The enormity of this city challenges me.

The enormity of this city challenges me.

The enormity of this city challenges me. There is always something more to do, more people to reach, more scope in the ministry, and more and more.

As a youth chaplain, the scope of ministering to the youth in a city like Mumbai is tremendous, often hitting mind-boggling scales.

I must also know that I am not able to do everything on my own. Must not either.

I remember advice of setting up a human resources team that could assist in various aspects of ministry. We have that in a virtual form, with volunteers with a wide variety of skills from singing, designing, teaching, leading, law, medicine, communication and a lot more. However, a structured, systematic outreach Рis that possible through volunteers who may have something to do at times and therefore unable to commit?

 

I have been careful not to be disappointed or expect too much of youth who are already busy and have priorities. I have always approached them knowing that any time that they spend for youth ministry is because of their commitment to the cause and I rejoice no matter how short a time they are able to give, as long as they involve, as long as they share a part of themselves to ministering to fellow brethren.

 

A concern in my mind is, how can the youth ministry grow and reach out to more? How can it assist the growth of more youth in Christ? There are hundreds of unreached youth. People who are on the ledges of faith. How do we get to them?

 

That is when I begin to think God needs to give me some more support. And as you may have rightly judged, that is where¬†‚ÄúI‚ÄĚ the person, the ego, begin to emerge. Of course, the ministry is not about me at the same time it deeply involves¬†‚Äėme‚Äô.There is no impersonal ministry, as far as I can gather. As much as I would like to see fruit, I must also remember that as a pioneer, my job is to till the ground, sow the seeds. And that is not easy. ¬†Preparing the ground, as Isaiah 4 reflects, involves clearing the ground of stones as well.

 

Perhaps, as I reflect, this ministry should have started many years ago. The need is quite telling. It should have grown and bloomed by now. I wonder why it never began. Were we, as a Church, blind?

 

However, I am privileged that I could be part of the beginning. That also mean I perpetually carry the burden that I am not reaching out enough.

From Virar to Colaba.

From Kalyan To Dadar.

From Dadar to Ambernath.

I feel paralized. I need more help and support. Perhaps more staff?

 

While interviewing fellow youth workers from other organizations during the first year, I gathered that the struggle is real and that they face the same too. People have become busier. There is always more people to reach out to, more hearts to be touched, more people to come to salvation in Christ.

 

From time to time, I remember teachings that I have learned and read. This ministry belongs to God. He will do what He has to do in His time. At this moment, he wanted me to be here. He will accomplish what he has started. His words will never return empty. My job is to trust him and to entrust him with my weaknesses and strengths so that he can accomplish what He has to, in His time.

 

 

A few insights from Pokemon Go!


The exhortations in the picture sounded like Jesus. It seemed like the divine, to which nothing is a limitation, was bursting forth through the game screen. It was foolish of me to attempt the game on 2G but that’s what turned my attention to the message on the screen that had the plausible resemblance to a Bible message. Another look at the screen made it seem straightout of the Book of Revelation, which gave me a smile. Pok√©mon Go was now kindling my imagination.

Alas! Three Bible verses popped up in my head as I stared at the note on the screen: 

Luke 12:46a The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 

1 Peter  5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
The first talks about the return of Christ of which we know nothing of the day and the hour. We are simply asked to be prepared. There simply is no time to mess around and we have no business doing so! Keeping our act together, living according to the guidance of God through the Word, worship and fellowship, was paramount, lest we fall into the clutches of sin and darkness.The  second verse warns us from taking things lightly all the time, making us aware of the dangers we could fall into. We are hearing reports of people who endangered their lives chasing Pokemons and even crossing international borders, gravely violating rules without realizing. 

The third verse that came to me was :

Matthew 26:10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

How beautiful! Jesus was aware of the deepest longings of the woman who was anointing him. He saw through the daring of a potentially shameless woman who was being despised for being present too near him;  for crossing the Jewish line of etiquette and  socio-spatial gender boundaries. Why would she do that?

Let’s consult ourselves first. We chase Pokemon for fun, right? Are you sure? What’s in a game that seeks to catch creatures that are not there physically yet exist on the screens and the technology mediated world of virtual reality? Surely, it’s more than fun. There’s a sense of achievement. The Pokemon we caught which others haven’t  enhances our sense of uniqueness.  Everyone wants to feel special – and appreciated. We all want our moment when we are accepted, acknowledged and asked for. 

In gathering together at the gyms and other public places, defending our Pokemon’s, we seek community. We all want to know that we are not alone. If we are too proud to ask the company of others, we can form communities (that may or may not last),” accidentally, through these defensive alliances. Yes, we want relationship. We are a different person,without them. We seek proximity and interaction, we seek protection and care. And we go after Pokemon. We live, move and have our being in a broken world that chases after… Pok√©mons. 

Jesus is aware of what we seek. He asks us to be aware of what our neighbour seeks. Just as he was. Aware of her  deepest longings, Jesus tells speaks on behalf of her, calling her act, beautiful. Despite her brokenness, the woman knew where to go. Do we know where to go with our brokeness? Which way do we guide the broken people around us, especially the ones who come our way?

So the two injunctions that appear as Pok√©mon Go loads have deep meaning for anyone who seeks a meaningful life – one that we can truly call LIFE. In short, the Truth – that which is real, which is actual. No floss. 

And there is one who said “I am … the Truth.” Leonard Sweet tells us that in Christian faith the Truth is not a statement, law or method; it is a person.

If Pokémon symbolizes that ultimate thing we are searching for inorder to satisfy us, then, Jesus is the ultimate Pokémon. May our search for Pokémon lead us to the Truth who is none but Jesus.

He is waiting to embrace you when you find him.

Keep writing

For the first time I received an email by someone who read my blog. It was wonderful to hear that the person had been moved to ask me some questions.

One of the things I learnt last year in ministry is to avoid evaluating oneself with tangible results. One must not chase tangible results, it can be very disappointing.

Moreover you never know whose life you touched. Sometimes you get to know later, most of the time you just don’t. The most important thing is to do faithfully what God has entrusted you with.

Of course, the moment you hear from someone who was blessed by what you shared, spoke, sang, sketched,
rapped, forwarded or wrote, is indeed a sweet one. It encourages you to continue.

But just don’t depend on it. You do what you have got to do. Let God do what He will, and just trust Him.

Thanks for writing in friend!

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Returning to the barracks

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Yes, it is that time of the night, quite normally Mumbai-ish.

I’ve been visiting houses and praying while the accompanying office bearers write receipts for cheques and cash. It’s the Diocesan week and I have been learning.
I am observing, experiencing the new, the now. Widows giving beyond their means for mission. Retired Gulf-returns posing questions with flexed muscles on the relevance of this work, merely a subtext of their childish grasp on the Gandhi papers, called Money. People living in slum like areas adding the zeroes to the right of their triple digit daily wages.

More than ever it was my free course on ‘Life’. I was learning what frustration means; what desperation does, what giving reveals, what praying makes and what love breaks. I have been learning to pray from the innermost parts of my heart. I have been changing.

And nobody told me to. That’s the best part.

It’s happening and I feel it.

I don’t mind the time. The Creator of all time has given me enough and more.

And I will continue to grow in Him.

‘Where’ and ‘Wear’

My post graduation was in Clinical Psychology. There we learnt that every therapist  required to undergo a specified duration of supervision. It helped a therapist be clear headed, avoid bias and administer therapy meaningfully.  Even practicing therapists were to have regular supervision, which I found most meaningful. The therapist would go to his supervisor, share their difficulties and struggles. The supervisors would even bring unchecked aspects in therapy to their notice. 

I’ve been thinking. Even pastors need supervisors. Someone they could turn to. Someone to ask advice. It’s not just enough that all the fellow pastors are friendly enough and approachable. Someone who has seen the tides of time wax and wane. Someone who is scarred by experiences that made them wiser. Someone who would call a spade a spade, yet, keep it all together with brotherly affection. 

I find this need especially in pioneering ministries begun in new places. 

Yet supervision does not mean spoon-feeding. One should have the creative freedom and the thrill of taking the uncharted route, beautifully narrated by Robert Frost: 


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear.

Currently I find myself in front of that road which is grassy and wants wear.

I could do with some advice for the journey!

Clapton’s guitar

It is so difficult to be the loser.

I like winning, although it hasn’t be the way of things with me.

Jesus’ affinity for the last, the least and the lost is about the only thing that is currently keeping me going. You find it in “Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus” by Robert Farrar Capon. He says, death and losing is about the only way in which God can bring His salvation into our lives.

Which then is a good thing. Am I a successful youth chaplain?  Whatever that means! Currently, by the parameters of the world, I am not successful. Leave those parameters. This is what I would like:

I would like myself to be a wonderful instrument in His hand. I’d like to imagine Him as Eric Clapton and me, his guitar. ¬†That way, a meaningful ministry. Something that would touch so many lives that they see what God sees in them.

I am sure God reads my blog.

God became audio-visual and came online among us

It’s like in those self-help books.
I shared my vision, and they caught on to it. What amazes me is that there was hardly any resistance.  Every youth, every pastor, every person I spoke to was for it.
I am talking about the Online¬† Great lent devotion series by the Mar Thoma youth of Mumbai. It is a blessing to see a group of people who take on to the vision and make it their own. They have begun to own it. As instructed by stalwart Chaplains like Samson achen, Bensy achen and P.C. Mathew, I got a team of leaders who were ready to work behind the scenes,¬† day and night for this purpose. I am so blessed to work with them. Through it all, I feel the invisible hand of God guiding us through the process.¬† He’s the one who makes it happen. Praise be to the One and Only.

My intention was to take the Word of God where you will definitely find the “unreachable” youth of today – Online.¬† They are there. And once they get the link to the devotions, they will definitely watch it when they can.

Am I making them lazy to take time to read the Word of God? Honestly,¬† I don’t intend to. But I hope to reach the Word of God and a thought along with a ligw application tip, wherever they are.¬† You know, if I could reach close to 500 youth in six months,¬† in a single day we are reaching from 800-1000 youth with the devotions.
I am ordained to share the Word, teach God’s Word and to initiate people to the Sacred Mysteries of God through the sacraments.

I am trying.  I am really trying. Only if I knew how. I am doing my best.
Lord, I am sincerely trying.

(If you wish to join the online lent devotion series which lasts 2-4 minutes each day, go like our Facebook page : www.facebook.com/youthministrymumbai

Or search for ” @Lent ” on youtube and subscribe to the channel. We’d love to hear from you if it is a blessing)