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The EHA Year of Jubilee 1994-95

KEITH SANDERS
Joining in the Jubilee Celebrations in Delhi, November 1994, was to experience the unrolling of a multicoloured tapestry of varying weave, but with the same strong strands running throughout.

Twenty-five years ago a variety of foreign missions met with Indian Christian leaders to form together a medical and health service to the people of India in the Name and Spirit of Jesus Christ. What began as a loose association of a dozen or so mission hospitals has become a wideranging, increasingly comprehensive, community health and development administration, providing resource (not necessarily the only resource) to over thirty million people. To hear now just the outlines of what is being accomplished in over 35 hospital and community projects is more than anyone can contain. What a contrast to the reportage of the first EHA meeting in 1969 where accomplishment was measured in out-patient and operation numbers! God has graciously honoured the name we took, Emmanuel, for it is evident that He has been at work, that He is very much at work now and that He will continue to work through the EHA as we continue to uphold the Name and Spirit of Jesus Christ.

The events of today are vindication of the policies adopted at the beginning. In the late '60's, as overseas missions were having to relinquish control of their institutions in India, it became apparent that for EHA to be able to adapt to the needs of the people, EHA had to be independent of other organisations. Hence, and not without a lot of heart searching and negotiation, the various institutions became independent of their parent missions. They also had each to become independent registered charities which, while being thoroughly Christian, were also independent of any church or denominational control.

God has been able to work in a great way through the EHA leadership, both in the central administration as well as through the staff, in the many and varied units scattered throughout the northern and central States of India. Now the EHA is readily acknowledged and appreciated by Central Government, as well as by the State authorities. Many overseas funding agencies have grown to trust and to invest aid in EHA. Within India the EHA now maintains mutually valued partnerships and collaboration with many other Christian organisations, including the Evangelical Fellowship of India, the Christian Medical Association of India, the Evangelical Medical Fellowship of India and the Christian Medical Colleges of Vellore and Ludhiana. The EHA model has been studied and where appropriate, applied in other countries as far apart as Zambia, Tanzania and Thailand.

The Jubilee celebrations gave acknowledgement to those who had helped lay the foundations of EHA. As Raju Abraham said in his address on the mission of EHA, "we thank God for those who have passed on the baton of EHA to the people of today, but we must not stop at what has been done, there is much more to be accomplished". Raj Arole, the Chairman of EHA and one who has been honoured by the equivalent of a 'Knighthood' in India, pointed the way to defining the vision for EHA in the future. "Where there is no vision the people perish" and Dr Arole urged EHA to maintain the search to know how to improve all situations in the Name and Spirit of Jesus Christ. He affirmed that community health and development is not achieved by the application of religion, not even a Christian religion. It is the person of Christ, the Spirit of Christ in the individual which brings real community health and freedom of spirit.

It is not irrelevant to note here the publicity currently being given in India today to the influence of William Carey and others with him. They radically changed the character of India through the application of the fear and love of God to all aspects of life - in science, astronomy, engineering, economics, medicine, communication, agriculture, literature, public administration and culture, as well as through the clear exposition of the whole of Scripture. To Carey, the Gospel was God's way of righting wrong and of promoting life in all its fullness through Jesus Christ, the One through whom everything has been made and is held together.

To witness and experience the truly full-hearted commitment by so many leaders and staff in EHA was a highlight of the Jubilee celebrations. Only God knows the difficulties and self sacrifices which so many have undergone in order to fulfil the Lord's will for them. To see the dozens of EHA staff who have served for fifteen years or more, come up to receive an award, was truly inspiring. There is no lack of desire and initiative to further God's work through EHA. State and municipal authorities were there publicly urging EHA to do more, while acknowledging the importance of Christian commitment. The Sikh Commissioner of Slums for the Delhi Development Administration (DDA) almost complained that EHA (through ASHA) had only undertaken health and development services in 15 of Delhi's slum areas! He urged that 30 more be taken on for, he added, the DDA could not do what ASHA does.

What has been noted above of the influence of William Carey is to put into context the movement that is EHA today and to appreciate the wide ranging nature of the EHA Comprehensive Development Programme (CDP). Being independent, EHA can readily adapt to any situation. Being trusted by other responsible organisations, it can help provide a co-operative network, linking many and varied resources. Unashamedly working in the Name and Spirit of Jesus Christ, EHA is a vibrant movement bringing life in all its fullness to body, mind, spirit and community. Indeed, through the EHA we can experience something of what is quoted on one of the lovely picture postcards produced to celebrate the jubilee, 'The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings'. This is true of those who revere His Name.

(Keith Sanders is one time Medical Superintendent of the Duncan Hospital and a Regional Superintendent of the EHA.)
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