Dr. Ivan Satyavrata Discusses Christianity in the Majority World
According to Dr. Ivan Satyavrata, senior pastor of the largest church in Kolkata, India, possessing a goal to reach the unreached is a good intention, “but it’s not enough. Mission must be done the Jesus way.”
Satyavrata, who is also executive director of Assembly of God Church’s social justice and outreach ministries, challenged Gordon community’s conception of global Christianity during two Chapel sessions last week. A visiting scholar with Gordon’s Center for Faith and Inquiry (CFI), Satyavrata also presented at the Princemere Forum in Boston, where he spoke on “The Christian Experience in the Majority World.” The topic prepared minds for the theme of this year’s Symposium on April 25, “Christianity in the Majority World.”
April 8 Chapel: “Doing Mission the Jesus Way” (John 17:21–23)
“We are living in days when the Christian mission is under attack from every corner,” Satyavrata told those gathered in the Chapel on Monday. “An increased number of people within the Church are suggesting that we should downplay the Jesus factor to have more harmonious relationships with people of other faiths.”
However, Satyavrata believes that now more than ever, Christians are called to remain committed to accomplishing the Christian mission of spreading the Word. “The Jesus way” of pursuing mission is through intimacy with God, servanthood and friendship, he explained.
“Mission as commercialization or corporatization is not the Jesus way,” he said. “Mission is giving, sharing and laying down one’s life in costly service of the other.” Satyavrata explained the significance of these three ideas by giving examples of selfless missionaries across the world, including a man in Mumbai who felt called to bury girls who died of AIDS to give them “dignity in death.”
Satyavrata also described his work in India, where he and his wife run a school, orphanage, Bible college and a strong social outreach program. Although he and the missionary from Mumbai were drawn to their mission fields by needs, he explained that need cannot serve as a lasting motivation for mission. “You need something more that can only come from a close walk with God,” he said.
“When you are overwhelmed by the size of the need in the world, you need to remember that mission is God’s idea,” he said. “The best of us are only God’s instruments in his relentless pursuit of reclaiming a lost world back to himself.”
April 10 Chapel: “The Unchanging Gospel” (I Corinthians 9:16, 19–23)
Satyavrata posed a challenging question to the College during Wednesday’s Chapel: In a world that regards most religions as true, “Is it possible for us to stay true to the unchanging gospel in the midst of a changing world?”
As the world becomes more pluralistic, he said, Christians are called to pursue conviction in Christ, connection with nonbelievers and credibility as they spread the Word.
“Conviction concerning this unchanging gospel can never be compromised,” he said. “To compliment conviction, Christians must build connection by creating bridges rather than walls with friends and neighbors of other faiths.”
Throughout his messages, Satyavrata challenged the College to pursue an authentic relationship with God: “Gandhi once said, ‘I would suggest first that all of you Christians must begin to live more like Jesus.’ What Gandhi said is true—not just for India, but for everywhere,” Satyavrata said, “right here in the place where you live.”