Blindness for Change: A Journey to Clearer Vision
Acts of the Apostles 9: 1-19
Acts chapter nine unfolds a poignant narrative within the tapestry of the Bible, distinguished by its unique portrayal of divine intervention. While the sacred text is replete with instances of God’s healing touch and restoration of sight, the account of Saul’s transformation is marked by an intentional divine act – God chose to blind him, not as punishment, but as a means of shaping Saul into a mature servant. Some interpretations posit that Paul’s blindness resulted from encountering an exceptionally powerful light, a transformative experience not shared by figures like Moses and other prophets who witnessed divine radiance without being blinded. This deliberate and intentional divine plan unfolded to work intricately in Paul’s life, offering profound lessons that resonate through the ages.
Firstly, Paul’s Transformative Encounter: Saul, later known as Paul, was a highly educated individual, deeply familiar with scripture. He had studied under renowned philosophers and scholars of his time, firmly believing in the coming of a Messiah to redeem the people. When confronted with the claim that the Messiah had already come in the person of Jesus, Paul couldn’t accept it, as it seemed to shatter the very hope he had in the awaited Messiah. His encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus occurred within the context of a zealous mission to protect what he perceived as the truth about the Messiah. However, Jesus, in His divine wisdom, confronted Paul’s misguided zeal. The encounter was not a rebuke to halt Paul’s zealous journey to destroy the early Christian community. Jesus confronted Paul to make him aware that in pursuing what he thought pleased God, he was inadvertently hurting the very cause he sought to defend. It was a pivotal moment in Paul’s life, redirecting his passion toward a truer understanding of God’s will.
Secondly, a challenge to see Beyond Sight: The narrative challenges a common misconception – that blindness is synonymous with weakness. Drawing parallels with individuals who are visually challenged, their judgments are deeply rooted in conviction, not just factual knowledge. They express their emotions authentically, without fear, embodying complete trust in their guides. This stands in contrast to many of us who grapple with trusting and willingly following God. Paul, however, demonstrated a remarkable willingness to trust and obey the Lord’s guidance. His life underwent a profound transformation as he realized that those he once deemed enemies were, in fact, his brothers and sisters.
Lastly, Inclusive Unity and Harmony: The passage underscores the importance of valuing and treating those with visual challenges as equals. Ananias addressing Saul as “Brother Saul” sets a powerful example. It emphasizes the need to recognize and treat them as brothers and sisters, helping them understand God’s plan in their lives. This act of acknowledgment and inclusion becomes a significant aspect of fostering understanding and facilitating transformation.
I’d like to conclude with a quote from Helen Keller, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”. May our ability to see lead to a vision that fosters a deeper understanding of God and the people around us, particularly those who are visually challenged, approached with gentleness and kindness.
The initiative by the Bible Society of India to release Braille Bibles in various languages aligns seamlessly with the vision embedded in this biblical narrative. By providing access to the Word, it aims to be a catalyst for transformation. With this vision in mind, the Bible Society of India has introduced Braille Bibles in 15 languages. Additionally, on November 14th, Braille Bibles in seven new languages, such as: – Ao, Sumi, Angami, Saurashtra, Rabha, Mara and Biate were unveiled. The release took place in-house, marked by a thanksgiving ceremony led by Rev. Dr. Kavito G Zhimo, the General Secretary of the Bible Society of India at the central office. The event was virtually attended by all auxiliaries. These Braille Bibles will be dispatched to their respective churches and language groups, intending to be unveiled in the presence of local church leaders and communities.
As these Braille Bibles are released, one cannot help but hope and pray that they become beacons of light for individuals with visual challenges. May these sacred texts enable them to perceive the truth and light within the Word, sparking transformations akin to the journey experienced by Saul, now Paul.
Mr. Caleb Martin Hilton
A/D – Media and Special Audience Department, BSI
A two-day conference of Branch & amp; Region Officials of BSI Kerala Auxiliary was held on November 10 and 11th 2023 at Mar Thoma Santhigiri Ashram, Aluva (Ernakulam District). The Auxiliary President, Most Rev. Dr. Yuhanon Mar Chrysostomos Metropolitan presided over the meeting. The Metropolitan exhorted that God speaks to man through the Word of God that sinks into our hearts and also by various incidents. The Auxiliary President called upon the delegates to devote themselves to the Word of God which is moving and transforming. The Most Rev. Dr. Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan (Auxiliary Committee Member) inaugurated the Conference. In the Inaugural sermon, the Metropolitan said that the unchanging Word will keep us from doing evil; He admonished the participants to live a Word-based life by showing love, patience and unity among the community.
Dr. Hrangthan Chhungi (Asso. Director, CPRRM, Bangalore) made the theme presentation based on “God’s Word will never Change, but It will Change Life” and led a session on the succeeding day. She also interacted with the Auxiliary Committee members and Regional Coordinators during the special session. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Oommen George (Auxiliary Vice President), Rev. Dr. T. I. James (General Secretary, AISSA) conducted sessions based on the theme. Rev. Thomas K. Mathew (Director, Santhigiri Ashram), Rev. Jacob Antony Koodathinkal (Auxiliary Secretary), Dr. Santhosh John (Auxiliary Committee Member), Mr. Jacob John (Auxiliary Treasurer) shared during the meeting. The concluding session and dedication was led by Rev. Dr. T. I. James. The Thiruvankulam Branch Choir (Mary Jones Fellowship wing) and Aluva Karunalayam Special School Choir led the singing. Around 200 delegates including clergy, pastors and lay leaders from various Churches & Branches of the Auxiliary participated in the conference.
CHURCH RELATIONS MATTERS – KERALA AUXILIARY:
Dr. Hrangthan Chhungi (Associate Director, CPRRM, Bangalore), the BSI Church Public Relations and Resource Mobilisation Associate Director visited Churches, Seminaries and members of the Auxiliary Committee after the Branch Officials Retreat. Dr. Chhungi along with the Auxiliary Secretary visited India Bible College and Seminary, Kumbanad and spoke from the Word and introduced BSI ministry during the Chapel Service on Sunday. She shared God’s Word and the Bible Society ministries during the Worship at IPC Hebron Church, Kumbanad and IPC Peniel, Kozhencherry on Sunday, 12th November.
Dr. Chhungi spoke from the Word in the morning staff devotion on Monday 13th November. She shared, that as Kerala is blessed with hearing the Gospel in the first century AD itself, the Kerala Christians are more accountable and privileged to reach the World with the Word of God. As part of Church Relations activities, Dr. Chhungi visited Mar Thoma Theological Seminary and Orthodox Theological Seminary at Kottayam. She was able to spend some time with Rev. Dr. V. S. Varughese and Fr. Dr. Reji Mathew, Principals of respective Theological Colleges and also Mrs. Starla Luke, the Auxiliary Committee Member. Being her first visit to the Auxiliary, it was a great and meaningful time to interact with the leaders and members of the Churches/Branches, Auxiliary Committee members and Auxiliary staff.
On November 12, 2023 the Bombay Auxiliary held Bible Sunday at Emmanuel Assembly Church, Pune. Rev. Clement Christian the Auxiliary Secretary shared the Word of God and the ministry of the BSI. He encouraged youth to actively participated in the BSI ministry. Bible exhibition cum sale was arranged with good response from the congregation members. God’s faithfulness endures forever.
SILVER CREATOR AWARD FOR BESY CHOIR – AIZAWL AUXILIARY
The BESY Choir of the Aizawl Auxiliary has recently been awarded a Silver Creator Award (Silver Play Button) by YouTube for achieving more than 100k subscribers. A brief celebration programme was organized by the Youth Committee on November 16, 2023.
The BESY Choir is formed and administered by the Aizawl Auxiliary of the Bible Society of India. The acronym ‘BESY’ is formed from the first and last letters of BIBLE and SOCIETY. Formed in 1978 as the BESY Melodies and later as the BESY choir in the year 1981, the choir has inspired many people’s souls and has been instrumental in raising funds for the Bible cause. We praise God for empowering us to be a blessing for others through the humble ministry of the BESY Choir for many years.
Since the channel has been facing some unresolved issues, a new YouTube Channel ‘BESY Choir Official’ was created. Any new content since then were and will be uploaded on the new channel. The old channel will still be continued with the name ‘BESY Choir’ without the tag – “Official.’
DEDICATION OF THE BSI WAREHOUSE EXTENSION
We praise and thank God for giving us another opportunity to dedicate the newly constructed Warehouse Office Space on the Mezzanine floor for the Central Office. This office space was dedicated on the 20th of November 2023 by Rev. Dr. Kavito G Zhimo, General Secretary of the Bible Society of India. GS shared from John 9: 4 ‘ As long as it is day, I must work for the one who has sent me …’ , encouraging all who were present from this verse.
The function was attended by the Directors and HODs of different departments of the Central Office. The Warehouse office space was made in line with the vision of our General Secretary, to make the workplace enjoyable and excellent. The dedication programme was organized and led by Mr. Pradeep Kumar Suna, Assistant Director (Product Logistics).