Winning in the Eyes of God
by Marilyn Borst
We seem to be in a season of rankings, be it the likelihood of a candidate to secure a presidential nomination, the win/loss records of our favorite football teams, or the box office receipts of various movie blockbusters. We kinda like to know who is on top, don’t we? We feel good when our predilections seem to line up with the winners.
My trip to Pakistan this past November, in the company of three trustees of The Outreach Foundation, has given me a different perspective about such rankings. In a country that slots in at #3 on the Global Terrorism Index and at #6 on the World Watch List for the Persecuted Church, being a Christian in a place like Pakistan helps us to appreciate who is “winning” in the eyes of our God! I would maintain that is the Church there, since, every day, its faithful presence makes it both a target for and a beacon of Good News. We visited one congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan, located in a large city in the Punjab Province, where before Sunday worship – every Sunday – the local authorities send in a bomb squad to sweep the sanctuary and a fire truck and an ambulance hover in the parking lot, just in case. Every Sunday. So, who, in their “right mind” would respond to a call to be a pastor in such a country?!? Well, you might find such people at Gujranwala Theological Seminary (GTS), which was established in 1877 to train leaders for the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan (PCP) and its (now) 300 congregations.
A new president has just taken over at GTS. The Rev. Noshseen Khan is not only the first woman to lead the seminary, but she is also the first woman to be ordained as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan. She has inherited a strategic institution that comes with a hefty challenge: a 20 acre campus whose buildings, basic technology and grounds are not only badly in need of updates and repairs, but government-mandated security precautions (like high walls, cameras and guards) strain a budget that cannot be met by just the meager tuition paid by the 68 students or the small village congregations that largely make up the PCP. Outside partners, like The Outreach Foundation, are crucial to the sustainability of the seminary. They would also welcome volunteer professors who could devote a semester or two to supplement the six full-time and two visiting faculty. The Outreach Foundation will return to Pakistan in November (7-17), and I invite you to send word to lisa@theoutreachfoundation if you would like to know more about that trip.
Marilyn Borst, Associate Director for Partnership Development