Rev Dirk Gevers, Secretary General, United Bible Societies with the Bible Society of India
It was a great joy for the Bible Society of India to have Rev Dirk Gevers, Secretary General, the United Bible Societies (UBS) on August 21 and 22, 2023. It was good to have Mr. Andrian White too, the Chief Operating Officer of UBS with Dr. Gevers during these two days. Our UBS guests were honoured with our Indian traditional Kashmere Shawls and with a logo of the Bible Society of India as a memento. The visit encompassed significant events including the BSI Ecumenical Evening hosted on behalf of our UBS Guests on August 21, where Church leaders, institutional heads and well wishers of the BSI from Bangalore were invited to honor our UBS guests. The General Secretary of the Bible Society of India, Rev. Dr. Kavito G Zhimo welcomed all our esteemed and significant guests with great joy. We were extremely happy to have the BSI President Rev Dr. Mrs. Leelavathi Vemuri, Msgr Dr. S. Jayanathan, Vicar General, Archbishop Diocesan of Bangalore, Rev. Priyantha Wijegoonawardene, GS, Ceylon Bible Society, Dr Julian Sundarsingh and members of Global Mission Team, UBS with all our valued invitees to make the Ecumenical Evening a great event.
The evening was graced by remarkable performances that exemplified the rich cultural tapestry of India and the unity that faith fosters. The Bangalore Mizo Association – Students of Kristu Jayanthi College, Bangalore presented a mesmerizing Mizo Cultural Dance called “Cheraw.” This traditional dance, characterized by the rhythmic tapping of bamboo sticks and nimble steps of the dancers, showcased the Mizo heritage and celebrated the harmony between tradition and the modernity. Adding to the cultural mosaic was a Bharatanatyam solo dance performed by the talented Ms. Harshitha R, a science student of St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore This classical dance form, deeply rooted in Indian tradition, conveyed a sense of devotion and spirituality. The performance captivated the audience with its intricate movements and expressive storytelling. The musical segment of the evening was equally enchanting. Ms. Lalthanpuii and Mr. Malsawmdawngliana graced the stage with their melodious voices, rendering two beautiful songs that touched the hearts of all present. The music transcended linguistic and cultural boundaries, resonating with the essence of the event – God’s Word for all tongues and tribes.
The visit of Rev Dirk Gevers and Mr. Andrian White commenced with the Morning Devotion at the Logos, BSI Central Office in Bangalore on August 21 at 9:00 am, during which Rev Dirk Gevers delivered a thought-provoking sermon. His message centered on the theme of God’s sustaining love, protection, blessings and grace based on Psalm 107. On August 22 in the Morning Devotion Mr Andrian White led us into a time of reflection from the book of Nehemiah. He emphasised the importance of working in partnership by trusting the leaders, with a well organised structure as Nehemiah did plan in rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple, a model, which is very well fitting for the UBS, operating from more than 200 countries across the world for the Bible cause.
We seek the blessings of God for Rev Dirk Gevers and for all the Global Mission Team leaders of UBS as they lead the Bible ministry across the continents. We give honour and thanks to our Almighty God, who makes all things possible and wonderful for those who give their heart for the Bible cause.
On August 11, 2023, along with the world wide international youth body, the BSI celebrated the International Youth Day with a theme “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World” by following a common Order of Worship prepared by the Dimapur Auxiliary. A very meaningful prayer time was spent in all 17 Auxiliaries and Central Offices. As BSI is tuning our mission focus on youth, this year’s International Youth Day celebration dwells with the importance of youth as leaders not only for future, but as leaders of our present day’s BSI ministry.
Flag Hoisting on the 77th Independence Day
Our country India, the second largest democracy and the largest population in the world hoisted the national flag, signifying the 77th year of independence from the British rule on August 15, 2023. Rev Dr Along W. Jamir, Director, Translation Department solemnly hoisted the national flag, and gave a powerful Independence Day message by reminding us of how important it is for Christian to hold on to the truth that we confess, and to be the faithful citizens who always strive for the harmony of the people amidst our differences and diverse cultural background and languages. He emphasised the important roles the BSI is playing for the country by taking the task of bringing the Word of God into the heart language of many. Dwelling on the passage in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 Verse 33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Dr Along reminded us of the duty of the Christians to seek God’s Kingdom first in all our doing so that we may follow the Gospel of truth, justice and righteousness in the ministry we are called to be God’s witness. Flag hoisting was done in all the BSI 17 Auxiliaries where prayer was offered for the leaders of our nation and for all the citizens to experience the true meaning of freedom.
Celebration of William Carey Day
On August 17, 2023, for the first time, the Bible Society of India celebrated the 262nd birthday of Rev Dr. William Carey as part of its significant day in the history of BSI by following the common Order of Worship prepared by the Calcutta Auxiliary. William Carey, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Missions,” was born in 1761 in a humble village in England. From his early years, he displayed an insatiable curiosity and a deep sense of purpose. His journey took him from being a shoemaker to becoming a renowned linguist, scholar, and missionary trailblazer.
Carey’s impact on the realm of missions and Bible translation was nothing short of transformative. At a time when the concept of global missions was not widely embraced, Carey championed the idea that the Gospel message should reach every corner of the world. He famously declared, “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great Things for God.” This rallying cry epitomized his ethos of unwavering faith and determination.
One of Carey’s most significant contributions was his pioneering efforts in linguistic studies and Bible translation. Recognizing the power of language in conveying the depth of God’s message, Carey dedicated himself to mastering multiple languages, including Sanskrit and Bengali. Carey translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, and Sanskrit. He also translated parts of it into 29 other languages and dialects. His translation work extended beyond the written word; it was a bridge connecting diverse cultures to the life-changing truths of the Gospel.
In 1793, Carey and his fellow missionaries embarked on an arduous journey to India, a land of unfamiliar languages, customs, and challenges. Yet, despite the trials they faced, Carey’s commitment to sharing the message of love and redemption remained unshaken. Carey’s legacy extended beyond his linguistic and translation endeavors. He laid the foundation for modern missions by establishing schools, advocating for social reforms, and fostering the growth of indigenous leadership within the local communities. His holistic approach to mission work demonstrated his deep understanding of the interconnectedness of spiritual and societal transformation. One of the greatest legacy William Carey left for the Indian community behind is the establishment of Serampore College, Serampore in West Bengal in 15 July 1818, when Serampore was a part of a Danish colony. King Frederick VI of Denmark granted a Royal Charter giving Serampore College the status of a University to confer degrees.
In the year 1811 February 21, due to the heavy work load and increasing demand on Bible translation into many Indian languages, William Carey’s translation mission work was handed over to the British and Foreign Bible Society in Calcutta, entitled “The Calcutta Auxiliary Bible Society” with the same objectives as those in London. Henceforth, the responsibility of Bible translation, printing and distribution is in the hand of the Bible Society of India. The Bible Society of India therefore recorded the February 21, 1811 as the date on which the Bible Society of India is founded.
Acknowledgement: A few pictures taken by Rev Laltlankima, faculty Serampore College, the tomb, the building, the original museum pieces from the William Carey Museum, Serampore.
Observance of Indian Christian Witness Day
August 23 finds its significant space in the calendar of the Indian communities, especially among the Christian community as we remember the onslaught on Christians living in Kandhamal town at Phulbani District in Odisha in the year 2008, resulting in many horrifying deaths, destructions of church buildings, individual houses, shops and loss of huge properties. Thousands of them are left in deep pain, with immense traumatizing memories as innocent girls and women were gang-raped, many were arrested as culprits, some were convicted for life imprisonment.
This year for the first time, the BSI observed this August 23, as Indian Christian Witness Day, remembering those who paid the price for being faithful to their faith in Christ. The BSI staff from all the Central Offices and the 17 Auxiliaries gathered together virtually, spending time together in prayer, reflecting on the power of Christian witness. We had Dr. John Dayal, a well known personality in India, who, in his 54-years professional career had been a Crime reporter, War Correspondent, Editor, Author and occasional documentary film maker, a social and political activist on issues of human rights, freedom of faith, nuclear disarmament and in the movement against capital punishment. A former President of the All India Catholic Union (founded 1919), former Secretary General of the All India Christian Council, and member of the Indian Government’s National Integration Council (NIC). He is an outspoken person in his opposition to nuclear weapons, death penalty, bigotry, targeted hate and violence through print media and television. We were all challenged by the powerful message from Dr. John Dayal to stand firm on our faith and in our fight against injustices wherever we are. Special prayer was offered for the state of Manipur – for the political unrest to settle; for victims of violence, families of those who were murdered, victims of gang rape, displaced families who fled to safety for their lives, who are terribly truamatised, lost everything they had when their homes and properties were burnt to ashes, for Christian community who are tortured and their worshipping places were burnt and vandalised. The message from Dr. John Dayal about Christian love, resilience and perseverance amidst trials and challenging situations has truly conveyed the essence of ‘Christian Witness’ today.