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Spiritual Growth in Uttarakhand

The Uttarakhand Cluster in India sometimes comes together for an intensive training session on a topic that is relevant to all of their work. Cluster Member RAJ KUMAR was involved in their latest – on spiritual growth – and he’s been telling Jake about it.

Jake: You aren’t the first Raj Kumar I've spoken to from the Uttarakhand Cluster! For the sake of clarity, do you want to start by introducing yourself?

Raj: Ha ha yes, I know you’ve emailed me in the past when you wanted to speak with our Cluster Mobiliser – another Raj Kumar! My organisation is called HELP which stands for ‘Health Evangelism and Literacy Programme’. We do health work and evangelism, counselling people, literacy programmes, and we have women’s programmes too. We have also done relief work for flood victims. And I am the Chief Functionary of the organisation. We’re around fifteen people working together. Some full-time, mostly volunteers.

Jake: So who are your target groups?

Raj: Well since we are ministry-orientated people – my training is in missions and theologies – we target everyone. And the basic concept is: whatever way, whatever means, we will use these things to bring the Gospel to the people.

Jake: When – and why – did you join the Cluster?

Raj: I think we joined in 2011. In 2008 I completed my Masters degree in Theology and I was working in Nepal as a missionary. When I returned home, to continue my missionary work, I saw the need of not just giving the word of God to people in the community, but I also saw people’s suffering. So I eventually came to the Christian hospital where I met the previous Cluster Mobiliser. He invited me to join the Cluster, as a place to learn more, to build relationships, to get the benefits of different skilled people in health and in the ministries. And so I joined!

Jake: And one of the ways the Cluster works is to shares different skills through “Linking to Learn” sessions. How does an “L2L” work?

Raj: Linking to Learn meetings have been very crucial to our Cluster. We come together to learn from people in our Cluster who are experts in their field. In previous years we have chosen different topics – tobacco, inclusion, disability. So these meetings have been very beneficial, very helpful. For example, personally I know about counselling and sharing the Gospel, but at the time I had poor knowledge of health programmes. When I got connected to the Cluster I learned about how to run health programmes: how to bring awareness to people on issues like TB or tobacco, clean water, health and hygiene. These sessions helped me and my organisation in a great way.

Jake: Tell me about the recent L2L on spiritual growth then?

Raj: It was very good! I was very much associated with teaching, because this is my field you know. In the past, medical professionals and social workers would come and they would speak on the topics which were very new to me. But this time, I was very much comfortable, and it was very much relevant to all of us.

Jake: Why is it so relevant?

Raj: It is relevant because it’s not just the health programmes that can help a person, but Biblical values are at the heart and the core of our services. God is concerned about the soul and the spiritual, inner part of the person. I think that if your heart is clean, if you love God, if you read Bible, your services will be more effective, more successful. Do you know what I mean?

Jake: So if you feed and nourish your own spiritual growth then your organisation will be better-equipped to serve your community?

Raj: Yes. The purpose of our service is to meet spiritual and physical needs, so we must consider spiritual health. The preachers covered our individual lives, investing in other people’s lives and also the leaders family – the children, the wife – these subjects were covered, so you know the important starting point is our own family, our own life.

Jake: What was your favourite part of the two day training?

Raj: One of the preachers said we must “feed on the word of God”: the same way we need food, we also need God’s word. We cannot escape this fact. If we are filled with God then we can grow our relationships.

Jake: I know there were some Australian Pastors who came along to this training, what did you learn from them: did they bring different ideas and thoughts?

Raj: Well one of them talked to us about taking time to read God’s word, and he gave an example of how he starts his day: he told us how he has five children, and it is sometimes very difficult to study God’s word at home, so he said he would go to the toilet and in there take his time – quiet time – and finish his work. So that was very new to me!

Jake: Haha! I wonder what other people’s feedback was on this L2L? Spiritual health is your area of expertise, but what about people who came along for whom it wasn’t their area of expertise. What was their feedback?

Raj: I think everyone valued it, because the preachers covered the basic topics. It was not theory, ‘systematic theology’ or ‘apologetics’. We talked about reading God’s work, focussing on your own family, investing in people’s lives around you, and the purpose of our service to the community, to the world. So it was theology, but very practical theology.

Jake: And as a result of this L2L – for you personally, or for your organisation – will it change anything you do?

Raj: Well even if there is no sudden change, it will change people’s attitude. You know one of the preachers spoke about submission: the Church submitting to Christ, Christ submitting to the Father, and children submitting to their parents. So our brothers have learned that we need one another, and we need to help one another, and we need to serve one another, and we need to value one another – I think that was very important – I think these are lessons that will change some people’s ideas. I think this will humble us.

You can learn more about how the Uttarakhand Cluster served its community in a time of crisis by clicking here.

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