The ACR talks to Gladwin Joseph, overseas alumnus of Moore College, about his training and his current ministry in India.
ACR: Tell us about the state of the church in your country?
GJ: The state of the church in India, as said by someone, is “a mile wide, but only an inch deep”. Most churches are either very traditional or highly charismatic. The centrality of the gospel, Bible exposition, culturally aware evangelism and solid discipleship is rare. However, there are a few churches among the population of 1.3 billion that practice these things. These churches are mainly found in the urban cities where 30-35% of the people in India reside. Rural India is still a bountiful harvest field that requires many more laborers.
North India, particularly, is extremely gospel-poor and it is very hard to find good churches there. Good churches also struggle to continue their work because of limited resources. Theologically trained pastors, financial support and established ministries are lacking. Overall, there are churches and great scope, but there is a void of solid leadership.
ACR: How did you hear about Moore College, and what made you decide to come to Moore?
GJ: I heard about Moore College when a generous patron and visionary ministry leader decided to sponsor a local Indian to be trained at Moore in Sydney for future gospel work in India. I was just looking to be trained theologically somewhere where they would teach the Bible well. God provided Moore and it has been a fantastic experience. To be trained by some of the best in the field of theology and ministry is more than I could have asked for!
ACR: What are some of the challenges in moving so far to study here – is it worth it?
GJ: I think each story is different and so the challenges would vary. International students generally have to pay high fees, but I was fully sponsored and so the money was not a problem.
For me, coming from an education system that thrives on rote learning and then being encouraged to use free and critical thinking was a big challenge. I would say it took me the first two years to re-learn how to read, think and write.
Secondly, I had to learn cultural expectations and differences by making mistakes. I know many would argue that Aussies don’t have any culture 😉 but we all do.
Apart from these two challenges, learning theology has its own challenges. To maintain quality love and devotion to the Word even in the midst of using it for writing assignments is not easy. To keep serving the church, God’s people, rather than being lost in books is not easy. And last, prioritising mission to see God’s kingdom come, rather than being comfortable, is not easy.
Overall, it was an enriching experience. I was part of a wonderful church, St George North Anglican, where I made many good friends and also met my wife!
ACR: What have you learned during your time at Moore?
GJ: I learned a great deal. Primarily, I learned how to read, understand, and teach the Scriptures. I know this might seem basic or clichéd, but getting the basics and foundations right can be the hardest and most important thing. Subjects like biblical theology, Reformation church history and the languages were some of my favourites.
The College experience of living in the single mens’ residence, as well as chapel and missions, were helpful for being trained for future church ministry.
If I have to put it in a few words what I have learnt, it would be the magnitude of the gospel.
ACR: How is the training you had here impacting your ministry in India?
GJ: College and student ministry experience at church have helped me to be a faithful Bible teacher, which is quite rare in India. The centrality of the Word in ministry is something I brought home to India. As a result, my ministry is more planned and intentional, in order to see the growth in maturity of each person. It has also given me the theological tools to innovate ministry ideas that are both biblical and culturally helpful.
ACR: What would you say to those who might be tempted to take for granted what you’ve found here?
GJ: There are many in India and other parts of the world who find themselves serving in ministry because of their love for God and people, but who are struggling because they haven’t been trained. They would love to be at your place, but they can’t! So, don’t waste but rather maximize God’s kind providence for his glory and the worldwide church.
ACR: Thank you Gladwin for sharing with us!