Building links with Christian communities in India

Mr Lawrence Smye-Rumsby has written a reflection based on a recent visit to Hyderabad, in Southern India:

"We spent 13 days in India, including two days of traveling and were based on the edge of the southern city of Hyderabad. It has been an amazing and challenging experience and a definite ‘life-affirming’ venture.

One key aim was to strengthen pioneering pastors in their roles as church leaders. This was delivered through a three-day conference which took place at the aptly named Carmel Prayer Centre.

Between the three members of our team, we taught aspects including Servanthood Leadership & the practicalities of ministry, Communication as leaders, to our leadership teams and church members and the Character of God. We shared lunch together each day as well as offering the opportunity for prayer each day. The climax of our time together was a shared Communion Service, which was very moving.

Our trip continued by visits to six different schools, where we learned much about the Indian education system. It culminated on the third to last day with two of us appearing in a recorded Christian TV show, which broadcasts to around 9 million Indians.

We visited a slum area of Hyderabad and shared several meals with pastors located both within and beyond the city. We participated in the inauguration of a new church in the town of Nalgonda, which was a very moving occasion, where we presented a Bible from the Diocese of Liverpool.

Our final visit was to a Catholic-run hospital in the centre of Hyderabad, where we met and encouraged the young female nurses who had been called into the work.

Another highlight in the middle of our visit was to travel to Medak and to stay with the Bishop of the Diocese, Rt Rev Dr A.C. Solomon Raj. We encouraged him and prayed for his work. We also spoke at the launch of the Tri-annual Diocesan Council on the theme of ‘Christ’s love in reconciliation and unity’, which reflects the World Council of Churches' theme for 2021. The Archbishop of Canterbury visited the bishop of Medak in September and he was aware we were following in his footsteps. Rev Philip Turner presented the Bishop with a letter of greeting from Bishop Paul Bayes, which was well received.

On the one Sunday during our visit we spoke in four different churches on the theme of the ‘Christian Response to Consumerism’, based on Matthew 5:25-34. They were very different in style and one church was based in a very poor area, squashed between Hindus and Muslims. It was a moving occasion.

Christianity in India is very much a minority faith and is currently being marginalised by a Hindu backed government. This is against a background of the Indian constitution which allows for the expression of religious freedom. It looks as if it will get worse in the days ahead. To be a Christian in India is a challenging lifestyle where threats and even violence is evident. Against this reality, there are many strong Christians who stand up to this intimidation. It is truly the case, that sharing your faith in Jesus Christ involves sacrifice, which at the moment we do not experience in the UK.
We concluded our visit by sharing about future links. There will be opportunity in the days ahead to visit India to ‘encourage and build up’ our brothers and sisters in Christ, while at the same time experiencing both personal and spiritual development.

If you are interested in the possibility of visiting South India to strengthen our fellow church leaders and members and are a licensed minister (lay or ordained), then please contact any of the email addresses below for further details:

Mr Nigel Jackson
Rev Simon Moore
Rev Philip Turner
Mr Lawrence Smye-Rumsby