Stavan John in India

Dear Friends,

Please intercede with us this week for Stavan John in India.

The second most populous country in the world, India is home to 1.38 billion people (80% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 2% Christian, 2% Sikh). Since March, COVID has swept through India, killing hundreds of thousands of people. A new study shows that the total death toll may be around 4 million. Thousands of pastors and lay leaders have also lost their lives, leaving churches, seminaries, and ministries in dire straits. Please pray for the people of India and for the Church’s ministry amid the crisis. Pray for a new generation of Christian leaders to step forward in faith.  

Stavan is pursuing a PhD in Systematic Theology at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (UK). His dissertation on “The Risen and Ascended Humanity of Christ in T.F. Torrance’s ‘Complete’ Christology” examines Christian understandings of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. This research is especially important in Indian contexts influenced by Hindu avatar theology, which emphasizes the spirit over the body. Stavan’s work will serve as a corrective, showing that Christ has achieved the complete salvation of whole persons. Stavan is part of a strategic faculty development plan at South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies or SAIACS (a VSI client school), where he will teach after graduation. Stavan is married to Christina.      
Stavan shares the following message:

Dear ScholarLeaders Community,
Greetings to you in Jesus’ name. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share an update and a few prayer requests. As you are aware, the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 in India was in May. It would not be an overstatement to say that no one in the country has been spared from heartache and loss. Both my parents contracted the virus and at one point my father was critical, but we thank the Lord for having mercy on us and healing both my parents. 
It is sobering to realize that while we as a family rejoice in God’s goodness to us, for many others, this second wave has caused trauma and much grief. Please continue to pray for our country as the threat of a potential third wave looms on the horizon. May the Lord intervene and grant wisdom to leaders as they deal with many challenges, including bolstering the healthcare system and restarting economic activity as lockdowns are gradually lifted. 
Please pray for the new academic year at SAIACS, which began in June. We continue to function online, but we all look forward to a time when we can interact more personally. Until then, we are thankful for technology and for all who work hard to help our programs run efficiently. 
One of the consequences of the second wave was the loss of many theologically trained leaders. As students in our seminary learn in this new online environment, and as many others get trained elsewhere, please pray that God will raise up a new generation of Christian leaders who will fill the deep void left by those who have passed away. Please also uphold COVID relief initiatives, like the ones started by SAIACS to monetarily help staff and faculty of theological institutions who have lost loved ones or who have had large COVID-related medical expenses. May such efforts multiply to help people in desperate need. 
Please pray for the Church in India to be the hands and feet of Jesus in serving the people of this land. Many lay Christians have led or been part of initiatives to help people find hospital beds, procure oxygen cylinders, get medical advice from doctors, and even help bury or cremate deceased COVID victims. A few had to perform last rites on behalf of family members who were unable to do so because they were also affected by COVID. Churches, too, have helped by providing oxygen beds and medical care to people. May such work inspire many others within the Church to serve those in need.
Studying during this time is difficult, but we thank the Lord for the privilege that is ours to train to serve Him more effectively. I’m particularly thankful to the Thomas F. Torrance Fellowship for the warm welcome they extended to me. I benefited from my many interactions with a Torrance discussion group that met weekly on Zoom. Learning theology in community is indeed a great blessing. 
I am nearing the end of writing my thesis. I have a pre-viva scheduled in the middle of October this year. Please pray that it goes well, and that I will be able to polish my thesis and defend it soon thereafter. Torrance’s theology of the ascension of Jesus continues to be intellectually stimulating and practically relevant. 
We thank the Lord for enabling my wife, Christina, to graduate with an MDiv from SAIACS in April. Please pray for her as she serves the Lord through theological editing. 
We are grateful for your prayers for us.
Stavan John

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