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South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Allaince Newsletter

Issue 12: September 2013

S outh As i a n F orum of the

Evangelical Alliance

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 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

Reverse Mission: South Asian contributions

global south, there are also those who migrate for other reasons and end up planting churches and ministering in the UK. These other factors include economics, politics, education, family links and tourism. A good example of someone who migrated for other reasons but ended up doing mission in the UK is Dr Ram Gidoomal (CBE), one of the founders of South Asian Concern (SAC).

Nations traditionally known as the mission-fields of Western missionaries are now sending their own people to minister in Europe and North America. This ‘reverse mission’ is a phenomenon that is attracting the attention of both academics and the media (for example the BBC documentary Reverse Missionaries, aired in 20121). Within academic and mission circles, however, a question remains: is reverse mission a rhetoric or a reality? Some are questioning whether reverse mission is really taking place when, for example, an Indian pastor is leading an Indian church in London? This leads us to ask whether reverse mission is only validated when an ethnic minority pastor is leading a white congregation? Another important question is what is the goal of reverse mission? Is it just about evangelising white people, or planting and building ethnic minority mega-churches? These are some of the questions addressed in my new book, Turning the Tables on Mission: Stories of Christians from the global south in the UK. The book, a first of its kind, includes contributions from significant leaders such as Dr Ram Gidoomal (one of the founders of South Asian Concern), Rev Joel Edwards (international director of Micah Challenge and former general director of the Evangelical Alliance), Dr Jonathan Oloyede (convener of National Day of Prayer) and Bishop Donnett Thomas (chair of Churches Together in south London). It also includes the first-hand stories of less well-known Christians from Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean who are ministering in the UK. Each contributor shares their own story, reflecting theologically on their calling into cross-cultural mission and multicultural ministry and sharing their struggles and experiences. This article gives you a flavour of some of the stories told in the book, all of which help us think about the phenomenon of reverse mission and the realities of multicultural ministry. According to Professor Matthew Ojo, an African Church historian and theologian, reverse mission is “the sending of missionaries to Europe and North America by churches and Christians from the non-Western world, particularly Africa, Asia, Latin America, which were at the receiving end of Catholic and Protestant missions as mission fields from the 16th century to the late 20th century”2. In this definition Professor Ojo highlights the shift in the geography and direction of mission from the south to the north. He also refers to the intentionality of mission, with the deliberate sending of missionaries from the global south. Dortha Blackwood’s story is an example of this, as she was sent from Jamaica to start a mission school in London. While it is true that missionaries are being sent from the

Dr Ram Gidoomal’s family went through two forced migrations, moving to East Africa following the partitioning of India in 1947, and settling in the UK in 1967 after being forced to leave Kenya. In 1971 Ram met the Lord after reading the New Testament. Since then he has being involved in various mission initiatives to bring relief to the poor and marginalised in the UK and across the world. Deeply affected by the poverty he witnessed in India, Ram co-founded the Christmas Cracker project which mobilised people in the UK in the 80s and 90s to raise money for the developing world. This project was very successful and pivotal to the start of South Asian Concern in 1989. Ram’s account describes the struggle South Asians face when becoming a Christian, as well as how the Church in Britain has failed to reach South Asians. Like many of the stories in the book, Ram’s story challenges the notion that migrants are only ministering to their own people. He is clearly involved in cross-cultural mission through the work of the Lausanne Movement and other initiatives. Harry Tennakoon’s story is different, as he is a Singhalese minister leading a Singhalese-speaking church in London. Harry asks an important question in his chapter; can British indigenous people really meet the spiritual, economic, political and social needs of all the different nationalities and cultures who have migrated to the UK? This is an important question because history and contemporary experience demonstrate that the needs of migrants are easily ignored, especially when they are stigmatised by a public discourse which portrays them as draining the country’s resources. Harry indicates that the reason we have Tamil, Chinese, Nigerian and Brazilian churches etc is because of the need to care for the spiritual needs and welfare of migrants. This book allows Christians from the global south to tell their own stories and provides fascinating insights into the realities, challenges and struggles of those who are ministering in cross-cultural situations. It is therefore a unique compilation well worth reading, particularly for those involved in multicultural ministry. Turning the Tables on Mission: Stories of Christians from the global south in the UK by Rev Israel Olofinjana is published by Instant Apostle and available to purchase on Amazon in both paper copy and e-book (ISBN number 9781909728305). 1

Reverse Missionaries, a three part documentary on BBC aired on 16, 23 and 30 March 2012, 9-10pm. 2 Ojo, Matthew (2007) ‘Reverse Mission’ in Bonk, Jonathan (ed) Encyclopedia of Mission and Missionaries, NY, Routledge, p380.

SAF profiles its work, partners and resources in the quarterly Newsletter and on our website

“India is a worshipping nation” SAF speaks to Sheldon Bangera about his new album, Nachoonga. Where are you from?

there was almost no turning back for me. I loved music and always saw myself as a musician. But Satan had distorted my dreams and I was as good as lost into realms of darkness. It was painful for my family and close ones to see this deterioration in me. I loved Kurt Cobain and others of the likes. I was a 19-year-old agnostic musician and a songwriter – depressed and suicidal!

My parents are from Udupi, Karnataka. My great great grandparents were farmers and hunters who received Christ through the ministry of the missionaries who arrived from Basel, Switzerland. Most of Karnataka and parts of Kerala were evangelised through their precious ministry and charitable works.

Through much prayer of friends and family, one day I was invited to a prayer gathering to play the guitar on the worship team. The only bait for me was to play the guitar. I didn’t really care about anything else. But that day, 7 August 2004, God touched me. In the midst of the many miracles and deliverances from evil spirits that people experienced that day, I found myself in a strange place. All of a sudden, I found myself terrified by the greatness of God and yet, so welcomed by his love. Instantly, without a human prompting, I wept unceasingly and fell on my knees to give him my life. My journey with Jesus began that night and that’s how I do what I do now. Jesus and I have come a long way since then.

The third and fourth generation moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) for job opportunities and better prospects. Thus, I was born and raised in the culturally diverse city of Mumbai.

Honestly, I do not know! But many have prophesied over me saying that the Lord would take me around the world to proclaim His name. So, I live to see the fulfillment of those things. I have written over 200 songs, many of which are altars of remembrance that the Lord was with me. We should hopefully see them and newer ones recorded soon. I want to serve Jesus and His people all the days of my life be it through songs, leading in worship, healing, teaching, preaching, writing books or simple God-glorifying daily acts of kindness. I want to see the Kingdom of God come to the poor and marginalised. My wife and I are aware that we are called to be missionaries to India. We will be travelling to about five cities in India in the next month. We hope to serve here and bring glory to God by saving as many as we can.

What is worship like in India? India is a worshipping nation. From sacred rivers to trees, stones and mythological figures, India has a history of worship. There is a great emphasis in homes to worship. The devotion of the different communities and the genuineness of their worship is what draws many foreigners to this land. However, most of India is yet to know the true and living Lord Jesus Christ, the only One who is worthy of their worship. Religion is the greatest battle to true worship in India. All religions have a notion that we need to do something in order to please God and that we need to somehow earn our way into heaven/ nirvana/ moksha. It is only in Christ that since we could never do so, God reached out to us by sending His only begotten son. This truth is yet to reach most of India.

What’s in store for your future?

Building the Church among Pakistani Muslims in Britain

Church worship in India happens in cities and villages. I travel to see both ends of the spectrum and it is great to see people of God worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. From the tablas, harmoniums and sitar in the villages to the Western-influenced guitars, keyboards and drums, India is a place for a lot of colour in worship. India has a very unique and peculiar sound to offer in worship and it is anointed. I believe that the raags, instruments and styles practised in India, though pagan, originated in heaven before they could be twisted by spiritual forces to be used to praise various deities. Some of us prayerfully cry out and exist to see the redemption of those tunes, scales and styles with cross-centered worship, singing of the blood of the lamb with all worship directed to Him. We are living to see the sound of India’s worship reach the world.

The Right Way: 4th Annual Conference

Why did you decide to record the album?

There were several strong recommendations after last year’s churchplanting conference in 2012. In the end the decision was made to focus this conference on one particular question: Is the house church or institutional church the best way forward for Pakistani MBBs (Muslim Background Believers) in Britain?

Over several conversations with worship music visionary, John Pac, we got to understand the passion we carried for worship. Many of the songs in terms of theological substance have some way to go today. Songs in India need to go beyond the healer/saviour level of things. I believe the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to marvel and opens up to us, elements of the awesomeness of God that will really solidify us in our faith and worship. He has songs way deeper to give us in worship. During the course of my interactions with John Pac, I sent him some translations I had voluntarily experimented and played around with. Slowly this experiment took shape and we drew up a track list. How did you get involved in worship music? Apart from the grace and mercy of God and the prayers of precious people, I would by no means be doing what I do now. I used to play for a rock band in college where we sang about rebellion, violence and almost everything bad. I went through substance abuse and

The Bible says: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47). The Right Way welcome you to its fourth annual conference: Building the Church among Pakistani Muslims in Britain. The conference will be held on 9 November at the Pastures Church in High Wycombe. Like previous years, the admission is free. However there is a recommended contribution of £10 to cover the cost of food and other expenses to run the one-day conference.

This question will be explored by two speakers: Rev Robert Hampson and Ian Rowlands, who have been involved in such studies and have extensive experience in leading and building churches in Britain. It is our hope and prayer that our coming together to listen and discuss will help us to develop an effective strategy as we continue in our efforts to build the church among Pakistanis Muslims in Britain. For more information and to book your place please contact: Amjad Mahand Phone: 07803503202 Email: or

South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance

Leicester praying together “We are the body of Christ.” A group of more than 70 people gathered to pray together one Saturday morning in July, at an event organised by SAF and Jewels in the Crown, in Leicester. We were all linked through having connections in some way with the large South Asian community in Leicester. We were also linked by being Christians with a desire to witness for Jesus Christ in this city. What was remarkable was the diversity of people who attended. Some are used to praying loudly, some quietly; some are used to traditional styles of worship, some something much more free and upbeat. There were people from many ethnic backgrounds and most areas of South Asia were represented. Many mainly meet and worship in a group with a common language – be it Guajarati, Urdu, Malayalam or Tamil. Others are in more multi-cultural groups. Most of the local Christian groups are quite small and have sometimes been relatively isolated. So it was good to come together! Last year we joined for an Asian Mission Partnership Day. The aim of ‘Let’s Pray Together’ this year was to build on the links made then. We are beginning to get to know each other more. During times of prayer we shared some of our needs, hopes and joys that we felt as churches working in the city (and for some further afield). In between some to the local leaders gave short talks. We were reminded that we are one in Christ and that being part of the Christian family is the foundation for our prayer together. It is out of our unity and our fellowship that the world will come to see and know Jesus. In the end God will ask not how many people we had in our churches but “did you love my people?” Our venue was in the heart of the Belgrave/Rushey Mead area of Leicester with its predominantly Asian Hindu population. We were hosted by All Saints Church, an Asian congregation who meet in the area. Just across the road is the huge BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – a newly built Hindu temple. Our worship was led by a group from All Saints. We were also treated to a song by Grace Jacob and one by Rob Newton, which he wrote after visiting children affected by HIV in Chennai. And of course no event, with any connection with the South Asian community, would be complete without a wonderful, hot and spicy meal to round off our fellowship together. Robert Allison wrote this prayer, which he offered during his talk: Prayer for the Church in Leicester

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I ask that there will be an anointed wisdom and creativity among us all. I ask that each of us will know our purpose, and be able to flow together in vision, that will lead to a fulfilment of potential for all, and increase in the Church in Leicester, in the kingdom of God in the City and around the world. I pray that we will become a Church that sends out lovers into the world transforming it with the love and power of God. Amen A great prayer to continue praying together! Rev Terri Skinner Priest in Charge, St Theodore’s Church, Leicester

Word of Life scripture calendars – boldly going where no Bible has been before. Unlike most scripture calendars, these are not designed just for Christians. They are for sharing with others – especially to those who wouldn’t normally read the Bible. The verses and photos are carefully selected to be attractive, sensitive and culturally-relevant to people from non-Christian backgrounds, especially Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus. This year’s theme is water – very significant in many cultures. Many people won’t sit down and read a Bible, but they are happy to read verses on a colourful calendar. God often uses these small soundbites from His Word, to speak to people’s hearts. Here is some feedback we’ve had from people who have shared our calendars in the past: “My Hindu lodger loved it and quoted the scriptures in her Christmas cards.” “A Pakistani (Muslim) colleague looked through the calendar and told me, “I’m going to memorise these verses.” “We were going to give them to our Iranian friends, then discovered that one of them had already bought some and was giving them out himself.” “I gave some to a Chinese guy, and the next day he came back asking for more, to give to his friends.” “A Bengali man told me that the verses on the calendar had spoken to his heart and he had memorised all of them!” “A joyful Sikh lady was baptised recently. She said her interest in Jesus had started when she was given a calendar.”


So, if you want help in sharing your faith with friends from non-Christian backgrounds, try giving them these calendars. They are bilingual - in English combined with either Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Kurdish, Persian/Farsi, Punjabi, Somali, Tamil, Turkish or Urdu. Priced at only £1.75 each (or £1.50 when you buy 10) you can afford enough for all your friends and neighbours.

I pray for the Church in Leicester that every person will be saturated with your love, so much so that we will be overwhelmed by the love of God, and become lovers of our neighbours, as much as we love ourselves. I pray that we will be ready to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, and sacrificially care for one another, and the world around us. As a result of this deep love I ask that unity, forgiveness, grace, faith, blessing, peace, rest, joy and laughter will flow. I pray that the presence of God accompanied by His healing and miraculous power will be with each of us individually and corporately. I pray that from God’s presence and love will flow anointing, repentance, forgiveness and transformation.

To find out more or order: visit or phone 0161 628 4051.

SAF profiles its work, partners and resources in the quarterly Newsletter and on our website

Buddhist Thinking in the UK – challenges and opportunities for the Church

Drinks will be available, but please bring your own packed lunch.

A Faith to Faith Forum of Global Connections event on 17 October, 11:30am to 4pm at Christian Medical Fellowship, 6 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL

For more information visit: faithtofaith1309

Buddhist thinking and influences can be seen throughout British society amongst native British, as well as more obviously as a religion amongst ethnic minorities. Do we recognise the influences around us in everyday life and how can we begin to address the issues it raises in our communities? How does this affect our mission strategies? Is this something we could or should be addressing in our Hugh Kemp churches and our mission groups as we reach out in our communities?

Naujavan’s Big SIC weekend

We are asking for a contribution of £10 per person payable on the day, to help to offset the costs of this event.

The weekend returns next month and promises to be a great few days away with God and friends. There will be plenty of space to worship, learn, discuss and grow as we journey together. We have some great people lined up to equip you as you walk with Jesus. We’d love for you to join us and encourage you to book on as soon as possible as space is limited.

Led by Hugh Kemp from Redcliffe College, Sue Burt from Friends International and others, this event will look at some of these issues and more.

The weekend is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 30. The venue is The Oakwood Youth Challenge, Waterloo Road, Berkshire, RG40 3DA on 18-20 October.

Do join us to learn from others, share your own experiences and consider possible ways forward. If you know of resources that might be helpful to others, this will be a good opportunity to share them.

Your ticket includes all accommodation, food and content for the entire weekend. If you have any questions about the event please do get in contact with us. We look forward to you joining us. Sue Burt

Book online at

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SAF Newsletter issue 12 September 2013  

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...