Catch the vision, join the mission - Young pastor seeks to win souls
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
As an ordained minister in the Emmanuel Apostolic Church in Port Maria, St Mary, Pastor Sunil Danhi is one of youngest religious leaders in the parish.
Originally from Pagee, a small fishing district close to the town centre, Danhi became a Christian at 15 years old and began preaching full-time in 2007, after obtaining a degree in dietetics and nutrition (D&N) from the University of Technology.
While he acknowledges the jump from D&N student to clergyman is huge, the 30-year-old minister believes if more young people took similar leaps of faith, the world would be a better place.
Danhi told Family and Religion: "I think the biggest religious issue affecting the people of Port Maria is that they are actually afraid to let go and let God in. You tell people about the importance of giving their hearts to the Lord, but they just aren't willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
"I think this is because standards have been lowered at home and the influence of culture on a whole. Christian principles have broken down, and they were important in helping to push our young people on to the path of serving God. Today, not many young people want to give up certain things to follow God."
Danhi insists the best way to counter this problem is through continuous preaching, teaching and one-to-one engagement.
He explains: "Our intention is to help young people realise that developing a relationship with God is a worthwhile sacrifice.
"It's not easy, but we try to use our experiences to show them that if I can do it, so can they. Young women have their challenges and it's really tough for young men especially, but if God has got me and so many others this far, he can do the same for you."
He adds: "We cannot give up on any souls because Luke 15:7 says: 'Heaven rejoices over one soul that comes to repentance', and so we believe that with the help of God and our continuous efforts, we will show young people the right path and help them understand what God is about."
Looking ahead, Danhi is working on a text-message ministry project and hopes to develop and regenerate his beloved home town with a programme of spiritual enlightenment.
He said: "Right now, we are preparing for our mission's convention, which starts on the 22nd of November under the theme 'Catch the Vision, Join the Mission,' which is about evangelism. We expect to continue to bring God to the people of Port Maria and its environs, and expect to see God doing greater work.
"Outside of that, we desire to take Port Maria for God, and to see this town and parish really transformed. I know things are getting tough, but that's what we vow to do, and believe God sustains us because in Matthew 19:26, Christ says: '... Through man, it's impossible, but through God, all things are possible.'"