"That is my school!" exclaims a Tamil woman at a recent Haystack celebration planning committee meeting in Melbourne, Australia. Her school, the Uduvil School pictured in the photo we are viewing, was the first school for women in Asia, she claims. Started by American Board missionaries, it provided education to her and other young women in India at a time when females were considered little more than family wealth in the form of dowries. Her education there changed her life. She proudly explains that the Uduvil School continues to provide education to women of Sri Lanka today.
In anticipation of the Haystack Bi-Centennary, the Tamil Christian communities of Melbourne are planning a celebration to be held at the Churches of Christ Theological College on 30 September, 2006. This venue has been chosen because Global Ministries missionaries, Ana and Tod Gobledale, are currently serving there as chaplains. Prayers, to be shared at the respective Haystack Celebration events have been exchanged with the Williamstown UCC, USA. This prayer is written by Rev. S. Manopavan, a minister in the Uniting Church of Australia, originally from the American Ceylon Mission, Church of South India. It expresses the gratitude of so many people who have come through the American Board (now Global Ministries) institutions, schools and churches, and live in Australia today.
God of grace and God of love, it is with grateful hearts that we come before you as we reflect on our rich Christian heritage as Tamil Christians. Two centuries ago, five College students were gripped by a deep sense of call to move out of their comfort zone in order to take their own experience of your love as revealed in your Son to be shared with those living in far away countries around the unknown world of that time. We thank you, O Lord that you spoke to them so clearly in that storm that they accepted the trust you had placed on them. Heavenly Father, we, the beneficiaries of their obedience, thank you for them and all who followed them in the mission field. Accept our praise and thanks, O Lord, that today we are a people of your blessing, of enlightenment, of confidence, and above all a people of deep faith in your goodness. May our gratitude commensurate with our desire to be obedient to your call to serve you and your people. AMEN
Please pray for those gathering in Melbourne on Saturday 30 September.