A man who came to the Cayman Islands five and a half years ago as a missionary is leaving today for his home country of India, returning as a missionary.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. PJ Lawrence is returning to the Church of South India as its bishop.
Under his charge will be 500 churches and 100 ministers.
‘This is a spiritual faith journey,’ Mr. Lawrence said. ‘I believe strongly that God is calling me to this. It is a call of God; I know because of the kind of peace I have. I’m very happy and very excited.’
Mr. Lawrence was sent to the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands more than 15 years ago as a missionary from India. He spent his first 10 years ministering in Jamaica.
From Jamaica he was sent here.
‘I feel my experience in the Cayman Islands is of a special value to me because I began to appreciate my role here as the trainer of trainers in the fields of caregiving, counselling, psychology and theology,’ he said.
Mr. Lawrence has served as regional director the Institute for Theological and Leadership Development in both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Lawrence has already begun an ITLD programme in India.
Mark Minott has been acting dean since December when Mr. Lawrence went on sabbatical and will remain in his role.
It was during that time a church committee comprised of religious leaders and laymen met 9 May to select a new bishop for the Church of South India, Diocese of Nandyal.
As bishop he wears a gold ring with a purple stone to show that he is wedded to the church. A large cross hangs around his neck as a symbol of his sacrifice in service. A staff is a symbol of caring for his flock and a special Bible will be used to preach the word of God to all people at all times.
He will take up his duties in a rural area of India where most of the residents are farmers.
The closest airport will be an eight-hour drive away, or 11 hours by train.
‘I’m really going into a remote area,’ he said. ‘I do not want to call them poor, but we are developing.’
There are hospitals, schools, care-giving facilities and a school for the blind, but much more needs to be provided, he said.
‘It is an enormous responsibility in terms of giving leadership, primarily spiritual leadership,’ Mr. Lawrence said.
He’s going to an area where Christians make up only two per cent of the population. The majority religion is Hindu followed by Muslim and then others.
‘We have a very special task of being witnesses to the good news of Jesus Christ, not only through actions, but through living,’ he said.
Mr. Lawrence sees his return to India as a missionary from the Cayman Islands to the Church of South India, forming a partnership between the two.
His term in office at the Church of South India will be six years and then he plans to retire.
And it’s more than likely he’ll return to his home of Grand Cayman.
‘I have three children on this side of the world,’ he said.
Going with him to India will be his wife, Shandha Kumari who is a teacher at John Gray High School. She will be by his side as he leads the church, taking over women’s fellowship.