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Baldaeus Theological College

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September 2001 - perplexed but not despairing

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`we are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;'  2 Cor. 4:8-9

Dear Friends,

Paul's testimony rings with a loud exhortation to many in these uncertain days to persevere, to endure in the midst of adversity and perplexity as we serve our Lord and Saviour. He has just reminded us in v.7 that we are earthen vessels, not perfect, not strong, but there is treasure inside, the very power of God. How many times over the past days and months have we been made aware of our own frailty, our `earthenness' as we seek to serve God here in Baldaeus. Sometimes the struggles have appeared all consuming, bringing accompanying thoughts of giving up. Yet Scripture testifies again and again that struggles, contrary to expectation, are invariably the norm for the believer, not an opportunity for giving up but for endurance and perseverance. Peter further notes that persevering in adversity actually proves our faith, and results in `praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ' 1 Pet. 1:6-7. God has entrusted us with this work, our part is to keep our eyes firmly on Him and persevere in trust that He knows what He is doing in and through us.

The Realities of Life in the NE
The many refugees and displaced people in this northeast war zone live in uncertainly and under rigid restrictions. Jacob Bala was living in a refugee camp north of Vauvuniya. Only after many phone calls, visits to various police stations and official letters from Baldaeus was he allowed to finally be `brought' by our Administrator to Trincomalee, arriving in the middle of the first term this year. Having obtained his police registration in Trincomalee he had to travel back and forth to his young family left behind in the camp to maintain his registration. In the second term he was able to get fully immersed in the college life, proving himself to be one of our most promising and gifted students. Happily for his family, they were suddenly moved to a resettlement village in August, but the demands of resettling his family has meant that he cannot continue his studies for the foreseeable future. Please pray for his family and that he will be able to resume his studies soon.

Back in our first newsletters of '99 we mentioned Pastor Selvaraj's desire to study at Baldaeus. Initially the demands of his church work and his displacement to LTTE territory hindered his coming, but recently the church has decided to release him. He now has to secure clearance from LTTE to come to Trincomalee, since they do not allow whole families to leave the area. His wife and son came recently to get an official letter from Baldaeus requesting the clearance and `in faith' they applied to a local school for their son's admission. Please pray that clearance for the whole family will be granted.

Morias had to suddenly return home to Keeri, a small hamlet outside Mannar town, this week since 3 of his children were sick. His wife, Shanti, being diabetic and not well, was unable to cope on her own. Due to the numerous checkpoints and all the accompanying officialities the bus journey from Trincomalee to Mannar is extremely arduous and takes a whole day. Thankfully Morais was able to return after 3 days, but his experience illustrates the uncertainties and difficulties under which our students live. Due to the demands of his family and the church, Morais can only give one year for his studies in Trinco although all agree that it would be good for him to do the full three-year programme. He will probably continue his studies at the Mannar extension center.

Another student from Mannar, Julie, is hoping to join us in January '02. He is coming to Trinco this week to apply for his son's admission to a local school.

Selvaraj, Morais, Julie and Jacob Bala all have young families, but with the scarcity of available property and sky high advances due to the influx of displaced people from Jaffna and the Vanni coming in to the Trincomalee town, Baldaeus is not presently able to provide family accommodation.

Our Own Campus?
Such needs and constraints make it more imperative that we should endeavour to secure our own land and campus. We would thereby save on colossal advances and be able to provide suitable accommodation for all our students. We are presently looking at three plots of land but as with advances land prices are also increasing even as we write.

Looking Ahead to our 3rd Year
Our student numbers have been down this term, since Gnanaprogasam also did not return after the August break due to church difficulties. Please pray about our next student intake which will be at the beginning of our third academic year in January '02. We have had a number of enquiries from prospective students over the past few months.

Goodbyes and Hellos
Nepoleon has decided to leave Baldaeus at the end of December. We are thankful for the two years of service he has given and wish him well as he settles back into life in Colombo. His departure leaves the college with just two full time lecturers. Please pray that we will have sufficient faculty members next term to teach the extra modular courses necessary for the full-time programme.

Prathaban has left Baldaeus temporarily after ZOA, an NGO, requested help to start growing fruit trees in their resettlement village. Joel, a student mentioned in previous letters, has taken over Prathaban's hostel and college responsibilities, while continuing his studies as a part-time student. His young family has settled in to hostel life very quickly and Joel, a mason by profession, is proving himself to be a very able and efficient worker in all the various demands of the college property and maintenance.

Another new part-time student and staff member, Sheline, has recently joined us to look after Baldaeus accounts.

Faculty Development
Pastor Jothy Hoole, a member of our Governing Board who has been teaching regular modular courses, has just gone to Oxford, UK, for 3 months, to begin a Ph.D. at OCMS (Oxford Centre for Mission Studies). This particular programme allows him to do much of his work at home. His research will focus on the place of justice in the Book of Amos, with particular reference to Sri Lanka.

A Welcome Email!
We managed to stay afloat during the first half of the year but our finances reached rock bottom in June, making us wonder how we could continue. What an incredible relief and joy it was to open the email on June 22nd and hear of a surprise donation of 1050. It was indeed confirmation that God was with us and wanted the work to continue.

Contending for the Truth
As part of its mandate Baldaeus has sometimes spoken publicly on issues of common concern to churches. Some churches within the evangelical-pentecostal have not always received this positively. However instead of directly engaging us, they have resorted to spreading false rumours. This has not only tarnished Baldaeus' standing among the local churches but has also caused difficulties for a number of our students and potential students. We need to counter these rumours wisely and build up our relationships with the local church pastors. Thankfully, a few in the Pastor's fellowship remain supportive of Baldaeus, Pastor Gladstone and Pastor Erol Joseph who was, until recently, the chairman of this fellowship and is a very keen student of Baldaeus. Please pray for good relationships with the local churches, particularly so that students and potential students will be free to study with the blessing of their pastors.

Welcome Visitors
Despite the devastating attack on Katunayake airport in July, which virtually crippled the country's tourist industry, Martin Lloyd and his wife, Barbara, from Wales, still visited us in August. Martin taught a modular course on Hebrews, cramming in 8 hours a day teaching! His enthusiasm for the college was heartening and encouraging. Thank you Martin and Barbara.


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