19 Dec Do Not Lie
In one of the evening Bible studies at home with EU students who are mostly medical students, I asked them to share their visions and aims of life. Two of them wanted to start a hospital in a place with less medical facilities, one wanted to work on animal protection, another on Old-age care, and still another wanted to work in AIIMS Delhi. I admired the fact that they had bigger dreams than many EU students I have come across. Many do begin with big dreams but somewhere down the line, they give up.
We continued the discussion and contemplated on what it meant to be created in God’s image. We first dwelt on the equality of all men irrespective of race, caste or gender for the fact that we are all created equally in God’s image. We then went on to see the great potential that God has endowed each one of us, and the creative energy we are bestowed with. So, our identity is in God (Christ) who has created us in His image with uniqueness, His likeness, beauty, creativity, and with enormous potential. In most societies today, identity is determined by whether you have a government job or a high paying salary, or status, looks, fame, power, etc. Your demand in the marriage-market is also directly proportionate to your bank balance. No wonder, many of our students and graduates are often left frustrated, hopeless, and bogged down with depression. The devil is the greatest liar who is the opposite and the antithesis to the Truth. He comes knocking at our doors to lie about our worth, beauty and potential!
When students finish their studies and feel lost thinking on what to do next, this is where they become vulnerable. While the academically brighter ones do end up with a job soon, the other job seekers often struggle and some go through a period of crisis and self-doubt. This stage of being unemployed is where so many wander away from the Lord. This unemployment problem is also due to our wrong understanding of the definition of work, which hinders us from exploring beyond regular jobs. While there is also the need to be more hardworking on one side and counter-cultural as followers of Christ, at some point all of us go through some crisis and need help. As a fellowship, our EU-EGF also sometimes end up being a fellowship of the successful, the capable and the elites. I know an EGF fellowship where most of the members come in their own cars and are mostly ‘big shots’. These so-called ‘not yet successful’ ones often feel left out, and insecure, and often it is in those times when they need fellowship the most. We have to collectively build an ecosystem where everyone is equal and our worth is not based on ‘success’. Also where one has a sense of belonging so that they don’t fall prey to the lies of the deceiver.
The bigger problem lies in our entire upbringing and orientation towards life, success, and God. Since childhood, we have been groomed to seek greatness through different achievements and successes. We were taught to dream of success in Civil Service, in Medical and Engineering fields, or any high paying jobs. We don’t often come across parents teaching their kids to seek first the Kingdom of God during his/her school days. In our EU fellowships too, we rarely come across our EGFs encouraging us to explore what God wanted us to do with our lives. We often associate finding God’s will to becoming a full time worker in UESI or in some mission fields in rural India. At the most, we were taught to excel in our studies so that we might serve God in our profession as teachers, doctors, engineers, administrators, etc. While this in itself is good and we are to serve God wherever we are placed, we miss a point. Haven’t we ourselves limited God’s capacity to do greater things in our life right from the beginning? As a movement, our desire is to impact India. However, we limit ourselves from thinking beyond a certain level. Perhaps if we sought God’s plans for our life before we ourselves made up one, God might call some of us to a ‘higher calling’, a bigger responsibility, which might involve greater hard work. Some might be called to be the next Prof. Enoch for a different ministry to reach out India for Christ, some to find solutions to the problems of AIDS, some for engineering wisdom to help stop floods in the country, some as Economist to end poverty in India, some as crusaders to end caste prejudice or racial discrimination, some as Chief Ministers of states, etc.
The Four Aims of UESI are a result of much prayer and wisdom. It is very unique and holistic, and it encompasses all aspects of God’s work. Our Mission Statement talks about evangelizing and nurturing post-matric students in India that they may serve the church and the society. However, very rarely do we raise our EU students to fulfill that. We often end up raising them only for EU/EGF work. Along with laying the foundation in Christian faith, it would be great if we go one step further in helping them in seeking and attempting greater things for God. Our small cell Bible studies should revitalize us for bigger actions outside. Often we prefer lying in the peripheral. Our graduates in some Northeastern states are numerous and capable enough to even bring forth political changes. However, we believe a lie that such endeavours are not for us and we would rather live as ‘holy cows’ instead of venturing to make an impact in the murky world. Moreover, we complain that many graduating students don’t come back to join EGFs. Perhaps we should also do some soul- searching if we ever really made a deep impact in their lives.
Not only does the devil lie, we also end up lying. We as UESI sometimes have an inflated sense of importance about ourselves, our impact on the nation, and our general capabilities as Bible teachers. My people perish for lack of knowledge, says Hosea 4:6, and it is this same lack of knowledge that puts off our EU students from flocking to our fellowships. We lack knowledge because we EGFs and staff-workers hardly read good books or the scripture more deeply. We are content with what we know but can our EU students relate to us on any other issue or topic besides the Bible? We are supposed to build up an army who would go and bless the church and society for Christ in India, but we the trainers are often found wanting. Important as it maybe, along with our long hours of meetings or writing report, it would be great to build up our faculties along with a greater emphasis on spending enough time with students. Our doctrinal teachings should create an environment that generates critical thinking on the historical Christian faith which is the foundational truth of the Scripture. Our small bible study cells are the best platform to train ourselves and if we are doing well there as graduates and staffs, UESI people should be the best Bible teachers in the country. We just have to do well in the basics. While so many Christian organizations have already faced the brunt of governmental censorship, I often wonder whether our safety till now is more because we are no longer seen as impactful or a threat.
As a movement, we have to constantly hunger for the truth, truths about God, truths in our intentions and thoughts, truths in our words, and truths in our assessments of ourselves. We should be allergic to any form of lie, and our actions in the meeting halls), our egos in the small ethnic chambers, and our intentions in our engagements with students and graduates alike should strive to be conformed to the likeness of Christ the Truth. For many students and young graduates, we are often their only point of reference, and we mirror the Christ whom we preach through our lives.
David Hanneng, staying with his wife Jemima Phipon in Burdwan. They are active EGF members in West Bengal