for Redemption                   the Lord,
Scripture describes the present fallen      they and their descendants with
state of the world as one of groaning,   them.
waiting for redemption (Rom. 8:19-       Before they call I will answer;
22). This is what God promised to           while they are still speaking I
the waiting world:                       will hear.
See, I will create                       The wolf and the lamb will feed
   new heavens and a new earth.          together,
The former things will not be               and the lion will eat straw like
remembered,                              the ox,
   nor will they come to mind.              and dust will be the serpent's
But be glad and rejoice for ever         food.
   in what I will create…(Isa.           They will neither harm nor destroy
65:17-18).                                  on all my holy mountain,'
This promise of God is based on          says the Lord (vv.19-25).
His covenant with His people. In
the context of that covenant, God        The day when wolves will lie down
said further:                            with lambs has not yet arrived and
I will rejoice…                          will come only when the Lord's
   and take delight in my people;        kingdom will be established on
the sound of weeping and of crying       earth. However, we can still live in
   will be heard in it no more.          that hope.
 'Never again will there be in it
   an infant who lives but a few         Let's Get Married
days,                                    A covenant is not like a legal
   or an old man who does not live       contract. It's a two-way relationship
out his years…                           of intimacy, involvement and
They will build houses and dwell in      interaction. That is why the Old
them;                                    Testament affirms that God is
   they will plant vineyards and eat     married to His people (54:5), and

                                                            17◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
when they break covenant with Him,        power to save them, but went on to
it is equated with committing             say that even if He sovereignly
adultery (Ezek. 16:15-34).                chooses not to save them from the
                                          fire, they would not give in to the
The New Testament reaffirms that,         king's threats, and bow to his will,
by saying that Christ is married to       because they had already chosen
His people gathered (ecclesia) in His     God's will for their lives (Dan. 3:16-
Name (Eph. 5:22-32).                      18).

That was all in biblical times. What      God loved us first (1 Jn. 4:10, 19).
about today? Are we in this kind of       For His part, God has already
intimate relationship with God? A         affirmed that He is in an intimate
marriage is a two-way relationship.       relationship with those who belong
If we want God to care for us, we will    to Him. What God has affirmed,
need to show we want that care in our     needs to be affirmed by us in turn.
lives by reciprocating in                 That is how it is in a marriage. Both
relationship.                             parties say the vows of commitment
                                          to each other. One of the parties
Traditionally, when people get            cannot arbitrarily leave the vows
married, they say to each other, “I,      unsaid. What God has said to us, we
___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded      need to say back to Him.
husband/wife, to have and to hold,
from this day forward, for better, for    Better with Jesus
worse, for richer, for poorer, in         Like everyone else in the world, I too
sickness and in health, to love and to    would like things to return to pre-
cherish, till death do us part,           2020 conditions. I want to be able to
according to God's holy ordinance;        dine out, holiday with family and
and thereto I pledge thee my faith        friends, and most of all worship in
[or] pledge myself to you." That is       fellowship with believers. On the
what total commitment is like.            other hand, I see that the groaning of
                                          the world is a precursor to the
Changing circumstances don't              coming redemption – the Second
destroy such commitment. There is a       Coming of Christ. Dare I say, “Not
“come wind, come weather”,                now, Lord”?
“through thick and thin”, “through
all the ups and downs” attitude and       But the 20-20 vision is not perfect
stance that is brought into the           after all, and it just isn't enough for
relationship. Thus, when Daniel's         the future. We need to look beyond
three friends faced trial by fire, they   all this and seek a closer relationship
told the king that they would indeed      with the Lord – come what may.
put their lives in God's hands. They
said that they knew that God had the      2021 may be better than 2020 – or, it

18◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
may not be better. Let's manifest the     belong to God and to put my life in
courage manifested by Daniel's            His powerful, caring, kind hands.
friends and say: Who cares what
happens? I don't care. That is just not   As Paul said, “If God be for us, who
the point of my life. Mine is to          can be against us?”

The Apostle Paul was one who experienced many troubles. Through all of
them, he learnt precious lessons that he shared with fellow-believers (Rom.
8:28-39):

Ÿ In every situation, God is working for our good
Ÿ God gave us Jesus – and so He is not going to withhold any blessing from
  us.
Ÿ We're not condemned. Jesus is praying for us
Ÿ Nothing can separate us from the Lord's love for us – that's what is
  important
Ÿ We are not defeated. We are conquerors through Christ Jesus because of
  His love

With Jesus, 2021 will be better: just because He will be there for us.

                        Rev. Kuruvilla Chandy
                        is a freelance preacher and writer. He
                        c a n b e r e a c h e d a t :
                        reverendkuru@aol.com

                 "People plan their path,
            but the Lord secures their steps."
                    — Proverbs 16:9

                                                               19◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Reflection: History and
                Post-Pandemic Missions
                Reflection: History and
                          Rev. Dr. J. N. Manokaran

God is continuously working in the        do something. They are pioneers
world. God's purpose could never          moving into unchartered areas and
be defeated. The Truth is God is the      building new structures. Third,
Sovereign authority and fulfils His       Institutional Leaders who manage
Mission – Mission Dei – according         structures, create and establish
to his own's timetable. Disruptions       institutions to bring transformation.
are from the perspective of humans        Yes, God raises a great army of
are not hindrances for God. In the        leaders who are lights in the world.
midst of all disruptions God's work
is unravelled.                            Great Century
                                          KS Latourette, a great
God's Work                                church/mission historian writes:
Harvest is always ripe and ready for      The “Great Century” of Missions,
harvest. (John 4:35) Lord of Harvest      1792-1910”      In His analysis:
listens to prayers and send 'labourers'   “During that period, which is
to harvest. Of course, there are          roughly coterminous with the
several kinds of labourers for the        nineteenth century, more new
mission. First, Thought Leaders           Christians emerged from a wider
who are thinkers, creators, perceive      number of new people groups than at
in mind a vision to fulfil the Great      any previous time in the history of
Commission. Second, Movement              the church. Never before had so
Leaders who are moved by 'thought         many Christians moved to so many
leaders' and receive a new vision to      vast and remote parts of the Globe

20◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
and communicated the gospel across      was held in Scotland. Don Fanning
                             1
so many cultural boundaries.” The       writes: “William Carey envisioned a
gospel transformed individuals,         global missionary conference which
families, communities, people           began with the first all-India
groups and nations.                     Missionary conference in 1872 with
                                        136 participants. In 1910 it was
Kenneth Scott Latourette also wrote:    r e a l i z e d : Wo r l d M i s s i o n a r y
“Christianity has been the means of     Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland,
reducing more languages to writing      with 1200 representatives present.”3
than have all other factors combined.   There was a great enthusiasm that
It has created more schools, more       the world would be reached, and
theories of education, and more         Great Commission task completed.
systems than has any other one force.   However, no one predicted: World
More than any other power in            War I (1914-1918) and World War II
history, it has impelled men to fight   (939-1945) that would ruthlessly
suffering, whether that suffering has   hinder the progress of missions.
come from disease, war or natural
disasters. It has built thousands of    Don Fanning writes: “Optimism was
hospitals, inspired the emergence of    crushed after the holocaust of WWII.
the nursing and medical professions,    The eschatological motivation
and furthered movement for public       during the 19th century was often a
health and the relief and prevention    post-millennial hope that
of famine.”2                            evangelism would bring in the
                                        kingdom. After WWII, the major
These people of God brought in a        base of missions shifted to the US
new way of thinking, innovative way     since most of the economy,
of doing things and built a new         resources, man-power and authority
global civilization. It happened by     of the European powers were
introduction of modern education,       destroyed by the war.”4
health services, transport,
communication and administration.       There were many who became
                                        pessimistic and did not know how to
Great disruption                        respond as world wars ruined the
Missionaries were glad that they are    world. Will the church be able to
bringing great changes around the       continue the mission? Should the
world. Hence, they planned a global     church abandon the mission? God
missionary conference. In 1910,         was not defeated.
Edinburgh Missionary Conference

                                                                21◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Great Decades                            Like previous era, there were
In the New context: Another Great        movements like AD 2000; AD 2020
70 Years: Approximately 1950-            movements that envisaged the
2020. Protestant Missions got re-        completion of Great Commission.
ignited. Prominent missions God          Church Growth Movement, 4/14
used were: Operation Mobilization        Window. 10/40 Window, Prayer
(Founder: George Verwer), Campus         movements, Urban movements,
Crusade for Christ (Bill Bright),        Business as Mission movements,
Youth With A Mission (Loren              Movement Days, Networks…etc.
Cunningham) and Every Home
Crusade (Founders: John McAlister        No one predicted or expected a
and Dick Eastman). All the four          Pandemic on a global scale. Again,
agencies mobilized young people          the church was caught by surprise.
unlike older days when a missionary
needed to know Hebrew, Greek and         Great Global Disruption
                                         This Pandemic (2020) may continue
theologically trained; with short
                                         for few more months if not years, its
trainings or trainings on job. Most of
                                         impact certainly for few more
the newer missions focussed on
                                         months. This has affected the global
making disciples and planting
                                         economy, thousands have lost their
churches and did not develop
                                         jobs, many people have died, mental
infrastructure intensive ministries
                                         illness has gripped many. Vaccine
like education and medical missions.
                                         seems to be only hope. However,
Huge literature mobilization to
                                         there is no guaranteed timetable for
many. Four Spiritual Laws making a
                                         that to be available.
great impact. Jesus Film was a
powerful tool seen by millions of        Great Future
people as movie, then as video tapes,    What would be the next phase of
CDs and digital versions.                missions? God will certainly raise
Don Fanning writes: “The utilization     visionaries, thought leaders,
of radio, aviation, Bible                movement leaders and executioners.
correspondence, gospel recordings,       His purpose will not be hindered or
cassettes, films, Theological            defeated.
Education by Extension (TEE),
printing press and other technologies    God's Promise
helped expand the opportunities to       People of faith must go out pioneer,
multiply each missionary many            explore and excel in new areas
times.”                                  creating new entities. Lord promised

22◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Moses and Joshua: “Every place that                    New frontier for mission is leaving
the sole of your foot will tread upon I                'digital footprints' to possess the
have given to you, just as I promised                  Promise of God and fulfil the Great
to Moses.” (Deuteronomy 11:24,                         Commission.
Joshua 1:3). Yes, missionaries in
every era continuously did that. In                    Democratic Digital Platforms
the previous eras, 'gospel footprints'                 There are many digital platforms
in the form of schools, colleges,                      like:     Facebook, Instagram,
hospitals, bibles in vernacular                        WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube,
languages, churches in numerous                        Zoom…etc. How can these be used
locations are evident.                                 for multiple facets of ministries like
                                                       evangelism, disciple making,
Digital footprints and gospel                          leadership development, mentoring,
footprints                                             teaching, training, equipping…etc?
The new context of the world is
'Information Era.' Digitalization has                  We have to pray for God to raise
changed the world dramatically.                        thought leaders, movement leaders
Smart phone technology has great                       and executioners for His Mission.
reach that a considerable percentage
of population have access to digital
information. The penetration varies
from country to country. As smart
phones become cheaper and data
available in all nooks and corners of
the world, all people would have
access to the virtual digital world.
'Digital footprint' refers to one's
                                                       Rev. Dr. J. N. Manokaran
unique set of traceable digital
                                                       is a teacher trainer and writer.
activities. In the new digital world,
                                                       Currently serves as Regional
gospel footprints should reach all
                                                       Director South Asia for Community
digital devices like smart phones and
                                                       Bible Study International.
laptops.
                                      1. https://www.kouya.net/?p=6921
                                       accessed on 13 November 2020.
               2. https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/153644.Kenneth_Scott_Latourette
                                       accessed on 15 November 2020.
       3. https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=cgm_missions
                                       accessed on 15 November 2020.
       4. https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=cgm_missions
                                       accessed on 15 November 2020.

                                                                                   23◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
The Holy Spirit:
    Sent from Heaven
    (1Peter 1:12)

    G. The fruit of the Holy Spirit (2)

    Rev. Richard Masih

Introduction-                                      examine ourselves, whether we are
                                                   carnal Christians or spiritual
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is in
                                                   Christians. Our Lord said, “You will
contrast with the works of the flesh.
                                                   recognize them by their fruit”
“Now the works of the flesh are
                                                   (Matthew 7:16). There are nine fruit
e v i d e n t : s e x u a l i m m o r a l i t y,
                                                   of the Holy Spirit given in Galatians
impurity, sensuality, idolatry,
                                                   5:22,23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is
sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits
                                                   love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
of anger, rivalries, dissensions,
                                                   goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies,
                                                   self-control.” So far we have seen
and things like these” (Galatians
                                                   four of them- 1. Love, 2. Joy, 3.
5:19-21). On the one hand, there is
                                                   Peace and 4. Patience. We proceed
the flesh (sinful nature). On the other
                                                   further now-
hand, there is the Spirit. On the one
hand, there are the works (produced                5. Kindness.
by ourselves). On the other hand,
there are the fruit (produced by the               Kindness is the quality of being soft,
Holy Spirit). The difference between               tender, gentle, being loving,
a carnal man and spiritual man is                  forgiving, helping, undemanding,
this- in carnal man the works of the               etc. Opposite to kindness is the
flesh are in plenty. A spiritual man, is           hardness of heart. Let me give you
laden with the fruit of the Holy                   some examples of hard people in the
Spirit. This is a very simple way to               Bible. The first name that comes to

24◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
mind is Pharaoh of Egypt. He was a        we continue to despise his kindness,
hard, unfeeling and insensitive man.      his kindness will turn into severity.
He and his people could not be            Romans 11:22 says, “Therefore,
moved by the pathetic plight, sighing     consider God's kindness and
and groaning of the Israelites            severity: severity to those who have
(Exodus 1:11-14; 3:7,9). The second       fallen, but God's kindness towards
is the prostitute which demanded          you who remain in his kindness.
that the living child should be cut in    Otherwise you too will be cut off.”
two and given to both of them- half
each (1Kings 3:26b). The third is the     In Luke 13:1, our Lord talks about
crowd which was ready to stone the        the Galileans whose blood Pilate had
woman caught red-handed in                mixed with their own sacrifices. Our
adultery (John 8:3). The fourth is the    Lord raises this question to those
servant whose large amount of debt        who had come and reported to him,
was cancelled but who wasn't              “Do you think that these Galileans
willing to wait for the late payment      were worse sinners than all the other
of debt by his fellow servant             Galileans, because they suffered in
(Matthew 18:28-30). The fifth is the      this way?” Then he goes on to give
crowd which was baying for the            warning, “No, I tell you; but unless
blood of our Lord (Matthew 27:22-         you repent, you will all likewise
23) and Apostle Paul (Acts 21:36). I      perish” (v.3). He gives them another
am sure, the examples can be              example and its inherent warning,
multiplied.                               “Or those eighteen on whom the
                                          tower in Siloam fell and killed them:
Our God is a kind God. The Bible          do you think that they were worse
talks of the kindness and the severity    offenders than all the others who
of God. Yes, he is kind, and he is        lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you;
severe also. So we can't take             but unless you repent, you will all
advantage of the kindness of God          likewise perish” (vs.4,5). At present,
and try to fool with him. Romans 2:4      throughout the world there is Corona
says, “Or do you despise the riches       Pandemic. People are living in fear
of his kindness, restraint and            and uncertainty, unemployment and
patience, not recognizing that God's      poverty. There are those who have
kindness is intended to lead you to       experienced infection and have
repentance” (Christian Standard           tested positive. Lakhs of people have
Bible- CSB). If God is giving us a        died. We should ask ourselves this
long rope, it is because he wants us to   question, those who have suffered
come to repentance and faith. But if      and died were they worse sinners

                                                              25◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
than us?” If we don't repent we too       rebelled against him in the
will suffer and die. If not with          wilderness and grieved him in the
Corona virus, then some other virus!      desert!”
Certainly under God's judgment.
Beware.                                   Psalm 78:8 says, “and that they
                                          should not be like their fathers, a
6. Goodness.                              stubborn and rebellious generation,
                                          a generation whose heart was not
The Psalmist celebrates God's             steadfast (loyal- CSB), whose spirit
goodness in Psalm 73:1, “Truly God        was not faithful to God.' Then again
is good to Israel, to those who are       in v.37 of the same Psalm, “Their
pure in heart.” His goodness is seen      heart was not steadfast toward him;
in the fact that he loved us when we      they were not faithful to his
were unlovely and ungodly. Romans         covenant.” God's goodness is seen in
5:6-8, “For while we were still weak,     his compassion towards them, “Yet
at the right time Christ died for the     he, being compassionate, atoned for
ungodly. For one will scarcely die        their iniquity and did not destroy
for a righteous person—though             them; he restrained his anger often
perhaps for a good person one would       and did not stir up all his wrath.”
dare even to die— but God shows his       Read further their inequity and God's
love for us in that while we were still   goodness to them, “He remembered
sinners, Christ died for us.” God's       that they were but flesh, a wind that
goodness is seen in us that Christ        passes and comes not again. How
died for us when we were ungodly          often they rebelled against him in the
and still sinners. Ezekiel describes      wilderness and grieved him in the
God's goodness in a graphic way in        desert! They tested God again and
his book in 16:6,9. God says there,       again and provoked the Holy One of
“And when I passed by you and saw         Israel” (vs.38-40). We aren't much
you wallowing in your blood, I said       better than them. Yet God has been
to you in your blood, 'Live!' I said to   good to us also. We should be the
you in your blood, 'Live!'…Then I         same to others.
bathed you with water and washed
off your blood from you and               7. Faithfulness.
anointed you with oil….” His
goodness is seen in forgiving us our      'God is faithful' says 1Corinthians
unfaithfulness and rebellion. It says     1:9 Cf. 7:25; 10:13; 2Corinthians
in Psalm 78:40 about the Israelites       1:18; 1Thessalonians 5:24;
grieving God, “How often they             2Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews

26◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
10:23). He is faithful in very many        Our Lord's gentleness is affirmed in
ways. Cf. above verses. He remains         Matthew 21:5 also, “Say to the
faithful even when we are faithless        daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king
(2Timothy 2:13). He is faithful in his     is coming to you, humble (gentle-
promises. He is faithful in his care       CSB), and mounted on a donkey, on
and compassion towards us. He does         a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”
no change his mind. He keeps his           Gentleness should be reflected on
promises. Faithfulness means being         our face, in our voice and in our
trustworthy, dependable, reliable,         behavior with people. We should be
etc. So often, we are unfaithful to        gentle with our spouse, siblings at
God and to our fellow human beings.        home, and weaklings in the society.
Because of this character-flaw in us,
people find it difficult to trust us and   9. Self-control.
to take us at our words. In that case,
                                           The ninth fruit of the Holy Spirit is
we have lost our testimony and
                                           self-control. The word of God says
ministry, and earned a bad name.
                                           that “God gave us a spirit not of fear
8. Gentleness.                             but of power and love and self-
                                           control (2Timothy 1:9). Every child
Our Lord was gentle. He said,              of God, full of the Holy Spirit, keeps
“Come to me, all who labor and are         his tongue (words) and temper
heavy laden, and I will give you rest.     (anger) under his self-control. He is
Take my yoke upon you, and learn           not easily provoked. The word of
from me, for I am gentle and lowly in      God says, “The vexation of a fool is
heart, and you will find rest for your     known at once, but the prudent
souls. For my yoke is easy, and my         ignores an insult” (Proverbs 12:16).
burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).       Similarly, “A fool gives full vent to
He never put a heavy load on others.       his spirit, but a wise man quietly
He was very much unlike the                holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11). A
lawyers (experts in the law) who           Spirit filled person keeps his tongue
                                           and temper under control. He does
would put a heavy load on others and
                                           say whatever comes in his mouth. He
would not give a helping hand even
                                           doesn't allow dirty words to come
with their fingers. We read in Luke
                                           out of his mouth because that is one
11:46, “Woe to you lawyers also! For
                                           thing, among many, what God
you load people with burdens hard to
                                           forbids. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let
bear, and you yourselves do not
                                           no corrupting talk come out of your
touch the burdens with one of your         mouths, but only such as is good for
fingers.”

                                                                27◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
building up, as fits the occasion, that
it may give grace to those who hear.”
Further, “Let there be no filthiness
nor foolish talk nor crude joking.” A
Spirit filled person keeps himself
and all his habits under his control.
Apostle Paul had this to say, “But I
discipline my body and keep it under
control, lest after preaching to others   Rev. Richard Masih
I myself should be disqualified”          in New Delhi. He studied theology in All
(1Corinthians 9:27).                      Nations Christian College, England. He
                                          served the Lord for 40 years with the
Let all these nine fruit of the Holy      Union of Evangelical Students of India
                                          and also authored several books in
Spirit which are reflected in the         English. He is available for the ministry
nature and character of God and our       of the word in Hindi and English on
Lord Jesus Christ be reflected in us      invitation. He can be reached at Mobile:
also in ever increasing manner.           9958747748 and
Amen.                                      richardmasih@gmail.com.

      "Every good gift, every perfect gift,
               comes from above.
    These gifts come down from the Father,
       the creator of the heavenly lights,
 in whose character there is no change at all."
                 — James 1:17

28◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Understanding our Times
     The Call for Christian Witness to
           Freedom and Hope
                           Mr. John Amalraj, K.

Abstract: This article discusses how    Prophets of the Old Testament like
Christians in India can witness by      Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk
proclaiming freedom to the people       have cried out “How long?” (Is 6:11,
who are marginalized and face an        Jer 47:6; Hab 1:2). It is a prayer on
uncertain future by focusing on         the lips of the millions who are
mobilizing the whole church to re-      suffering. There are three images of
imagine new ways of witnessing.         the year 2020 that will remain. First,
                                        thousands of women sitting in
As the year 2020 draws to a close,      protest to the amendments of the
there seems to be light at the end of   citizenship laws in many cities
the dark tunnel. The year 2020 will     expressing their anguish. Second,
long be remembered as the year of       thousands of migrant workers
the pandemic in this new millennium     walking back home to their villages
which abruptly ceased 'normal' life     amidst the lockdown with no hope
for millions of people as the           for their future. Third, thousands of
government imposed strict               farmers marching to the capital city
lockdown. Millions of people lost       in protest of the new agriculture laws
'hope' for the future. The hope for a   that take away their hope. The
return to 'normal' life seems to be     pandemic fear and the response of
returning as governments are ready      the governments to enforce a strict
to roll out mass vaccination to         lockdown has deprived people of
control the epidemic. It is in this     their freedom. Political leaders,
context, we need to understand the      rulers, and bureaucrats have
times and how as Christians we can      assumed authority beyond their
witness the freedom in Christ and the   legitimacy to advance their interests
hope within us.                         rather than do good to the public.

                                                            29◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
Proclaiming Freedom as                    Christian understanding of holistic
Christian Witness:                        mission and the calling for
The present-day context in India          Christians to proclaim freedom as
calls for Christians to proclaim the      the Good News. 'Freedom' is very
Good news of 'freedom'. The Gospel        close to our theological
is about freedom, oneness, bridges,       understanding of the image of God
hope, and shalom. Jesus' first public     (Myers, Walking, 31). Often our
words as recorded by Apostle Luke,        discussions on freedom are limited
was a reading from the scripture and      to colonial rule, slavery, free speech,
presumably a one-sentence                 religion, trade, etc., and in a spiritual
exposition in the synagogue (Bosch,       sense to 'freedom' from sin. We
Transforming, 101). The selected          seldom extend our conversation to
scripture from prophet Isaiah as          issues that affect people who live in
recorded by Luke is now known as          the margins of our society without
Jesus' Nazareth manifesto that in its     any freedom or basic human rights.
essence is a proclamation of freedom      Proclaiming the offer of freedom
as the Gospel (Lk 4:18-19, Is 61:1-       from sin is a half-truth. When we
2a, 58:6f). We often ignore the plight    invite Jesus into our lives, He not
of millions of Indians who are            only offers freedom from our sinful
pushed to the margins, without a          past but proclaims freedom from all
voice, or power to make choices.          our oppressors.
These marginalized people live
without hope in broken families and       Proclaiming freedom as part of our
warring communities. It is not            Christian witness is the mission of
uncommon to see children and              God as it challenges that which is
women on the streets in our cities        seen as not affirming and denying
who often have no freedom of choice       life in all its fullness (Mombo,
over what they eat, what they wear,       “Fourfold” 40 & 43). We are called
where they live, and their future. In a   to challenge the inequalities,
broken and oppressed world of the         exploitation, and power structures
poor and exploited, we witness those      that bind people in poverty and
who are abused by others and are          deprivation as we fulfill our
held in bondage through evil              prophetic role. The initiative for
systems and barriers. Amartya Sen,        inviting us to witness is with the
the Nobel Laurette and economist          people around us, but as Christians,
gave a clarion call during the end of     we are responsible for witnessing
the twentieth century that freedom is     and pointing to the Good News in
the goal, principal, and means for        our day-to-day life. Our changed
human development (Sen,                   lifestyle and relationships can lead
Development, xii). This echoes the        people around us to transformation.

30◄JANUARY 2021/AIM
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