Why do you desire to serve as Senior Pastor at ECC, specifically?
First, put simply, I love ECC. My God-given love for the beloved saints of this congregation is strong and deep. As I’ve served here, as I’ve prayed through our members’ directory, and as I’ve grown in relationships with our members, I have learned what Paul meant when he said “how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:8). Nishika and I (and my children) love the saints of ECC, the elders of ECC, and the fellowship of ECC. We desire to serve here out of deep love and affection for the body of Christ here.
Second, I love and am committed to the vision, mission, and ethos of ECC—to grow disciples from the nations to be gospel ambassadors to the nations. ECC is one of the most strategically located congregations in the world, in a global city in the very heart of the Middle East and Islamic world, at the crossroads between East and West, with a congregational demographic that spans the entire inhabited world and surrounded by unreached people groups. These realities fill me with excitement and vision about the possibilities for ECC to be used of God to make an impact not only on our surrounding region but also to the ends of the earth. I believe ECC could become a central hub for the planting and strengthening of healthy churches and for raising up and sending out gospel ambassadors throughout this region. We have the stewardship of the opportunity to make gospel-impact that could go far beyond our lifetimes.
Third, I do feel a great sense of calling to this particular congregation. This sense of calling from God has been confirmed by both the elders and the Senior Pastor Selection Committee. I have felt this sense of calling many times as I have preached the Word on Friday mornings. I also look back at two moments in particular as providential stirrings of my heart towards a calling to continue serving at ECC long-term. First was our New Year’s Eve service on December 31, 2019. As we were singing together “He will hold me fast,” I was deeply moved by the voices of the congregation lifted up together, and particularly by Mark and Trish Sellers standing immediately behind me and singing “Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast.” As I looked around at the congregation, I felt deeply moved and bound to these beloved saints as I heard the voices of the congregation and marvelled with deep joy at what God is doing in our midst at ECC. The second moment was at the Annual General Meeting in January 2020, when the church voted to become congregational. As we recited the church covenant together, I could barely get the words out of my mouth, being so overwhelmed to hear the passion and joy with which ECC’s members were pledging themselves to one another.
Finally, I look at my life and see ways in which God has uniquely prepared me for long-term service in a multicultural and multi-denominational environment like ECC. I was born and raised in South India where I spent the first 25 years of my life. I studied engineering for four years surrounded by Muslims in an Islamic institution, during which time I came to faith in Christ. My early discipleship and growth for my first 3 years as a believer was in a very multi-denominational fellowship with people from Charismatic, Pentecostal, Brethren, Methodist, Anglican, and other traditions. I then spent nine years of my life in North America and so I am truly “bi-cultural,” able to relate to both East and West. Moving to Abu Dhabi, over the last 3 and a half years, I have found ECC to be a perfect fit for me culturally. I find I am able to relate to both Westerners as well as Africans, Asians, and South Americans with ease and understand all of these cultural perspectives naturally. At the same time, culture is not ultimate; the Bible is. And my biblical training as well as my cross-cultural experience allows me to keep the Bible primary and apply God’s truth across a broad spectrum of cultures. I see all of this as God’s providential preparation for me to serve in an environment like Abu Dhabi and at ECC particularly.