Eric Sarwar, Presbyterian minister and church musician from Pakistan, serving as a musical peacemaker in an Islamic context will be visiting our Church in the coming days to deepen relationship.
Eric Sarwar, a Pakistani, is a Ph.D. student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, USA, in the area of intercultural studies, researching the role of Zabur (Psalms) in Muslim-Christian relations. For the past twenty years he has served as an on-the-ground practitioner, Presbyterian pastor, and a visionary voice in this missional movement, serving as a musical peacemaker in an Islamic context. He is the founding president of the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship, Karachi, Pakistan.
Rev. Sarwar’s schedule will include personal encounters with István Szabó, Presiding Bishop of RCH and Károly Fekete, Bishop of the Transtibiscan Reformed Church District in Debrecen and visits at Reformed Universities in Budapest and Debrecen, at the Refugee Ministry and the Mission Department of RCH. Rev. Sarwar will be also received at State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecutes Christians and have a consultation with fellow Church musicians.
The role of Zabur (Psalms) in Muslim-Christian relations
During his upcoming visit he will hold an evening lecture on his scriptural engagement on the common ground of the Psalms, which has the effect of peacebuilding in the 21st century. Eric will also bring a Musical element to his demonstration, that will be engaging. He will sing Psalms in Punjabi melody with English text. The congregation of St Columba's Scottish Church and the Kalunba community will co-host the event on the 29th February. On March 1st Eric will preach in the Sunday service in the Church. The service will be followed by a community lunch with Pakistani specialties. Click for the Facebook event here.
RCH’s relationship with the Presbyterian community in Pakistan has developed in the recent years in the sign of Christian solidarity and mutual encouragement in Mission. In the last years RCH has been listening compassionately to stories and witnesses from Pakistan, we have welcomed scholarship students at the Károli Gáspár Reformed University of RCH, kept posting prayer requests and reflections from Pakistan, but the most grounding and transforming experience was to welcome three young church members, on Eric’s suggestion, at the Starpoint Reformed Youth Festival.
Royal Lawrence from the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan attended the Starpoint festival last year. “I come from a country far away, where, although Christianity is accepted, our church exists as a minority. However, of course, there is beauty in living as a minority. There is great power in that small number… because we represent Christ.” said Royal, a music teacher by profession who also played traditional Punjabi Christian songs at the Starpoint in Debrecen.
RCH was also able to offer small support to the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship (TSCM) which is committed to achieving the best use of music and creative arts in worship and mission, whatever the resources whatever the styles. Through education, training, publication, advice and encouragement. TSCM exists to serve the churches in Pakistan in training, equipping and promoting persons for contextually effective ministry of church music.
During a week of fasting and midnight services at his church in Karachi, Pakistan, musician Eric Sarwar was gripped by a recurring dream. Walking through the city wearing traditional garb, he carried a bag filled with Psalms and hymnbooks. As he went, a crowd of people pressed in on him, pointing and asking, “Did he become a sadhu—a holy man? What happened to him?” Every night, the crowd startled him awake, their words deepening into a single idea: “God was asking me if I would commit my musical gifts to Christian ministry,” Eric says. “I knew I was having a vision, and I prayed, ‘Lord, use me for some new thing in this generation and this country!’” Read more about Eric and his wonderful field of research on the website of the Studio of Fuller Seminary.
Consolation for the Suffering: Stories from the Persecuted Church. Fuller Studio
Eric Sarwar’s visit shall contribute to deepening the understanding and strengthening the commitment of the Hungarian Reformed Community in its dedication to oppose any form of religious discrimination and to show solidarity in prayer and deeds with Christian minorities facing discrimination. A commitment that was expressed in the Memoranda RCH signed with National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon as well as of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East.
“As 'Ambassadors for Christ' in promoting peace and reconciliation, we strictly condemn and oppose any form of religious discrimination, oppression and persecution. In our cooperation, we, therefore, give special attention to helping Christian communities to remain and serve God in their homelands and be witnesses to the Good News of Christ” – reads in the Memorandum of Commitment.