I was influenced by Rev. P T Chandapilla through his book “My Mother My teacher” given by Prof. P G Varghese when I was an EU student at St. Thomas College, Kozhencherry. Profound lessons learned by him were articulated in this book. A look at his life is evidence that he practiced them till the end. One of them still resounds in my mind, and I repeat it in almost all forums where I get an opportunity to share God’s mission. That is about the desire his mother had for him. She wanted him to become like Paul the apostle and like Bishop Abraham Mar Thoma of the Mar Thoma Church. Like Paul the apostle because he took the gospel to the gentiles, like Bishop Abraham Mar Thoma because he had a vision and passion for India’s evangelisation.
Achan demonstrated this by moving out from his comfort zone and relating and identifying with all kinds of people, especially with the poor and neglected. He challenged people to live and die in India for the cause of the gospel. He lived in North, Central and South India, travelled the length and breadth of our country and moved young lives through his words, deeds and life style. Though known internationally, he chose to be in India as an Indian living out the gospel, leaving aside luxuries, choosing simplicity, taking the path of sacrifice and suffering so that he would follow in His steps. His books, “Grain of Wheat”, “Master Trainer” and “Servant” also reflect these thoughts. So he lived and died here in India as a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ for the cause of His gospel.
His leadership style was radically different that he made a transformational impact on Christian leadership. He was a leader who was willing to serve and suffer. He was even willing to be humiliated. For him university student ministry was not an end in itself but it was a strategic means to serve the church and the country. Therefore in his messages and teachings he challenged UESI to serve the Indian Church and to be a prophetic movement for the society at large.
Once he shared with me that he never wanted to leave the UESI staff team. But his vision to serve the Lord through the church and his vision for the church to be an agent of transformation of India moved him into the service of the church.
I cherish his personal, prompt and concerned letters, interactions, advice, correction and affirmation. While he was strong in his convictions and vibrant in his communication, he was transparent and was humble enough to share and identify with us in our personal struggles, concerns, questions and opinions.
In one of his personal letters he wrote “I am gradually slipping into the hold of the helplessness of old age. At times I feel exceedingly solitary. The weakness of mind and body overtake me. I cry out to the Lord that He will sustain me and I will not fail Him and His glorious name. I want to be faithful till the end”. He faithfully completed his journey – a man of God who trained by the Master Trainer sincerely followed Him.
All our senior staff had rich and deep experiences with him as they toiled together in His vineyard. Brother Richard Masih shared with me – “He was a selfless servant of God and had contributed much to my life in the initial days”.
All of us are grateful to St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India and JMBC for taking care of him honourably.
Bro. Mathew Varghese
Former UESI General Secretary,