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 – is 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 “I” the person, the ego, begin to emerge. Of course, the ministry is not about me at the same time it deeply involves ‘me’.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.

 

 

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Consistency

Consistency

During my teens, my father, from time to time , would point out to my beard, the lack of it, or its partial presence, and say that a man ought to be consistent.  His voice still rings very clearly in my ears. Consistency is key.

To my surprise, I have come to learn that it’s the same thing that Robin Sharma, Tony Robbins and the Management Guru ilk would propagate. To have impact and to grow, one must be consistent. You don’t have to do great things over night. The small things that you do regularly, will bring about tremendous results, over time. Just like the yeast in the dough which works through it, steadily.

I just spoke to Cherian George, a friend of mine, who is an IT guy also working overtime as a gospel worker. He finds it tough but able to manage work, his passion for ministry and consequent assignments and family, together. He is consistently working hard.

Merin, my cousin, is able to write a small anecdote linked to the Bible everyday. Rev. Prince, another friend of mine, has been consistent in producing short, beautiful podcasts from the Word of God with an apt illustration each day for over 350 days now! Rev A. T. Zechariah and Rev. Abu have been putting in great effort towards preparing Daily Manna devotion series that goes through a book in the New Testament, each month. In addition, they have been recording it as a podcast and have been sending it around every single day without fail. There are people behind the scenes who get up everyday and forward these messages to the groups and friends who are waiting to listen to this. They are consistent. It seems as though I have not been working hard enough to be consistent.

I tried. I am trying. Been writing a short daily devotion named #JesusInMumbai everyday since Feb 28. It attempts to find Christ in everyday things and people in the city  of Mumbai. I have enjoyed it ever since I began and have been writing consistently over these days. Though I enjoy writing, it has been my principle of late to not look or wait for perfection – an attempt to fight with the perfectionist I am! What usually happens is that unless its going to be a masterpiece which requires time and a lot of effort, I will not attempt it, especially when time and effort come at a premium!

My solace in failing at attempts to be consistent is that, Jesus was instrumental in employing a flippant character like Peter and ilk for his kingdom’s. I hope to grow and become consistent in relationship with him, in the ministry he has bestowed upon me.

My life be like… ooo aaa ooo – Part 2

Continuing from Part 1 ( of course) :

…talking about habits worth emulating!

Part-1 can be found  here.

( Picture courtesy:  http://dumbbellsanddragons.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/whatwerepeatedlydo-@allielefevere.jpg  )

 

Continuing…

2. Prefer phone calls to messages. Reminders can be text messages and email.

3. Advance planning and concretizing.

Rev. Shaji Thomas, whom I worked with for their parish camp,in Bangalore,  shared with me how he goes about his pastoral ministry. He plan many months in advance and brings out a list/brochure/ colourful something. Colourful somethings look great and people want a copy of them. Most important – you have sat down, planned and made the effort to route the way the year should go.

4. Contribute to your relationship through occasional phone calls like Kunjumon Uncle. He calls every Monday morning. Even if you aren’t that regular, call once in a while. For that you need to have a list of people to be in touch with.

5. Email/ phone/ text people at major occasions such as Christmas. It is a meaningful gesture. Especially people who hosted your stay, blessed you by driving you to the railway or bus station/airport, etc. Keep a separate list of such peoples’ phone number/ email address and note it down in Google Keep or Evernote under the title- ‘indebted’. If one has such a crunch of time, one may pre-set customized messages and schedule their sending time.

6. Post- programme ,   the next day or so, give a call to express gratitude and appreciate the way they handled the events. Positive comments on their hospitality means a lot to the organizers. I know, because I have been there.

7. Keep envelopes, stamps and notepads ready to write to people words of gratitude, wish them on special occasions, “ we remember you” notes. People still feel special when they receive a handwritten note. If you are creative, you can add a tad bit of art as well on the page. I can do so since my wife is gifted that way and enjoys that.

8. Write short devotions daily, like Saji Thomas achen and Jijo Varghese achen. Their discipline is worth emulating. Anyday! Prince Varghese achen’s audio devotions are similar disciplined efforts, which requires saying things precise and recording it without a glitch. His ability to speak clearly without ‘hmm’ and ‘uhhh’ and to have a  meaningful illustrations embedded in those precise devotions are really impactful. I hope to be there someday – not to be known for doing them – but just to get myself to be that disciplined. It’s something worth striving for.

So here they are! I am about to start practicing these. Slow and steady. One day at a time.

Do you see things in people that are worth emulating? Then share them here! Thanks.

My life be like… ooo aaa ooo – Part 1

There are some definitive changes I wish to bring about in my life, today on. Actually, yesterday on, since I made the list last evening.

I have been observing pastors and trying to emulate some of their good qualities. Having seen pastors of all shapes and sizes all my life, the realization that I have a long way to go dawns, not infrequently. It is a good thing, I take it. So here are some things with respect specifically to communication I have been a resource person to many camps, sessions, retreats, etc. like never before in my life (more about those humbling experiences in another post) and you have to communicate with the organizers  before and after the programme. I think I have not been doing that well. What makes me say so? Because the way some pastors went about it made me feel dignified, appreciated and made me think, “ hmm… that is a good way of doing things.”

So this is a list of pastoral qualities I observed in pastors around me which I would like to emulate, with immediate effect (That sounds more like a statement issued by an authority…hmm….). The list includes some non-pastors as well.

1. Be like Rev. Abey when it comes to pre-programme calls and follow up.

When he is in charge of a programme, expect calls well in advance to inform you about the event, its specifics, etc. He will discuss it with you over the days and seek your opinion and by the time the ministry begins, you have a tab on what’s going to happen and you are well prepared. 

He will inform you of the requirements and ask you what you might need. Changes in the plan are promptly informed. 

A reminder, a programme-eve check and a post-programme appreciation call is part of his approach. Looks good to me.

You value your resource person this way and forge a new relationship with that person. If I were an organizer of something I would do that.

(Continued in the next post…)

Undivided focus – A single solution to many things

Having entered Christian youth ministry four and a half months ago, I had a lot of questions in my mind regarding how, what, when, where etc. Mumbai is a huge city and the group I minister to is huge. In addition, the youth are spread across twenty six churches and they have their own Youth Leagues and vicars.

Much of the time I have been anxious as to whether I was doing enough. One of the things that a fellow brother of a pastor told me was, ” First, connect.”

I have been spending time doing that. It has been fantastic that way. But slow. My fellow clergy have assured me that this pace is good and that my job was to till the land, rather than seek the fruit immediately. I may never see the fruit.

I love to grow and I have been divided in the way that I use time and energy. I might tend to call it ineffective knowing that I am capable of great things. My interests range across various matters. There is simply no time for  everything.

That is when I was read Selwyn Hughes’ ‘Everyday with Jesus’, a daily devotion that has been of invaluable help to me at least for the past 11 years. What I read to do said that a divided mind produced divided results. Once Jesus came to his life, Paul’s primary focus became proclaiming Christ.
“If we are double-minded then we end up delivering ourselves in too many directions. We need to learn… to be one person, with one motive moving towards one goal,” writes Hughes.

That is the secret. I need to cut out all other interests and simply focus on serving the Lord. Just that. Proclaiming his Word. Sharing His love. Lifting up weary hearts. Doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with my God.
image

Cut out. Focus.

“Will that limit me?” calls out the anxious heart.

Show me what you have become being unlimited, challenges a voice in my head. 

Contents

One of the challenges you face as a youth chaplain is preparing and sharing biblical content that is related to life. All this through various media. The content has to be in a finished form, bite-sized and easily comprehendable,  packaged keeping today’s social media in mind. Attention spans are less. Dedicated “growing time” or “quiet time” seem to be a rarity. Therefore one might have to grab the attention in the transient window-period of focus and aim to reach the heart.

That takes time,  thought,  personal quiet time, creativity and above all, the quickening of the Holy Spirit.

The most important skill I am trying to develop is a patience to review. 

I get content. I have made content.  All I need to do is pore over those content and take stock of what I have. It’s got plenty for really long time.

But I’m ever in the search of the new and trying to catch up! It’s a hard struggle that way. I need help!

Contents

One of the challenges you face as a youth chaplain is preparing and sharing biblical content that is related to life. All this through various media. The content has to be in a finished form, bite-sized and easily comprehendable,  packaged keeping today’s social media in mind. Attention spans are less. Dedicated “growing time” or “quiet time” seem to be a rarity. Therefore one might have to grab the attention in the transient window-period of focus and aim to reach the heart.

That takes time,  thought,  personal quiet time, creativity and above all, the quickening of the Holy Spirit.

The most important skill I am trying to develop is a patience to review. 

I get content. I have made content.  All I need to do is pore over those content and take stock of what I have. It’s got plenty for really long time.

But I’m ever in the search of the new and trying to catch up! It’s a hard struggle that way. I need help!