In 1967 while I was busy turning on and tuning out; Athiparampil Thomas, was answering God’s call to Bhutan. Having just finished Bible school at 19 years of age he left Kerala state in South India for the long journey North. Following the plan that God had put in his heart he traveled to the Indian city of Jaigon which sat directly on the border with Bhutan. Stepping off the bus in Jaigon Pastor Thomas began looking for stay. He had limited funds, no Western missions organization behind him and no friends or family there so his first night he spent sleeping on the sidewalk and praying for God to lead him.
Now 52 years have passed since Pastor Thomas began his ministry to Bhutan and Northern India. By God’s help Emmanuel church was planted with outreaches not only into Bhutan but also into many of the rural villages in the tea growing border region of West Bengal State. Emmanuel ministries also has reached as far West as refugee camps in Nepal and west to Sikkim state in India. Other outreaches of Emmanuel ministries included Emmanuel school, a rug making facility to offer jobs for the women and classes and a lunch meal during the day for local neighborhood children. for His dear wife and oldest daughter have already gone on to the Lord and my friend lies in a weakened state. We are praying that God will spare him once more and that God’s peace will surround Him and his family. What a privilege to have known my dear friend who has been an example and joy. He has shown me what it really means to surrender all and to live a life of faith. Will you join with me in praying today for our dear friend and for God’s best and perfect will and grace?
For we walk by faith, not by sight: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:7-8
But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility Acts 6:1-3 NLT
Why would God think that taking care of the elderly was so essential? Of course people with existing family were expected to take care of their own but just like today there still were many who desperately needed help.
In the first months of the early church; care for the elderly was considered so urgent that a structure was set in place to meet their needs even before the first missionary was sent to the field. Taking care of the older people wasn’t just something extra and nice for the church to do. It was treated with primary importance so much so that the apostles asked for the best and most committed people to be put in charge.
Have you ever seen nursing homes in your own community with those eyes? Maybe before the next trip to Africa, Asia or South America is funded we could focus on those God has put right on our doorstep. You won’t need to get a visa, learn another language or do a big fundraiser to reach them. Are you willing to go to the least of these?
As one part of remembering the Easter story some congregations hold a foot washing service. If you have never participated in a foot washing it is impossible to explain fully the emotional roller coaster experience of that moment.
When I went on a short term missions trip to India several years ago we were surprised by such an event. It came at the close of our visit to a humble church in a small village. Just as the service was closing they called my pastor and I to come sit in the front. “I don’t like this part” pastor Joliam told me though I had no idea what was coming. Then the local pastor’s daughter a girl of about 12 came to the front with a basin and a towel and began to wash our feet. Afterwards she wept as she thanked us for coming. I felt so humbled and small at receiving such genuine love when my own heart was incapable of expressing such gratitude. Washing feet is odd and embarrassing and having my own washed by someone I had only just met was doubly so. But that moment marked my heart forever and made an eternal change in my attitude towards others. That is why Jesus commanded us to continue to follow His example. What is on your agenda or mine today?
What really matters most to God is for us to wash the dirty feet right in front of us!