The Christian Ashram is a unique form of retreat, with a specific format created by E. Stanley Jones and refined by the experiences of those who have worked with it. It was founded in 1930 in the country of India. The ashramis an ancient Indian institution, traditionally a “forest retreat” where the teacher withdraws with his disciples to inculcate his teaching in that seclusion. Often lasting for several months, the participants live a life in common with simplicity and devotion as the chief characteristics.
Brother Stanley founded a “forest retreat” in the Himalayan mountains of northern India called Sat Tal, which means Seven Lakes. In 1930 he met there with Rev. Yunas Sinha, an Indian pastor who had been converted from Hinduism, and Miss Ethel turner, a British missionary. It was through their prayers and creativity that the concept of the Christian Ashram was born. A Christian Ashram would be a place where Christ would be the Teacher, the “Guru” (literally “dispeller of darkness”). The Christian Ashram would be designed to break down all barriers of race, class, culture and religion. Seekers coming together would experience the “Kingdom of God in miniature.”
Ten years later a close friend of E. Stanley Jones who was converted to Christ through him, asked Brother Stanley if he would transplant the Christian Ashram in America. The first Christian Ashram in North America was the Saugatuck Ashram in Michigan, which met in August of 1940. For the next several years the ministry of the Christian Ashram was administered through the Department of Evangelism of the Federal Council of Churches (reorganized as National Council of Churches in 1951) and the Canadian Council of Churches.
Brother Stanley described the Christian Ashram as an “organism.” His ideal for “organizing the organism” was that it be as simple as possible and that the Ashram movement be kept open theologically, spiritually and practically.
In 1972, while leading a local Ashram in Oklahoma, Brother Stanley suffered a stroke and was left impaired of speech and physical activity, but not impaired mentally and spiritually. Between that time and January 25, 1973, when he died, he dictated his last book “The Divine Yes”and in June of 1972 gave moving messages from his wheel chair at the First Christian Ashram World Congress. At this congress, 325 delegates from many countries witnessed the memorable moment when Brother Stanley gave the Christian Ashram movement into the hands of Ashramites form six continents.
Since his death, the Christian Ashram under indigenous leadership goes on to show how Christ touches us vitally and redemptively at every point of need. Periodically groups of people gather in “forest retreats” to learn of Jesus Christ. This direct, very personal evangelism is the essence of the Christian Ashram.
EDITORIAL COMMENTS: I first heard of Christian Ashrams in 1946 from my Aunt Prudence Littlewood from Nova Scotia. She quite possibly attended the Saugatuck Ashram in Michigan in 1940. She spoke in most glowing terms of what it had meant to her – and in a manner somewhat uncharacteristic of her normal reaction. She would have been 57 at the time.
Then in the 1960’s Rochunga Pudaite of “Bibles for the World” – from Assam and Manipur, India – strongly urged me to read “A Song of Ascents” by E. Stanley Jones. I have reread it several times, always with great profit and inspiration. One of his ‘steps of ascent’ is his story of the Christian Ashram, which he recounts with enthusiasm.
About the same time I attended a meeting in the Chicago area and heard “Brother Stanley” speak. He was then in his 70’s, but spoke clearly, lucidly and with strong conviction.
In the 80’s his book “The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person came into my hands. This too I read carefully several times, and recommended it to a number of my friends
I had been reading “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers for some 15 years or more, but my wife Marie picked up a copy of “Abundant Living” by E. Stanley Jones at a garage sale for 50 cents. I sensed the Spirit urging me to replace Chamber’s devotion with this. It was not a put-down for Chambers, but while he majors on the vertical intimacy of the individual soul with Jesus – Brother Stanley emphasizes groupscoming into corporate unity with the Lord. I believe it is not a case of either/or – but the present truth of the Spirit is strongly emphasizing this latter.
I have been teaching on the Christian Ashram principles of Dr. Jones for many years. But recently John Roddam, Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, and Ed Hird, Rector of an Anglican Church in North Vancouver, BC Canada, encouraged me to attend a one day Ashram last week hosted by St. Luke’s.
My custom is to withhold my attendance at conferences unless God very directly and plainly lets me know that it is His desire I attend. In this case He said, “Don’t you think it is hypocritical to teach regularly on Christian Ashram principles, yet not to have attended one yourself? Don’t you think it would be consistent for you to attend?” I agreed, and immediately made arrangements with the Rector John Roddam to attend.
It was great, and the spin-offs were most interesting also. I renewed acquaintanceship with David Cline of White Rock, BC Canada, whom I had not seen since 1948 when we together attended St. Andrew’s College and the University of Saskatchewan. He thought he remembered me as having dark hair, and I remembered him as being somewhat slight!
I am presently considering how I can take extra steps to become yet more successful in sharing the effective and heart-warming relationship with Jesus and one another that flows out of the Christian Ashram principles. -- Jim Watt. (For more information write: United Christian Ashrams International, 901 South Vienna Street, Ruston, Louisiana 71270, -- Tel: 318/232-0004 --- www.christianashram.org
I first met Larry Titus in Wenatchee, Washington in the 60’s I believe, and at his invitation had the privilege with my wife Marie to speak a number of times in his church.
But recently God has used Pastor Tom Isenhart of Puget Sound Christian Center of Tacoma to bring us into fellowship once again.
Larry ministered at a Monday luncheon to a number of area pastors and Christian workers recently. I was struck with the very practical and important points that he shared with the men, especially as he related them to the privilege of every man as a Mentor, a Husband and a Father. These are actually 3 messages in one, and to them he has a fourth on “How God Uses Satan to Our Great Advantage.” I can heartily recommend that you obtain the 4 cassette tapes in this series. They can be obtained from “Kingdom Ministries Int’l (KMI) through the e-mail of Larry Titus -- LNTitus@aol.com
Here are a few of the nuggets I jotted down from this message. If just 10 men would seriously mentor 3 other men every 3 months in such a vital manner that they in turn could reproduce 3 more in 3 months – Within a short time there would be 2 million vital men who could turn the world upside down. Dawson Trotman founded the “Navigators,” and proved the validity of this principle. He recounts it in his little booklet, “Born to Reproduce.”
To be a vital, reproducing Christian, -- major on the Gospel of John and the other 3 Gospels. We must know Jesus intimately if we are to be exceeding fruitful. (This lines up with the teaching of Rees Howells, Madame Guyon and Michael Molinos.)
A true disciple of Jesus is set to love and serve. The Son of man came not to be ministered to – but to minister, and give His life a ransom for many!
Men, be a father to your children. Not many fathers love fervently and give time to their children.
Let people into your home, or they will never get into your heart.
We talk about prayer and don’t do it – the same with discipleship. And remember, mentoring means to father!
You are young and desire to please God. Then relate to older people and sit at their feet. Learn of them. It will speed the process of your growth and development.
Let discipleship be the basis of all you teach.
Share what Punctuality means as it relates to the Word! (Bill Gothard agrees!) If you are late, you are taking advantage of others!
God can use even failures (Romans 8:28).
We need others to give input into our lives. Invite it – open yourself to make it possible. Have an Open Heart! (This is a Christian Ashram principle!)
Let everybody be your business. If one like Larry doesn’t share and speak into lives, then who will?
Give your life to 3 who in turn will give their lives to 3, and you can save your city.
Men have issues – they will come because of a lack of a father. These issues must be healed. This insight will fit 80-90% of men. Will you join Larry in being a Healer and then a Mentor?
Dear Jim – I just finished reading “Jewish Roots”. What a blessing! Awesome, awesome, awesome! One example that really helped me was his explanation of head covering for women. Throughout, Dan was balanced and showed great wisdom. A must read for every Christian, but especially Elders!
Dear Awesome! My dear brother – what a treat hearing from you, and that our friend Dan Juster has been a blessing and challenge to both of us!
As you know, in a twice-monthly Mentoring/Production Class, “Jewish Roots” is the basis for our Mentoring section. This sets the parameters for the Production of the 40 Corporate Prayers that God has given us as an assignment. In our estimation, what Daniel Juster has laid out in this abbreviated theology, is as balanced and sound as perhaps can be found between Israel and the Church.
You are right. This book IS a “read” for every Christian, but especially for Elders. The Church has lost her Jewish moorings, starting between the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD; next between the time of the rebellion of Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiva in 135 AD; and then Constantine and the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.
What the church has lost in very large part is its original understanding of the nature of her “Jewish Roots.” Corporate Prayers produced within these original parameters can in a practical manner aid the church to regain what she has lost. We feel God has led us to design our Newsletters to set forth the balance that was in His mind in the beginning.
Many voices are in the world and in the church today. ONLY the Plumbline of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, can accurately point the way through the maze of cults, aberrations and -isms – into a balanced God-pleasing view of where He is leading us. Daniel Juster points us to a balanced way of seeing these aberrations and avoiding their pitfalls.
For instance, have you run across “Your Arms To Israel News” by Rabbi Moshe Koniuchowski and his “Two House Teaching?” Have you discerned its subtle British Israel teaching with a new twist? I was introduced to a window of this in 1933 when I was 10, and it is still around. The enemy doesn’t have many original ideas. He merely dusts off old ones every 50 years or so and gives them a new twist. Norman B. Willis is causing divisions in this movement already with yet another new twist.
There are dozens of the above – they are a dime a dozen. The Daniel Justers can help us weave through the labyrinth of confusion and come to balance and sanity. JAW. (“Jewish Roots” by Daniel C. Juster, 1986, ISBN 0-937831-00-X – Davar Publishing Co., 13-15 E Deer Park Rd., Suite 202, Gaithersburg, MD 20877; Phone: (301) 977-0156)