CTS seems a thriving and lively institution, dedicated to providing training where the previously existing colleges in Sri Lanka did not reach. It serves Evangelicals from the traditional denominations (there are a couple of Methodists and an Anglican in the class I’m teaching) and from the Assemblies of God (the biggest single group).
The college has a lively vision for training that equips students not only (or even, if I’ve got it right, primarily) for pastoral leadership but often for part-time ministries or simply to be effective intellectual Christians in their workplace. So, also in my class there are two or three out of the dozen who work in advertising and PR, as well as the pastor of an AoG church and a guy who works in the University ministry supporting Christian students in the four or five Universities in Colombo.
CTS teaches in both Sinhala and Tamil as well as English and is committed to making resources available in these languages. To achieve this as well as encouraging busy teachers to write, and in the MA program equipping Christians to think and write, they have a “research professor” whose work in primarily writing. CTS has extension centres in both Sinhalese and Tamil parts of the country to which teachers from Colombo go to deliver short intensive programs.
“My” class is part of the MA program which is intended either to build on a previous theology degree giving students sharper skills in biblical studies or missiology (the two majors offered) or to equip people with degrees and careers in other disciplines to think theologically (biblically or missiologically). A focus of the goals of the programme is also to equip them share their thinking through writing and other means and so communicate theological thinking more widely in the church.
The security situation, with the cease-fire having ended at the start of the year, is a concern to many people. On the day we arrived all the schools in Colombo proper were closed, (though not those in the “outlying districts” of the city) because the previous day had been Independence Day, and terrorist actions were feared. The college is opposite a police station, and as our class was beginning we were asked if anyone had a car parked in the street outside – later we heard that the police had towed the offending vehicle, presumably it was harmless! Most people in the city are living their lives normally. However, some have become a bit nervous. I expect that as in Belfast in the 70s (with the IRA and UDA bombings) it is the long term mild increase in tension that will tell most on most people. So please pray for the peace of this city of 3-4 million people. It is the capital and by far the largest in a country the size of Ireland with a total population rising from 20 million.
Today, following last night’s 6pm – 10pm class, we have a full day’s teaching, and then this evening we will share a meal with Jonas (who is responsible for the MA programme) and those students from the class who are available. So it really is an intensive start to my part of the course!
Our introduction to Sri Lanka was more leisurely, with a lovely day and a half on a beautiful beach outside Galle. The high tide mark was just below our deck and we slept to the sound of breakers.