When a Langham Scholar Returns …
Pakistan: ‘It is very important that our young people be trained up to demonstrate they are good citizens’
So, what happens when a Langham Scholar returns home after completing his or her studies?
Naveed*recently returned to Pakistan after completing his studies as a Langham Scholar. He returned to the work he did before. But now as Director and Principal of the theological training institute that provides distance-learning theological courses for Christians.
Naveed’s own recent experience as a student has fired his vision for broad theological education. He is enthusiastic about supporting believers in their faith. It means helping them grow in their knowledge of the gospel and of how to persevere through all kinds of trials. And encouraging them to bring glory to Jesus by blessing their local communities in practical ways.
Many students have taken courses through the seminary over the years. Few complete full ‘programmes’ – more often, students’ studies are interrupted (sometimes for a year or two) because not all courses can be offered every year.
Christian young people, in particular, face many challenges. Some suffer low self-esteem, having grown up, perhaps, in an area where they were treated as part of a despised minority. The seminary is now responding to that need through a new Youth Department that develops and implements programmes aimed at Christian teenagers.
Modules like ‘Me and my Identity’ or ‘Me and my Family’ aim to help young people reflect on their Christian identity. About one third of the thousands of students currently enrolled are teenagers. Some of the tutors work exclusively with them.
‘In the past, Christians had a good reputation for honesty and reliability, but under the current circumstances this perception is no longer widely held. So it is very important that our young people be trained up to demonstrate they are good citizens and contribute to a thriving Pakistani society’, says Naveed. This is at the heart of new modules like ‘Me and my Environment’, ‘Me and my Ethics’ and ‘Me and my Society’.
All students are encouraged to meet weekly in small groups with tutors. There are several hundred tutors. All are volunteers. They also assess students’ weekly homework tasks.
Internet access and power supply are unreliable in many parts of Pakistan. So study materials have to be sent by mail. And, because students have little access to libraries, workbooks have to include excerpts from reference sources. Naveed explains: ‘This makes the materials very lengthy, and increases printing costs, and weight, which means higher postage costs!’
Naveed’s leadership does not stop here. It reaches further: also to Langham Preaching, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in this country in October 2015.
It is apparent then: the return of a Langham Scholar powerfully boosts the interest on the investment of the talents he received!
*Not his real name.
By Gillean Smiley, Langham Australia