Thursday, July 8, 2010

9th July – Mission Thanksgiving Day

In our times, when theological articulations and missiological enterprises are more explored in new vistas, in creative panoramas and in modern and post modern methodologies, it is not an over statement to express that our memory towards the contributions of significant people in the history has been slowly fading away. Our generations today subscribe to the saying ‘live the today, forget the past and forego the future.’ Personalities who have toiled for the mission of God in the past are either neglected or even forgotten from our memories.

9th July has been a significant day in the pages of the Indian mission history. Some Churches in India earmarked this day to ordain their pastors and some Churches celebrate as ‘Mission Thanksgiving Day’ on the 9th July. But I am afraid, whether the same is celebrated today in all enthuse and commitment as it was thought of. In our seminarian days, I remember on this day, we were sent to different denominational Churches to speak about the ‘mission day’, explaining the significance of the day. You may ask, what is so special of 9th July? I believe the whole Protestant Christians in India cannot forget this day, for it was on this day the first Protestant missionary to India, Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg arrived at Tarangambadi, now know as Tranquebar in South India in 1706. It was the day of the arrival of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to India through the Protestant missionaries and ever since then, the seed of Christianity, which like mustard seed grew into a huge tree, giving shade and solace to several people across the country. Thanks to all the contributions of Ziegenbalg, for his untiring and sacrificial missional engagements he had made, despite several hardships and hurdles. Ziegenbalg celebrated his 24th birthday on the very next day of his arrival in India, and I imagine probably he had to thank God for his life in a foreign land with out any friends as a stranger. However, in a span of 13 years he had had made an indelible impact in the lives of the people in India and breathed his last in 1719, at the age of 34 years. The young, the bold and the vibrant Ziegenbalg will continue to live in our midst with all his dynamic contributions. We need to thank God for the life and witness of Ziegenbalg and we all need to rededicate ourselves to participate in the widening and deepening of the reign of God here on our earth and in our times.

My only prayer is that our Christian nurtures need to include the mission contributions of Ziegenbalg in our curricula, for our children can get inspired and challenged by his efforts for the mission of God. Ziegenbalg continues to be a young icon in the world of mission, and let us all join in thanksgiving to carry forward the rich legacy of his service to the next generations. Jai ho Ziegenbalg!

For Ziegenbalg’s contributions you can visit my earlier blog found at http://thepattas.blogspot.com/2009/07/celebrating-bartholomuas-ziegenbalg.html

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