Imagining another life

If not a pastor, what other vocation could I imagine myself in? A picture from a news piece in the latest The Week magazine, set off fireworks in the brain centre for imagination.

The picture was of an editor who had been working with HarperCollins India.

I can imagine myself as an editor. Sitting all day with books and manuscripts. Reading through draft after draft in an office/study room by a window. Everyday. Meeting writers with potential as well as well-known ones, discussing their writing.

A room full of books. Reading various works, reflecting upon the world, being thunderstruck by ideas, watching storyteller after storyteller weaving their narratives as they firmly grip the reader by their imagination until they emotionally choke… Just a few things I imagine. Of course, there will be work pressure and deadlines like any other job. Perhaps even travelling to various meetings and conferences – all part of the daily life. Somehow, the office seems to be cozy, with lots of coffee, whenever you need!

I have tried imagining myself as a musician. Somehow, it doesn’t work well for me. I love music, I play it, perform it and more often teach music at Christian youth gatherings. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to do so. But something about the musician life cannot be done full time. I have read biographies and write-ups on musicians and bands most of which convey the busy life of performing and travelling which eventually takes over your creative time and steals away your energy to be saturated in learning and inspiration. One needs to learn and grow spiritually and physically. One has to find time to read and reflect, learn and study discerning the signs of the times and respond.If music performance takes over the input time, then the output will suffer. In my experience it is very difficult to keep up your routine while you travel.

Having said that, I believe there is no greater influencer like music. It is a powerful medium that can express a passionate message in words and tune combined. I know that. Everyone believes it. Just imagine the number of tunes that were perpetually on replay as we grew up. We internalize the messages songs carry.

Every community has its songs and music. From religion to road-shows during electoral campaigns music is everywhere. Human beings are basically rhythmical beings and music, powerpacked with tune can form bonds even change lives, keep faith alive, bestow hope and express emotion. It is a great medium to embed a message. I have an experience to testify to this. 

I was entrusted with the task of leading sessions at the vacation bible school held by the Mar Thoma Syrian Church Sunday School of Sharjah. 1500 children were a number I had never led prior to this. It scared me to bits wondering how on earth I would minister to them, and hold on to their attention. Don Thomas, the VBS leader in the year prior, was very encouraging and constantly assuring me of his prayers. I had recently been worried and down at that time, overwhelmed by the vast area of my ministry and the sheer scope it had. On sharing that with Dr. Mary George, a counsellor and psychologist, who had been actively participating in the youth ministry, she encouraged me to use my talents of cartooning and rapping. I never considered myself as good at them but had fun when I was inspired to explore them. Whatever you are passionate about is in important part of you – and therefore – part of your ministry. That indeed was an eye-opener. Being an introvert I was too shy to use them and hadn’t even considered myself or my material worth using in that way! Sharjah VBS was an opportunity to minister for the Lord Jesus through my rap. The children jumped along and we enjoyed rapping four-line summaries of each day’s teachings and verse, wrapped around a “hook”, or chorus if you like. Nearly everyone in your visual horizon would join in. Pack along actions for the hook and everyone’s praising God with full body involvement. I hope the children remember the hook – Jesus is the king of my life.

But I’m unable to see myself as a full time musician, somehow.

But here as a pastor, working in a fledgling youth ministry, you get to do it  all for the glory of God. 

getting the youth ministry moving

If you have been following this blog, you would know that I have been in the process of finding out the meaning of my life, by experiencing each day as the Lord brings it.

Small head starts have been made in the youth ministry.

In the Mumbai and Navi Mumbai centres ( clusters) I could involve gracious youth in teaching their younger ones the basics of our faith. The youth took it up wholeheartedly that I thanked God again for the Mar Thoma youth of Mumbai. They are just ready to do anything for the Lord.

And I have been leading a couple of sessions and sharing from the Word of God and have tried to be a friend to all.

The latest is the big attempt to meet our youth with the Word of God where they are most accessible – online.Yes, you may not get them for meetings even if they want to come because of the global market work timings and the rough ride on the Mumbai local train. But they are so definitely online. So am I.

I shouldn’t be saying them, since I am one among… this group.

So what better way to get everyone on to this? The Great Lent which begins on 15th of February culminating with Easter. In the Syrian tradition churches, the lent is 50 days unlike European tradition based churches who hold lent for 40 days.

So we are having an online devotions series in which each church youth group will participate. It’s named:

@Lent

The promo is out on youtube. Do check it out and pray for it. May the Word of God reach deep down and touch hearts so that each one of us will fully become what we are meant to be – the image of God ( Genesis 1:27). The links to the devotions can be found on facebook.com/youthministrymumbai
or if you just search in youtube with the search term : @Lent.
It is amazing to see how God uses weak and sinful people like me to reach out to young lives.

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WordPress tells me I have completed 100 posts on this blog. Wow. Thanks for being with me and thanks to you from worldwide who are following this blog. God bless you.

Travelogoi : Daphi and her dream job

If you go to Shillong, you must  not miss going to to Daphi’s Bakery. You won’t find it so easily. Instead just might have to earn it, but believe me, it’s worth the go.  My cousins, Merin and Soji, along with Thomas, my brother, climbed the 257 stairs from Malki Point to reach an altitude where we were treated to a beautiful sight of the city on one side and the forest on the other, with a road winding up behind us. 

From the time I heard that my friend, former college band mate, soulful singer and at-times-rapper, Daphimonroi Warjiri , went to learn what she loved the most in life – Bakery Science, I felt I should go meet her and pat her on the back for taking a step so daring in life. After a BA in Psychology, Sociology and Economics, when she had opportunities in Bangalore ( where we we did our graduation) to earn good salaries in corporate companies she chose what no other friend I know did. Just because she wanted to do something close to her heart; something she believed she was made for. In days like ours, many of us don’t dare to be so authentic, of course, due to a variety of reasons.

It was a risky decision, of course. But all you need to agree with her decision is to taste one of her chocolate Brownies. 7 months ago, she took a huge step in life by setting up a Bakery. That too at the front room of their house, a beautiful wooden cottage, so well maintained despite its age : nearly a century old. Her grandmother’s parents, who bought it for their daughter decades ago, may have not foreseen this state of affairs, but I wish they had. That one large room has all she needs: her oven, mixer and her provisions and of course her music system. She begins at 8 am and works through her orders ( she’s been refusing many orders since there have been too many). Then she bakes ” . . . Whatever I feel like, that day,” besides the regular bread ( and whole wheat bread). This could be any thing right from Muffins, Cookies, Brownies and hundreds of different things. I couldn’t catch all the names but they sounded delicious. When she’s done baking, which is around 2.30 pm  she opens the white window of the bakery to her customers and sells her delicious bakery products.

She shares that it is very exciting and that there are difficulties as she work towards making her dreams come true. She goes through her share of struggles each day, even as she stirs her vessel (literally and figuratively) through a life which she chose. “There are days when I feel like I don’t want to get up and come to the bakery,” she says with a disarming frankness which  transparently veils an undying determination to achieve her dreams, and to abide by her decision to live for what she was made for, rather than fall into a life with a set format.  

But to believe in her and her decision, one only needs to taste one of her signature goodies. I could mouth brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and muffins and cheese biscuits and ask for more. There is no question on whether she has talent, the question is only, when is she becoming famous!

Daphi is one of those people who just don’t care about the money coming in. She, rather, foan ncusses on doing  her best, being content and making people happy. It isn’t easy, mind you. There comes a lot of indecision, uncertainty and pain, even as you follow your dreams. The question is, when you look back at life a couple of decades from now, would you rather have lived a life you were made, thus having been fruitful for the good of all, or, someone else’s life?

Endnote.
Daphi makes two types of bread – wheat and whole wheat. On the outside they look crusty, and hard with its brown, baked-just-now looks. It s when you slice them that you realise how soft the bread is, despite its crusty appearance. It reminded me of us. We look hard, tough and durable on the outside. But inside those looks, we are just tender, ready-to-melt human beings, covered in what seems hard crust, meant to protect our inner beings. Interestingly, I had to cut the bread to find out that it was soft. It seem a painful rupture in everyday life causes us to discover that we are all good beings with a tender hearts.