26 Apr Dr Saggu: Two milestones and a whole new world
Dr Abraham Saggu was born into a Hindu family in a remote village in south India. After his father passed away, his mother came to faith in Christ and eventually became a “bible woman.”
The only child in the family, Saggu was attending church for a year and thought he was living out life as a Christian until a divine appointment one night. He was at home when he overheard his mother sharing the gospel with an elderly lady. Among other things, his mother asked the neighbour, “Where will you spend your eternity if you die tonight?”
“The lady was evasive in her reply but my mother was repeatedly stressing ‘if you die tonight’,” Saggu said.
Saggu, who was 16 years old then, was deeply troubled by that question and couldn’t sleep until midnight.
“That night I prayed and I gave my heart to the Lord,” said Saggu.
Little did Saggu know then that his simple home would yet be the venue of another momentous occasion. Barely one and a half years after that life-transforming encounter, Saggu’s house hosted yet another visitor, this time a pastor who was staying over for the night.
Saggu, then an aspiring mathematics professor, was busy preparing for his post-high school final examination. As was his routine, Saggu was reading the bible and praying before getting down to his studies. Suddenly, he heard a voice prompting him to read the book of 1 Samuel chapter 3.
“It is a familiar passage but I still turned to the page. It is about the Lord calling Samuel three times and Samuel answering and going to Eli. And the rest of the story is there,” he said.
Saggu was restless the whole night and he simply could not study although the books were all there on the table in his room.
“After wrestling with the issue for some three hours, I finally knelt down and prayed. I said, ‘Lord, I understood that it was a call to full-time ministry’.”
That night the visiting pastor didn’t speak a word to him although he was staying in the same hall. Early the next morning, the pastor left for an appointment, but not before knocking on the door of Saggu’s mother’s room.
His parting words were: “Your son was restless, reading the bible and praying. Find out what it is.”
On checking with Saggu, his mother was told that he had decided to serve the Lord.
“When I told my mother about this calling, she said she had been praying for it. But she asked me to enroll for theological studies first,” Saggu said.
That was the turning point in his life for it meant the end of his personal dreams and ambition. Admittedly, it wasn’t an easy decision but Saggu just decided to follow His call.
Saggu has since been led into several areas of ministry that he had thought he was unfit for or uncomfortable with. After graduating with a bachelor in theology, he served as an assistant pastor in a village for over a year but somehow felt he was not “cut out” for pastoring.
Saggu said preaching was not a problem but he lacked the skill to counsel people in crisis, possibly because of his introverted nature and upbringing as the only child in the family.
But as much as he tried to steer away from ministries requiring people skills, he kept landing administrative and management roles such as Academic Dean, Director of DMin. Studies, and registrar when he would rather “go and teach a class and then go back to my room”.
The Lord has other ideas and his grace has served Saggu more than sufficiently.
“Maybe it is in this area of relating to people that the Lord wanted to equip me. While I was teaching, the Lord was training me,” he said.
In October 2015, Saggu launched a consortium of five institutions which is providing an Asia Theological Academy (ATA)-recognised MDiv. in Nepal for the first time.
Saggu said there is an enormous need for theological education in Nepal, a country in which Christianity has seen rapid growth in the last 30 years.
His vision is that in three to five years, at least two institutions in Nepal will start their own MDiv. programme, freeing the consortium to concentrate on MTh.
Saggu is also the founding dean of the Nepal Theological Academy in Kathmandu, Nepal (which will soon be renamed Graduate School of Theology as per ATA’s suggestion) and was secretary of missions agency, Parivarthana Trust in India for 10 years.
He has been involved in theological education for the last 30 years, and his string of qualifications includes a PhD in Old Testament from the University of Mysore, MTh from United Theological College, Bangalore and an M.A (Philosophy) from Osmania University, Hyderabad. His last assignment was at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS), Bangalore.
“I hope to make a lasting impact before I retire. My contribution will not just be to certain institutions but to a nation,” he said.
Saggu is an AsiaCMS Co-Mission Partner based in Lalitpur, Kathmandu