All Saints Day Reflections

A letter from Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin, serving as Regional Liaisons for South Asia, based in Sri Lanka

November 2017

Write to Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin

Individuals: Give to E200365 for Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507568 for Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin’s  sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).


The Rector of Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) invites you to the
Commissioning of Griswold Hall by the Honourable Governor of Balochistan,
Mohammad Khan Achakzai, Monday 30th October, 2017 at 11:00 am, Rector’s Residence, House #1

As a trustee of Forman Christian College, I (Gary) was quite pleased to receive this invitation from Lahore, Pakistan.

This is not the first time that Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai has participated in Forman celebrations. As an alumnus of Forman College, he has brought his security detail with him to campus several times, and I heard this Harvard-trained economist speak of his admiration for Forman not long ago. Governor Khan Achakzai continues a proud history of Forman College serving as a welcome haven for genuine academic dialogue and respectful interfaith networking in a nation that has faced significant challenges in promoting such dialogue in recent decades. The corrosive and at times explosive tensions between different faith communities and between different Muslim traditions throughout Pakistan has not kept this 152-year-old Presbyterian college from boldly fulfilling its motto, “BY LOVE, SERVE ONE ANOTHER.”

Governor Mohammad Khan Achakzai

For instance, Forman’s Centre for Public Policy and Governance brought scholars and government officials from all over the country together just a few weeks before the Governor’s visit to campus. Founder Charles W. Forman developed a stellar reputation as a Christian missionary who exemplified the humility and charity of Christ through building a loyal cadre of teachers from a variety of faith communities that helped forge the outstanding liberal arts college that Forman is today. What a joy and satisfaction it is to work with such a brave and hardworking international partner in the Gospel.


Next month, I will return to Lahore to help the Presbyterian Education Board of Pakistan (PEB) commemorate 20 years of service. The Presbyterian Education Board has recently completed a beautiful new office building on the premises of the historic Presbyterian headquarters in downtown Lahore. It will be a grand occasion to celebrate the fruitful partnership of U.S. congregations, Presbyterian World Mission and Pakistani Christian educators. The PEB faithfully constructed over a dozen school classroom buildings and hostels before moving out of the cramped and decrepit office space that Presbyterian World Mission has allowed them to use for those 20 years.

PEB Educators

I recently returned from a presbytery meeting in the ancient Sri Lankan capital of Kandy. The congregation in Kandy is an encouraging example of international cooperation similar to Forman College and the Presbyterian Education Board. The centrally located St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church property was purchased several generations ago by Scottish tea planters desiring to worship the LORD of All the Nations. The current congregation there holds a bilingual worship service using the local Sinhalese language as well as English. The family of an African professor from the nearby seminary often attends there, and a new Korean missionary family has learned to speak the Sinhala language and is investing well in the children of the congregation. I thoroughly enjoyed this international cooperation on Reformation Sunday as the youth presented a drama on loving your neighbor, Sunday School classes danced to a Gospel song and the gifted pastor preached a bilingual sermon, “The Church Reformed and Always Reforming.” I can confidently testify that God’s Spirit is refining and re-forming the South Asian Church through such encouraging international cooperation.

Prayer time in Kandy

Later that day, I was having lunch with a young Korean missionary just before my train trip back to Colombo. I was in a hurry and had to leave half my lunch there and grab a cab to the train station. As I was paying for my lunch, my Korean colleague left the table to stand with me in line. I thanked him for that kind gesture and encouraged him to return to the table to finish his lunch. His polite reply was delightful: “Korean custom. Old man stand. Everybody stand!”

Selfie of Gary Van Brocklin and Yeung

We are truly grateful for all of you standing with these OLD mission co-workers who continue to be refreshed and renewed as they behold the wonderful works of God through our international partners. As we close out the year, we appreciate the generosity of many of you and invite you to consider a year-end gift. As the Psalmist declares, “Sing to God a brand-new song. He’s made a world of wonders! He rolled up his sleeves, He set things right. God made history with salvation, He showed the world what he could do. . . The whole earth comes to attention. Look—God’s work of salvation!“ (The Message) We clearly sense that your love, kind words, faithful contributions and thoughtful prayers are bearing fruit in our hearts and in the life of the Church of Jesus Christ throughout South Asia. God’s work of salvation is a lovely thing to behold.

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