PEACE AMONG RELIGIONS IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

I do believe something of significance to the conversation on religion in the public square happened in a town in northern India, Sampurna Nagar, on February 4, 2020.

A Christian school, PTL India Christ Academy, hosted a large community gathering for the opening and dedication of a new school building which will provide facilities for up to a thousand primary/secondary students.

Over 1200 people attended the festive celebration marked by speeches, dances and eating together.

Guests included families of students, local dignitaries, and even the principals of several neighboring Hindu schools.

The Christian school administrators ( Sisily Thomas, principal, and PC Alexander,Director of PTL India, the parent organization of Christ Academy) were clear on the Christian Gospel. They did not mute the Gospel’s distinctiveness.

The Hindu, Sikh and Moslem parents were clear and enthusiastic about the high value they placed on the education their children received in this Christian school. They cited the discipline, the values and the commitment of the teachers to the total wellbeing of their children. Many had chosen PTL Christ Academy although it’s physical facilities were significantly inferior to neighboring Hindu schools.

So how do people of such diverse religions live and work together in peace?

It was not always so. Twenty-five years ago there was opposition, even to the point of violence, from the community, including the press, and the police, directed against those opening the Sapurna Nagar PTL Christ Academy.

But through prayer focused against the spiritual powers underlying the opposition and through a consistent loving Christian witness, all sides came to trust one another. The Hindus, Sikhs and Moslems came to see that the Christians had a gift in their love and faith which enriched the lives of non-Christians. And they came to see that their sacred things were respected by the Christians. One of the main opposition leaders, in time, sent his own children to the Christian school.

The Christians, for their part came to see that they best honored those of other faiths when they were clear about the uniqueness of Christ’s call rather than trying to minimize the distinctiveness of the call so they would be accepted. They also came to see that peace comes at the cost of laying down one’s life in sacrificial service to the community and in persevering through prayers of faith.

As I helped dedicate the cornerstone of this school, I praised God for what He has done here and I prayed that He would multiply centers of peace on earth among all people on whom His favor rests.

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