Christian Discipleship Retreats:September-November 2002
National Faculty Participate in Three Territories
As a continuation of the Brengle Institutes conducted in all six Indian territories in 2001, Christian Discipleship Retreats were held in India Northern, India Central and India South Eastern Territories September to November 2002.
Selected national resource people were given practical experience in leading such retreats as they supported Lt Colonel Olive Lucas (R), a visitor from Australia. The national faculty included Captain Caroline Amalaselvi from India South Eastern, Major D Jayapaul from India Central, Majors Suresh Pawar and Phulen Macwan
from India Western, Lt Colonel Kamala Prasad from India Northern, Lt Colonel P T Abraham from India South Western Territory.
A total of 74 delegates, officers and soldiers, women and men attended the retreats, sharing in the common purpose:
“ …… (to) develop a deeper awareness of the presence of God in their lives and learn more about the spiritual disciplines which lead to spiritual formation and Christian maturity”
Major Bible and Spiritual Formation teaching was done in English and translated (written and oral) into the local language.
Following devotions led by delegates, there were two 1 ½ hour sessions: Bible Study on Chapters 1 and 2 Ephesians, and Spiritual Formation from Called to be God’s People: Call to the Inner Life, Call to Holiness, Call to God’s Word.
Afternoons were given over to interactive exercises of small group discussion, Bible study methods, silent reflections, Indian church history and biblical dramas, singing, prayer walks, praying through art, clay modelling, dance and silence. Each day ended with a period of prayer and worship
Delegates were encouraged to write an action plan as an outcome of their attendance at the retreat. A de-briefing session was held at the three THQs.
The India Northern Territory retreat was ideally located in Dalhousie, a hill station in the Himalayan foothills. The venue had spacious gardens with awesome views of the mountains. This environment was perfect for individual meditations and small group discussions. In the Sadhu Sunder Singh Memorial Chapel hours were spent in reflection and guided meditation with music. The mix of senior and junior officers, established local officers and younger soldiers worked very well in breaking down perceived barriers. A Divisional Commander who attended plans to have similar retreats in his division.
The India Central Territory venue was a Roman Catholic pastoral training centre, which was spacious in every way, and very well equipped. Because this group was large it was wonderful to have a number of locations for small group discussions, prayer exercises and drama preparation. The compound contained a beautiful garden, which was ideal for meditations and prayer walks. All the soldiers who attended were local officers and related well to the corps, institution and headquarters officer delegates.
India South Eastern Territory’s modest Human Resources Development Centre at Muttom is located on the Arabian Sea coast. The beach and rocks provided delegates with a wonderful environment for individual reflections, meditation and evening devotions. Because of inconsistent electricity supply, much of the small group work was conducted outside the small conference hall. The views of the sea and the vegetation of the compound enhanced the activities. Once again the mix of officer and soldier delegates was very helpful and was particularly noticeable during small group Bible study exercises and in pairs, sharing testimonies of their spiritual journeys.
It was evident that all the delegates felt the challenge of deepening their spiritual life. The careful Bible exposition, discussions, teaching and practical exercises in relation to the calls to spiritual disciplines received a positive and eager response. The spiritual tone of each retreat was rich and life changing. The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident and the resolves of the individual delegates now need to be followed up with pastoral care and spiritual enquiry.
“ …………..so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1: 17b) was the theme followed, and was the prayer of each delegate and team member.
Lt Colonel (R)