The water of life in an Indian cup On a train journey, Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889 1929) observed, at a station, a Brahmin almost faint due to the intense summer heat. The station master ran to him with a cup of water but surprisingly he refused to drink it. Soon, another man brought water in the Brahmin's own brass cup. He drank it immediately and was revived. Struck by this, Sundar Singh learnt an important lesson. The water that was given in the first cup was no different than the water in the second. What was most decisive for the Brahmin was the cup in which it was administered. The Brahmin was happy to receive the water as long as it was from his cup. That water, Sundar Singh reflected, was like the gospel; in fact Sundar Singh called the gospel the 'water of life.â€™ For Indians to gladly receive the gospel and be made alive by it, this 'water of life' has to be given, not in a Western cup, but in an Indian cup, only then would they accept it and be transformed by it.
Sundar Singh went on to use and teach this theological and missiological principle: 'the water of life in an Indian cup.' Subsequently, Sundar Singh donned the ascetic's saffron robes and engaged in an itinerant preaching ministry, communicating to the people through simple and easy to understand parables drawn from everyday life. Reminiscent of an Indian sage and indeed, not too dissimilar from his Master Jesus himself, Sundar Singh's ministry proved to be rather appealing to his Indian audiences and attracted many to the Gospel. It was after the creative accomplishments of people like Sundar Singh and others from around the world that terms like Contextual Theology, Contextualisation, Indigenisation, Inculturation were coined. This was done to refer to such efforts that followers of Christ took to understand and communicate the gospel in a
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