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Her utmost for His highest

Growing up in India, Sheba Kulothungan-George had a strong sense of God’s hand on her life. Obedience to God’s calling led her from India to the United States, where she teaches English and communications classes at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. Her academic specialization in early American literature and commitment to teaching are part of her mission to pass a Christian heritage on to the next generation.

Kulothungan-George grew up in an affluent Christian family in southern India in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Her parents were strict disciplinarians. The family had prayer at 4:30 each morning as well as in the evenings.

In addition to weekend services, the family attended midweek services and crusades during which Kulothungan-George and her brother would sing. “I grew up in that environment only to think that I was the best kid in the world,” she says. “I walked around with my nose up in the air.”

When she was 11, Kulothungan-George’s older sister, Rachel Mangayarkarasi, confronted her by pointing out that growing up in a Christian home did not make her a Christian. To appease her sister, Kulothungan-George knelt to pray. At that point, she made a salvation decision.

Kulothungan-George says she was naturally drawn into the field of literature, also her sister’s academic specialty. “When I was 12 years old, I started reading Shakespeare’s plays and doing my own interpretation of characters,” she says. In 1984 she was awarded a master of arts in English literature from the University of Madras and in 1985 she earned a master of philosophy in the same subject.

Not only did Kulothungan-George excel at academics, but also in athletics. As a national high jump champion of India, she was training for the 1984 Olympics when she found out that she and her husband, Lazarus, were expecting their first son, Moses, now 18.

So Kulothungan-George began teaching at Anna Adarsh College at the University of Madras; she and her husband became involved in ministry on campus and in the city. However, the couple began to sense that the Lord was calling them to the U.S.

“We thought that it was a mistake to go to the U.S.,” Kulothungan-George says. “We told ourselves that the U.S. was a Christian nation and did not need us. But God began pulling at our hearts.”

The family moved to the U.S. in 1990. Kulothungan-George and her husband became involved in campus ministry while she earned a master of science in journalism and a doctor of education in college teaching of English at Texas A&M. The family has grown to four with the arrival of Stephen, age 6. Dr. K, as she is known to her students, began teaching at Southwestern eight years ago.

“God put a great desire in my heart to minister in this nation, and also to work among young people,” she explains. “I felt the Spirit of God saying it was God’s will for me to teach at Southwestern, and not to go back to India. SAGU is my assignment at this time. I teach and contribute to the growth of my students. In turn, I am taught by inquiring minds and I grow as well.”

Kulothungan-George teaches classes in English composition and literature, but is particularly passionate about her specialty, early American literature. “It is often seen as outdated, and there is an effort in American schools to tarnish the image of early America because of its message of Christianity,” she says. “But early American literature defines American life and culture. The roots of America are Christian in nature, so early American literature defines American life and culture, past, present and future.

“If you don’t understand where you came from — who you were — then you won’t understand where you’re going,” she says. “My primary goal in teaching this subject is to produce scholars and writers who will graft this legacy into our future.”

To this end, Kulothungan-George started the ROLL club, which stands for Reclaim Our Lost Legacy, in 2002. The purpose of the club is to create an environment for debates, seminars and research about the early literature and life of Americans and to explore what early American literature can contribute to today’s culture. She is currently working on a book about the work of Edward Taylor, an early American frontier pastor, entitled The Soul in the Making: Edward Taylor’s Preoccupation with the Word.

Kulothungan-George’s teaching philosophy is student-oriented. “SAGU is a place where young people grow in ‘wisdom and stature, favor with God and men’ — just like Jesus did,” she says. “It takes whole people to take the whole gospel to the whole world.”

As Kulothungan-George learned early on, her students leave SAGU knowing what could be her life’s motto: “We understand that the Highest deserves our utmost.”

By Katy Attanasi

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