Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) held farewell for its General Secretary Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, who revolutionizes the organisation while leading the evangelical body for two decades; and also held the installation of Rev. Vijayesh Lal as its Executive Director on Friday evening at Delhi Bible Institute near Khan Market, New Delhi.
With the theme, "The man who touches million of hearts," the farewell function for Rev. Dr. Richard Howell was well attended by top evangelical leaders in the country, who flew in from various parts of the country and abroad who testified how Dr. Howell brought evangelicals from various and varied theological backgrounds together under one platform and gave them the necessary united voice to expand the mission of Christ touching millions of hearts in the country and beyond.
Those who could not make it to the gathering sent their video-taped farewell message which was played. The leaders who were in attendance include Revd Canon Dr. Vinay Samuel, founder of Oxford Centre for Religious Liberty, UK, Rev. Dr. Isaac Shaw of Delhi Bible Institute, Dr. John Dayal, prominent journalist and Christian activist, and many others; the gathering was emceed by Rev. Dr. Atul Aghamkar of Centre for Urban Studies at South Asia Institute of Advance Christian Studies (SAIACS), Bangalore. Famous missiologist like Dr. Luiz Bush, Rev. Dr. Bambang Bujidanto of Indonesia, Mr. Godfrey Yogarajah of Evangelical Fellowship of Sri Lanka, and many more gave their farewell message via video as well.
Dr. Howell had served EFI as its general secretary for 20 long years and he is currently the general secretary for Asia Evangelical Alliance (AEA) and he is Vice President of World Evangelical Alliance. Although he leaves the organisation as the general secretary he will remain chairman of the EFI Council of Churches. Earlier, he had served as a Principal of a Bible College and as a pastor had preached the word of God around the world.
During his farewell speech, Dr. Howell said that it was team work that made the journey difference and successful. "It was never a one-man show. It was team work. I had a great team. I hope this will continue," he said; and thanked everyone who had contributed to the success of the organisation. And he said that Rev. Vijayesh Lal is God's anointed man of God who has the passion and zeal for the Lord, who will lead EFI to greater heights. He said that Rev. Lal had worked hard for the persecuted church in the country. "He will do very well," he said. "I wish him all the very best," he added.
Preaching the farewell sermon for the outgoing leader as well as the installation of the new leader, Rev. Dr. Isaac Shaw invoked the story of Elijah and Elisha from 2 Kings 2. The ministry of Elijah was great because it was led by the Holy Spirit, Elisha wanted double the portion of the Spirit that his leader had. Both the leaders walked by the Spirit. "It was not by might, but by the Spirit, says the Lord," he said. And said Rev. Vijayesh Lal will really do well like Elisha, like Joshua who took the baton from Moses and Timothy from Paul, etc.
The new Executive Director, Rev. Vijayesh Lal has an MBA degree as well as a theology degree and belongs to Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. He has been serving the organisation in various positions which include national director of the Religious Liberty Commission under EFI had worked hard for the organisation. He thanked the outgoing leader for being an example to everyone. "Rev. Dr. Richard Howell's position can never filled," he said. He said that he told the EFI staff and his colleagues not to expect that he will fill up the void created by, it is not possible. "I will never be Dr. Howell. I can be Vijayesh Lal at best," he said.
The prayer of the installation of the Executive Director was led by Revd. Canon Dr. Vinay Samuel, Founder and Director of Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life who flew in from UK even as Dr. Howell and other leaders laid their hands on Rev. Lal and his wife Mrs. Surinder Kaur Lal. The Canon called the blessings of the Almighty God to be with the new leader and empower him with his Holy Spirit and strengthen him in every area so that he can do well for the body of Christ.
The installation of Rev. Vijayesh Lal marked a new era for EFI as it no longer has the post of the General Secretary but the Executive Director will lead the organisation instead in the new era.