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Save the Soul of India – A Mental Health Priority

Dr. Samson Gandhi

Where there is no counsel, the people fall;

but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14

Covid 19 Pandemic has taken the world by surprise. It has exposed the inadequacies of a modern world. In the face of an onslaught by an invisible virus, humanity finds itself helpless, hopeless and worthless. No known drug is effective. The highly trained medical fraternity is reduced to care-giving to assist the bodies to heal on their own.  They watch helplessly those that do not recover and die. Vaccine is far away. There is no hope today. All success and achievement seems meaningless when one cannot prevent sickness and dying especially during a pandemic. More people are asking existential questions – what is the meaning and purpose of life? Unable to find meaningful answers, they want to go back to doing what they did – to eat, travel and work, even if it means running the risk of getting infected. Naturally, the problem of mental health gets compounded.

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Anxiety of the future, fear of loss, disease and death are setting people on the edge. As a result slightest provocation is pushing them over the precipice. The media is calling attention for relief and recourse.

Globalisation and urbanization has uprooted people from their comfortable social settings and planted them in urban jungles leading to loss of identity. Under pressure to create an identity and facing an acute lack of proper support system, people are facing extreme stress and are experiencing severe loss of mental health. The current pandemic has exacerbated the problem and the country in not in a position to address the mental health tsunami.

In India, mental health is a luxury. More than 22 percent of our population lives below the poverty line which is a hand to mouth existence. Their mind is preoccupied with finding the next meal. Emotional, psychological and social well-being are alien to their existence. They exist on the fringes where neither the government nor the non-government agencies make a difference. Lower middle, middle and upper middle class constitute over 60 percent of our population. They have time and space to reflect if they are happy or not and make an effort to find a semblance of well-being. Many agencies operate here but are woefully inadequate. They are a significant drop in an ocean of need.

Although more than 150 million people need therapy, only 30 million seek help. The main reason is because of scarce resources and lack of accessibility. We have about nine thousand psychiatrists in India. It roughly translates to 0.75 psychiatrists per lakh. While the desirable figure is three per lakh. There is a deficit of 75 percent. We need about twenty thousand clinical psychologists but have only a thousand. There is an acute shortage of mental health professionals. Even if the government increases seats they are in no position to address the growing need in the short run.

There is an urgent need to train Community Counsellors (CC). These are para-mental health professionals who are trained to assess the level of need and interventions. Those that need psychiatric treatment, would be referred to psychiatrist and those that need intensive therapy to clinical psychologists and for specialized therapy to appropriate psychologists. The CCs will take on cases where the services of none of the above specialists are needed. This raises the question of their training.

CCs would need training in communication and counselling skills of relating, attending, listening, empathizing and confronting.  They should be encouraged to develop client friendly attitudes of respect, genuineness and concreteness. They could be trained in client-centred approach of counselling, emotion focussed counselling, solution focussed counselling and CBT to a certain degree. They must have a basic understanding of human personality. At this stage they can pick electives and specialize. Marriage & Family, Parenting, Debt, Emotional Wellbeing (depression, self-harm, suicide), Abuse and Domestic Violence, Grief, Crisis are a few of them.

Trained CCs can then be put into a practicum program under counselling psychologist. On satisfactory completion of the same they must be certified as Community counsellors who are para-counselling professionals. Like any other professional practice they must be committed to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and remain under professional supervision of senior CCs or Counselling Psychologists.

 Once they are certified, based on their interest and specialization, they can be attached to or placed at the Primary Health Centres (PHC), District hospitals, Mandal Revenue Offices, National Disaster Response Force, District Collectorates, and all state and central government departments. Wherever people are likely to experience distress, a trained Community Counsellor must be made available. Educational institutions, universities, sports complexes and all coaching centres must have a certified CC.

The government and the local community must create a positive eco system to seek counselling. There is a lot of stigma attached to receiving counselling. Counselling must be made a positive, constructive part of the social welfare programme of the nation. A narrative must be built, influencers roped in and all elderly must be encouraged to become catalysts of  nation-building.

Development of infrastructure is good for commerce. People prosper. Government makes a massive investment in economic development for material improvement. Some investment is made into health sector. But the time has come for the government to look at mental health in a whole new light. It is important for government – central and state – to consider making a policy decision to create a mental health vertical for the emotional well-being of its people. It calls for investments to match the scale and proportion of the need.

India is a very religious country. It carries a massive spiritual capital accumulated over millennia.  It must not be forfeited; it must not be sacrificed on the altar of economic development. India can be a shining example to the whole world if it can set right priorities. India has placed a smart phone in many hands. It has come in handy for commerce, entertainment and education. But they do not know how to harness it for the well-being of their souls. Pornography on phones is corrupting millions of souls. More than 275 million people were lifted out of poverty in the past decade. But today India must listen to the cry of the soul of more than 300 million troubles souls. They need a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear to pour their heart out, and some light of hope in their despairing soul. An army of certified and caring Community Counsellors is the need of the hour. If we don’t address the millions will lose their soul. If people lose their soul, India will lose her soul!

Jesus said, “What does it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” It still begs for an answer.

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Safe Forms Of Meditations For Christians

Introduction

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”, said John Keats. There is a beauty of the body and a beauty of the soul. Both capture our attention and we must work to preserve them. Just as physical exercise promotes health of the body, meditation can nurture a soul. When we perceive our body “as the temple of the Holy Spirit” and seek to slake the thirsts of our soul with the “living waters” of God then we enter into a spiritual realm. It implies that we are surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ and He sustains our spirit, soul and body. Practicing meditation in such an eco-system of God is safe.

The stresses of digital-world living, small and big crises and the effects of a pandemic have forced us to relook at how we cope with them. Eating well, good exercise and positive thinking have been traditional suggestions. But in recent times, meditation has captured our imagination. Today, the market offers many forms of meditations. So many that people are confused, doubtful and even fearful whether any of them expose a practitioner to spiritual forces. This pamphlet does not deal with such forms of meditation but offers safe Christian forms of meditation.

All medieval forms of meditation have religious roots with a primary objective of drawing closer to God and realising more of Him in one’s life. Desert fathers and mothers during this period have dedicated their lives for practicing Christian meditation. Hesychasm and Jesus prayer are two such practices. They are expanded later in this pamphlet. But contemporary forms of meditations have sought to make them physical and psychological, and delinked them from religious roots.

Description: Popular mediation forms for christians, Lecto Divina, Clare of Assisi Four-step approach to meditation and Hesychasm.

Popular mediation forms for christians

Among the many forms of meditation, the popular ones are:

 – Origins in Buddhism, focus on thoughts, here and now,

 – Religious origins, focus on scripture, object, God-connection

– Focus on breathing, prayer beads, listen to gongs, candle light

 – Yoga, walking, gardening, other gentle forms of motion

 – Repeating scripture, like Om, Kalma, Rosary, etc.

 – Use of mantras with magical and spiritual powers

 – To reduce tension in the body by relaxing muscles

 – Receiving and giving love to all people and living beings

 – Achieving calm by visualizing positive scenes and images

Meditation is a discipline. As a practice, “an individual uses a technique of focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness – and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.” Christian meditation – In Latin, meditari Form of prayer: Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to become aware of and reflect upon the revelations of God. It focusses on specific thoughts (such as Bible passages), and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God. Meditation is for obedience: The Bible mentions the words meditate or meditation 23 times. 19 times in the Book of Psalms itself. Meditation is often found alongside obedience indicating the purpose of meditation to be obedience (Joshua 1:8). Meditate on the Life of Jesus: Christian meditation is looking back on Jesus’ life and thanksgiving adoration of God for his action in sending Jesus for human salvation. Such a looking back is based on the word of God. It has three distinctive features:
  1. Christian meditation is grounded in the Bible. God revealed himself personally in the scripture and our engagement with him is based on it
  2. It responds to the love of God as in 1 John 4:19: “We love, for he first loved us.”
  3. The above two lead to the worship of God: making Christian meditation an exercise in praise.
Holy Spirit aids us: The role of the Holy Spirit is to help the meditator to understand the deeper meanings of the Word of God. One 12th century monk believed that when earnest meditation begins, the Holy Spirit enters the soul of the mediator, “turns water into wine” and shows the way towards contemplation and better understanding of God.  Charles Spurgeon affirmed it by saying that when we meditate on the word of God, the Holy Spirit will help us to ponder his message rather prepare it. The Spirit searches all things, even the deeper things of God (1 Cor. 2:10). Three types of meditation: Vocal prayers are basic forms of communication in a relationship with the Triune God. A deeper form of prayer is meditation. The third and even deeper characterization of prayer is contemplation. During the Middle Ages (5th to late 15th century), Christianity moved beyond vocal prayers to Christian meditation. Progressively they resulted in two distinct and different practices: Lecto Divina in the West and hesychasm in the East. Three Forms of Meditation
  1. Lecto Divina
Lecto Divina refers to the “divine reading” or “spiritual reading” of the scriptures. It is not like we read a newspaper – reading only headlines and the news of preference. Not like a novel jumping to the climax as and when you want. ““But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”” (Romans 10: 8-10). The recitation of the biblical text that provides the rationale for Lecto Divina. ‘Pray and work’ was the motto of Benedictine monastery. Their day consisted of liturgical (corporate) prayers, manual labour and Lecto Divina – a quiet prayerful reading of the Bible. While following these four steps Holy Spirit must be our guide. The one who inspired the Word must now guide our meditation.

Guigo’s book The Ladder of the Monks offers four stages of methodical prayer.

  1. Lectioread the word of God
  2. Meditatiomeditate (think) on the significance of the text
  3. Oratio – then respond in prayer which leads to
  4. Contemplatio – to contemplate (the gift of quiet stillness in the presence of God)

Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation — the four stages of Lectio Divina as taught by John of the Cross (16th Century).

Lectio Divina has been likened to “feasting on the Word”: first, the taking of a bite (lectio); then chewing on it (meditatio); savouring its essence (oratio) and, finally, “digesting” it and making it a part of the body (contemplation). In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased (experiential) knowledge of Christ. Lecto Divina uses different Scripture passages at different times. Scripture passages may be repeated a few times but it is not repetitive in nature.

Lectio (“reading”)

“These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:9-10).”

Prior to reading of the word of God. Practice quiet stillness. “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).” Sit quietly and in silence pray. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide the reading of the Scripture. Then as you read, open your mind to finding Christ in the passage being read. Read the chosen passage slowly and gradually, several times. Usually, a passage is read four times, each time with a different focus. If the passage is from gospels then Jesus could be primary focus. Then the disciples. Then the teaching. Then the place. Read by getting into the character of disciples of the person interacting with Jesus. Attentive reading can help achieve higher level of understanding.

Meditatio (“meditation”)

Here we meditate or ponder upon the text. The text is not approached as something to be studied but reverentially as the Living Word. We don’t look so much for the meaning of the passage as we desire the Holy Spirit to illuminate the inner or underlying message of it.

An example passage may be the statement by Jesus during the Last Supper in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.” A ‘study’ approach would see the context of the last supper to interpret it. One may study to see at what price this peace was wrought. But while meditating such approaches are avoided but one seeks to “enter that peace” and shares the peace of Christ. So, peace is experienced not so much by the study and analysis of it but closer communion with God. Similar other passages for meditation are: “Abide in my love.” “I am the Good Shepherd.”

Oratio (“prayer”)

Prayer is understood as dialogue with God, as a loving conversation with God who has invited us into an embrace. We speak to Him when we pray and we hear Him when we read the divine saying. Listening is as important as speaking to God. Listening to God prepares us better to utter the words to God. The more we listen to Him in reading of his word, the more we will encounter the Word, and our words to Him will be acceptable.

Contemplatio (“contemplation”)

Contemplation takes place in terms of silent prayer that expresses love for God. Contemplative prayer is silence. Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the “outer” man, the Father speaks to us in incarnate Word. In this silence, the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus. “Holy Spirit is like a kiss of the Father to one who contemplates.”

  1. Clare of Assisi Four-step approach to meditation

Saint Clare’s method is more visual compared to Guigo II Lecto Divina which is more intellectual. Her approach has four steps:

Intueri (“Gaze on the cross”)

Words like ‘behold’, ‘look upon’ and ‘focus’ would give us more understanding as to what we could do as a step to draw ourselves from all that is around and start getting ‘centered’ or composed. Crucifix is a great focus. It must not be misunderstood as idol worship. It can be an aid to transport us to Calvary. Knowledge of related scripture can help us in finding ourselves at the foot of the cross and gaze upon Him along with John and Mary the mother of our Lord. Get into a receptive mode and ‘hear’ what Christ might say to you. Read Numbers 21:9; John 12:32; John 19:37

Considerare (“Consider”)

Jesus the Son of God come to the world as the Son of Man. How He emptied Himself. How He taught, healed and suffered for us. How He was rejected, mocked and crucified. He is interceding for us before the Father. He is preparing a place for us. He is soon coming to receive us. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God! Read Philippians 2: 5-11; John 18, 19; 1 John 3:1(a).

Contemplari (“Contemplate”)

What does all that mean to me? What is expected of me? How do I receive His commission? How can I be His ambassador? How can I expend my life for Him? What change is God asking me to make? Read 2 Cor. 5:20

Imitare (“Imitate”)

Hear the words, “Go and do likewise.” Be the salt and light He wants you to be. ‘Wash the feet’ of (serve) fellow believers. Preach, proclaim and promote the gospel. Carry the cross. Read Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:15-17; Luke 19:23; Matthew 16:24-26.

  1. Hesychasm (practice of silence)

Hesychasm is based on Jesus’ saying (Matt. 6:6): “whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” It answers the question, “How do I pray unceasingly?” Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God. (One who practices hesychasm is called as a hesychastic.) We are able to move from a prayer of and in the mind to prayer of and in the heart.

Hesychasm involves the repetition of Jesus Prayer also known as The Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This prayer is believed to be a method of cleaning and opening up the mind (the Noetic Prayer) and after this the heart (the kardia Prayer). The prayer of the heart is considered to be the unceasing prayer that the Apostle Paul advocates in (1 Thess. 5:17). Also in Song of Solomon 5:2: “I sleep, but my heart is awake.” It reflects consciousness of God presence at all times.

The Jesus Prayer combines three Bible verses:

Christological hymn: Philippians 2:6-11 (verse 11: “Jesus Christ is Lord”),

Annunciation found in: Luke 1:31-35 (verse 35: “Son God”), and

Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican: Luke 18:9-14 (verse 13: “God be merciful to me a sinner”).

Jesus Prayer is not only for attaining humility, love, or purification of sinful thoughts, but rather it is becoming holy and seeking communion with God. It demands setting the mind apart from rational activities and ignoring the physical senses for the experiential knowledge of God. It is not a substitute for prayer, charity (loving generosity), repentance and fasting. Therefore:

  • The Jesus Prayer is, first of all, a prayer addressed to God. It’s not a means of self-deifying or self-deliverance, but a counterexample to Adam’s pride repairing the breach it produced between man and God.
  • The aim is not to be dissolved or absorbed into nothingness or into God, or reach another state of mind, but to (re)unite with God (which by itself is a process) while remaining a distinct person.
  • It is an invocation of Jesus’ name, because Christian anthropology (study of human as it relates to God)and soteriology (study of religious doctrines of salvation) are strongly linked to Christology (the study of Christ) in Orthodox monasticism.
  • In a modern context the continuing repetition is regarded by some as a form of meditation, the prayer functioning as a kind of mantra. However, Orthodox users of the Jesus Prayer emphasize the invocationof the name of Jesus Christ which would be contemplation on the Triune God rather than simply emptying the mind.
  • Acknowledging “a sinner” is to lead firstly to a state of humbleness and repentance, recognizing one’s own sinfulness.
  • Practicing the Jesus Prayer is strongly linked to mastering passions of both soul and body, e.g., by fasting. For the Eastern Orthodox it is not the body that is wicked, but “the bodily way of thinking”; therefore salvationalso regards the body.
  • Unlike “seed syllables” in particular traditions of chanting mantras, the Jesus Prayer may be translated into whatever language the pray-er customarily uses. The emphasis is on the meaning, not on the mere utterance of certain sounds. For example: Pronouncing Jesus in English or Yesu in Telugu would be equally valid.
  • There is no emphasis on the psychosomatic techniques, which are merely seen as helpers for uniting the mind with the heart, not as prerequisites.

Practice

Anyone may practice Jesus Prayer. It is not limited to Priests and Clergy. Laypeople, men, women and children can practice it. It would help to have spiritual guide. He/she may be certified or a “practical theologican’ (a person well versed in theology but without official credentials).

Stages in Hesychasm

  • Katharsis or purification – Pay attention and focus to the consciousness of the inner world and words of Jesus Prayer to reject tempting thoughts. The tempting thoughts are seen as thieves come to steal your cluster of grapes. Passionately pray unceasingly 24/7 to maintain sobriety (free of tempting thoughts) and overcome temptation of laziness. Particular attention may be paid to the eight passions: gluttony, fornication, avarice (love of money), anger, sadness, acedia (anxiety of the heart), vainglory and pride.
  • Theoria or illumination – The goal at this stage is a practice of the Jesus Prayer with the mind in the heart. He prays with meaning, with intent, for real. It is not mouthing of the words with the associated syllables and sounds but an invocation and an introspection. This stage is called the guard of the mind. His mind has a certain stillness and emptiness that is punctuated only by the eternal repetition of the Jesus Prayer.
  • Theosis or deification (union with God) – From the ‘guard of the mind’ one is raised to contemplation by the grace of God. Contemplation of God is experienced as light, the “uncreated light”. The “uncreated light” is identified with the Holy Spirit. Such a state is described as theosis or deification. It is not a state to be achieved or be in but an experience to be received whenever offered by God in His mercy and grace. One must return to catharsis and theoria.

Conclusion

Our meditation must be a loving response to the knock of God on the door of heart for a time of abiding fellowship. When Jesus the Light comes in the darkness in our heart is dispelled. In meditation, He will come in and sup (feast) with us. He will slake our thirsts so that the world will lose its hold on us. Living waters will flow from our hearts and our cup would overflow into the lives of our community. A ‘Safe Meditation’ format is given below.

 

APPENDIX - 1

A SAFE MEDITATION FORMAT - 1

Setting: Your personal and private space

Place: Study room, bedroom, living room, terrace, etc. (wherever there is no external disturbance). If in a room, door may be closed to avoid any disturbance.

Ambience: Well-lit, ventilated and not cluttered. The room must not have any strong odors to distract your attention.

Seating: Ideally, seated cross-legged on the floor on a comfortable mat, durrie, carpet or mattress. Sofa is also good. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.

Second option: Seated, legs stretched out on the floor on a comfortable mat/dhurie/carpet/mattress. You may like to lean your back against a wall, or any other supportive surface. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.

Third option: Seated on a comfortable chair/sofa. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.

Time duration: 60 minutes

PREPARATION (3 minutes): Bring yourself to stillness. The idea is to bring your mind, body and spirit into quiet calm. Importantly, know that you are retreating from a busy world into God’s presence. You quieten yourself before you invoke the presence of God. The setting is not that God is waiting for you and you rush into his presence breathless and mind all cluttered. Helpful to recall: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). You may like to listen to a soft instrumental rendering of the song: “Be still and know” by Hillsong. Songs are advised only if necessary.

INVOCATION (2 MINUTES): When you are still, invite God, call upon Him to receive you into His presence. To grant the favour of His presence. To give you the gift of His fellowship and communion to you. Like, you have set the place to receive the most important guest and have a great conversation and ‘meal’ with Him. (Only that He is not a Guest but the Lord of your life who desires to have an intimate relationship with you.)  Ask for Holy Spirit to guide you (Luke 11:33).

MEDITATIVE PRAYER (15 minutes): Pray the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4) slowly deliberately and intentionally. At least two times. Four times is not uncommon. Normally, it takes 25-30 seconds to say the Lord’s Prayer in English. The second time slow it down to say it in 60 seconds. You can do this by pausing after each phrase. Like, “Our Father in heaven . . . pause . . . hallowed be your name . . . pause . . . your kingdom come . . . pause . . .” The third time if you want to increase it to 90-120 seconds, pause between each word.

The purpose of slowing down is to reflect on the meaning of the words of the prayer. Once you have slowed down to saying it word by word, you are ready to ‘meditate’ on the meaning and significance of the word. For example:

“Our”: Meaning: God is the Father of my spouse, my children and me. Significance: It is a corporate prayer, includes others, my relationships with Him is personal but not without others.

“Father”: Meaning: God wants me to address His as my Father. Significance: I am His child. I can be open and free with Him.

“in heaven”: Meaning: Heavenly Father, not earthly. Significance: Heavenly Father is loving, holy and faithful (many times earthly fathers do not measure up and are stumbling blocks for prayer).

Variations: Other suggested passages for this slot are:

A Prayer of Repentance: Psalm 51

The Song of Mary: Luke 1:46-55; It may take more than 15 minutes

The Song of Moses: Exodus 15: 1-17; You may like to divide it into parts: Exodus 15:1-5; 15:6-13; 15:14-17 and do one part each day.

MEDITATING ON BIBLE PASSAGE (20 minutes): Listen to what God is saying, conveying, feeling . . .

Here you can read the passage slowly and absorb the love, goodness and greatness of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is not a cognitive study of the scripture but receiving the love, mercy and grace of God. It is more about knowing (experiencing) God than knowing (knowledge) about God. Therefore, it is not a suspension of our mind but transformation of the same in the whole experience.

The passages are read slowly, reflectively and measuredly as illustrated with the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord the Shepherd of His People: Psalm 23

David’s Praise to God: 1 Chronicles 29:10-15

Blessing and Suffering of the Godly: Psalm 41

Desiring God in the Midst of Trouble: Psalm 42

PRAYER: Respond to God based on what you have ‘heard’, felt and ‘received’ in meditation (10 minutes): You may like to kneel, stand or sit with your head bowed down.

Allow the Holy Spirit to prompt you to respond to what you have heard, felt and received from God. Utter – saying spontaneously, say it from the heart – your feelings and thoughts. Need not necessarily be a rush of words. They can be “groanings” (Romans 8:26). There could be just silences and pauses but they are with the Lord. The withness is important.

HYSECHASTIC PRAYER OR JESUS PRAYER OR THE PRAYER (5 minutes): “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.”

Say this prayer repetitively, slowly, intentionally and meaningfully. As you say it mean every word of it and let the promptings of the Holy Spirit bring meaning and substance out of it. Slowly, let the prayer sink from the mind to the heart. Let it become your heart beat. Then it can become your “unceasing prayer” through the day and night and even sleep.

Say the hesychastic prayer sitting. A variation could be four postures:

When you say, “Lord Jesus Christ”: Look up, lift your hands to heaven in an adoration mode

When you say, “Son of God”: Bow your head, bring your hands down to shoulder level, with your palms facing ground in a worship mode or hands together in a ‘namasthe’ posture.

When you say, “Have mercy on me”: Bow from your waist with folded hands.

CLOSING MOMENTS (5 minutes): Make it a spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving, praise, petitions and intercession.

A SAFE MEDITATION FORMAT - 2

Setting: Your personal and private space

Place: Study room, bedroom, living room, terrace, etc. (wherever there is no external disturbance). If in a room, door may be closed to avoid any disturbance.

Ambience: Well-lit, ventilated and not cluttered. The room must not have any strong odors to distract your attention.

Seating: Ideally, seated cross-legged on the floor on a comfortable mat, durrie, carpet or mattress. Sofa is also good. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.

Second option: Seated, legs stretched out on the floor on a comfortable mat/dhurie/carpet/mattress. You may like to lean your back against a wall, or any other supportive surface. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.

Third option: Seated on a comfortable chair/sofa. Back in a comfortable position and hands rested on your legs.

Time duration: 40 – 60 minutes

PREPARATION (3 minutes): Bring yourself to stillness. The idea is to bring your mind, body and spirit into quiet calm. Importantly, know that you are retreating from a busy world into God’s presence. You quieten yourself before you invoke the presence of God. The setting is not that God is waiting for you and you rush into his presence breathless and mind all cluttered. Helpful to recall: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). You may like to listen to a soft instrumental rendering of the song: “Be still and know” by Hillsong. If you are able to bring yourself to stillness quickly, you may stop using music.

INVOCATION (2 MINUTES): When you are still, invite God, call upon Him to receive you into His presence. Seek the favour of His presence and the gift of His fellowship and communion to you. Your setting of the place and your attitude is to receive the most important guest and have a great conversation and ‘meal’ with Him. (Only that He is not a guest but the Lord of your life who desires to have an intimate relationship with you.)  Ask for Holy Spirit to guide you (Luke 11:33).

MEDITATIVE/CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER USING ANGLICAN PRAYER BEADS:

Anglican Prayer Beads are a relatively new form of prayer, blending the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The thirty-three-bead design was created by the Rev. Lynn Bauman in the mid-1980s, through the prayerful exploration and discovery of a contemplative prayer group.

The use of the rosary or prayer beads helps to bring us into contemplative of meditative prayer—really thinking about and being mindful of praying, of being in the presence of God—by use of mind, body, and spirit. The touching of the fingers on each successive bead is an aid in keeping our mind from wandering, and the rhythm of the prayers leads us more readily into stillness.

The prayer beads are made up of twenty-eight beads divided into four groups of seven called weeks. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven represents spiritual perfection and completion. Between each week is a single bead, called a cruciform bead as the four beads form a cross. The invitatory bead between the cross and the wheel of beads brings the total to thirty-three, the number of years in Jesus’ earthly life.

Praying with the beads

To begin, hold the Cross and say the prayer you have assigned to it, then move to the Invitatory Bead. Then enter the circle of the prayer with the first Cruciform Bead, moving to the right, go through the first set of seven beads to the next Cruciform bead, continuing around the circle, saying the prayers for each bead.

It is suggested that you pray around the circle of the beads three times (which signifies the Trinity) in an unhurried pace, allowing the repetition to become a sort of lullaby of love and praise that enables your mind to rest and your heart to become quiet and still.

Praying through the beads three times and adding the crucifix at the beginning or the end, brings the total to one hundred, which is the total of the Orthodox Rosary. A period of silence should follow the prayer, for a time of reflection and listening. Listening is an important part of all prayer.

Begin praying the Anglican Prayer Beads by selecting the prayers you wish to use for the cross and each bead. Practice them until it is clear which prayer goes with which bead, and as far as possible commit the prayers to memory.

Find a quiet spot and allow your body and mind to become restful and still. After a time of silence, begin praying the prayer beads at an unhurried, intentional pace. Complete the circle of the beads three times.

When you have completed the round of the prayer beads, you should end with a period of silence. This silence allows you to centre your being in an extended period of silence. It also invites reflection and listening after you have invoked the Name and Presence of God.

Closing your Prayers
The following ending can be used with any of the prayers in this booklet. After three circuits around the prayer beads, you may finish as follows:

Last time through:

Invitatory Bead
The Lord’s Prayer

The Cross
I bless the Lord.

(For step-by-step instructions please visit: http://www.kingofpeace.org/prayerbeads/trisagion.htm

APPENDIX - 2

CONTRAST BETWEEN EASTERN AND CHRISTIAN FORMS OF MEDITATION

S. No.EASTERN FORMs OF MEDITATIONCHRISTIAN FORMS OF MEDITATION
1Repeated use of mantrasNo use of mantras, only scripture as prayers
2Impersonal consummation with the BrahmanHeightens the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion
3Focus on self and lead by technique or spiritFocus on Christ guided by the Holy Spirit
4Concentration on the physical aspects “can degenerate into cult of the body” and equating bodily states with mysticism “could lead to psychic disturbance and at times, to moral deviations.”Fasting at times is recommended but not mandatory. Spiritual in emphasis that has positive effect on thoughts and emotions.
5Self-consciousness, stillness and self-emptying or emptying of the mindDialogue of love, a process in which movement is from ‘self’ to the ‘you’ of God
6Achieve thoughtlessness, trance, higher consciousness, bliss, etc.Achieve communion with Christ; listen to the voice of God; realize the love of Christ. Ecstasy is incidental.
7Blurs the distinction between good and evil and creates the mindset that “we cannot condemn anyone and nobody needs forgiveness”Reaches for clearer revelations of Christ the Way the Truth and the Life.
8People are encouraged to follow enlightened masters.Only be led by the Spirit of Christ.
9Characterized by achievementCharacterized by receptivity
10Can lead to practices of the occultWithin safe boundaries of the scripture
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PTP News Bytes – Feb 26 2019 – Stress

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PTP News Bytes – Feb 26 2019 – Stress

You can now learn from anywhere in the world and at anytime you want, through the flexibility of our online courses. Do away with the constraints of time and space by signing up to our E-learning courses. Just find a quiet spot with your laptop, tab or mobile phone and log into the our online program.
Listen to video lectures, browse through accompanying notes, test yourself with quizzes and prepare and take the assignments.
Eligibility for the course is a minimum age of 18 years and proficiency in the language offered.

Online Courses in Christian Counselling from Person to Person

Introduction to Biblical Counselling

The IBC online course includes 12 lessons, delivered to you in four formats of Video Lessons, Reading Notes, Lesson Quizzes and Lesson Assignements. The course is intended to train lay counsellors and will take a novice through topics such as Biblical Basis For Counselling, Self Image & Self Esteem, Basic Skills for Counselling, Counselling model and Case studies.

Click Here To View Full Course


The Accredited Advanced Biblical counselling – Level 1 – Blended Mode training program is delivered in two modules :

An Online Module that includes 14 lessons, delivered to you in four formats of Video Lessons, Reading Notes, Lesson Quizzes and Lesson Assignments. This has to be taken up first.
A Classroom Module where those who have completed the online module have to enroll to and attend the classroom training in Hyderabad for three days.
The course is intended to equip participants for involvement in counselling ministry and for accreditation. 

Click Here To View Full Course

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PTP News Bytes – Feb 25 2019 – Suicide, Addictions

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PTP News Bytes – Feb 25 2019 – Suicide, Addictions

Dear Friends,

In my spiritual journey, I felt good on many occasions. Going to a youth fellowship, participating in an “I found it” evangelistic campaign, going to a bible study, memorizing scripture, overcoming sinful nature (to some extent) and many other things gave me a great joy. Living a victorious Christian life had become a passion. Sharing some of the victories and finding encouragement in times of failures was comforting. In all this I realised that it was my effort to please the Lord. Occasionally asking God to give me spiritual steroids to achieve the ‘impossible” (Phil. 4:13).

My spiritual journey was a roller coaster ride. Thrilled, when I was gaining heights but scared when I was going down. I realised that I was chasing a perpetual high, an unfailing spiritual victory instead of God and His Presence; I was pursuing power instead of receiving it from the Lord; and I was running after projects instead of pursuing God-given purposes.

Moses asked to know God, know His ways and find grace. God said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest (Ex. 33:13, 14).  Mary sought Jesus’ Presence over ‘ministry’ of Martha and received His affirmation (Luke 10:38-42). The Ark of the Covenant, the Presence of God gave Israelites their identity and strength (Joshua 3:3, 17).

Jesus said, “You shall receive power . . . (Acts 1:8). We tend to seek power even chase and try to grab it with both hands. But that does not go well with our God. Those that chase and grab power use it to their own ends. But they that receive power from God give it away to empower others. Joseph received tremendous power as the Prime Minister of Egypt. He realised it that it was from God and it was for the saving of many (Gen. 50:20).

Paul was completely on a wrong track when he was persecuting the church. He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul the attacker of the church became the evangelist for the Church (Acts 9:6). He was told what he must do. He was directed to pursue God’s purposes. We may have a misplaced zeal and end up on a wrong planet. In the kingdom of God, it is dangerous to be on a mission without a commission.

Seek His Presence; receive His power; and pursue His purposes.

Blessings,

Dr. Samson Gandhi

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Another Historic First For Person to Person

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Another Historic First For Person to Person

Person to Person has had another historic moment this month. It’s not an achievement that we can stake claim to or a milestone that we had hoped to cross, but a tremendous recognition that the ministry received, for the work that it has been doing over the years.

St.Thomas SPG Tamil Cathedral, Hyderabad, threw open its doors to Person to Person in a unique and magnanimous way by appointing the Sunday of February 17th as PtP Sunday. They decided to step up their support to this ministry by taking up an offering for Person to Person. This, is a first for Person to Person.

Dr. Samson Gandhi has been ministering to the members of this church for the last 22 years. The church is blessed with a leadership that not only understood the dearth and the need of counselling in their congregation but also had the willingness to open its doors to a ministry that had the vision and the means to train counsellors for their church. The real joy was to see the exemplary shepherd of the church, Bishop Moses Ashirwadam, signing up as a participant to our training programs along with his wife.

With a mature leadership like this, it is perhaps not a stretch of imagination to expect that they would make efforts to strengthen their bonds with PtP, after vetting the ministry over the years. But since the time they told us about their intention to collect a retiring offering from their congregation for Person to Person, it has not ceased to amaze us.

God has done pretty amazing things through this ministry over the years and though there is hardly anything more rewarding than the joy of seeing relationships healed and restored, what the St. Thomas SPG Tamil Cathedral in Hyderabad decided to do for PtP last Sunday, was both humbling and exciting at the same time.

One would rarely expect that a kind thought in the mind of the Bishop, a gracious gesture from the church leadership and a resounding response from the church fellowship could be so overwhelming.

Irrespective of how much the retiring offering might have raised, this simple and sacred act, of the church coming together for a purpose, and reaching out to their fellow workers in the mission field, could speak volumes of the maturity of the faith and love they displayed, as well as send one into silent contemplation about how much the Church of Christ could accomplish together, if only we all stood with one another.

Dr. Samson Gandhi was also invited to share the word on God on the occasion. Mr. Noel Nicholes (Manager – Admin and Finance), shared about the ministry and calling of Person to Person.

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Training of Trainers Program – Event Report

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Training of Trainers Program – Event Report

Person to Person’s Training of Trainers program, also known as the ‘Faculty Enrichment Seminar’ ended on an enthusiastic and upbeat mood, as participants completed their training modules and received their accredited certificates on Sunday, the 10th of February.

The three-day training program is aimed at fine tuning the training skills of those who are involved in training, teaching or preaching, or are planning to take them up on a regular basis. The training program is accredited by the Association of Christian Counsellors – South Asia.

As is the case of most PtP programs, the participant profile for the Training of Trainers program  was also diverse and included those who are involved in full-time ministry as well as those who are engaged in corporate or non-profit sectors; those who have had a prior relationship with the training institute as well as those who have never heard about Person to Person. A total of 19 participants from Hyderabad and other cities signed up for the program; the youngest being 19-years-old and the eldest, 59.

The program focuses on personal preparation, classroom dynamics, learning and teaching styles, learning objectives and lesson plans and communicating audio visually  and packs in practical workshops and micro teaching sessions.

The above collage is of the micro teaching sessions where each participant is asked to teach his peers employing the knowledge and skills he or she has been imparted. These sessions are also evaluated by their peers using an objective scorecard.

Sharing their feedback about the training program, participants testified about the validity of the course in the present day and about the competence of the facilitators in educating them and imparting those skills.

“…It’s always a pleasure to attend PtP programs, I get to learn so much here, and the faculty was excellent..” said Krishna Ayyar, a business consultant from the IT sector . “Also had a great time interacting with participants, which we do not get in a corporate environment; friendly interaction where we learn from participants and not just the faculty”, he added.

Attending her very first PtP training program Esther Sridevi said, “Heard about the PtP ministry and Dr. Samson Gandhi but was only able to put a face to it when I saw the brochure that was forwarded to me on Whatsapp. I have never taught to an audience like this, learnt so many things.. had the opportunity to be the MC for first time in my life… gave me confidence.”  Personally convinced about PtP training programs, Esther added that she is also planning to sign up for the Christian counselling courses and that she would also encourage her friends to sign up for them.

Emphasizing the importance of counselling in Christian ministry and recognizing the dearth of trained Christian counsellors in Indian churches, another participant J Ashirwadam, expressed that more Christians must come forward and get trained as Christian counsellors. Mr. Ashirwadam praised God for giving this vision to Dr. Samson Gandhi. He applauded the “well-seasoned, highly equipped and outstanding faculty of the program,” and appreciated “the coordination, love and affection of the PtP team for creating a professional yet family like atmosphere.”

Training of Trainers is the second accredited training program conducted by Person to Person in Hyderabad this year. For more information on our upcoming training programs refer our Events Calendar on our website.

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Training of Trainers Program Kicks Off in Hyderabad

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Training of Trainers Program Kicks Off in Hyderabad

The much awaited Training of Trainers program kicked off at the Grace Communion Church today in Hyderabad. This accredited training program is catered to participants who have a passion to teach and are looking to sharpen their skills to teach, preach or facilitate. The course is spread over three days and will cover topics such as –
  • Personal preparation
  • Classroom dynamics
  • Learning and teaching styles
  • Learning objectives and lesson plans
  • And communicating audio visually, among others.
As one would expect, it is pragmatic in approach and comes with workshops and micro teaching sessions that participants can readily benefit from. “As always we have a good mix of participants for this PtP program as well. Out of the total 19 participants, 5 are women and 14 are men. Participants are from Christian ministry as well as from secular vocations.” said Noel Nicholas, PtP’s admin manager.

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter February 2019

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter February 2019

Dear Friends,

I trust your new year has been good thus far. As you are walking with the Lord, I hope you are experiencing His goodness. Every growing Christian knows that there will be ups and downs in our spiritual journey with the Lord.

One of the things we must watch out for is a complaining attitude. There will be trials and temptations but the Lord will see us through. On the verge of entering the Promised Land, the Israelites murmured, complained against the Lord and invited the wrath of God (Numbers 14:1-29). All those who are 20 years and above could not enter the land. They all died in the wilderness. Their life was painful and barren.

The antidote for complaining is an attitude of thanksgiving. It is difficult to thank God going through challenges of life. James McDonald says that we can be thankful at three levels.

Elementary level: Thanking God for small things in a routine manner. Like the air we breathe, the sunlight we bask in, the water we drink, food, clothes and all things that we otherwise take for granted. Hebrews 13:15.

Secondary Level: In everything give thanks. We can look at the positive side of any situation and give thanks. Many years ago, my wife and I had an accident on a busy road. We both had a bad fall from our motorcycle but we were not injured. We gave thanks for His protection from harm (1 Thess. 5:18). Ignore the bad and be thankful for the good.

Graduate school of thankfulness: Give thanks for all things. Even foruntoward things. Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison (Acts 16:16-40). Ephesians 5:18, 20.

It’s time to move up in the school of thankfulness.

Yours in Christ,
Dr. Samson Gandhi

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PtP Launches Its First E-learning Program

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PtP Launches Its First E-learning Program

Person to Person, on Friday launched its first e-learning program – Introduction to Biblical Counselling, in Hyderabad. The team did not choose to have a special event for its launch but rolled it out at the ABC Level 3 training program that is currently underway in Hyderabad.

“We thought it would be meaningful to do it here, during one of their tea breaks, and also give a small demo so the participants can take the news back to their church groups and let their friends know about it”, said Noel Nicholas, the Admin Manager.

The team had been working hard for many months now, to take the Board’s vision of offering some of the training programs through the e-learning mode.

Mr. Philip Dayanidhi, PtP Board member, and his wife Reupah were hands on in developing the video animations for the lessons themselves. They also provided their valuable feedback at every stage and along with few other board members, were part of the pilot project that audited the course before the launch.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Dr. Samson Gandhi, the Executive Director of Person to Person, said “The Introduction to Biblical Counselling course, which is Person to Person’s basic course in Christian counselling is a tried and tested course, that has been offered to over 1200 participants across the nation so far, through the distance education mode”, and added that he is happy to launch it online.

Pastor Daniel Zachariah, the senior pastor of Grace Communion Church, Trimulgheri, prayed and asked for God to continue to enable the ministry and for the participants who undergo their training programs.

Cdr. J.P Moses, PtP’s board member, congratulated the PtP team and launched the online course.

Paul Yesudas, PtP’s IT & Media Manager gave a brief demo of the course and explained the registration process.

The course is now available online for an introductory price of Rs. 1000/-.

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter January 2019

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter January 2019

Dear Friends,

You can now learn from anywhere in the world and at anytime you want, through the flexibility of our online courses. Do away with the constraints of time and space by signing up to our E-learning courses. Just find a quiet spot with your laptop, tab or mobile phone and log into the our online program.
Listen to video lectures, browse through accompanying notes, test yourself with quizzes and prepare and take the assignments.
Eligibility for the course is a minimum age of 18 years and proficiency in the language offered.

Introduction to Biblical Counselling (IBC – Online)

The IBC online course includes 12 lessons, delivered to you in four formats of Video Lessons, Reading Notes, Lesson Quizzes and Lesson Assignements. The course is intended to train lay counsellors and will take a novice through topics such as Biblical Basis For Counselling, Self Image & Self Esteem, Basic Skills for Counselling, Counselling model and Case studies.

Who is it for?

  • People who cannot travel to places for counselling seminars/courses
  • People who do not have time to attend counselling seminars/courses
  • People who are house-bound : the elderly, housewives, physically challenged etc
  • People who like self-study.
  • People who are 18 years old and above.
  • People who can understand and write in English.

What can I expect?

  • The course has 12 lessons.
  • Length of course: 4 months extendable to 6 months.
  • Time needed for each lesson: approximately 2 hours.
  • At the end of each lesson, there are “Test Yourself” questions you have to answer. Keys will be given once the assignments are submitted.
  • The course is designed to apply to ourselves first (make it a tool for personal growth) before applying it to others.
  • Upon completion of the course, a certificate will be awarded.

What can I do?

  • You may spread the word around to those who will benefit from this eLearning course.
  • You may want to form a group of few people (5-10 people) to study and discuss the lessons together.
  • You may want to set aside certain days of the week and certain times of the days to do this study. A fixed schedule helps to get the job done.

FAQs on Distance Learning

The course can be taken at a pace suitable for you. However, it is recommended that you set aside about 5 hours per week. The IBC online course can be completed within 4 months. This work will include background reading, review questions that test your comprehension and personal application

We use a professional e-learning platform to host our online courses. You will be sent a login link once you have paid the registration fee and signed up with us. You may use the link to create your account and login and access the

Upon completion of the course, a certificate will be awarded.

You can register to the Introduction to Biblical Counselling (online course) for an introductory fee of Rs.1000/-

You can register to the program by filling in your personal details in the registration form and paying the course registration fee of Rs. 1000.
You can remit the course fee through Money Order or Demand draft made in favour of ‘Person to Person’, payable at Secunderabad or through an electronic transfer to our bank.

Please contact us through email or through the Whatsapp messenger at the bottom of your screen and pass on your transaction details. Once we verify the details on our end, the link where you can create your login credentials and login to access the course.

Our Bank details are as follows:

A/c Name: Person to Person

Bank: Andhra Bank,

Branch: East Marredpalli, Secunderabad

Account No: 035610011017398

IFSC code: ANDB0000356

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter December 2018

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter December 2018

Dear Friends,

You can now learn from anywhere in the world and at anytime you want, through the flexibility of our online courses. Do away with the constraints of time and space by signing up to our E-learning courses. Just find a quiet spot with your laptop, tab or mobile phone and log into the our online program.
Listen to video lectures, browse through accompanying notes, test yourself with quizzes and prepare and take the assignments.
Eligibility for the course is a minimum age of 18 years and proficiency in the language offered.

Introduction to Biblical Counselling (IBC – Online)

The IBC online course includes 12 lessons, delivered to you in four formats of Video Lessons, Reading Notes, Lesson Quizzes and Lesson Assignements. The course is intended to train lay counsellors and will take a novice through topics such as Biblical Basis For Counselling, Self Image & Self Esteem, Basic Skills for Counselling, Counselling model and Case studies.

Who is it for?

  • People who cannot travel to places for counselling seminars/courses
  • People who do not have time to attend counselling seminars/courses
  • People who are house-bound : the elderly, housewives, physically challenged etc
  • People who like self-study.
  • People who are 18 years old and above.
  • People who can understand and write in English.

What can I expect?

  • The course has 12 lessons.
  • Length of course: 4 months extendable to 6 months.
  • Time needed for each lesson: approximately 2 hours.
  • At the end of each lesson, there are “Test Yourself” questions you have to answer. Keys will be given once the assignments are submitted.
  • The course is designed to apply to ourselves first (make it a tool for personal growth) before applying it to others.
  • Upon completion of the course, a certificate will be awarded.

What can I do?

  • You may spread the word around to those who will benefit from this eLearning course.
  • You may want to form a group of few people (5-10 people) to study and discuss the lessons together.
  • You may want to set aside certain days of the week and certain times of the days to do this study. A fixed schedule helps to get the job done.

FAQs on Distance Learning

The course can be taken at a pace suitable for you. However, it is recommended that you set aside about 5 hours per week. The IBC online course can be completed within 4 months. This work will include background reading, review questions that test your comprehension and personal application

We use a professional e-learning platform to host our online courses. You will be sent a login link once you have paid the registration fee and signed up with us. You may use the link to create your account and login and access the

Upon completion of the course, a certificate will be awarded.

You can register to the Introduction to Biblical Counselling (online course) for an introductory fee of Rs.1000/-

You can register to the program by filling in your personal details in the registration form and paying the course registration fee of Rs. 1000.
You can remit the course fee through Money Order or Demand draft made in favour of ‘Person to Person’, payable at Secunderabad or through an electronic transfer to our bank.

Please contact us through email or through the Whatsapp messenger at the bottom of your screen and pass on your transaction details. Once we verify the details on our end, the link where you can create your login credentials and login to access the course.

Our Bank details are as follows:

A/c Name: Person to Person

Bank: Andhra Bank,

Branch: East Marredpalli, Secunderabad

Account No: 035610011017398

IFSC code: ANDB0000356

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter November 2018

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter November 2018

Dear Friends,

You can now learn from anywhere in the world and at anytime you want, through the flexibility of our online courses. Do away with the constraints of time and space by signing up to our E-learning courses. Just find a quiet spot with your laptop, tab or mobile phone and log into the our online program.
Listen to video lectures, browse through accompanying notes, test yourself with quizzes and prepare and take the assignments.
Eligibility for the course is a minimum age of 18 years and proficiency in the language offered.

Introduction to Biblical Counselling (IBC – Online)

The IBC online course includes 12 lessons, delivered to you in four formats of Video Lessons, Reading Notes, Lesson Quizzes and Lesson Assignements. The course is intended to train lay counsellors and will take a novice through topics such as Biblical Basis For Counselling, Self Image & Self Esteem, Basic Skills for Counselling, Counselling model and Case studies.

Who is it for?

  • People who cannot travel to places for counselling seminars/courses
  • People who do not have time to attend counselling seminars/courses
  • People who are house-bound : the elderly, housewives, physically challenged etc
  • People who like self-study.
  • People who are 18 years old and above.
  • People who can understand and write in English.

What can I expect?

  • The course has 12 lessons.
  • Length of course: 4 months extendable to 6 months.
  • Time needed for each lesson: approximately 2 hours.
  • At the end of each lesson, there are “Test Yourself” questions you have to answer. Keys will be given once the assignments are submitted.
  • The course is designed to apply to ourselves first (make it a tool for personal growth) before applying it to others.
  • Upon completion of the course, a certificate will be awarded.

What can I do?

  • You may spread the word around to those who will benefit from this eLearning course.
  • You may want to form a group of few people (5-10 people) to study and discuss the lessons together.
  • You may want to set aside certain days of the week and certain times of the days to do this study. A fixed schedule helps to get the job done.

FAQs on Distance Learning

The course can be taken at a pace suitable for you. However, it is recommended that you set aside about 5 hours per week. The IBC online course can be completed within 4 months. This work will include background reading, review questions that test your comprehension and personal application

We use a professional e-learning platform to host our online courses. You will be sent a login link once you have paid the registration fee and signed up with us. You may use the link to create your account and login and access the

Upon completion of the course, a certificate will be awarded.

You can register to the Introduction to Biblical Counselling (online course) for an introductory fee of Rs.1000/-

You can register to the program by filling in your personal details in the registration form and paying the course registration fee of Rs. 1000.
You can remit the course fee through Money Order or Demand draft made in favour of ‘Person to Person’, payable at Secunderabad or through an electronic transfer to our bank.

Please contact us through email or through the Whatsapp messenger at the bottom of your screen and pass on your transaction details. Once we verify the details on our end, the link where you can create your login credentials and login to access the course.

Our Bank details are as follows:

A/c Name: Person to Person

Bank: Andhra Bank,

Branch: East Marredpalli, Secunderabad

Account No: 035610011017398

IFSC code: ANDB0000356

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter – October 2018

Prayerletters

Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter – October 2018

Dear Friends,

Generosity is a spirit of life. It is not just a matter of giving away money and things, although that is a part of it. Our source of understanding generosity is neither Bill Gates nor Warren Buffet, although I have a great regard for them. Our template is God Himself as He is restoring His image in us. Christ in us is the hope of glory. Only He, can empower us to be generous.

The forgiveness of God made possible in Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of all generosity. He paid the debt I could never repay. Wiped away the blot I could never erase. He is lifting me to heights I could never attain. None of this at a price but all freely given. Therefore, generosity is His initiative. When we experience such free-flowing grace, we become channels of His generosity. Jesus’ grace is the fountainhead of all human generosity.

Our generosity begins with forgiveness. We have tasted the sweet forgiveness of God given to us generously, freely and with no pre-conditions. Let us be generous in forgiving. Forgiving in love is the highest form of generosity.

Be generous in your appreciation. In Indian culture, appreciating one another and complimenting each other does not come easily. However, as we receive from God and begin to appreciate and compliment others, you will be surprised to see that what goes around comes back to you.

Let us be generous in small giving. There are so many places we interact with people who serve us, such as bearers, bell boys, parking attendants, security are a few of them. With a grateful heart to God can we leave a generous to those that serve us? Such generosity does not wipe away their poverty but certainly lights up their heart, momentarily. For some, it is enough to face another tough day.

Most times, we are generous towards rich and stingy towards others. To the rich we give expensive gifts and large amounts by way of reciprocation and sometimes to impress them. To those who are not rich, we are tight-fisted in our giving. We might give or spend just enough to reciprocate or as an obligation. However, when poor people invite us, let us be generous.

As the Lord prospers you, you will come into money and comforts. More than money and space, what becomes more and more precious is your time. Can we be with people instead of doing things for them? Being generous in time with people is better than being generous in things for the people. We will become a little bit more like Christ. After all He left heaven and came down to be with us.

Blessings.
Samson
(Dr. Samson Gandhi)

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Practice Generosity – Joy and Character Will Come Your Way

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Practice Generosity – Joy and Character Will Come Your Way

Generosity is a spirit of life. It is not just a matter of giving away money and things, although that is a part of it. Our source of understanding generosity is neither Bill Gates nor Warren Buffet, although I have a great regard for them. Our template is God Himself as He is restoring His image in us. Christ in us is the hope of glory. He can empower us to be generous.

God is generous. He creates big, loves us lavishly and treats us like kings. He is building mansions for us; He will come and take us to heaven, personally. As He thinks of the whole world, He thinks of me. Though His mind is filled with mind-boggling concerns of the world, He is mindful of my little needs. God is generous in His details. His outlook is never sketchy.

The forgiveness of God made possible in Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of all generosity.

The forgiveness of God made possible in Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of all generosity. He paid the debt I could never repay. Wiped away the blot I could never erase. He is lifting me to heights I could never attain. None of this at a price but all freely given. Therefore, generosity is His initiative. When we experience such free-flowing grace, we become channels of His generosity. Jesus’ grace is the fountainhead of all human generosity.

Our generosity begins with forgiveness. We have tasted the sweet forgiveness of God given to us generously, freely and with no pre-conditions. Let us be generous in forgiving. When Jesus forgave the sin of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8), He did not even use the word forgive. When He said, “Go and sin no more” to her, nobody was there. When Jesus went into the house of Zacchaeus the Tax collector, there is no mention of a sermon on extortion or patriotism. His graceful and generous presence at his house even at the cost of criticism, condemnation and rejection by a section of the community was amazing.

We would be so awful if we were to expose a person before forgiving; if we were to make him/her feel miserable before releasing; if we were to forgive but bring it up again and again. When you forgive, do it generously. The only way we can do it is to see Jesus on the cross dying for our sins. Forgiving in love is the highest form of generosity. When our heart becomes light, our lips become gracious (generous) and hands become big.

Be generous in your appreciation. Offer compliments generously.

Be generous in your appreciation. Offer compliments generously. In Indian culture, appreciating one another and complimenting each other does not come easily. If we grew up without much appreciation, we will find it difficult to appreciate others. However, as we receive from God and begin to appreciate and compliment others, you will be surprised to see that what goes around comes back to you. However, I am not at all suggesting that one must flatter the other. Flattery is a deception. We must train ourselves to look at the bright side of every person and reflect a positive image to them. Make believing statements like, “I know you can do this.” Or “If I had my way, you would be in my team.” Or to someone young, “You rock!”

Let us be generous in small giving. There are so many places we interact with people who serve us. Bearers in restaurants, bell boys at hotels, parking attendants (where parking is not paid for), valet parking attendants, boys who carry groceries from the counters of a supermarket to your scooter/car, security guards at gated communities, auto rickshaw drivers and cab drivers are a few of them.

A cultural approach to this would be to offer a tip as a polite gesture. Leaving a decent tip for a good service is transactional. Verbal appreciation and decent tip would be a humane approach. But what would be a generous approach? If God has blessed you, and you are sensitive that all those that serve you struggle with poverty (at many of these places the employers just give them a meagre, nominal salary and expect them to survive on tips), then with a grateful heart to God can we leave a generous tip or offer a generous gratis to those that serve us? Such generosity does not wipe away their poverty but certainly lights up their heart, momentarily. For some, it is enough to face another tough day.

Most times, we are generous towards rich and stingy towards others.

Most times, we are generous towards rich and stingy towards others. When we are invited to weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and other social functions we tend to segregate our hosts and categorize them. To the rich we give expensive gifts and large amounts by way of reciprocation and sometimes to impress them. Probably, we think the rich will recognise us, return the favour in some form or the other and somehow we want to measure up to their status. I believe most rich people don’t care for the gifts but value your presence. If this is true then will a bouquet of flowers be sufficient?

When we are invited by those who are not rich, we are tight-fisted in our giving. We might give or spend just enough to reciprocate or as an obligation. However, when poor people invite us, let us be generous. They will not be able to return the favour and therefore your gifts would be purely out of generosity without any expectation whatsoever. Some people just send their gifts and not attend the function. Although your gifts may be generous, what will dignify your gift would be your presence. Sometimes our giving of gifts is also in the nature of “settling accounts”. We tend to ask, “What did they give us?” and “What should we be giving?” That is a ‘poor’ spirit of giving. It is difficult to be generous without a generous spirit.

For some of us, more than money, our space matters. Armrests in buses, trains and aeroplanes are a testing ground for our generosity. If you are in a middle seat, both the armrests are in question. In an isle or a window seat at least one armrest is yours. You could possibly share the common one but if it is contested be generous. Give up your privilege with a smile. Be generous. Remember it does not happen always.

Interesting things happen in church, too. Some members come early and occupy an aisle seat as they prefer it or more practically under a fan on a hot day. However, quite a few come late and must cross the aisle seat to occupy others. It is bad practice to come late, disturb the service and inconvenience someone who has come early. However, be generous. Slide and give space to the late-comer. Sometimes, the latecomers are more than the seats available in a pew. They expect the early comer to ‘adjust’. Be generous to leave the pew for their comfort and you find your own space. Go the ‘extra mile’.

More than money and space, what becomes more and more precious is your time.

As the Lord prospers you, you will come into money and comforts. More than money and space, what becomes more and more precious is your time. Jesus ceased from ‘ministry’ and spent time with His disciples. He invited himself to a supper at Zacchaeus’ house. He spent time with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. After an amazing resurrection, Jesus had time to have breakfast with his disciples, walk and chat with Cleopas and his companion. Can we be with people instead of doing things for them? Being generous in time with people is better than generous in things for the people. We will become a little bit more like Christ. After all He left heaven and came down to be with us.

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter – Sept 2018

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter – Sept 2018

Dear Friends,

Presidency or Prime Ministership gives power. A Nobel Prize confers greatness. Riches bring popularity. In some form or the other we all pursue power, prominence and popularity. But I wonder if this list would pass the judgement bar of the scriptures.

Look at what Jesus said: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).” So what stands up to scrutiny is His kingdom or rule (obedience in our life) and righteousness (Christlikeness) in this world?

Everyone wants to look good, be thought of as good and to be remembered for their goodness, righteousness, if you like. They seek to earn righteousness by doing good works. Even the president of America wants to do good; like provide medical insurance for those who cannot afford it. Rich businessmen would like to give billions of dollars for research to eradicate malaria. These are great works but still without Christ in their hearts we know it falls short of His glory because the only righteousness that God would accept is that of Jesus Christ’s.

In the current times, we have a new breed of people who do not even take the trouble of doing any good works but just report a good work, good verse or a good quote and think they have the righteousness needed to make the cut. They are sadly mistaken. When you share a picture of a BMW car you do become the owner of it!

I know a man who is widowed, single, rich and retired. He would post amazing spiritual thoughts and quotes. When you read them you would give glory to God for His deep spirituality. But some months later I heard that he would not even consider helping a needy sibling. His FB posts and his real life are poles apart.

When we share a thought, a quote or a scripture, let us first ask ourselves if we own it. We earn a right to share it if we are living it in Christ. Otherwise it is virtual righteousness not useful in real world or the next. Jesus called it hypocrisy.

Blessings.
Samson
(Dr. Samson Gandhi)

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Friends in Fellowship – PtP Prayerletter – August 2018

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