South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Allaince Newsletter
Issue 10: March 2013
S outh As i a n F orum of the
connecting, uniting, representing
The South Asian Forum (SAF) is a grouping within the Evangelical Alliance, set up to provide a place for South Asian Christians in the UK to encourage, support and equip each other for mission, and to represent their concerns to government, media and the wider Church. With the support of both individual members and church members totalling more than 20,000 people, SAF is steadily growing. Visit www.eauk.org/saf to get involved in supporting this wonderful
ministry by becoming a member of SAF. Once you become a member, you will receive idea, the Alliance’s bi-monthly magazine, as well as regular newsletters from SAF detailing our progress. If you are already a member of the Evangelical Alliance you can add SAF to your Alliance membership at no extra cost. In this instance please send an email to email@example.com
Let’s Pray Together
prayer meeting to bring our requests before God for our South Asian neighbours and friends. It is an opportunity to worship, hear God’s word and, most crucially, pray.
SAF hears from Kumar Rajagopalan, chair of Jewels in His Crown and regional minister for the London Baptist Association, about Let’s Pray Together’, a local expression of a national initiative of prayer for the good news of Jesus to “spread rapidly and be honoured” among British South Asians (2 Thessalonians 3:1). From September 2011 to September 2012 Jewels in His Crown and the South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance held five partnership days in different parts of the country. Their purpose was to encourage those who had not embarked on outreach to South Asians to partner with people experienced in this work, to help them begin to reach their local South Asian community. It was productive and some formed partnerships, which are slowly bearing fruit. In the midst of holding these days we heard from those who had been working for many years but seen little fruit. We also learnt that at times misunderstanding and disunity among those engaged in this work had frustrated the work. Additionally there were South Asians like myself who were acutely aware of the fact that members of our own families had not come to faith. Through these experiences the Lord laid on our hearts a fresh desire to gather and pray for this work, for those engaged in this work and for the families of South Asian believers who as yet do not know the Lord. Personally, I have become aware of the critical need for prayer as I have read through John’s gospel. A key truth that has hit me with new force is the Lord Jesus’s absolute dependence on God the Father. It is worth noting just some of the things that the Lord says. Jesus gave then this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” (John 5:19-20a) “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30) “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” (John 12:49) “The Lord hears from the Father what to say and do, because he consistently makes time to pray: ‘But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) The Lord conducted his ministry in complete and absolute dependence on the Father, thereby bringing glory and honour to the Father. As we read through the book of Acts a similar pattern emerges in the life of the early Church. They saw many turn to the Lord, they healed the sick, led by the Spirit they set aside circumcision to enable Gentiles to accept Christ, and in the midst of difficulties and persecution they courageously continued to bear witness to the Lord. On Saturday, 16 March, 2013 local ministers and churches in northwest London in partnership with Jewels in His Crown and South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance, are hosting a morning
Just as the Lord’s ministry and mission was shaped through prayerful dependence on the Father, so too this is an opportunity for our ministry and mission to be shaped in the same way. I encourage you to join us for this day to seek the Lord’s guidance and empowering that we may share the gospel and see South Asians won for Christ. Venue: Rayners Lane Baptist Church, 139 Imperial Drive, Harrow, HA2 7HW Date: Saturday 16th March Time: 9:30am-1pm Lunch provided. Cost: Donation of £10 would be appreciated to cover costs. Over the coming months Jewels in His Crown and South Asian Forum plan to organise further Let’s Pray Together gatherings in other parts of the country in partnership with local churches. Details will be released shortly.
Multilingual tracts to help reach your Asian neighbours My name is Pastor Robin Asgher and I am from Punjab, Pakistan. I joined Cranford Baptist Church in Hounslow ten years ago and have been blessed to see the Lord’s hand upon the local community. I believe God calls us as Christians to be active in our local communities and the way we are doing this as a church is by running various activities for families and children. One of the key ways we make connections with the local community is through the regular distribution of tracts. I have been producing multilingual tracts for the last seven years which contain the word of God and the gospel message in English, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu and Gujarati. One of the challenges we face as Christians is sharing the gospel to those for whom English is a second language, and these tracts have been an enormous help in our ministry. As a church, we want to now help other churches be more effective in their ministry and so we are making the tracts available for purchase. We have a number of tracts including: • Who else could rise from the dead? (Easter Tract) • Why I am not happy? (General Tract) • How to become a child of God? (Evangelistic Tract) • Good News of great joy for the world (Christmas Tract) For further details about the tracts please contact Robin Asgher at firstname.lastname@example.org
SAF profiles its work, partners and resources in the quarterly Newsletter and on our website www.eauk.org/saf
South Asian Forum interviews Susheel Das, co-leader of Naujavan How did you become a Christian? I was born in a Christian family so I grew up going to church every Sunday. As a teenager, I suppose I viewed Christianity as a cultural practice, something you would follow because your parents did. I would occasionally pray and regularly attend Sunday school and Youth Group at church. But I struggled to understand why Christianity was relevant in my life so I never chose to take it seriously. I think it was only when I left university and started working fulltime that I began to ask questions about my faith and began to explore it further. In 2004, our church youth group met up with a bunch of young Asian guys and girls from Southampton Lighthouse International Church after meeting them at Naujavan. It was great to meet other young Asian Christians from another city who looked like me and had the same interests! Gradually I began to develop friendships with other Christians as well and I suppose I began my journey of discovering my faith. However, I found the more I tried to explore it the more I struggled with old habits and experienced challenges that dragged me away from God. I was afraid to reach out to God for help because I felt I kept failing Him.
South Asian Forum interviews Joe Kurian, senior pastor of Southall Church of God and director of Church of God UK Cross Cultural Ministries What is your background? I was born and brought up in a Christian home in Kerala State, South India. My ancestors claim that ours was one of the seven (Hindu Brahmin) families – PAKALOMATTOM - who was converted by Thomas, the Apostle of Christ when he arrived in the 1st century AD to the Malabar coasts. My father and my maternal grandfather were ministers in the holiness Pentecostal movement in South India. My grandfather was instrumental in establishing the Church of God (Full Gospel) in India along with the missionary, the late Robert F Cook (USA) in the 1920s. I was brought up in the strictest teachings and disciplines of the Bible and the holiness tradition of the Pentecostal church.
Eventually I realised that if I wanted things to change in my life, I needed to make a commitment to change myself. I needed to be honest with God and decided in my heart to develop a relationship with Jesus. When I did that, my outlook on life completely changed. My faith became real and knowing I was forgiven for my mistakes was so liberating. I realised God was my Father and was so glad when I finally found Him!
I had the personal experience of accepting Christ as my Saviour at the age of 11, while attending a vacation Bible School. I asked Jesus to come in to my heart, forgive my sins and make me His child. I was baptised in water at the age of 14 and regularly went to Sunday school, youth meetings and other activities of my local church. I felt the call of God to Christian ministry at the age of 18 and quit my secular education and joined the Bible School for a three-year long training for ministry. I was a full-time pastor at the age of 19, in a village church in Kerala, South India.
What is your day job?
What brought you to Southall?
I currently work as a senior town planner for an architect practice in Covent Garden, London.
My wife and I were brought to Southall by the World Missions of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee, US) in 1985, to pioneer and establish churches in the Asian Indian population of London Metro. Though the majority of the people in Southall spoke Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and Guajarati we were not fluent in any of these languages and were not familiar with their customs and traditions.
Tell me about the church you attend? I attend the Walthamstow United Reformed Asian Church in East London. Our church family have been based there for the last 30 years. We worship in Urdu, Punjabi and occasionally in English as well. What is your role in Naujavan and what plans do Naujavan have for 2013? I’m one of the leaders of Naujavan, along with Sanjay Rajo. Our planning team is currently busy preparing our events for this year. In February, we held our first ‘Naujavan Charged’ session in Oxford with a second planned in November. The Charged sessions are all about gathering with other young aspiring leaders for times of specialised teaching on working within the Asian community. In April, the team are heading out across the UK for the ‘Naujavan Tour’ visiting various cities along the way. Our Summer Event is planned at the end of June and the Weekender in October. For more information about all our events, you can visit naujavan.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Also, watch out for the first ever Naujavan album which is out later in 2013. It’ll be full of new and fresh beats for worship. Details of its release will be available on our website soon. What is your passion? Hmmm, what a great question to finish…well, it’s not to save the world anymore but at least try to make a difference (however small) while I’m still in it!
“Where God leads, He provides”, “expect great things from God, attempt great things for God” are some of the vision-building statements that encouraged me in such circumstances. We were fully aware that God had called us for a mission in Southall and that He would enable us to fulfil that in His time. We initially started inviting people to a room rented out in the town hall on Sundays. For at least three months I was the only person in the building. Here on Sundays I read the Bible, sang songs to the 90 empty chairs and prayed each Sunday. Then I would go door-todoor and drop in flyers and gospel tracts and wait for responses. On Saturdays I would meet with a small group of Malayalam-speaking Christians and conduct services in homes. Often I would go to the main Broadway Street in Southall and with the help of few Christian friends, preach the Gospel, give out tracts and invitations to church services. Eventually one man walked in and joined the church. Then another family (West Indian) joined and in two years we had about 20 people in attendance in our Sunday services. Services were in English. Between 1985 and 2002 we relocated to several buildings in Southall, including meeting rooms, church facilities, and Sikh community places. Gradually we started bi-lingual services, a Sunday school, Bible studies, home groups, youth meetings and several other activities.
South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance
Southall Church of God was originally started in 1983 by another minister, but it was re-launched in 1985 when we took over. We began to witness conversions and baptisms of people from Hindu, Sikh and other nominal Christian backgrounds over these years. Our strategy for reaching others is primarily friendship, extended family contacts, family and social functions with the opportunity to hear the gospel and organised evangelism. Since 2003 the church has had its own building and several ministering leaders and an attendance of approximately 300 each week. Due to the space limitations the building has been extended recently to accommodate more worshippers and activities. It is a multi-racial/lingual church with a global vision and local action. In addition to leading Southall Church of God you are involved in UK Cross Cultural Ministries. What is this? Since 1995, I have been given the responsibility by the Church of God to serve as the director for the Cross Cultural Ministries. Our parent body in the UK, the New Testament Church of God, is predominantly Jamaican/West Indian in its membership and orientation. The leadership of the Church of God wanted to reach the other unreached ethnic groups in UK and formed the UKCCM. I have been privileged to bring in and plant and organise several independent ethnic congregations in the UK and Europe. Among them, we have Pakistani, Romanian, Polish, Fijian, Malayalam, Tamil and Punjabi groups that worship in their own languages and operate as local churches. My main role in the Cross Cultural Ministries include: training and preparing men and women for ministry, recommending for ministerial credentials, supervising them and giving guidance and advise, organising local and national gatherings, liaising with the national and international offices of the Church of God and continuing to plant and organise new churches for advancing the Kingdom of God. What has God placed on your heart?
Become a member - www.eauk.org/saf
these last days, there must be again an awakening to Jesus Christ. I am hoping this book will be an encouraging wake up call and start a fire in many hearts. What inspired you to write it? Many Christians say they believe in the power of God but in reality fail to live in the substance of that tangible power on a daily basis. In this book I set out to remind my Christian brothers and sisters that the power of God is not for a select few but for all of us and not only that but that it is the very desire of the Lord that we should walk in this way. The book provides inspiration and practical tools to live with a burning heart for the Lord. My prayer is that it will become a tool in many hands to help them walk in their high calling as a believer. When is it out and how can one get hold of a copy? The book will be available in the first week in April 2013 and available to order through any Christian bookshop. It will also be available on Amazon as a paper and digital book. They can also be ordered directly from: All Nations Christian Centre, Temple Street, Wolverhampton, WV2 4AQ. 01902 714469.
Rape - It’s not a women’s issue
I believe God has placed in my heart a passion for souls and a burden for mobilising the Body of Christ to maximise their opportunities in advancing the Kingdom of God. I challenge Christian leaders and members of the Church to get rid of the maintenance mentality and to become missional. Church must leave the sanctuary and be out in the world to see the need, to hear the cries, and to feel the pain of our fellow men who are lost and lonely. To the Church, I want to say this... We must go beyond the gate and see beyond the borders and be driven by the passion, and mission of Christ. The Great Commission has become the Great Omission, and we must prioritise in taking the Church to the neighbourhood, to our towns and nations and world.
Steve Uppal on his new book, The Burning Ones Steve, tell me about your Church. I belong to and have the privilege of leading All Nations Christian Centre in Wolverhampton. We are a very diverse group of people; about 30 different nationalities. The Church vision is simply, ‘For all people to glorify God by knowing Christ, becoming like Christ and making Christ known. We have a strong emphasis on the presence of God and living all out for him. We are a strong, vibrant and growing family of believers. What is your latest book about? I have written The Burning Ones, in response to a strong leading from the Lord to help ignite and fuel a passion in people for Jesus. I really do believe that we are living in extremely significant times. Many believers and churches have been either distracted or polluted away from the simplicity of our faith in Christ. We have majored on minor issues and not even realised it. Yet to survive and advance in
Deeply challenged by the brutal New-Delhi rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey, Nigel Freeman and Manoj Raithatha have published a pamphlet called Rape – It’s not a women’s issue. In this personal and original work, they argue that rape cannot be deemed to be just a women’s issue – for them, rape must be our issue, humanity’s issue. The scandal of rape is far too big and symbolic a question to be answered by only half the population! This pamphlet has been written in support of the onebillionrising.org campaign to end violence against women. Recent statistics highlight that globally one in three women experience sexual violence or rape. Rape: it’s not a women’s issue is available from Amazon in kindle - £0.99