Rev Ajay Singh: Sabbatical Report

During this connexional year 2022- 2023, I have been granted sabbatical. I am so blessed and thankful for the support has been given to me by the District Sabbatical Advisory Group, Circuit Sabbatical support group, colleagues, and the leaders in my section of churches, and obviously the connexional grant is a great support as a gift to the ministers in the Methodist Church.

It's a very special time during my sabbatical, I spent sometime with my connection with God in connecting with all those places where I have started my journey with God in this ministry. It’s a great and overwhelming emotion visiting all those places where I have been assigned to the pastoral ministry, and analysing how God has been faithful throughout, caring and protecting me in those 32 years of his ministry. It allowed me to travel various places where I have served earlier. Noticing the growth and the developments. How those churches faced the challenges and issues in their difficult times. Especially, at my home Church in India where the current government is not supporting Christianity in the secular world. Churches are facing persecution, vandalism, and atrocities. We can only pray that God may do the justice.

One of my previous dioceses I visited where the system is failed, and the Pastors have not been given stipends for over the five years. Still the enthusiasm of those pastors are very high and committed with full dedication serving the Lord in reverence. Churches are kind enough in taking the responsibilities to support their pastors financially. It’s a learning “how God works with you when you are in deep crisis?”

I can’t forget those warm and open-hearted welcomes by those churches who not only welcomed me but provided the hospitality and accommodation while I was there with them. I learnt a lot from their stories of success and struggle which inspired me and gave courage of assurance that God is always there with you when he has chosen you and given a call to continue to be in his ministry.

I have been privileged to visit my parents and siblings in India whom I haven’t met for last couple of years due to pandemic and travel restrictions. Also, celebrated Christmas with my wider family. It might sound that my sabbatical was affected due to my mother’s illness. But, I count it as a great blessing to me that I had a chance to be with my mother in India whilst she was ill and taking her last breath. May God bless her soul.

The initial part of my sabbatical was interrupted due to my mother’s illness and I had to rearrange my travel plan which was scheduled to going to Switzerland for a retreat in L’Abri Fellowship. But I managed to postpone it which I have used it in the month of June 2023. Retreat at L’Abri was so useful as it allowed me to stay there on the basic and very limited resources in the beautiful scenic surrounded by green mountains and on the top of it crown of glaciers. Life there at the centre is very much surrounded by the community where they live and work together in harmony. It was quite open for anyone to visit and explore their understanding and connection with their faith and relationship with God. Mostly people between the age of 18 and 45 were there who came from various places of the world. It’s great time with them in learning and sharing and listening to each other’s stories of their journey so far.

Using the quote of Rev John Wesley, “The world is my parish”. Identified by a quote in Sanskrit in India is, “Vasudhaiv kutumbkam” (World is my family). WE are God’s people and God has created us as one global family to love and look after each other in the times of joy and sorrow, health, and weakness, richness or poor.

‘May we be blessed and be the blessing to others’.

First published on: 23rd November 2023
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