A letter from Tom and Judy Harvey in England
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are… (1 Corinthians 1:27, 28).
Dear Friends and Partners in Mission,
Over the years I have grown convinced that God has a great sense of humor. That mirth is caught up in the wonderful and creative inversion that we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus was born into a poor family from Nazareth and that changed the world. Through him, the weak overcome the strong, the poor the rich and the despised the prestigious. And that transforming mirth is displayed through the lives of the students and alumni of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS), where we have been called to serve. Here the weak, despised and poor overturn our fallen world through innovative and effective research.
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise… A guest lecturer at OCMS presents a diagram of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with physical needs at the base rising to spiritual needs at its apex; i.e., that spiritual needs are luxuries of the secure and well fed. Deborah Adjulah of Uganda cautiously raises her hand and suggests the diagram is upside down. “Have your children suffered from hunger?” she queries. “Have you hid in the jungle from a soldier three feet away with an AK-47, his finger on the trigger ready to kill you? If you had,” she explains, “you would know what the hungry and fearful know: that prayer begins when sustenance and security are absent.” Deborah’s doctorate and work in Africa address spiritual, physical and economic development in Uganda.
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong… With nine daughters and no sons a desperate Nepali expectant mother consults the village astrologer. Will she bear a son? “It will be a son,” the astrologer says, “but one deaf and dumb.” So she procures an herbal remedy to force abortion, and yet her labour produces a son who hears and cries. Her joy she names Bal Krishna Sharma, dedicating him to Krishna. So named, Bal grows up in search of the divine. Upon reading two tracts on Christianity he begins to talk to Christians and reads the Bible. Convinced he openly professes faith in this Christ. At 16 and branded as an “untouchable,” he flees Nepal and makes his way to India. There he enters a Christian school. Bal attains a Bachelor of Theology degree, then his Divinity degree, and finally a Master of Arts in Literature and returns to Kathmandu to teach and pursue a Ph.D. from OCMS. For the degree his examiner is David Gellner, All Souls Fellow and Head of Anthropology at the University of Oxford. “Congratulations are in order,” Gellner notes, “for your thesis is one of the best I’ve read on Nepali spirituality and its relationship to Christian ritual.” Bal returns to Kathmandu and receives from Nepal’s first elected president the “National Educational Achievement Medal” of 2011. Now principal of Nepal Theological College, Bal mentors and teaches pastors and teachers of the burgeoning churches and seminaries of Nepal.
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are… Corneliu Constantineanu works toward reconciliation in Romania. Reconciliation is not instantaneous, but a process of resisting, discerning, unmasking and deconstructing totalitarianism and absolutism. As lecturer on Theology and Social Reconciliation at the University of Timisoara (Romania), Corneliu teaches a whole new generation of Romanian leaders to help them overcome deep habits of totalitarianism and absolutism that are difficult to break. As president of the Pentecostal Institute of Theology in Bucharest he raises a new generation to appreciate the same, both for the church and society. As OCMS alumnus and Council of OCMS Trustees board member, he reminds us of the power of Christ to overcome powers and principalities that would enslave us.
In October Judy and I visited friends and churches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. It was a time of great encouragement as we shared with churches and thanked them for their support of our work and ministry at OCMS. Indeed, without your prayers, notes of encouragement and financial gifts we would not be able to serve abroad. We are deeply thankful for the grace and generosity you’ve shown to us. For those of you who may be reading about our work with OCMS for the first time, may I invite you to come alongside us and support this important ministry through your prayers, encouragement and financial gifts. We know these are challenging times economically and financially both for individuals and churches. So do know that we are in prayer for you even as you keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Tom, Judy, Joe, Paul and Emma
Address: 25 Hayfield Road
Oxford OX2 6TX England
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 278
Read more about Tom and Judy Harvey's ministry
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