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August 2000 - Visitors, Territorial Spirits, College Expansion

News Updates Index

August 17, 2000

Dear Friends,

We are thankful for the way our Sovereign Lord is continuing to shape and establish BTC, bringing in new staff and students and opening new doors of service to his church in this war torn area of northeast Sri Lanka.

Enriched by visitors
Even though the students were busy writing their exams during the last week of BTC's second term, they were still able to enjoy the company of some special visitors. The hostel adjusted its expandable walls to welcome and his family, two friends and students from CTS, Suresh and Jeyaseelan, and Sriraj from Batticaloa. Newton's wife, Priyadarshini, is virtually a regular worker for BTC, having translated the course notes for 'Introduction to Old Testament' from Tamil to Sinhala each week, so it was a real joy to welcome her into the BTC community. Their two children, Johny and Stella, were able to enjoy the beach-side location of the hostel with many exciting sea baths! (Trinco water is considerably cleaner than Colombo!). Suresh, who is from the Dutch Reformed Church in Colombo, volunteered to forego sea baths for the college library and instead spent many hours sorting and cataloguing the Tamil books. He did an invaluable job. He also spoke couple of times at chapel, expounding precious truths from God's Word, the whole community was truly blessed by our visitors.

Another family to join the community!
Sriraj's name had been mentioned at the July Board meeting for the position of full-time Administrator. He came to spend a few days with us, finding out about BTC and enabling the community to find out about him! We look forward to welcoming him on board in September, and his wife, Kaushi, with their two daughters, one 2 and the other 4 months, will follow on in January. Interestingly, even before we have begun to look for accommodation for them, we had a phone call about a vacant house just round the corner from BTC. We are constantly amazed to how our God works all things together!

Extension Education begins in Kalmunai
The faculty members may have to wait until December for their holiday! They have just finished a 3-day mini Bible school in Kalmunai, just south of Batticaloa in the Ampara district. We are very thankful to our part-time students, Yesudasan and Varatharajan, who did a lot of ground work in publicizing and contacting pastors in the Batticaloa and Ampara districts. About 40 pastors and church workers attended, mainly charismatics, reflecting the predominance of them amongst the newer, independent local churches. Five Methodists represented the mainline churches. Pradhaban, Newton, Nepoleon and Charles taught short courses on Ethics, Ministry, Biblical Studies and Church History, respectively. It was encouraging to seethe delegates gradually open up and participate in the talks and discussions. Six have already decided to join next terms' modular course on Revelation, which Jothy will be teaching. Many expressed the desire for More such seminars and courses in their own areas, another challenge for BTC!

Pradhaban's family and Charles' two sons also took the opportunity for A holiday in Kalmunai, and all thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of Christa Illam, a Methodist Girl's home, and Rev. Thayaseelan, who is a member of BTC's Board of Advisors, and his wife, Kala. Apart from being a local pastor, Rev. Thayaseelan is also the Superintendent of the Kalmunai Circuit,part of a region regarded as a 'Methodist fortress'! In this capacity, it was encouraging to see him urging Methodist candidates to come to BTC.

Extra meetings were held on Friday and Saturday in Kalmunai and Batticaloa to introduce BTC to the pastors of these districts, On Sunday, Newton, Nepoleon and Charles were invited to speak in a number of local churches. All in all, it was a very encouraging and fruitful time, making BTC known and establishing genuine relationships with the pastors from the area and our friends at Christa Illam.

Territorial Spirits
It was amazing to discover the presence of 'territorial spirits' in a backwater like Ampara District. This issue dominated the final day's discussion at the mini Bible school. For some of our Ampara friends spiritual warfare meant 'binding the spirits' and 'breaking strongholds'. Their leaders had taught them that this sort of warfare was the key to successful evangelization. We pointed out to them that Paul, when he entered Ephesus (Acts 19) did not visit the Temple of Diana in order to bind her and thus release her captives. He instead went to three distinct groups of people and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was through the power of the gospel that people were redeemed and a strong church was planted that would last over a thousand years.

It became clear during the discussion that a number of our friends, including the Principal of a church planting school (Gospel For Asia, in Tirukkovil), already had some doubts about this teaching, marketed from California. It was finally affirmed that this new teaching belongs to 'another gospel' and the fundamental problem of humanity is not a spirit problem but sin which needed to be atoned for.

Mannar
The Evangelical Fellowship of Mannar, comprising of about 18 local Pastors from different churches, have invited BTC faculty members, Nepoleon and Charles, to address their conference in August 22nd-23rd. They will be speaking on the issues of war and peace, gospel and culture in Galatians. This is another encouraging step forward in building relationships with pastors and churches in the northeast. It is noteworthy that the Alliance of Sri Lanka is funding the conference, thereby acknowledging the reality of BTC.

The Grace and Truth Fellowship Family camp follows from August 23rd to 27th, at Jeevodaya, Murungan on Mannar mainland. A large contingent from BTC will be going, including a few students and Pradhaban's and Charles' families. Charles and Nepoleon will be speaking alongside Jothy Hoole and Pastor T. B. Surendran of Grace Evangelical Church, Colombo.

Looking forward to the new term.
Shanmugapavan joined in with the BTC community almost as soon as he heard about us back in June. He has since been auditing virtually all the courses and took the modular course. BTC has also been benefiting from his many talents as he helped Pradhaban with the electrical work around the college and hostel as well as helping to sort out the library lending system. He will join BTC full-time when the new term begins on September 4th, along with Joel, a local church worker, who has already taken a number of evening courses.

Pratheepan is an answer to prayer!
Yesudasan will also be back with us full-time next term. Pratheeban, a former student of CTS, returned from India in June and came to visit BTC for a few days. Little did he know that he would be busy for the next couple of years as a result! He arrived just as the modular was beginning, so he decided to join the life of the college and hostel for two weeks. Charles shared with him about Yesudasan's situation and during his stay, Pratheeban was able to spend time with Yesudasan, finding out more about his church. Presently Pratheeban is spending a month 'training' with the three pastors of Grace and Truth Fellowship in Mannar, then he will go to Kallaru, close to Kalmunai, at the beginning of September to free Yesudasan so that he can study full time until the end of next year. Pratheeban then hopes to join BTC and follow up on his CTS Diploma with a B.Th.

A new Faculty Member!
Prathaban is not only a jack-of-all-trades; he is also an avid Bible scholar! Having taken Bible studies at his home church in Mannar, and spoken a chapel a few times, it became evident to all that he has a real gift of teaching. He taught at the mini Bible school in Kalmunai and will be taking an evening course next term on the Book of Proverbs, entitled Real Life.

Thank you once again for being part of this work with us; your prayers are being answered! Thank you!

Charles


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