Already being seen by many as a nation changing movement, my wife Celia and I were privileged to be part of the second United Christian Prayer for India summit which was held in Hyderabad in June 2015. Amongst the 780 delegates from over 50 church denominations were Archbishop Vincent Concessao from Delhi (representing the mainstream ecumenical denominations) and Pastor D Mohan from Chennai (representing the charismatic and Pentecostal churches). These two gentlemen were together under one roof for only the second time in India’s history!
The conference was facilitated by the laity with Nika Elugardo from the US, Francis Fernandez from Singapore and myself from the UK serving as chief facilitators. We were hosted by churches in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana and were excited to see both state and denominational unity in action. Although the days before the conference were fraught with many challenges (including some of the team being unwell) we remained totally reliant on God and everything ran extremely smoothly.
Renowned Bible teacher LT Jeyachandran grounded our two days under the twin themes of Working in Unity and Releasing the Laity with both Dr Raju Abraham and Alex Abraham bringing keynote addresses. Each of the sessions was punctuated with prayer as leaders from different traditions – be they robed Lutheran or informal Pentecostal – brought the needs, encouragements and challenges of the conference before God.
Throughout our time together there was an incredible sense of the presence of God with one bishop saying that the tent meeting was ‘just like Pentecost’! I have been part of the movement since it began in May 2014, and in that time we have held 100 envisioning meetings and addressed 3800 churches. It is exciting to see how hearts and minds have moved from asking ‘Is it possible?’ to saying ‘It is possible!’. Thus, through a combination of plenary envisioning keynote addresses, mixed denominational table group discussions and state group meetings, leaders agreed to sign their names on flex charts committing, once again, to our vision: We of the Church in India who attended the UCPI Envisioning Meeting, make a commitment to reach the nation in our lifetime through united prayer and action. We own the above vision and commit ourselves to make the vision a reality.
Our time together was brought to a powerful and moving conclusion as everyone joined hands to sing Bind Us Together and the Indian National Anthem. I am certainly looking forward to the 2016 UCPI National Prayer Summit next January which will be hosted by churches in Kerala.
Article by Deepak Mahtani, Trustee South Asian Concern