South Asian Forum
of the Evangelical Alliance Issue one: December 2010
It is with much gratitude and appreciation that we include the following articles from our SAF members. Manoj Raithatha, National Co-ordinator, SAF
About SAF South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance (SAF) is a new grouping within the EA, set up to provide a forum 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 over 5,000 people, SAF is steadily growing in order to serve the needs of South Asians in the UK. Please get involved in supporting
this wonderful ministry by becoming a member of SAF by going to www.eauk.org/saf/ Once you become a member, you will receive a quarterly magazine from the EA as well as regular newsletters from SAF detailing our progress. If you are already a member of the EA, you can add South Asian Forum to your EA membership at no extra cost. In this instance please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bringing Christ to the Nation South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance is spearheading the development of a nationwide mission strategy to draw more Asians to Christ. After much discussion with Church leaders, SAF has identified key areas of action and is working with leaders across the country to drive these mission ideas forward. In particular, SAF is looking to create a new booklet to give out to Asians of other faiths to clarify misconceptions that other faiths have about Christianity along with a simple explanation of the gospel message. SAF hopes to have these booklets ready early next year to be used by churches as part of their nationwide mission strategy to South Asians of other faiths. SAF talks to the writers of the booklet about their desire to get involved: “The British are Christians and they smoke, drink and have sex outside marriage. Why would I want to become a Christian?” “What are Protestants and Catholics?” “On TV I saw them carrying mother Mary round the streets; it’s just like our chariot festival! There is one God and all religions are the same.” These are just a few of the questions and comments I’ve heard from my Hindu family and friends. Others pick up on more thorny subjects such as moral failure and shortcomings of Christian missionaries. There are many other questions and misunderstandings that people of other faiths have about
Christianity, just as Christians have misunderstandings about other faiths. This resource is intended to help Christians understand and answer the misunderstanding that people of other faiths have about Christianity. It will also aim to answer questions and misunderstandings of Christianity that those of other faiths have, and help them to understand the simple yet unique and profound message of the gospel. Kumar Rajagopalan: Regional Minister (Racial Justice), London Baptist Association
When I cast my mind back to when I was a Muslim I knew very little about Islam but nothing about Christianity. I only knew Christian ideas that I didn’t believe from an Islamic point of view. For example, I didn’t believe that God was Trinitarian and I didn’t believe that God had a Son. I didn’t believe that the Bible was the last revelation from God and I didn’t believe that Jesus was the last prophet of God. I knew nothing about the substance of Christianity. I felt as though I was kept in the dark not knowing about Christianity. As I think about taking part in writing this booklet I am thrilled about the possibility of providing gems of truth for people to ponder, rays of light for people to see and destination pointers for people to journey. It is my prayer that this booklet will be used to bring many people to Christ. Afsar Ahmed: Buildings Manager – Soul Survivor, Watford
Naujavan exists to inspire, develop and equip the next generation of Asians in their Christian walk. Since 1998, events of different shapes and sizes have been rolling out all over the country to draw together young British Asian people to worship God, be challenged by His Word and be encouraged to live it radical-style for Jesus, understanding their faith in the context of their culture. The heart of Naujavan is to see young people growing stronger and deeper with God and equipping them so that it would impact those in their local communities - a generation reaching back into the surroundings and culture they're from, with justice and freedom in their heart and the message of hope in their mouths! Each year we hold events in London, Oxford and the Midlands. It was great to have Moses Parmar of Operation Mobilisation at our most recent event in Birmingham sharing the heartbreaking stories of working with the Dalit community across India. Our next main event is at Soul Survivor Watford on 19th March 2011! We're hugely excited to have Mike Pilavachi (founder of Soul Survivor) with us to speak, bringing his flair and clarity to the message and the Naujavan band to lead us into a time of vibrant worship! So if you're a young (16 - 30) Asian guy or girl (and even if you're not but you're connected with people who are in that category) then come along and bring your friends. All the details will be on our website soon. From 2011 you'll be able to book tickets online too. For more information on Naujavan, see: www.9javan.co.uk, or join us on Facebook (search for 'Naujavan'). Email: email@example.com
A Message of Hope I have walked with Christ for more than 30 years and been in Church life for all of those years. But I have never known days as exciting and filled with hope like the ones we are living in now. I believe that there has been a change of season for our nation and even in the world. We have seen more people commit their lives to Christ from the Asian background in this recent time than any previously. This has been both locally within our own Church but also as I have travelled to other Asian Churches. Also we have seen more people healed physically than in previous years.
Churches all over the UK are stepping up to a challenge to do more outreach together and bring hope and transformation to their communities.
In 2008, 1,500 regional areas took part in a full year of mission as part of Hope The Holy Spirit is awakening and stirring 08. There were fun days, gardening the Church to pray at this time. The Bible projects, give-aways, street clean ups tells us, “if my people, who are called by and street pastor teams, acts of kindmy name, will humble themselves and ness, sports activities and many more pray and seek my face and turn from innovative ideas. It was all about doing their wicked ways, then will I hear from mission through word and action toheaven and will forgive their sin and will gether. Churches built stronger relationheal their land. Now my eyes will be ships with community leaders and proopen and my ears attentive to the vided opportunities for thousands of prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chronipeople to explore the Christian faith. cles 7:14-15) Now, Hope Together is building the These words are still true and loaded values of Hope 08, with a wider scope, with revival power as we his people beand an aim to get the whole breadth of gin to pray. I have seen throughout the UK Christians involved. Hope Together UK a renewed passion to pray and seek launched in July as part of the Festival God. In all my years in Church life I of Life, a huge prayer gathering of the have not seen such a hunger to pray and Redeemed Christian Church of God. seek God for revival like now. Over the last two months alone we have seen fifty Roy Crowne, Executive Director of people gathering each weekday morning Hope Together said: “What excites at 6am to pray in our Church. I encourGod’s heart, and mine, is seeing age you to create space in your personal churches join together in a common time and as Churches to pray for our purpose, despite different traditions, nation. cultures, or ways of working. God delights when his people come together in Steve Uppal, Senior Leader true unity for the sake of sharing the All Nations Christian Centre, Wolverhampton Gospel. Imagine lives turned upside
down and despair turned inside out. This is hope.” Manoj Raithatha, National Co-ordinator of South Asian Forum said: “Now is the time to be part of something bigger and it is fantastic to see so many churches, denominations and organisations signing up to be part of Hope. Working together we can make an even bigger impact on our friends, neighbours and communities.” The appetite for mission in this country has never been this great, and the desire to work together for the sake of those outside the Church community is finding its expression through Hope. The South Asian Forum fully supports the vision of Hope. The vision of Hope Together is to see the whole UK Church becoming more outward facing and servant-hearted over four years, equipping it to use the opportunities provided by key moments on the Christian calendar year by year from 2011, continuing and building to a committed year of mission in 2014. Churches are gearing up to focus on Easter in 2011. Please register your church and be part of it. www.hopetogether.org.uk
Hope UK – Enabling young people to make drug-free choices Children and young people need to learn many things as they grow up and good life skills are fundamental to their ability to thrive in every other way. For example, many children and young people fail to realise their potential because they become caught up in drug or alcohol use which can destroy their health and derail their academic careers.
to complete. It consists of distance learning and three training weekends. Once trained and assessed, Drug Educators deliver drug awareness sessions in their own communities in schools and youth groups. They also work with parents, teachers, youth workers and others with responsibility for children and young people, equipping them to carry out their own drug prevention work.
as addressing underlying issues such as self esteem which have an impact on decision-making.
Hope UK is currently focusing on developing local networks of about ten Drug Educators who can work together and support each other after they have completed their training, but continues to support 160 volunteers throughout the UK. Anyone living in Watford, Woking, Hope UK, a national Christian charity, the London Borough of Newham, Shefworks through a network of highly field, Poole (Dorset), Southampton, the trained voluntary Drug Educators to give Hope UK Educators are positively discouraged from using ‘lecture-style’ meth- North East, Northern Ireland or Scotland young people the skills they need to reods to get the message across. Instead, is welcome to apply. If you don’t live in sist peer pressure and make drug-free choices. The Educator training course is drug awareness sessions are interactive these areas, watch this space – we will and intended to stimulate thought and get to you eventually. www.hopeuk.org accredited with the Open College Network and takes approximately 120 hours challenge preconceived notions as well
The British Pakistani Christian Association BPCA was established in 2009 and is a group whose vision is "To create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on a better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK". During their short existence they have significantly increased awareness of the existence of Pakistani Christians in the UK. Some of their successes include raising funds for Pakistani Christians who were ignored during the recent floods. To read more see: britishpakistanichristian.blogspot.com/ 2010/08/disaster-recovery-fund-for-sindhand.html
They have also held two successful protests highlighting extreme incidents of persecution whilst calling for the abrogation of the Blasphemy Law of Pakistan that has led to the creation of second class citizenship for minority faith groups. In recent weeks they have been working with the Ministry of Human Rights in Pakistan in trying to obtain a revocation of the death sentence passed on Asia Bibi, a 45 year old mother of five who under severe provocation declared that Christ had died to save her life and that his sacrifice was more than Muhammed had done for his people. They have
also set up a fund for the affected family who now have extensive legal costs which are more than the mother’s annual salary along with loss of earnings. If you would like more details on the appeal for Asia Bibi please see: britishpakistanichristian.blogspot.com/ 2010/11/update-on-case-of-asia-bibi.html
BPCA extend an invitation to attend their next protest march on 2 July ‘11 outside the Pakistani Embassy, Lowndes Sq, Knightsbridge London. The event will start with a one hour worship service at 11am followed by a demonstration walk from the Pakistani Embassy at midday and end with a submission of a petition at 10 Downing Street at 2pm. Food and drinks will be provided. They are also inviting groups to attend a Charity collection for the Pakistan Flood Appeal that will be held at Ilford High Road Baptist Church on 12th March from 7pm onwards. This event will be a dinner and dance with performances from the popular Urdu Worship singer Nish, Romail Gulzar and many other acts from Churches with a global identity. Wilson Chowdhry, Vice Chairman
Lighthouse Church Lighthouse Church, Southampton, has grown out of a mission started in 1983 to reach the Asian population of the city with the Good News about Jesus. Approximately half of our 150 members (including children) are from Hindu, Sikh and Muslim backgrounds. It is now the only building dedicated to Christian worship in the Asian area of Southampton and is surrounded by 5 mosques, 4 Sikh temples and a Hindu temple. All other churches have closed down: 3 became Sikh temples, 2 were demolished and one is a social club. Over the years, we have tried the "blunderbuss" or "scatter-shot" approach to evangelism trying lots of different ways to reach people. For over 21 years, we had a charity shop/drop-in centre with Bibles and Christian books in Asian languages and Third World goods on sale and a back room where we would serve teas and coffees for visitors who popped in for a chat. This was an excellent way to contact people who would have been reluctant to enter a Church. We also visited every Asian home in the city at least a dozen times door-to-door, ran boys' clubs and girls' clubs for the local children and held annual barbecues and Christmas parties which hundreds attended. In January 1990, God gave us a target to see at least one Asian person per month put their faith in the Lord Jesus
Christ. This seemed like a very challenging target but within a week of our January prayer meeting, in which we first put this before the Lord, 5 Asians prayed and committed their lives to Jesus, including 2 from a Muslim background! By God's grace this has continued with at least 12 people per year making a profession of faith in the Lord. This year we have felt moved to increase the prayer target to several per month and as I write this there have been about 20 people who have come to faith this year through our local ministry, national youth work and overseas mission trips. Continuous and persistent prayer has been the key to this remarkable growth in seeing people come to Christ. A Sikh lady who came to faith at Easter 2008 has been completely transformed. She was very depressed for a long time and the Lord has given her a real joy. When her family noticed that she no longer listened to Sikh religious tapes and had this new joy in her life, they started asking many questions about Jesus and so far 10 or so members of her extended family have decided to follow Jesus! Of all those who have put their faith in the Lord almost half have not been able to attend church because of the opposition that they would face from their own community and family. Many remain
Word of Life Many fellowships, organisations and individuals give Word of Life calendars to contacts and friends at Christmas and the New Year. These beautifully produced calendars are designed to introduce people who would not normally read the Bible to sound bites from God's Word. They are culturally sensitive, non-confrontational yet faithful to the good news about Jesus. As a result, many find that their non-Christian friends ask for next year’s calendar early in December! The 2011 calendars focus on the Bible's message of peace: peace in ourselves; peace with others; peace with God. This is perhaps something that many of our friends long for. The calendars are available in 12 different language editions including Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Gujarati and Bengali and each include English text. They also incorporate features which enable those who receive them to explore Christianity further including details of scriptures online and a free offer of the Jesus DVD in their language. Prices start at £1.50 each, for orders of 10 or more prices are reduced. Two thirds of the calendars have already been sold so order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Order from: www.word.org.uk/resources Ebay: http://shop.ebay.co.uk/pgwoluk10/ m.html CPO: http://www.cpo-online.org.uk/ range.aspx?cat=&range=139
South Asian Concern website: www.southasianconcern.org Prayer Room, blog, discipleship course and much more. Great resource for evangelism!
secret followers of Jesus and some backslide due to pressure and other temptations. A further 25% end up moving out of the city and so growth in our fellowship is slow. In 1998, God put it on our hearts to initiate conferences for Asian Christian women to encourage them and to start a national youth movement called Naujavan to help inspire, develop and equip the next generation of Asian Christian youngsters in their walk with the Lord. You can find out more about these at www.lighthouseicc.org.uk . You can also read a fuller account of our first 25 years of work with testimonies of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who have come to faith in Jesus in the book "Light out of Darkness" - available from our website or Lighthouse Church, St Marys Rd, Southampton, SO14 0BB.
Have a burden for South Asia?
Release International I serve in Release International, supporting Christians throughout the world who are being persecuted because of their faith. My role includes speaking at churches throughout the UK, encouraging Christians to pray and support this ministry and travelling overseas. For me, the country of special focus is Pakistan, which I visit 2-3 times per year to encourage and help those who are suffering persecution, through preaching and prayer ministry. I have taken various teams with me to share in this work. It has been a privilege to speak in churches and minister to persecuted Christians in a variety of cities and villages, to meet Christians in hiding and to spend time with those who have been in prison. Likewise it has been a blessing to visit Christians still in prison, as well as their families. I have met Christian girls who havebeen kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and suffered physical and mental abuse. It’s wonderful to be able to touch the lives of God’s children and see people's lives changed. Release has
Prayer Fellowship for South Asia (PFSA) was formed in the 1950's and is a network of people committed to praying for the peoples of South Asia, whether they are in their home country or part of the diaspora.
been able to give practical and spiritual support to more than 100 Christian prisoners and their families and support a group of lawyers who work to uphold the rights of religious minorities, including Christians. We also support a number of sewing centres which provide educational and vocational training to help women escape poverty and exploitation and we give support to those who live in hiding due to their faith. My passion for Christians in Pakistan is for them to continue to know the love of God, experience His strength, and live in the knowledge that throughout all the storms of life God is their rock and shield. If you would like to know more please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
A Season to Remember, not Forget Red poppies have been a familiar sight in Britain recently as the nation remembered the brave men and women who fought and continue to fight on their behalf with many paying the highest price by giving up their lives in the line of duty. How right it is that we remember those who have sacrificed for us and this is no less true of the body of Christ. Living in the UK and other western countries is a privilege, where one’s choice of religion is respected and every citizen enjoys equal rights, regardless of their colour, creed, caste and religion. Living as a Christian in Pakistan, however, is considered a sin by most of the population and those who profess faith in Jesus pay a heavy price for it every day. With Christmas just around the corner, it would be easy to forget our brothers and sisters in Pakistan struggling to put their lives back together after the terrible summer floods, facing time in prison, having to live in hiding or even facing death due to blasphemy laws and girls who are forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslims against their will. Whatever time of year, whatever season or festival, the suffering of Christians in Pakistan continues and we as their brothers and sisters in Christ have an opportunity to ease their plight in what-
ever way we can. Despite such troubled times the faith of Pakistani Christians continues to strengthen as has been seen from the recent floods. During the floods many Christians were denied support and even told to convert to Islam if they wanted to receive any assistance. We are very grateful that Christian agencies were able to provide assistance to victims of the 2005 earthquake and this year’s floods. The majority of aid came from Christian countries and individuals and support was given to all victims regardless of their religion, colour and creed. I am both proud and grateful that Pakistani churches in the affected areas were quick to respond to the needs of flood victims without any distinction of race and religion. I am reminded of the time when Christians provided shelter and support to the Prophet Muhammad and early Muslims. Despite the intense suffering, Christians and churches in Pakistan continue to display their faith in humanity and a love for their neighbour just as the Bible teaches. Innocent Christians are being killed, churches and Christian villages are being attacked and justice is withheld for many of them. Yet we are Christian and although being a Christian in Pakistan is not easy we believe in
Prayer needs are circulated bi-monthly by post and are not currently available online due to the need for confidentiality. Some matters are only shared at our conferences or prayer days due to possible consequences if the information were to fall into the wrong hands. We have an annual weekend Conference and a Prayer Day, both of which are wonderful times of hearing news and praying together. I have never been in such powerful prayer meetings associated with mission! For example, we recently prayed regarding an urgent need for a visa for a senior doctor returning to Bangladesh and our prayer was answered! We would love more people to join us so if you have a heart for South Asians and a commitment to pray then please get in touch. We will ask for a reference from your church leader or equivalent as you will appreciate we need to verify that those who join are genuine. Thanks for reading about and considering this prayer ministry. Sue Jelfs email@example.com 1634310357 Jesus’ promise that those who suffer for his name’s sake are blessed. As Christmas approaches, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our supporters, for your prayers, support and your readiness to participate in our campaigns for justice on behalf of the many Christians in Pakistan who are being persecuted and discriminated against because of their faith. Christmas may be one of the happiest times of the year for people in the West but it is also a time to show the still suffering parts of Christ’s body that they are not forgotten and to give them hope through the generous gestures we can make. Then they too will have something to celebrate this Christmas. Would you consider gving a gift to CLAAS to ensure that vulnerable children and adults in Pakistan don’t go hungry this Christmas? A gift of £12 or £26 will enable us to continue to meet the basic needs of Christian flood survivors. £50 or £112 will help provide medical supplies or repair badly damaged homes. To give online visit www.claas.org.uk For phone donations call 02088679180 By post, send cheques to CLAAS, P O Box 81, Southall, Middlesex, UB2 5YQ Thank you so much for your support.
Nasir Saeed, Director, CLAAS