Happenings, News

Rev Rajaspuran Mannar: Learning what God is doing

The Rev Raj with his wife Adarsh and Anjali, six months.

AT A time when some Western communities either actively oppose or barely tolerate Christian missionaries, the Rev Rajaspuran Mannar, 50, is in an unenviable position: he is in the midst of what he terms as the “post-Christian, post-modern culture” of North America.

Stationed in Vancouver with his wife Adarsh and three young children — Dhiraj, nine, Varshal, six, and Anjali, six months — he finds it a challenge to preach the Lord’s Word to a community where only a percentage of the people go to church.

“Many of these people had a Christian heritage but have turned to Eastern mysticism and religion. How do you preach among non-Christians who live in a post-Christian community of white people?” Captain Raj, as he is commonly called from his days in the Air Force, said of his biggest challenge.

He has deliberately postponed work amongst the Indian community in Canada, especially the Sikhs, not only because of his full-time studies at Regent College in Vancouver for the past two years but also because he wants to get a personal understanding of the problems and struggles of the people he is to speak to.

“The Gospel demands that I look more closely at people, that I take them one at a time and look. There should be no stereotyping,” he said.

It has been hard not to stereotype. Living in a country where there are acceptable forms of alternate lifestyles has been a test.
“My son’s friend’s mother is gay. I was immediately concerned, especially since he visits their house often. But I’ve since got to know her better and learned of her problems.”

The Rev Raj believes it is important to find the relevance of the Gospel in every generation and culture. There is a tendency, he reveals, to think that he knows the Gospel. But the truth is, “it becomes anew in every generation and we must learn to articulate it afresh”.

Even as he spoke about his vision of planting a church in the midst of the Indian neighbourhood in Vancouver, it is clear to see that he has spent much time reflecting on his role as a missionary.

“The greatest missionary/preacher is God Himself, the Trinitarian God. I have to learn to sufficiently get out of His way to let Him do His job. I am learning to observe carefully what is going around and what God is doing and move along with Him.”

For this missionary who does not predict retirement from his work, the ability to see and hear God accurately in every trying situation will be a lifelong mission.