South Asia: Power, Poetry, and People

This week’s Prayerline comes to you from the IFES Scripture Engagement team. Yohan Abeynaike, the Scripture Engagement Lead for South Asia, highlights recent work in the region and shares their hopes for the year ahead.

“Build me up, Lord, keep me firmly rooted

So the truth I’ve found doesn’t become diluted

Let me abound in grace and wisdom

So I may not concede to a worldly system

Lord, make me stronger, take me farther and deeper,

Establish my steps, so I may be a way keeper.”

Excerpt from a poem by ST; artwork by Timaandra Wijesuriya

You might recognise the verses that inspired ST to write this poem.

ST is a member of the IFES South Asia Scripture Engagement Multipliers Network which is made up of student ministry staff and graduate volunteers. Together we explore how God engages the hearts and minds of South Asians through his Word.

At a recent gathering of the Network, we reflected on Paul’s letter to the Colossians and its impact on us today. We noticed the underlying themes of power and wisdom in the letter and how Paul helps the small Christian community in Colossae to recognize Jesus as the true source of power and wisdom.

This sparked a discussion on where power rests in South Asian society (political entities, family relationships, social structures, memories and interpretations of history, etc.) and how we witness to Jesus and God’s kingdom in the midst of this reality.

We recognized the importance of letting the word of God dwell amongst us in a communal setting (Colossians 3:16) and how God uses those conversations to reveal the fault lines in our communities as well as in areas of our personal lives that need transformation.

For South Asian Christians – who form small, minority communities in their respective countries – this experience was both challenging and encouraging. In shame-oriented and violent cultures, airing personal and community issues presents a challenge. However, the witness of Paul, whose imprisonment by Roman authorities did not stop him proclaiming the universal Lordship of Jesus, was deeply encouraging.

As is evident in ST’s poem, itself inspired by reading Paul’s letter to the Colossians, God’s living Word continues to speak and minister to us in our various situations. This year, the IFES South Asia Scripture Engagement Multipliers hope to continue to meet, reflect on, and listen to God’s direction through his Word. In our gatherings, we want to spend time exploring Scripture engagement in terms of:

  • Creative expression – exploring the interaction between the Scriptures and artistic expression (such as poetry, song, dance, drama, and digital media).
  • Spiritual formation – exploring how the Scriptures lead us into greater personal intimacy with God and maturity in Christ.
  • Contextual engagement – exploring how the Scriptures speak into the issues present in South Asian societies and mindsets.

We’d value your prayers as we take these next steps together… and encourage you to share in this journey by reading Colossians in your contexts!

Let’s pray for the Scripture Engagement team:

  • Pray that God will meet the Scripture Engagement Multipliers powerfully as they seek him through his Word. Pray that God would give them creativity, maturity, and wisdom as they have asked.
  • Pray that meetings planned this year for the Scripture Engagement team in South Asia would be able to go ahead safely and smoothly.
  • Pray that Scripture Engagement would help other regions and movements to explore how the Scriptures speak into the unique issues and challenges within their cultural contexts.

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