A Report on Some of the Pastors Supported by
Light of Hope Mission
In my recent trip to India I once again worked with the Light of Hope mission in Madurai, Tamilnadu. S.J.P. Vijayakumar (Vijay), the director of the ministry there, has been training men in groups of 12 for the past eight years. These men are apprenticed to minister in the Hindu villages which some estimate make up to 80% of India’s population. The following four men are his veterans who have been successful in establishing churches and are at the vanguard of this outreach ministry.
I first met Duraichamy four years ago on my first trip to India. I took an immediate liking to him despite being unable to communicate with him in English. Vijay took us to his village, which consisted of several mud brick huts with thatched roofs. Without a doubt his is one of the poorest of villages. The church building he served from was attached to his house, another mud hut with a thatched roof that Vijay had taken responsibility for replacing every couple of years because of insect damage.
Vijay took us across the road from Duraichamy’s village to an undeveloped plot of land that Duraichamy had donated from his family to further the gospel. Because of Duraichamy’s position in society no one outside his caste would come to his church. But this property, being outside the village, would permit many to overcome their social hesitations about attending.
To date there has not been enough money to build the proposed concrete structure, but Duraichamy has moved to this property nevertheless to attract more attendees.
When I saw Duraichamy this time he was in obvious emotional pain. June,06, 2012 was the one year anniversary of his youngest daughter’s death. She was 17 years old and had been of great help in leading outreach events for children. But a recurring brain condition that had previously only temporarily incapacitated her took her life. When Duraichamy and I set eyes on each other at the Bible conference we were attending his tears welled up and he couldn’t speak. But he was still praising the Lord and is still serving faithfully.
Pictured here are Gnanaselvam with his son Johnson and wife Indira. In a picture next to them is their daughter Jansi who is living and working in Chennai. Gnanaselvam lives in a town called Kovilpatti a few hours south of Vijay’s home, Madurai. Across from Gnanaselvam’s rented house is the church building where he ministers every week.
This family hosted us and our Bible conference, attending to our every need and were responsible for inviting all those who attended. Their hospitality was amazing! Gnanaselvam tirelessly works with his own congregation, giving generously of his time and talents to encourage them in their walk with the Lord. He has been working in close association with Vijay for many years in furthering the gospel to some of the southern states of Tamilnadu, India.
You see pastor Jothiraj pictured here on the roof of his home, which also doubles as the church building where his congregation meets. In the background is a Hindu temple. This plot of land was actually all owned by those who built the temple here and when the portion of plot his house is standing on was purchased by him, someone threatened that the Hindu god, who was said to roam this property, would kill him. Sometime later that person died, but the work of God has continued.
Besides pastoring this church pastor Jothiraj ministers in 18 Hindu villages in the area. Despite receiving a mere 8-10 rupees in congregational tithes (mere pennies a week) he also manages to house a woman and her two children whose husband/father is a drunkard and does not provide for the family. The son, Barnabas, has been through Vijay’s training and is called to the ministry, but his father is demanding that he go to work and support the family, something Indian culture says is his responsibility to do. Whether Barnabas is able to do both is still up in the air. In the meantime, pastor Jothiraj is supporting this impoverished family.
Pastor Jothiraj helped lead worship music at our conference in Kovilpatti and his son Paul helped, pictured here with his mother. Their other son David is a bright boy as well who also helps minister in their church meetings with music.
Pastor R. P. John
Pastor R.P. John prayed for a place to build a church building that would have public exposure and God answered by placing them in this property right on a main road outside Kovilpatti. One of his sons is pictured here. This young man had begun attending Vijay’s one-year training but due to epileptic seizures had to return home. This man faithfully preaches the Word of God from this pulpit. Though you can’t see it too well, the pulpit behind him is a c-shaped structure you enter from the back, and it puts the teaching of the Word of God front and center in the life of this congregation.
It has been my great privilege to meet these men of God who courageously stand for the gospel and serve our Lord Jesus Christ in a very difficult setting where they are by far the minority. May God continue to use men and women like them to spread His Word throughout the world.