Saturday, September 26, 2009

Noah's Ark in South India

I am forever intrigued with visionaries. I have worked with a few down through the years and what fascinates me about them is how impractical they seem to be.  My bent is to critique everything ad nauseam and view things in terms of efficiency, cost effectiveness and practical application.  Most visionaries think about these things, but after the fact.  They have a propensity to operate on “Ready, fire, aim,” where I am inclined to “Ready, aim, aim, aim…” and never pull the trigger.

I am in the presence of a full-blown visionary this week.  I’ve written about Dr. Vijayam before, but let me briefly tell his story again.  Dr. V is in his ‘70’s.  He retired early as a geology professor from a university to establish TENT (Training in Evangelism Needs and Technology).  Fifteen years ago he purchased about 12 acres of land 22 miles outside the city of Hyderabad.  The property was virtually in the middle of nowhere…still is, but the city is moving his way.  His vision is to use every inch of Carmel Campus for the equipping of bi-vocational missionaries and church workers.  Committed to experiential farming in arid environments the campus is dotted with flora and small animal husbandry.  From pigeons to rabbits to chickens to vermiculture (earthworm  production) anything that can be of use for supporting national pastors in their ministry is tried and taught here.  In addition to plants and animals are classes on how to make candles, book covering and even welding.  The original missionary tentmaker, the Apostle Paul, would be impressed with the activities of TENT. 

A few years back the professor had a vision (not dream or revelation, but an idea) to build a replica the Tabernacle of the Old Testament.  Who would actually travel  to the outback of the country to visit such a reproduction?  Evidently a lot of people as nearly every Sunday and school holidays there are groups of people wanting a tour of the Tabernacle.  Christians and non-Christians alike find the Tabernacle a site worth seeing.

When I arrived on campus last week, for my annual teaching cultural anthropology to the students of JVI and IWILL (go to THIS LINK for description of these programs), Dr. Vijayam shared with me his latest venture…building Noah’s Ark.  “Our campus is not big enough for an exact replica,” he stated, “but it will be about a third the size of the original.”  (It will also be made of cement and steel).  You’re kidding me right?  NOAH’S ARK!

What is interesting about visionaries, like Uncle, is that they are driven by passion for what they endeavor to do.  They are not fool-hearty and they pay for their project as they go (at least some of them do) and they certainly pray about everything before they launch out.  Not driven by market analysis (Who is my customer? Is the site of this campus the best location for those seeking training?), the vision is the bottom line for them, not necessarily the process.

I have some projects of my own I want to launch.  Perhaps its taken the building of Noah’s Ark in the south of India for me to stop thinking about it and just get on with it…quit aimingpull the trigger.