Back in 2017 Mr Jiju Ninan and Miss Phyllis Treasure, better known as Mummy, visited New Zealand. As a part of that visit they met with me to talk about the possibility of offering online courses throughout India.
They have a wonderful Bible college there in Kerala called Rehoboth Theological Institute (RTI), of which Jiju is the registrar. The college has many people from all over India, and beyond, contacting them wanting to study the Bible online. These people are unable to leave their locations due to family or work commitments.
The Bible College has been looking for different ways to serve these people and through Karen Brookes they found Pathway’s online material and wanted to see if there was a way to partner with us. Their initial goal was to simply offer our online courses throughout India. As we met together and then talked over the next year, we agreed that it would be much better for Pathways College to enable RTI to offer their own online courses taught by their faculty. The primary reason for this is simply the cultural and language differences.
It has been a long difficult process due to culture, time and expense, but we are making good progress. It is more than simply videoing RTI lecturers in a classroom as they teach. Communicating well in an online course is quite different from normal classroom ecturing. We now have an excellent website set up specifically for RTI online courses. We have designed their online program to have two levels of learning.
First of all, there are several introductory courses which someone can take to discover if they are actually able to do online courses and have the time and resources available. If the person completes these introductory courses with the associated online quizzes, and hen completes a short assignment, they will be invited into the RTI online degree programme, using a combination of Pathways College and RTI lectured online courses. Richard and Kath Opie have been incredible supporters of this partnership, and without their wisdom, guidance and cultural understanding I honestly don’t think we would be where we are now.
The dream over the next few years is to assist RTI to get all of their degree courses online so anyone on the planet can study excellent Bible College material. It is exciting to note that we have also had a lot of interest from Indian people living in the Middle East who have heard of the online course development. Through our partnership we would also love to see some of the Indian folk in New Zealand and America and other parts of the world availing themselves of this study. We received a small gift from the Laing Trust in the UK at the beginning of this project, but the rest of the finances have been provided from the Pathways College budget. We have obviously not passed any of the costs of this partnership on to RTI. I would like to purchase recording gear for RTI to enable them to set up their own studio. If the Lord leads you to make a gift towards this, please contact the college on email@example.com.
An exciting offshoot of all this is has been the desire to get Mummy’s testimony, her life’s story, recorded in some format. For a number of years, Kath Opie had been trying to get a biography written about her. However, Mummy is honestly so busy serving the people of India at the orphanage and at RTI that she did not see this as a priority. Finally, through Kath and I, we were able to sit down with her and record a series of videos. Over a number of short 20 minute interviews, we have recorded some of the most amazing stories of Mummy’s life. All sorts of incredible experiences starting when she first went out to India at the age of 22 to how she is still continuing to serve the Lord in amazing ways now that she is 82. Many of the stories that she tells through the videos are very moving and continually prove the faithfulness of God. The number of times in the interviews she would be telling a story and I would think ‘oh my… how will this end’, and then she would just quietly remind me that God is always faithful and then every time some incredible thing would happen and God, as always, would come through and bless her and bless the people of India through her. This is going to be an online video series that Pathways College will offer for free to churches and individuals who want to access it. We will write some discussion questions to go with the videos for people to use in a small group setting. It will be out in the middle of 2019, so for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRAIG BARROW | PRINCIPAL, PATHWAYS COLLEGE OF BIBLE & MISSION