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A survey conducted a few years ago that I came across in an old Reader’s Digest magazine said parents worldover gave top priority to their children learning how to respect others over other equally important virtues. Participants in 13 of the 16 countries where the survey was conducted said first and foremost they would teach their children the importance of respecting others and obedience to elders. The less important things that followed were patriotism, kindness and sense of humor. Parents from India also felt the same way. Phew! Parents who responded to the survey from China, Germany and Russia, however, felt otherwise. They said they gave importance to the value of kindness and mercy in their children’s lives. Sense of humor came at No.3 while patriotism was the least important for parents of these countries. The countries that gave importance to respect and obedience were: Brazil 82% Philippines 76% Spain 75% Mexico 75% South Africa 65% India 58% The countries that placed kindness over other things were: China 63% Germany 56% Russia 45% The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will

not depart from it.’ Experts in the field of child development agree that children need to be taught fairly early in their lives to master any skills. Like they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Do you know our God has a great expectation from those He has redeemed by His Son’s blood? In Genesis 18:19 we see the faith God placed on Abraham. The verse goes like this in the English Standard Version: ‘For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.’ When God made this pronouncement about Abraham, Isaac was not born yet. Nevertheless, He had this tremendous faith in Abraham. So, what does God intend that we teach our children? He is an unchanging God and He has not changed the yardstick yet. He expects us to teach our children the importance of righteousness and justice – the same virtues that God expected Abraham to teach his (Continued on Page 6)

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(Continued from Page 3) progeny. However, we may do well to remember that God expects us to command our children and not offer them helpful suggestions in this regard. When we teach our children God’s ways, it is akin to God teaching them. Isaiah 54:13 says: ‘All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.’ They will be established in righteousness, far from oppression and fear and no terror shall come near them, says the Word of God. We should never assume that our role ends with showing them the way in which they need to walk. We need to try to shape them till they know the difference between good and evil and what seems like good. When tempted by Satan in the Garden of Eden, Eve knew that if she ate from the tree in the middle of the garden she would be violating God’s command. Despite that she chose to go with her judgment based on what she saw as good. ‘When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it’ (Genesis 3:6). We need to coach them and pray for them till they walk in the path of life. How do we do that? By teaching them the Word of God and explaining how much they mean in our lives. We also need to often recall God’s grace that keeps us alive, sustains and supports us. Lamentations 3:22 says, ‘It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.’ We must take care to explain God’s grace and mercy in every aspect of our life to them. The Bible has laid out the rules of parenting clearly. One of which is explained in Deuteronomy 6:6 & 7 ‘And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.’ How are we supposed to teach the Word of God to our children? Not as half-hearted or spiritless attempts but ‘you shall teach them diligently to your children’ (emphasis mine). When Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to Timothy, the latter was already a full-grown adult who was ready to go as a missionary. Nevertheless, Paul must have been led by the Spirit of God to teach him thus: 'But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able 6 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ As parents it is our duty to remind our children to ‘continue’ in what they have learned. The Bible also expects parents to use the rod of correction when children go astray. Proverbs 13:24 says: ‘Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.’ Proverbs 19:18 says: ‘Discipline your children, for in that there is hope’. It is not enough to desire to make them walk in righteousness and justice. Remember our children pay closer attention to what we are than what we say. If the advices we offer them and our own actions don’t match, neither our words nor our disciplining will yield fruit. We need to examine ourselves before setting up benchmarks for our children. Teaching them the right way is a vital step in parenting, but three other steps precede that. We need to ask ourselves two important questions before we get there. 1. Are we loving the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might? (Deuteronomy 6:5) 2. Are the words that He commands us really on our heart? ((Deuteronomy 6:6) 3. We need to yield ourselves to the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit and ask Him for guidance in bringing up children in the right way. That’s what Manoah asked the angel of God in Judges 13:12. ‘And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?’ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

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“OUR days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die” says the Psalmist. Life is fleeting and this truth has never been closer to me than now, after appa, who seemed to be always there, always working, guiding, listening and praying, went to be with the Lord. It has brought fresh to my heart and mind the futility of life’s transient glories. One of appa’s songs, ‘Jeeviame ore jeeviame’ (Life, only one life) comes to mind; particularly the words, “Yennipaarkalinthittakaalamathai; kathaiyaipolmanitharinvazhlkaisellum; vulagathinsevaisaakaiyilooyum, vunnudanmarithapinvaruvathathu; kiristhuvinsevainilaithunirkum.” Translated it means, “Count the times that have been lost; man's life passes like a story; service to this world will end when you die; what is it that can come with you after death; service to Christ will stay forever.” Yes, the most important thing about this life is to remember what is important for the life that is yet to come. I have been going through some of appa’s Bibles. Two notes stand out to me: The first is in II Chronicles. It reads, ““The purpose of EMIL’s LIFE is on 17:19: taking in hand the Word of God, going around all the towns, teaching people.” This is the service that will stay and yield fruit beyond the grave. In our rapidly changing world, we need to be ready to go anywhere with the Word of God in our hand. 8 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

The second note, beside Proverbs 3 is: “In my mind, my work should not come, no individual should come, only JESUS, only the HOLY SPIRIT of God, only HIS WORD.” It is so often so easy to put work (especially Gospel work) and family before Jesus. However, we must remember always that Jesus comes first. Without Jesus, everything else becomes futile. If there is one thing that stands out to me about appa, it’s the name Jesus. He seldom used the word ‘God but always preferred to use the name Jesus.’ Appa's life was all about Jesus. He ate, slept, breathed and lived for Jesus. He had a simple, childlike faith in Jesus. Appa always began his day on his knees, usually at 4 am, continuing with his devotion till about 6 am. Sometimes, when I woke early to study, I would tiptoe to his room and watch him pray earnestly, with tears flowing down his cheeks. He never failed to remind us that the ultimate purpose was to reach heaven ourselves, by being saved and living our lives worthy of our Savior, besides leading others to Christ. Even if we had secured the greatest and grandest accolades or wealth, we would be having nothing if we missed our place in heaven. In life, appa relied on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God to guide him in making any decision. He told us that if there is even the slightest disturbance in our hearts about something, to not do it, as it meant the Spirit of God in us was uncomfortable with it. Website: | Email:

Appa’s heart beat for the salvation of our country, with a sense of urgency. He always had a map of India in his room to pray for every State and Union Territory. A map was there in every home we lived in and every office he used. He said that if, when Jews’ lives had to be rescued from Haman’s evil plot, Moredecai sent the King’s decree swiftly by horses, how much more urgently should we act in spreading the gospel to people being destroyed daily by the evil one? For this, praying alone was not enough. It had to be followed by planning and action. Appa was one for meticulous planning. In his quiet times, he often got his plans from the Lord and prayed over them. He then went about in a very organized way, working hard to effect them. He was very thoughtful and gave attention to the last little detail. I remember when meetings were organized in Paramankeni, he would be on the site checking toilets, arranging chairs and dusting them clean. He followed this habit at home as well. He loved cleaning the house and getting all of us into planning - when my husband and I went to Delhi to stay with my parents on holiday for the first time after getting married, shortly after completing our grueling internship at CMC Vellore, he expected us to give him our schedule for the next day at family prayer time every night! The Lord laid upon appa the concept of Indians supporting Indian missions and indigenous missionaries and pastors serving their own people, rather than cross-cultural evangelism. Vishwa Vani and its first ‘tin boxes’ were born out of this concept; so was India Believers Fellowship. The Good Samaritans and Vishwasi Sangathi were born to meet socioeconomic needs. Appa also was particular about not wandering into someone else’s mission field but insisted each one strive to reach the unreached. Toward this, ‘Bless India’ was born to unite missions in India. Besides the seriousness of all these work, appa was also blessed with a keen sense of humor, which I have heard various people testify – from his childhood playmates to his colleagues later in life. Our home was never short of laughter or music when he was around. Before he had instant recording devices, he would compose a song, keep humming the tune around the house and teach all of us, so that he and we would all remember it. However, he could also get angry and when he did, he sometimes thundered, but would still come down to listen and reason with us, after a cooling period! Website: | Email:

Appa was very much a ‘family man.’ He gave us a childhood full of cherished memories. We usually woke up to gospel music for morning alarm. Appa found time to play with us, tell us bedtime stories (from his own imagination, which were often ‘to be continued’ between his many trips!), took us to the beach, parks, Republic Day celebrations and once even to a football match! When I was studying for my medical entrance exams, he would come home from work and sit with me to do multiple choice questions. When we were sick with cold or fever, he would be by our bedside, rubbing ‘vicks’ on our foreheads. On our mother’s birthdays, it was customary for him to buy her a sari and hide it, pretend to have forgotten and then surprise her! We spent many lovely nights sleeping on the open terrace in Tuticorin, looking with wonder at the stars in our Milky Way galaxy. When my mother, with her background in Science, would explain the galaxies to us, my father would also listen keenly and marvel at the glory of God manifested in His creation. Appa’s close walk with the Lord was a bit unnerving at times on a personal level. When I was a teenager staying in hostel, he had an uncanny habit of calling me up just when I was low and asking how I felt, or calling up on a day when I had missed reading my Bible and asking what chapter I had read that morning! When my sister,Shalini, my brother, Andrew, and I grew up and married, Appa accepted our spouses as his own children. He never had any in-laws, it was always ‘in-loves’. When appa married amma, he similarly embraced her family as his own and filled in the gap left by her father's untimely death. Appa FEBRUARY 2014 w THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER 9

Appa has left a gap which we know the Lord will fill. His vision was to reach out to India so that 20 percent of Indians would have known the love of Jesus by 2020. This is the Lord’s work, it will go on. The harvest is plenty, but workers are few. never gave or took dowry for any of us and instilled in us that sense of dignity. He was also not bound by caste or creed – the only thing that mattered was if one loved Jesus. Appa never liked to go to a doctor. When my husband was training in General Surgery at CMC Vellore, we noticed appa had a goitre which was slowly increasing in size. He kept turning down coming for a check-up every time we asked, until once when on a trip to the US, after prayer, he felt urged to come and agreed to come for 4 days for a thyroidectomy (an operation that involves the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland), timed around the expected due date of my son – February 2000. In theatre, an experienced anaesthetist, for some reason, felt his abdomen to check for muscle relaxation when appa was under anaesthesia, and felt a mass. My husband, Yuvaraj, went to the scans with appa when my mother and daughter waited outside the labour room where we awaited my son’s birth. A mass was found in appa’s pancreas, along with multiple lymph nodes. He needed an open laparotomy (a surgical procedure involving a large incision through the abdominal wall to gain access into the abdominal cavity) - all that was possible was to take tissue for biopsy. The pancreatic mass turned out to be benign (not cancer) but the lymph nodes turned out to be Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). Appa left CMC Vellore about 3 months after he arrived, after 2 surgeries and his first chemotherapy. About five years later, he had a second chemotherapy and remained on maintenance therapy till early 2013. 10 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

The NHL transformed to Lymphoblastic Lymphoma early in 2013 (which has a very poor prognosis but can also respond to chemotherapy). He went back to CMC Vellore for treatment. My mother stayed with him, my brother, sister and I visited. Appa was the fighter we have always known him to be. He did not shy away from excruciating chemotherapy. Andrew asked him if he wanted to have chemotherapy or give up, undergo palliative care and go to heaven. Appa replied that both options were equally appealing and the only reason to stay on was to complete the Lord’s work, some of which he felt were pending. Till the end, he directed his work, spoke with mission leaders, and prayed. The day before he went to be with the Lord, he had a meeting with Selvaraj Annan (CEO, Vishwa Vani) and other leaders. The Lord, in His mercy, arranged for a Vishwa Vani team to surround his bedside and sing for about 5 hours before he entered glory. The last song was “Azhagaai nirkum yaarevargal,” which appa had composed when his own father had entered glory. Appa has left a gap which we know the Lord will fill. His vision was to reach out to India so that 20 percent of Indians would have known the love of Jesus by 2020. This is the Lord’s work, it will go on. The harvest is plenty, but workers are few and the need is great. What we need today are knees bent in prayer and hearts filled with the love of Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God and the Word of God, to reach out to our country and our world. As appa often quoted: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” Website: | Email:

NO matter where you live in the world—money matters! The abundance or lack of finances can wind itself around the hearts of men and women to stray them away from trusting in God. Too much wealth and one is tempted to believe that they are the ones in control of their lives. Too little wealth and one is tempted to turn towards unethical means of taking care of wants or needs. Proverbs 30:8-9 puts it best: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” Do you desire to trust God in your financial situation? If so, take the following first steps towards the freedom of trusting God with your money. Step #1) Recognize that God owns everything “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it” (Psalm 50:12) Our heavenly Father owns it all. He has unlimited resources to meet each and every one of our needs at His disposal. However, He is a good Father who gives us what we need in His perfect timing and He grants our desires according to His will. As children of God, we have the responsibility to trust in Him with all our hearts regarding money in spite of our circumstances.

Step #2) Resist the temptation of wanting to get rich “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5) Coveting more money is a plague that infects every nation under heaven. There’s never enough finances to satisfy the hearts of those who constantly want more for themselves. It is the will of God that His children learn contentment with the portion He has distributed to each of us. We must learn how to quiet our fretfulness and receive God’s peace so that we will have confidence to receive everything we need at the right time.

Step #3) Give generously in faith and in thankfulness “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 9:7) A major step towards trusting God with your finances is to give generously to the building of His kingdom through the church. Our faithfulness and generosity is necessary to take care of the poor, to create more opportunities for the gospel to spread, and to provide for the needs of the church family. God desires us to give with glad and thankful hearts,

The human predicament is this: Too much wealth and one is tempted to believe that they are the ones in control of their lives. Too little wealth and one is tempted to turn towards unethical means of taking care of wants or needs. Website: | Email:


not grudgingly. Stingy givers will never fully grasp God's grace poured out on their lives in abundance. Step #4) Strive to be a good and faithful steward with what you are given “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10) As the caretakers of God’s blessings, we have the responsibility of disciplining ourselves in our giving, saving, investing, and spending of money. True accountability can only happen as we commit ourselves to budgeting our finances according to God’s will. We can find financial insight and direction from God’s word particularly in the book Step #5) Receive God’s blessings and wisdom of Proverbs. There’s great freedom for those learn in finances with a spirit of humility. responsibility with their money. “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4) It’s not sinful to be wealthy. It’s sinful to be prideful, arrogant, and selfish with an abundance of treasures. The Lord gives the ability to make great financial gains. The true test of being spiritually mature and financial sound is keeping oneself humble. The practice of humility keeps our hearts tender towards God resulting in compassion to those who have much less.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:10a NIV Many of us grew up hearing the admonition that money is the root of all evil, but that is not really what scripture teaches us. Money, in and of itself, is neither evil nor good; it is only what happens with money once it is in our hands that gives it qualities of either good or evil. Money can be many things, depending on how we relate to it. Money can be a tool, and it is a necessary tool for simply maintaining our daily lives. We need money to put a roof over our heads so that we are safe, warm and dry. Money provides food to keep us alive so that we can continue to function and clothes us so that we can function in a socially acceptable manner. And it takes money to keep us healthy so that we can continue to lead productive, meaningful lives. Shared money is an even more valuable tool, one that can change the world in many ways. By sharing our money, we can feed hungry children who have never eaten a full meal. We can create sources of clean water for people who die in great numbers from drinking water that is polluted and poisoned with virulent diseases. Sharing our money can educate children, as well as adults, so that they have a fighting chance at escaping the poverty that chokes 12 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

Money can also be a test. Lacking the funds necessary to maintain reasonable lives can test our faith that God will see to it that we have all that we truly need, even when that doesn’t include all that we want. the life out of much of the world. Most importantly, sharing our money can bring the message of God’s love and salvation to a world that is dying in the dark because they haven’t gotten that good news. Closer to home, sharing our money can help a neighbor who is in financial straits. It can keep the doors open on our churches, where the community can gather to find the genuine, eternal wealth that is available to them in the kingdom of God. Sharing our money can create and maintain programs that give young people the chance to spend their time in healthy socialization opportunities instead of being drawn into harmful relationships and the dangerous activities that they can lead to. Money in the right hands is one of the most powerful tools God has for letting his love for us all shine into the bleakest corners of our communities and of the whole world, Website: | Email:

but money can be more than a tool. Money can be a toy that can bring pleasure to our lives in many ways. It can bring comfort into our daily experience, so that we are not constantly consumed with simply staying alive. Money can provide us with enjoyable activities as individuals and as families and groups of friends. It can make it possible for us to experience the wonders that God and man both have created in our own country and around the world, and it can enable us to share those delights with others. Money can also be a test. Lacking the funds necessary to maintain reasonable lives can severely test our faith that our Heavenly Father will see to it that we have all that we truly need, even when that doesn't include all that we want. Needing to earn money can test our ingenuity, our determination and even our humility when we find it necessary to generate work for ourselves or we have to take a job that feels like it is several steps back from where we rightfully could be in our employment. Being financially unable to do and have many of the things we'd like to do and have for ourselves, as well as for sharing with others, can test our attitudes and our willingness to live our lives realistically, if not ideally, without falling headlong into resentment and rage over what we lack.

Ironically, having an abundance of money can be an even more challenging test of the persons that we truly are. When we can afford to do anything we want to do and to have anything we want to have, we are faced with the choice of whether we use our money solely to benefit ourselves or we use it to make the world a better place for others, as well as for ourselves. Having significant wealth can open our eyes to the opportunities available to reach out to others who need our help, or it can blind us to anything and everything beyond our own everescalating desires for possessions, prestige and power, thereby testing to the very limit the true nature of our character as human beings. What money, in and of itself, is not and never can be is treasure. Far too many people have died of bitter old age, surrounded by the opulence generated by their wealth but hardened in their hearts by malignant desires that can never be adequately fulfilled for more money and more of the possessions, power and prestige attached to it. Some wealthy people, on the other hand, spend their whole lives in such fear of losing their money that they live at near poverty levels of functioning, comforted and sustained only by the number of digits that appear after the dollar signs on their bank statements. They hold on so tight to the money they have that they

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don’t even benefit themselves, much less other people that they could easily help. Those denizens of wealth and all of us who want to be like them are the people Paul is talking about when he writes to Timothy about the problems associated with money. He goes on to teach this young pastor that “some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The watered down version of Paul’s teaching, the false adage that ‘money is the root of all evil’, misses his point altogether. It is not money itself, but the love of money that is the problem. To love money, to put our trust in it to provide for us what we need and want is, at the very least, an insult to our Father, who is the only rightful recipient of our trust. When we fail to trust in God, we lose out on the opportunity to develop an ever-deepening relationship with him as he proves, over and over again, that he truly will provide for our needs and he really won't ever leave us or forsake us. Putting all our trust in money also leaves us perpetually on the brink of disaster, since the least little thing, whether a misstep of our own or some factor beyond our control, can easily wipe out our wealth in an instant, leaving us with nothing at all, not even the comfort of leaning on the Father that we could have trusted all along to protect our well being. Paul also did not say that money, or even the love of it, is the root of all evil. There are, sadly, a great many forms of evil at work in the world all around us that have nothing at all to do with money. What he said is that the love of money can take root in our 14 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

hearts and our minds so that we become blinded by the possessions, prestige and power attached to it and we make decisions that take us farther and farther away from God’s will and out of his plan for our lives. This can be seen especially clearly in people who have lived much of their life with little or no money available to them, then they suddenly have a great deal of it in their hands, whether as the result of their own endeavors or from some other source beyond them. In far too many of those situations, a person who was once kind and gentle and giving quickly becomes someone who is greedy for more money and the material payoffs it brings. By trusting the money that has landed in their hands, they readily slide into deceitful behavior and dishonest decision making in their drive to get still more money, and they often leave a trail of emotional destruction behind them as they lose the qualities of character that had formed the basis of the relationships they once maintained. As the root of their love of money takes hold and spreads throughout their life experience, it grows into an ever expanding cloud of darkness that controls their mind, their heart and even their spirit as they go about making their daily decisions and their life plans. That is the warning that Paul has provided for us, and it is a warning that we would be wise to heed, lest we find ourselves placing our trust in money instead of in our Father’s loving provision, where we are well protected from the many kinds of evil waiting to trap us in its destruction. Website: | Email:

THE 15-year-old boy had everything going his way. He was born in a pious, traditional and well-todo family. He was the 4th-born of 7 children in the family. Just when he thought he had embarked on a smooth sail, he was struck with malaise. The reason? An ailment of the stomach made him weak and despondent. He thought it would go away, but the pain persisted and wouldn’t go away. No pills or medication – regular or alternate – worked on him. While it gave him some temporary relief, he longed for permanent cure. When medication failed, he turned to his gods. Soon, it became a ritual for him to visit temples. There was a time when he would visit as many as five temples in a week. He went to mosques and offered prayers in vain. He went to a local catholic church and prayed in vain. He religiously observed rituals but soon discovered it was all in vain. Just then, one day with a heavy heart when he was walking aimlessly and contemplating suicide, he heard some singing going on a little down the road. He walked towards the singing and found a man and his wife teaching a Tamil Christian song to a group of children in a street corner. He noticed that the man played the tambourine well. Sometime later, the couple bid goodbye and went away promising Website: | Email:

the children they'll come again next week. They came a week later. They came again the next week, and the next week and the week after that. Every time, the couple came and sang songs, S Thamarai Selvan would observe them from a distance. Although he wanted to talk to them, he hesitated. Sensing this, the evangelist and his wife approached him and struck a conversation with him. “I met Jesus through those God’s servants’ concern that day. Today, God has lifted me up and made me enquire the wellbeing of many people around me,” says Pastor S Thamarai Selvan of Good Life AG Church in Thiruppathur, Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu. The Christian Messenger met Thamarai Selvan, a soft-spoken man with 30 years of ministry experience recently in Chennai. Excerpts from the interview: So, how did you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? When they came up to me and enquired how I was doing, I told them about my chronic stomach pain and asked them if they’d pray for me. The evangelist said I could pray myself for healing. I told them while I knew how to pray to my gods, I wasn’t quite sure how to pray to Jesus. Pray to Him as a child talks FEBRUARY 2014 w THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER 15

At home, they’d cook food, offer it to the idols and worship them. Because I vowed not to eat anything offered to idols, I was beaten up. God’s grace helped me remain rooted in the faith. Soon, I got a fresh in-filling of the Holy Spirit. to his father, the evangelist told me and asked me to repeat a prayer after him. Then we prayed together: ‘Jesus, if what these people tell me about you is true, if it is you who created me, if it is you who died for me and my sins on the cross, please forgive me my sins and accept me. Help me live a new life. If you do so, I will live always for you.’ When he touched my head and prayed for me, I could sense an anointing. The stomach pain left me then and hasn’t troubled me after that day. I began to taste the goodness of the Lord from then on. Can you share your salvation experience with us? The evangelist couple did not come to our village after that day. One day, I thought to myself ‘Why cannot I give my soul to the God who gave me a new life?’ Six months rolled by. One day, we were visiting my aunt and came to know that she was a believer and was part of a Pentecostal church. Halfjoking, my father told my aunt that I loved Jesus, too. While it was time for us to leave for our home, my aunt called me aside and said: ‘Come home this Sunday. I will take you to the church.’ From that day, I began visiting my aunt every Sunday, and she started taking me to the church. However, my father did not know I was actually going to church every Sunday. Around that time, Pastor Stephen of AG church in Narimedu, Madurai, organized a huge convention. An evangelist named Lennon Darby was leading the crusade. It was in that meeting that I came into the salvation experience. Later, I secretly took baptism. How did you come to the Lord’s ministry? After my baptism, I vowed not to eat food offered to idols. My family was very ritualistic. They observed fast every Saturday. On that day, even salt 16 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

had to be bought afresh from the shop. At home, they’d cook food, offer it to the idols and worship them. Because I vowed not to eat anything offered to idols, I was beaten up. The Lord’s grace helped me remain rooted in the faith. Soon, I got a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Sometime later, I attended a family conference. Fifteen of us were part of the meeting. I had prayed to the Lord to show me direction in life before coming to the family conference. During lunch break of the meeting, I saw a man of God walking towards me. While the other youth with me greeted him saying ‘Praise the Lord’, I tried to ignore him. Just then, the Spirit of God prompted me to speak to the man. As soon as I shook hands with him, he asked me why I had not committed myself for the Lord’s work. He asked me to do the work of God and spoke of many other things. When I returned home, God impressed in my heart that what the man said was His response to my prayer for direction in life. Later, God confirmed His calling on my life through a vision, a Gospel meeting and His Word. Later, I sent an application to a Bible college for enrolling myself as a student. They promptly acknowledged my application by sending a letter home. All hell broke loose when my father saw the letter from the Bible college. Later, I went to join the Indian Air Force, but I was not selected. The IAF authorities asked me to come again six months later. My attempts to reappear for the IAF selection were met with a stern ‘No’ from my father. After that, the Bible college wrote again asking me to appear for an interview. My father thrust some money into my hands and sent me to the Bible college. However, when I returned from the interview, the situation at home was volatile. My father was like a bull in a china shop. He broke all the Bible verses photo frames at home. I remembered what they had told me Website: | Email:

at the Bible college. They said I should never look back after I have decided to follow Jesus. I took my suitcase, thrust some clothes into it and walked out. Just when I was about to leave the house, I heard my mother cry. Moved by her tears, I put my suitcase down. The song ‘I’ve decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back’ was playing on in my mind then. I grabbed my suitcase and walked out of my house to my pastor. He agreed to pay the Bible college fee. In my second year at the college, my mother was saved. The third year, my brother was saved. Almost all in my family came forward to wish me at my graduation ceremony. Can you tell us about the early days in your ministry? The first few years, I helped my pastor in the ministry. On March 11, 1984, my pastor prayed and launched my ministry. A man, his wife and their two children were the first members of the church. Early in my ministry, I resolved neither to announce my personal needs to anyone other than God nor to borrow money from anyone. I began my ministry with 55 paise in my pocket. However, God met all the needs of the ministry. When I go to the believers’ homes, I discourage them from giving me an offering. I ask them to bring their tithes and offerings to the church. From that day, God has been more than sufficient in my life. How did the church grow? After a period of growth in the initial years, there was a period of stagnation. Realizing that church growth depended on our prayers, we prayed along with the church members. We prayed in the morning

Mega churches become difficult when the number of believers goes up. I guess a pastor can look after 300 to 400 people at the most. And if the pastor ploughs a lone furrow, it becomes even more difficult for him to manage them. When the numbers were few, house visits were regular, but after the church grew I go only to those houses that have needs.

for 40 days. People would come, but as soon as they began to be blessed they would stop coming or go to another church. That was the state of church in Thiruppathur. We prayed fervently and God changed the situation. Today, the church has about 400 believers. We have 7 branch churches. We also minister among the gypsies. We met them just as we would meet anybody. God opened doors for us in that community. Now, my daughter ministers among them. What’s your take on the mega churches in our cities? How many believers can a pastor sincerely minister to? It becomes difficult when the number of believers goes up. I guess a pastor can look after 300 to 400 people at the most. And if the pastor ploughs a lone furrow, it becomes even more difficult for him to manage them. When the numbers were few, house visits were regular; but after the church grew I go only to those houses that have needs. Other times, when the Lord lays upon my heart to go and visit a particular family, we visit them. I have also set aside time to meet with believers regularly. Website: | Email:


It doesn’t matter if your parents or in-laws or finances are not in your favor. Make sure you and your wife have oneness. Do not make the mistake of working only on Sundays and taking off the rest of the week. Instead of cribbing there are no souls in the church, work hard at getting them into your church. Should the children of those who are into the Lord’s work necessarily get into ministry? Are ministries inherited? A man and his wife begin their ministry together. When children are born, they are dedicated to the Lord. What’s wrong in the couple desiring their children to be involved in the ministry? We pray for them. They grow up in the ministry environment. They travel with us to wherever we go. They know what they are getting into. So, when that's the case ministered along with me. So, it doesn’t matter if what's wrong in them coming into the ministry? your parents or in-laws or finances are not in your favor. Make sure you and your wife have oneness. Should the fact their parents are into ministry Secondly, do not make the mistake of working only be their only qualification? Or is it that you do not on Sundays and taking off the rest of the week. want to hand over the ministry you sweated over Instead of cribbing there are no souls in the church, to anyone else? work hard at getting them into your church. Luxury It's definitely not that. My church belongs to the is always dangerous. Seek God’s help in all things. organization. My children can continue in the Never look up to any man to meet your needs either ministry only if they are called for that. We didn’t ask directly or indirectly. Your eyes should not be on the them to get into the Lord’s ministry. Nor can they do offering box. They should always be upon the Lord it on the basis of their parents. After me, it’s the our God. Never seek to fulfill your needs. ‘And all organization that will take care of the church. Only these things shall be added unto you.’ Make sure you the calling on their lives will determine if my are growing spiritually every day. Pray and bind the children can manage the flock. strong one before you attempt to plunder his things (Matthew 12:29). Only then can you overcome the Tell us about your prayer life. devil and do effective field work. Planning, The foundation of our faith life is prayer. It’s the strategizing and follow-up work should come from same for the pastor and the believer alike. God the Lord. God has a plan for every person and every expects us to take all our needs to Him. Prayer takes ministry. If you can seek the plan for your life and precedence over everything else. Do you want real ministry from God and act on it, then victory is deliverance? Pray. If you lean on your experience, yours. you will face defeat. Any ministry that leans on its Contact: Good Life AG Church, AG Nagar, experience is a phony ministry. It is our prayer on our Pudukkottai Road, Thiruppathur, Sivagangai, knees that bring us victory. Tamil Nadu 630 211. Phone: 0457-7266076. Your words of wisdom to the younger generation doing the Lord's work… I would say my wife has been the backbone of my ministry. There were days when we went around ministering on an empty stomach. My wife grew up in a place where it was not very hot and humid. Thiruppathur is a place where the sun practically roasts everything. She put up with all that and 18 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

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US pastor Saeed Abedini has been transferred from the murderer ward to the political prisoner ward in Rajai Shahr Prison in Iran, but his health problems are continuing to worsen and he needs surgery. “Make no mistake. Pastor Saeed is still in the deadliest prison in Iran facing deteriorating medical conditions. This is the first positive step, however slight, since his transfer from Evin Prison last November,” the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh and their two children in the U.S., revealed recently. This was also the first time Abedini’s Iranian family has been allowed to visit him in six weeks. And although he will now receive slightly better treatment, including better meals, his family has said that his numerous medical problems continue to worsen, and he is still throwing up and suffering from pain in his abdomen. “Since being moved within the prison, Pastor Saeed was able to see a prison doctor who was very concerned about his internal injuries. The prison doctor recommended that he receive surgery and provided him medication to ease his pain,” ACLJ described. There is still no word from the Iranian officials on whether he will be allowed such a

surgery. The US citizen has been held captive in Iran since July 2012, when he was arrested while working on an orphanage project. He has been accused by Iranian officials of endangering national security and was later sentenced to eight years in prison, though the ACLJ and Naghmeh Abedini have argued that the punishment has more to do with his Christian faith. “There is a glimmer of comfort to know that my husband has been transferred out of the murderers’ ward, but my heart aches to know the pain he continually suffers and that his injuries necessitate surgery. As a family, it is difficult to be so far away and unable to comfort him in his pain,” Naghmeh Abedini said in a statement about the latest development.

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On a Saturday evening… Dona, you need to go for the choir practice today. Please, mom… Don’t give any excuses, I don’t want to. okay? I can’t sing. I don’t think I’m good at that.

Dona always wanted to do what her friends did. Look, Dona. You can’t be with your friends all the time. You can make new friends in the choir also.

As usual, Dona never liked to go for the choir practice. Dona… I understand. But, you just need some practice. You’ll be able to sing well.

No, Mom! None of my friends is in the choir. I don’t want to go.

Dona was still not happy and she wanted to go somewhere else. No, Mom! Please take me to the dance class near the shopping mall. All my friends are there.

I want to be with them. If I don’t go, they’ll make fun of me and say I can’t dance.

You can’t stop doing something which you can be good at.

Dona’s mom agreed to her request. But she was praying that Dona will understand.

In the dance class, from the beginning Dona seemed to be uncomfortable.

Okay, Dona, I’ll take you to the dance class at 4’O clock. But the choir is at 6’O clock. You still have time to decide.

No, Mom… I have decided. I just want to be with my friends and have fun.


Oh God! I just can’t get these dance moves. I don’t like the music either.

Oh! I just don’t like being here.

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During the break time… Mom! Can we just leave?

Why, Dona?... what happened?

Then, on their way to the choir practice… Mom! I’m really sorry. I should’ve listened to you.

It’s okay, Dona… it’s okay, dear.

Mom, I don’t think I’ll fit in this class.

Now I understand. Just because my friends are good at something I needn’t be good in that, too. Dona went to the choir practice and…

Mom was very happy that God answered her prayers. After the choir practice… Mom! It felt really good to do what suits me.

Hmm… I just love doing this. It feels great to be doing something that you like.

On their way back home… Dona… Even when you are small you should always pray to God and ask Him to reveal His plans for you. When you do His plans, you will experience real happiness in your heart.

It’s good that you’ve started to like singing. Not only because it suits you but also because you are being part of God’s plan for you.

Dona learned to do what was good for her. So friends, we can’t always do what our friends do. But, we can always do what God wants us to do. That will give us true happiness.

In Jeremiah 29:11 we read “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. Ask God now, and work on God’s plan for your life so you can be happy forever.

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MAHARASHTRA has witnessed among the largest number of communal attacks on Christians in 2013, second only to Karnataka, says a recentlyreleased report by the Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), an organization chaired by Justice Michael Saldanha, former judge at the Bombay and Karnataka high courts. Across the country, the report points at 4,000-odd offenses aimed at Christians, with 400 clergy and 100 churches attacked in a year. While Karnataka may have had a higher number of attacks on Christians over the last year, the report suggests that Maharashtra is the next Hindutva laboratory. “The new government in Karnataka is sensitive to the attacks on Christians. However, in Maharashtra, the police and the lower levels of state administration are highly saffronized,” said Joseph Dias, author of the report and general secretary of CSF. From the desecration of a heritage cross in Mumbai and a statue of Jesus at Mangaon to violent attacks on priests and nuns across the state, Dias says few other minorities would have been as tolerant to such attacks as Christians have been. “We’re looked at as easy targets as we do not fight back. We are compelled to turn the other cheek because our religion teaches us not to resort to violence.” Growing attacks on India’s Christian minority form the unreported story of communalism in India, says Harsh Mander, social activist and former member of India’s National Advisory Council, who has worked extensively with victims of communal violence. “Unlike pogroms targeted at the Muslim community, attacks on Christians are of a low intensity, though very widespread. You don’t have the sort of large outbreaks that you see in case of Hindu-Muslim clashes, and hence attacks on Christians often do not attract the same attention. However, there is a pattern emerging when it comes to attacks on Christians. Much of it is a result of Hindutva propaganda over what is perceived to be mass conversions. Like much hate propaganda, however, it is not backed by evidence to show any large increase in India’s Christian population,” said Mander. Saldanha feels the onslaught against Christians is a cause for deep concern, especially in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. “No party says they stand for communal violence, and yet such attacks continue unchecked,” says Saldanha. In addition to violent attacks, Dias points to discrimination against the church in cities like Mumbai where the civic 24 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

administration is ruled by the Shiv Sena-BJP combine. “There have been instances where Christian burial grounds were destroyed to widen nullahs on one side of the road, leaving the other side of the road untouched,” says Dias. TNN

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‘...Let us keep in step with the Spirit.’ Galatians 5:25 If the Christian life is about having a personal relationship with God, then God must still speak to us today. But a relationship can’t be built on one-way speeches. First, it requires commitment. Then it requires communication between two people in which each speaks and listens to the other. ‘You...are the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...’ (Romans 8:9 NIV). That means having Spirit-controlled responses, and making Spirit-led decisions. When you follow God life no longer consists only of that which can be seen, felt or figured out. It includes walking by faith, trusting Him, learning to know His voice and the leadings of His Spirit. Some of us are reluctant to do that because we’ve seen people who claim to be doing it and their approach scares us. So when we sense the Spirit’s leading we doubt it, analyse it, conclude it isn’t logical and don’t pay attention to it. Some of us want to obey the Spirit, but we’re not sure we know that He’s really speaking to us. We wonder, ‘Is this God’s voice or my own desires?’ We’ve all experienced this; it’s a normal part of the Christian life. This is why Paul writes, ‘Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.’ (Galatians 5:25 NIV) Spiritual guidance is learned-one step at a time. Even the most mature believer will stumble and get it wrong at times. No problem: ‘The Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand’ (Psalms 37:23-24 NIV).

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THE Bible is full of great verses and passages about the topic of love. God’s love for us is a perfect example and starting place to study on love. There are also great verses about love in relation to marriage, brotherly love or friendship, and loving your neighbor. Here is a collection of some of the greatest love quotes from the Bible. What is your favorite love Bible verse? Share it with us in the comments! John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? 26 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w FEBRUARY 2014

Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 6:24-25 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Mark 12:28-30 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ John 14:21-24 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 15:9-17 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. Website: | Email:

There was this little bird that took care of its fledglings in the corner of a paddy field. It taught the young ones how to fly as well. One day… The field is ripe for harvest. I guess we have a bumper harvest this year. Mummy, the farmer came to the field today. He said something about a good harvest. Hey, did you hear what the farmer said?

Yeah. I guess we cannot stay here anymore.

They’ll soon harvest the field. Let’s fly away.

No, no. There’s no need to go now. When can we harvest the field?

I’ll let you know about it.

Mummy, we know how to fly. Danger’s knocking at our doorstep.

Darling, I know. I’ll tell you when it’s time for us to leave.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Mummy, mummy… The farmer’s coming with a sickle. Come on now. Let’s go! He’s coming alone.

Why didn’t we leave earlier?

When you wanted to leave, it was not harvest time yet. Now, the time has come.

Oh, we didn’t know about it. Sorry, mom. Kids, don’t do anything in haste just because you know how to do it. Wait for the right time. To do things really well, you need to seek your parents’ help. Do you understand? Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven’. Will you memorize that verse? Bye for now.

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E-magazine of The Christian Messenger, Feb 2014  

The Christian Messenger | E-Magazine | February 2014 issue.

E-magazine of The Christian Messenger, Feb 2014  

The Christian Messenger | E-Magazine | February 2014 issue.