Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dr. Kurien Thomas: God's Trailblazer in India and Around the World

DR. KURIEN THOMAS (1922-2000) was a pioneer of the Pentecostal movement in central India. He came to Itarsi, the heart of India, in 1945 and laid the foundation of the Pentecostal Church there. In 1962, he began the Bharosa Bible School which grew on to be known today as Central India Theological Seminary. In 1967, he became the first Chairman of the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches in India. Dr. Thomas was a prolific writer in Hindi, English, and Malayalam. He was editor of Satyadoot, a continuing Hindi Christian monthly, and was author of several books. Kurien Thomas: God’s Trailblazer in India and Around the World, written in 1986, was his autobiography.

Kurien Thomas was born on 9 January 1922 at Ranny, Kerala, into a Keralite Syrian Orthodox family that traced its origins to the first converts of Thomas the apostle of Christ. In 1939, during a gospel meeting in his village in Kerala in which the renowned Pastor K.E. Abraham ministered, Kurien gave his life to Jesus. Hungry for God’s Word, he joined the Hebron Bible School at Kumbanad with the assistance of Pastor Abraham. At that time, Kurien was not fully committed to ministry, and since the School didn’t allow such students to live in the hostel, he along with some ten other friends arranged to stay outside the campus and attend the School for the classes. From 1940-41, he also voluntarily taught at the English Medium School there started by Pastor Abraham. After leaving the School, Kurien had intentions to join the Indian Armed Forces and applied for the same. However, during the 30 days in waiting before the joining letter could come, he experienced a spiritual turning point, his baptism with the Holy Spirit. With the baptism came a deep longing to serve God fully; Kurien, rejecting the offer to join the Armed Forces, set out at the age of 20 to serve the Lord.

On 2 November 1944, Kurien was married to K.M. Annamma, daughter of Pastor K.G. Mathew. His zeal for the Lord’s work was so intense that only two days after their marriage, he set off to preach in a convention at Melpadam. He recounts how when, during the meeting, it began to rain and people were running helter-skelter, he called them to become still and then he prayed; the rain abruptly stopped.

Only a few months later, in February 1945, Kurien Thomas and his wife Annamma entered Itarsi as the first Pentecostal base missionaries to that region. Pastor M.K. Chacko of Delhi had earlier made a short visit to this place and seen the absence of any Pentecostal work in the central province. On reaching Kerala, he shared this burden with Kurien and his wife. The couple felt that this was God’s will for them and started out with Pastor Chacko arriving at Itarsi in the first week of February, 1945. The next day, Pastor Chacko left for Delhi, leaving the 23 year old preacher and his 19 year old wife before a mountain of mission challenges ahead of them. The next few years were times of intense and multiple trials, but the Lord was faithful; the ground was finally broken and in the years to come, a formerly barren land bloomed with harvest crops of the Spirit’s outpouring, having turned into a giant mission base that trained and sent out hundreds into the mission fields of the world.

In 1946, the first Pentecostal conference was held in Itarsi. In 1948, the Hindi monthly, Satyadoot, was born. In 1962, the Bharaso Bible School (now Central India Theological Seminary) was started with only seven students. In 1966, several independent Pentecostal churches, primarily in North India, decided to come together as a Fellowship under the leadership of Dr. Kurien Thomas. The Fellowship, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee this year, came to be known as the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches in India.  Dr. Kurien Thomas ministered in several conferences, conventions, churches, and seminaries in India and all over the world. He spoke in most of the major Pentecostal conventions and travelled to several countries. Dr. Kurien authored several books including, in English, The Holy Spirit, and God’s Trailblazer;  in Hindi, Dharmavijnan Pranali (Systematic Theology), Pavitra Atma, Parinayagatha (Commentary on Song of Solomon), Daiviya Prakashan (Commentary on the Book of Revelation), Ish Adarsha Niketan (Typology of the Tabernacle); and, in Malayalam, Ecclesiology, Arithayade Alambam (on Book of Ruth), and Elohiyude Eliyavu (on Elijah).

On October 19 of 2000, two days before the Annual Conference would begin, Dr. Kurien Thomas breathed his last and entered into glory. He is succeeded by his son, Dr. Matthew K. Thomas, who, in addition to the ministries at Itarsi, also serves as the present General Secretary of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.

Originally written for the FB group "Remember the Leaders who spoke the Word of God to you"

Official Central India Outreach Page

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Pauline Method of Doing Missions - Oswald J Smith

Oswald J. Smith, The Challenge of Missions, pp.63,64

In Acts 19:8-10, 18-20, we have a marvelous example of the Pauline method. In two short years, we are told, all those in Asia heard the Gospel. Asia covered a territory of approximately 50,000 square miles. There was a mighty revival. Books belonging to various false cults were burned publicly. The upheaval was so great that books costing thousands of dollars were burned.

How did it happen? Paul took charge of a school and taught every day. Most certainly he did not travel throughout Asia and evangelize the country himself. So far a the record goes, he stayed in one place, but he taught others; then they in turn went everywhere preaching the Gospel, with the results described in the 19th chapter. Wherever he went, he "preached and taught" (Acts 14:21). That method cannot be improved upon. It will work everywhere.

The West Indies Mission has proved it. They started in Cuba with a Bible School. Not a church, mark you, but a Bible School. Then they went to Haiti and established another. Later they put one in the Dominican Republic and another in Jamaica. Now they are starting a fifth in one of the French Islands. What has been the result? The students in hundreds have gone from their Bible Schools throughout the length and breadth of the Islands of the West Indies, and more than 80,000 have been won to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The old method has been followed for decades. Churches had been built in the larger towns and cities, but the country districts, where most of the people lived, were left untouched and unevangelized. The West Indies Mission went in. The Pauline method was adopted. Now annual conferences number over 7,000, so great has the Word of God grown and multiplied.

In Ethiopia, the missionaries had made but little headway. There were only a handful of believers when I was there. Then the natives took over and during the Italian occupation, in spite of imprisonment, floggings, and martyrdom, 20,000 were brought to Christ without the help of a single missionary. Today there are 50,000 Christians and 300 native churches. What a miracle! That is the ideal way. It is the only method that really succeeds.

Such a method cuts down expenses. The natives can live cheaper. No furloughs are necessary. They can be supported by their own churches. Foreign funds are not required. All we have to do is support the missionary and his work, and leave it to the natives to do the rest. The work then becomes self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. That is the Scriptural way. The Pauline method cannot be improved upon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

When Silence Seals

When silence seals the lips of friends,
You let me know You are here;
When cold confusion darkness tends,
You shine Your light over here.

When dull seems destiny, far unseen,
You still keep walking, closely by.
When friends fear failure will strike my knees,
You stand to hold and lift me high.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mission, Missions, and Missional

Whenever a new word enters the market, there are many who wish to grab it and use it to express or verbalize concepts that occur to them. However, it is important to avoid sporadic use of expressions without understanding them in their original usage. It can lead to confusion of language. Two terms that are becoming more popularly used, in addition to "mission", are "missions" and "missional", and they require proper definition. Let's look at some popular definitions of these terms:

Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God's People
--Mission is all that God is doing in his great purpose for the whole of creation and all that he calls us to do in cooperation with that purpose. (Analogy: Science)
--Missions is the multitude of activities that God's people can engage in, by means of which they participate in God's mission. (Analogy: Sciences)
--Missional is to have (Analogy: Scientific)

Ed Stetzer, Missions vs. Missional?
--Mission is the reason the church exists and the church joins Jesus on mission. And, this mission is from everywhere to everywhere.
--Missions refers to an international pursuit to preach the gospel to all the corners of the earth.
--Being missional conveys the idea of living on a purposeful, Biblical mission.

David Wesley, The Church as Missionary, Missio Dei
--Mission is the very nature of the church, seeking first God and his kingdom. It flows directly from God. A living relationship with the God of mission distinguishes the church as a living organism, as opposed to a mechanistic (and secular) organization. Because of this relationship, we truly can say that the church does not support a program of missions; rather, the church is the missionary.
--The missional church begins with the idea that mission is God’s nature and God’s activity (the missio dei) and, furthermore, that the church is the missionary. By definition, the church is the sent church. The “business” of the church, then, is to train missionaries to go and to live out the gospel in their spheres of influence. The missional church, therefore, does not shape programs around consumerist Christian desires. The missional church designs ministries that equip people to show the gospel to the nonbeliever.

The term "mission" is not found in the Bible. The Bible only talks of covenants, of commandments, and of calling and setting apart for some ministry. In fact, the very work of Gospel proclamation is called as the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor.5:18). The word "mission" comes from the Latin word mittere and missio meaning "to send". The New Testament Great Commission of Christ in the Gospels that commissions the disciples to "Go and preach the Gospel" to the uttermost parts of the earth played an important role in the development of the theology of mission. The plural "missions" began to be used for the varied works of mission that people engaged in. For some people, it includes works of charity, social justice, and assistance. However, it is very important for us to distinguish between the Great Commandment (to love our neighbor as ourselves) and the Great Commission (to preach the Gospel to all nations). The commission to "Go" is at the heart of mission. Thus, it includes both evangelization (to turn them from darkness to light), in whatever way possible, and discipleship (to walk in the fellowship of the Light).