Thursday, February 28, 2013

Christ in their midst

Prayers at the Chapel
When we went to the Balagram, the children were getting ready for worship. I later saw them at the chapel during the evening prayers. They were all alert and attentive, participating in the songs and prayers even though it was in Malayalam. Achen had told me that over time they had gotten used to the "Manglish" transliteration of the service.

Also they have Holy Qurbana in Hindi and English quite often when the kids are able to participate more fully.

I could not help thinking - how great a service in Christian witnessing the Balagram was providing. The children here are not Christians, nor are they baptized as Christians. They belong to different religions, the religions of their parents, whom they go to meet once a year atleast. But here at the Balagram, they are exposed to Christian living, along with Christian giving. The children are not made to feel left outside because they are not Christians. They are in no way co-erced to become Christians, but they see witnesses of Christ in the achen there, in the staff members there. In all these, the children get to see Christ and they experience Christ's love. The children are exposed to love, care and reverance for the Lord, and the God of the Balagram which is Christ.

The eternal prayer warriors of the Balagram
I am thinking, after they become adults and are able to take decisions on their own, if any of them would choose to accept Christ and would want to be baptized, that situation would be considered on a case by case basis considering the choice of the individual and whats best for the individual and his family. And if this did not happen, nothing changes in the relationship of love between the individual and the Balagram. But conversion is not an agenda in this work of mission. As Mar Osthathios, the founder of the Balagram always preached, it is "sharing Christ" and sharing Christ's love that the Balagram is engaged in. Just like Christ reached out to those isolated from society, just like he comforted and healed those who were oppressed, so does the Balagram.

I came back with a very different understanding about mission work and gospel work from my Balagram experience (and indeed from my experiences at all the other mission projects I visited). I felt, this is indeed the right way for mission in India. (and it may be different in the US, Europe and other places) In a land with different faiths of great heritage, where each faith is so spiritually rich in its offerings for a fulfilling life, and in a land where poverty and sicknesses are so great, this is perhaps the only right way to witness Christ, to become like Christ would be among the poor and downtrodden and to love them and care for them unconditionally, exactly like the Balagram is doing. I am proud to be part of the Church that is engaged in mission in this manner.

(as written by Mathew Samuel(Sunil) a visitor to the Balagram in January 2013)

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