Vinoth Ramachandra

Walking the Talk

Posted on: December 8, 2017

In politics rhetoric, while a necessary skill, usually misleads. For instance, no country that carries the title “democratic” and/or “socialist” is either democratic or socialist in any meaningful sense.

Similarly, the United States and the United Kingdom are not only deeply divided politically, but are the most economically unequal among all the industrially developed (OECD) states. That economic inequality keeps widening at a terrifying pace every year. The wealthiest family in the US (the Wallmart owners) have assets amounting to $90 billion, which is the same as the combined income of the 40% poorest Americans or 120 million people.

Last week not only saw the U.S Senate endorse Trump’s egregious tax cuts for the rich (who hide their taxes in secret offshore havens, anyway), but also the resignation of the entire Board of the UK’s Commission on Social Mobility. The reason for the resignation given by the Commission Chair was the massive and frustrating gulf between political rhetoric and political action when it came to addressing the glaring inequalities in British society.

Those of us who were transiting in airport lounges last week would have been subjected to the unavoidable, relentless CNN barrage about Michael Flynn and the Mueller investigation into possible Russian involvement in the Trump campaign. All other news took a back seat. Why should the world care about Russian involvement in American presidential elections when the US has been interfering in the elections of several countries since the Cold War, even to the point of liquidating politicians thought dangerous to American interests?

Just take the case of Nicaragua. The Reagan administration armed and helped train the Contra rebels who were seeking to oust the democratically-elected Sandanista government. The Contras were hand-in-glove with Nicaraguan drug lords, from whom they got the funds to buy weapons from the CIA. The CIA, in turn, protected the drug lords from US law enforcement agencies while they sold crack cocaine on the streets of Los Angeles and other American cities. The Contra conspiracy was eventually exposed and Reagan’s plans failed. But his “war on drugs” achieved its real goal of removing young African-Americans from inner-city ghettos and incarcerating them instead.

When I asked the former leader of an American university Christian organization to help promote my books among his staff, he replied, “I am frustrated that my staff are not reading books”. But, then, he added, “There are also things in your writings that many Americans find difficult to accept.” I was rather taken aback and could only manage a weak riposte, “There are many things in the New Testament that I find difficult to accept!” But accept I must, or else I die.

Talking of death, my beloved wife, Karin, seems to be in the terminal phase of her cancer. We don’t know how much longer she has, but we are thinking of weeks and months rather than years. My prayer is that she will live the last days of her life the way she has always lived: with a clear mind, loving Jesus and caring for others, always reading books and learning, enjoying beauty in creation- and, of course, with minimal pain.

We have just celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary. What drew us together was a shared vision of the Christian life, which included a passion for social justice and an insatiable appetite for learning. We begin each day together with a time of Bible meditation and intercessory prayer, and instinctively seek to view the world and its unfolding events “from the underside”, to use Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s evocative phrase.

Karin often points out that the typical Christian books on suffering coming from the West deal with the middle-class questions, “Why Me?”, “Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” Suffering is an uncomfortable intrusion into an otherwise comfortable existence. But for the vast majority of humanity, suffering is an everyday reality that only makes the world’s headlines when a natural calamity exposes a gross injustice that has been festering unchecked for decades.

Ironically, I had to speak on “Hope in Christ” at an East Asian student conference in Korea in August (you can watch the video at I said nothing new, let alone original, but Karin loved the way I had put it all together and was moved to tears by it. She has been my biggest fan as well as most perceptive critic.

Now it is time for me to walk the talk.

24 Responses to "Walking the Talk"

[…] via Walking the Talk — Vinoth Ramachandra […]

Yesterday I was thinking about you and Karin. Sometimes I have pray for you. May God be with you and gives you the strength. Your writings, despite of a “many things that I difficult to accept”, have been important to reshape my vision and perception of the political and social implications of the gospel.

Dear Vinoth, So sorry to hear about Karin. Will be praying for you both in these testing times. Keep up the good work getting under the skin of us comfortable western Christians. I always look forward to having my life and faith challenged and stretched by your posts!

Brother Vinoth,
Praying for the Lord’s Presence as Karin and you face a new chapter in your life. The Lord never failed to be faithful.

Thanks for openly sharing your struggle. Indeed, it is hard to walk the talk. You and Karin are in my prayers.

Dear Vinoth,

As both an American and a European, I for one am grateful for what you write and expose about the hypocracy that often flows from our western perspectives and proclivities.

I was raised in blue collar, conservative American Roman Catholic circles. I was given and taught a view of America (and the west for that matter) that made us the heros and everyone else the foes. Becoming an American conservative evangelical later in life only increased the penetration of this viewpoint into my DNA.

Thankfully over the last 10 years I have begun to take a deeper look at my faith as well as my culture(s). Long held beliefs are changing. Please know that this blog has been a positive part of my journey and I have learned so much from it.

I offer my thoughts and prayers for all you and Karin are going through.


Vinoth and Karin, my thoughts are with you both. I have benefited much from your joint ministry. I remember that glorious day where I got a glimpse of the eternal community to which we belong – your wedding at All Soul’s. I am praying for Karin’s healing. You are both held in high esteem with all those who have been helped to love our LORD and I am sure in the company of our LORD’s heavenly realm. Keep up the good work. There is an eternity for us, assured by Jesus who died for us and let us be thankful that those whom Jesus purchased continue to live no longer for ourselves but for Jesus who died and was raised from the dead.

Vinoth, perhaps because I am half-Danish the news about Karin is extra painful. Chances of meeting her (or you) in this life are pretty slim, but I look forward to fellowship in the resurrection. You are a great example of why I love folks connected with IFES! May whatever is in store for you in the next weeks/months include an abundance of God’s grace and fuller awareness of his presence.

Thank you for your (you and Karin) commitment to truth. God’s peace, comfort and strength to you both through it all..

Dear Vinoth I thank God for you and Karin. Your lives has been such an inspiration to us. I have learnt so much from your writings and with the help of God try to implement the way of Jesus in our daily lives. Our prayers and thoughts are with you both at this time. I pray that God will surround you with His love, comfort and strength.

Thanks for all your kind messages of support as i walk with Karin in the valley of the shadow of death!

Thank you for sharing this intimate and painful side of your personal life Vinoth. I remember meeting to and you’re stunning wife around seven years ago when you debated an atheist professor at Tufts University just outside of Boston. Please know my love and prayers are with you both.

Dear Vinoth
I am so sorry to learn of your dear wife Karin’s bout with cancer.
What can I say, except to tell you that we will uphold you both in prayer at this difficult time.
May the Lord hold your hand as you walk this difficult pathway.
In His eternal bonds
Tissa Weerasingha

Dear Vinoth,
Please be assured that we are upholding Karin and you in our prayers. May His presence and strength be your portion during this time.
In Christ’s love,

Dear Vinoth,

I am sad to learn about Karin’s health condition. I still remember her warm response and enthusiasm when i introduced myself as an Indonesian Christian at IFES conference/Toko in the Netherlands back in 2009.

The sermon you shared back then has definitely shaped my worldview as a Christian and has made me to realize the calling that our Lord has given to us to stand for the poor, marginalized, and for social justice.
In fact, this has influenced my career decisions significantly where i deliberately have chosen to work in organizations that can support this cause for my country, Indonesia while witnessing to the people there (from the policy makers to the civilians in remote places) about our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am praying for you and Karin that the Lord may give you all the strength and grace you need to go through this situation. Being a follower of Christ will inevitably involve suffering. Be it from denying ourselves and carrying the cross He has called us to do in our missions, but surely He values our worship with our life, just like what our brother said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. May the Lord comfort you Vinoth.



So sorry to hear about your wife’s health issues.
We know in the US that the administration is trying in every way to distract us from the really horrible things happening.
I found a book on suffering that was quite helpful…The Diamond of Adversity: A Theology of Suffering, by Robert Palmer and Heather Palmer Welesko. I don’t know if you can get it there. It is published by Next Step Resources in Minneapolis.

Abe Marla:

Thank you for the book recommendation. However, Karin has always felt that books on suffering written in the West are only for people who live fairly well-to-do lives which are suddenly blighted by a tragedy. From the title, I guess that this book is very similar. I cannot imagine the vast majority of people whose lives, from cradle to grave, are”nasty, brutish, and short” ever speaking of “the diamond of adversity”. That’s the blind-spot in all these books on “theology of suffering”. Please correct me if I am wrong!

Can someone suggest some good, contemporary, non-western Christian theologians to read? I need to get out of my box a bit :-).

From Latin America- Gustavo Gutierrez, Orlando Costas, Samuel Escobar, Jose Miguez Bonino, Justo Gonzales, Rene Padilla, Ruth Padilla de Borst.

From Africa- John Mbiti, David Bosch, Lamin Sanneh, Kwame Bediako, Munther Isaac, John de Gruchy, Jesse Mugambi, John Azumah

From Asia- Raimundo Pannikkar, MM Thomas, James Massey, Vinay Samuel,Ivan Satyavrata, Melba Maggay, Kosuke Koyama, Sebastian Kim, Kwok Pui-lan, Amos Yong

This is a tiny selection. Mostly writers who have influenced me.

Thanks ever so much Vinoth :-)!

Thanks for Matthew for asking the question and to Vinoth for the helpful list of non-Western authors.

Matthew, I would also recommend Vinoth’s books!
A good one to start with is God’s that Fail.

If you want a specific recommendation.
Currently, I am also benefiting from a book by one of the authors, Samuel Escobar, The New Global Mission: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone.

Thanks so much for the specific recommendation, Ross. Vinoth said his list was just a “tiny selection” 🙂 🙂 :-).

So sorry to hear of Karin’s health crisis. Our prayer for her is Isaiah 53:5. Keep these words in your hearts!

Vinoth, I have prayed many times for Karin since you mentioned her diagnosis to me when we last crossed paths here in Cambridge. After reading the above, I will continue to hold you both in prayer. May God hold you both close to his heart and to each other as you walk this road.

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