Bishop Sturm has been a priest since 1977 and was ordained as a Bishop in September 2006. Born and brought up in Canada, he first came to India in 1985 along with many other brothers from Canada who had been appointed to serve in India. Bishop Sturm shares with us about his life in India.
How many years have you been coming to India? What was your experience in India like?
The first time I came to India was in 1985 as a priest, so that is 31 years ago. As a little boy, I always dreamed of visiting the Taj Mahal but when I landed in Bombay (Mumbai) and saw the living conditions and poverty of the people, my heart was filled with compassion. On my first trip to India, I went with Apostle Horn to Aurangabad in Maharashtra, and he assigned me a particular area. I still remember his words to me, “This is now under your care.”
This country has grown so much in the last few years. In the late 80s, I remember having to book long distance calls from phone booths on the road. But today every one has a smartphone. Trains were the primary mode of transportation then and even traveling small distances took a long time as the trains traveled at 30 kph. At that time, having a bike or even better, a car was a total ‘wow’-factor. But today most people travel by air and there are highways, fast trains, buses and cars. The standard of living of the people has improved significantly.
Was it hard getting used to the Indian culture?
Indian music is very different and it really connects people. What touched me the most in India is that parents work really hard to give their children a good education. Men and women have very different roles and the language barrier was a challenge at times.
It took me sometime to get used to the Indian spices. But in time I started to enjoy the food. My favourite Indian dishes are Butter Naan and Chicken Tikka.
I enjoyed staying in Vizag (Vishakapatnam), Gujarat and Delhi but to me, the city which is definitely a step above the rest is Bangalore (Bengaluru).
Tell us about the New Apostolic Church in India – then and now!
Initially the language barrier was quite a challenge. I spent the first 20 years teaching and equipping the Indian ministers with a proper understanding of the doctrine, the sacraments and the liturgy. I was overwhelmed at the spiritual development of God’s children throughout the years, the level to which they were willing to sacrifice and the extent of their faith. Today the language barrier is almost non-existent with many brothers teaching in the local language.
The New Apostolic Church in India has come a long way. I encourage the administration team to set up a plan for financial self-sufficiency. Local brothers: Remember that with God, everything is possible.
Have you accomplished all you set out to accomplish?
I often ask myself this question. Have I achieved all my spiritual goals? Yes. I supported my District Apostle and his Helper to ensure God’s work reached a higher level. Honestly, the fruits of the work here are greater than I ever expected. The local Apostles and Bishops are taking over the teaching program, and things are getting streamlined across the country.
On a personal note, I even got to see the Taj Mahal together with my daughter and Apostle David, on one of my recent trips. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
This country has taught me to appreciate the small things in life. I would love to come back to India because I love India.