In June 2018, the Asia Gateway Residential Training program, held at the Seminari Theologi Malaysia, brought together a colourful combination of cultures and personalities from seven nations across Asia.
Jamshed Gill arrived from Pakistan with high hopes to discover more about cross-cultural missions and in the course of his stay at Asia Gateway, he learned beyond that…
Jamshed is a pensive theologian; always looking deeper at the things before and around him, so that he can, in turn, do more. Reflecting on his childhood days, Jamshed remembers being “impressed by the services of the Church Mission Society (CMS) in Pakistan.”
He recalls hundreds of students from other villages, who studied at the high school in his own village – men and women who went on to become great witnesses of Christianity in the whole area.
When he heard about AGT from a CMS affiliate, he jumped at the opportunity to see CMS at work more closely. The fact that it focused on cross-cultural teachings only stirred his interest even more.
During his one-month stay at Asia Gateway, Jamshed learnt about the importance of inter-denominational and inter-faith differences within the cross-cultural context. Above all, one pertinent fact resonated with him; “I realized that I am not the only true believer,” Jamshed said. He discovered a broader worldview of thinking and reasoning, which appealed to his intellectual nature.
“We should humble ourselves and learn Christian values beyond our cultural context; Christ came for the whole world. If we want to be one in Christ, we should deal with others as our brothers and sisters, not missionary competitors,” he added.
Jamshed is also using his knowledge from AGT to help him work on his thesis for a Doctor of Ministry degree. Before this, his only exposure in ministry work was in Pakistan, Nepal and Malaysia but now he believes he has a broader understanding of other countries as well.”
“I believe this will help me to become more tolerant and hospitable to people from other denominations and beliefs, which will allow me to connect with more people and build a stronger network,” he said.
Jamshed admits that he also noticed his limitations while at Asia Gateway. “I have discovered that I need to be more patient, and give time and space to others. One strong realisation for me was that people are not alike; we should accept them despite their differences,” he added.
“As a writer, theologian and philanthropist, I have always tried to encourage people to come out of their fears. For the depressed Pakistani Christian community, I believe in the words of Shakespeare: ‘the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars; but in ourselves, that we are underlings.’”
Jamshed is looking forward to putting his experience at AGT to good use and go beyond what he has been doing so far; working more on bridging denominational gaps in Pakistan. “Our differences do not divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept and celebrate these differences that do,” he said.