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Baldaeus Theological College

Committed to equipping students for leadership and service under the Lordship of Jesus Christ
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of Faith


June 2002 - 'Everything changes but God changes not'

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Dear Friends,

Over the past six months BTC has seen many changes, both national and local, external and internal, some good and welcome, and some disturbing and perplexing. What a wonderful comfort and assurance it is to know in the midst of changes and uncertainty that God never changes. He is still the same, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. How much they depended on Him and His faithfulness. How truly thankful we are that we can know Him, His faithfulness, His goodness, His mercy, His sovereign control in these days of change. He is working His purposes out.

National Changes
The transfer of power to the UNP government of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe in December and the subsequent ceasefire agreement between the government and the LTTE, which came into effect on February 22nd, has brought about many changes to Trincomalee and the Northeast. The absence of checkpoints means free and easy travel 24 hours a day as opposed to the tortuously slow, check point- restricted journeys which limited travel to work-time hours. Local and foreign tourists are now coming to Trinco in their hundreds filling the local hotels to over- flowing and giving the local economy a welcome boost, but also denuding the local Pigeon Island of precious coral and leaving the roadsides and beaches strewn with garbage. The LTTE have now come on the scene and have opened their Trinco office. They are very much in evidence as part of the local administration alongside the local government, issuing taxes to local businesses and freely entering schools to show their videos. All local schools, offices and shops in the town had to close on March 19th so that everyone could participate in their Pongu Tamil (Tamil Upsurge) celebration, which began with crowds marching round the town and then assembling for their massive rally. The 9th June Sunday papers carry the ominous news that they will open their own LTTE Police Station in Trinco this month! One wonders what the future holds!

Internal Changes:
Academic Team
Changes have also occurred within BTC. In December we said goodbye to Napoleon, who had decided to return to Colombo with his family. Contrary to our hopes (stated in our last newsletter) Sureshkumar has not been able to teach due to the demands of his churchwork, hence the first term of our third year was tough going with our two full-time faculty members, Charles and Newton working flat-out. Sadly, due to our faculty constraints, coupled with a lack of Sinhala student applications, we had to temporarily change the Sinhala programme from full-time to part-time, consisting of periodic modulars. On June 1st we had the joy of welcoming Priya back onto the faculty. Despite his busy schedule with other work and church commitments, he agreed to teach a course using six hours every other Saturday to fit in the necessary hours. Next term he will be teaching two courses.

Administrative Team
After just over 1 1/2 years with us our administrator, Shreeraj, is leaving. Rex, who is also a Board member, has come to head up the administrative team, with the task of streamlining our administrative system. He also hopes to take a few courses to complete his B.Th. which he began in CTS, thus he has the unenviable privilege of being our first Board member, staff member and student! His wife and three children live in Colombo, but hope to soon relocate to Trinco.

Student Body
Having said `Goodbye' to Morias and Mary in December, we said `Hello' to another five students from the same area of Mannar in January, almost all of whom have already taken courses at our Manner extension centre. Julie (mentioned in Sept. 01 newsletter) came with his young family of 6, along with Ravi and Sutharsini (who has taken over the library work from Mary) all of whom come from Gospel Grace Church. Their Pastor, Mano, who is a gifted teacher and has already published about 3 books in Tamil, teaches regularly at the extension center. Amala is from My Saviour's Church and Aruntha from Philadelphia Church. Pradeepkaran, a local boy from Grace Faith Tabernacle, also joined in January. More recently in May, another four joined BTC for the beginning of the second term, including Selvaraj (mentioned many times previously), Navaratnam and his wife, Kalajothy from Vauvuniya and Dayan, yet another Mannar boy! Their arrival brings our number of full-time students to 15, 7 of whom are from Mannar (could it be the future Bible-belt of Sri Lanka?)

Recently a large furniture business situated about 2 minutes walk from the college, decided to close rather than pay the exorbitant tax issued by the LTTE. With a few renovations and partitions installed the `shop' has now replaced our dilapidated, beachside male hostel and the main building accommodates two student families and our two Colombo-based staff members, Newton and Rex, with space left to spare! The whole premises has potential to accommodate more students and families with careful planning. Being so close to the college, this is a real gift from the Lord.

Changes in another body
While our student body has increased our Principal's body has reduced a couple of sizes due to a debilitating bout of typhoid in May. However the strong medicine prescribed by a local doctor proved to be even more debilitating, leaving him unable to walk for another couple of weeks! The joys and trials of life in Trinco!

Highlights of the past six months:
Our Second Anniversary
It was a real joy to see such a large number of local pastors, local officials, past students and friends join with our BTC family to celebrate the second anniversary of the college on Friday, February 1st. Pastor Terrence from Trincomalee Methodist Church shared an encouraging and challenging message in the service of thanksgiving. This was followed by a special programme put on by the students and a fellowship meal. It was truly a happy and encouraging occasion, especially seeing so many with whom we have had contact in different capacities. A valuable opportunity for building and affirming relationships

A door opens in Vavuniya
Following a request from the Vavuniya Pastor's Fellowship, a fellowship of 16 different churches, Charles went to teach BTC's first modular course in Vavuniya from 11-15th March.

Two churches, Gospel Missionary Church and Jesus Saves Church played host to Charles and the eleven students from BTC. It was a good exposure trip for all and a chance to build up relationships with churches and pastors from further afield in the Northeast, including the LTTE held Vanni. Altogether forty students registered for the course which was taught at the Gospel Missionary Church in Thandikulam, Vavuniya just on the border of the Vanni.

Local Outreach
After a gap of 25 years Every Home Crusade came to Trinco during the first week of May to distribute tracts and Bibles to homes throughout the district. The local churches chose BTC as the main facilitator for the event. The local volunteers were joined by others, Tamil and Sinhalese, from all over the island, many of whom were students of South Asia Institute of Theology, in Norton Bridge. BTC played host to these students accommodating them in our student hostel. For BTC it was a great privilege to be involved with the local churches in evangelistic outreach. So far about 300 response cards requesting further contact and information have been received.

Thank you for your continued prayer and support for BTC and your patience during our last months of silence. Please keeping praying for our students, staff and that the Lord would continue to mould BTC, that we would be enabled to serve Him and His Church better in this war torn area of Sri Lanka.

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