It was May 14, 1988, a Saturday. I was in Danishpet, Salem, in the center of Tamil Nadu. I was a 13-year-old kid. I was in a Blessing Youth Mission (BYM) Annual Camp along with hundreds from different parts of Tamil Nadu. In a session that night, Uncle R. Stanley, the ministry’s founder gave a missionary challenge with my dad, Mr. A. Jeyaraj, interpreting into Tamil. He is known to preach peppery, passionate messages that have a memorable outline. But I have no memory of the outline he used that night. But what I do remember is this: when he gave the call for full-time ministry specifically, I walked forward to the front. When the call for salvation was given, in a BYM Meeting in a CSI Church in Ranipet, North Tamil Nadu, two years earlier, by uncle A. Lionel, I did not walk forward. I accepted Jesus as my Savior, right where I was. I confessed my sins and prayed the sinner’s prayer, right where I was. But that night – May 14, 1988 – I had to walk forward. Little did I know what kind of ministry I would do. But I still went forward. I had no blue-print of my ministry future, but I still went forward. The fact that I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues for the first time, the previous day in the same camp (in a session led by Uncle A. Lionel), perhaps prepared me to commit my life for full-time ministry that night as the Holy Spirit is the one who ultimately ‘sets-apart’ people for specific ministry tasks (including full-time ministry) and gives them the courage to be bold witnesses of Jesus (Acts 13:2; Acts 1:8).
I was a student of Ida Scudder School then. I had just finished my grade 8 and was about to move to grade 9. Did I quit my school following this commitment? No. I continued to study. But I never forgot the commitment I made. I recall that Mr. Vincent Jeyakaran, my Chemistry Teacher in Scudder School, Vellore, asked me what I wanted to become after this event of 14 May 1988. I instantly replied: “I have committed for full-time ministry sir. I want to serve Jesus full-time!”
I got more active in the Lord’s Work post this commitment. I started a fellowship for boys post that BYM Camp. I called that fellowship, Friends for Jesus. What I knew from the Bible, I taught the small group of boys who would gather either under a tree outside the CSI Church near my home or in the home of Ben Suresh. We also went for outreach with tracts in different parts of Vellore. I taught Sunday School in a Village in Vellore along with Arumugham annan. Our mode of transport was the bicycles!
Uncle Silas, who worked in Christian Medical College and Hospital then, took me various boys hostels across Vellore District and had me preach the Gospel. As I preached in English, He would interpret for me into Tamil. He did this, not because he could not preach. He was a good preacher, himself. I still remember one of the messages Uncle Silas preached to us, teens of Friends for Jesus, from Proverbs 7, about a flirty aunty who had an affair with a naughty boy. I continue to preach from that very passage inspired by Uncle Silas. I did that even in a Assemblies of God National Youth Conference in 2012. Silas uncle wanted to prepare me to be an itinerant minister of the Gospel. He wanted to mentor me. My Dad gifted me, my first copy of any sort of Study Bible – the NIV Study Bible – in the year 1991 (I was 17). I preached my first sermon from Stage in Ida Scudder School to a crowd of about 400-500 in the Captain’s Assembly. School Captain, Shameen, asked me, the Lincoln House Captain, to preach. I preached a message on hell, inspired by American Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart’s video-tape message, Hell is no Joke (a tape which my uncle, A. Gnanasekaran had given us – he also gave me a nice NIV Bible at that time – which became the first Bible I read regularly, underlining phrases and words that spoke to me, writing out devotional thoughts in the side margins). After my first stage sermon in Ida Scudder on August 9, 1991, a girl in the audience fainted. One young man who who would serve God full-time down the line, had an unforgettable encounter with Jesus. I was encouraged to keep preaching.
Eventually I landed in Allahabad Agricultural Institute (SHIATS now) in the month of March in 1993. I remember that I shared about Jesus to one of my co-passengers during that 36-hour journey in the train to Allahabad. Giving tracts in the train became a regular ministry in the train since then. I do it even now. In Allahabad, I picked up my first ever Theology Book – a damaged copy of a Systematic Theology book by J. Rodman Williams (again, my dad’s gift). I led Bible Studies from that book (sometimes just to one person in the boys hostel). I made the first presentation of what the Bible teaches on Sex, Love, Marriage to a group of boys I gathered in the lawns outside the Chemistry Department during my college years (1993-97). I made apologetics-inspired Gospel presentations in Ewing Christian College. I led Bible Studies in Motilal Nehru Regional Engineering College in Allahabad. My Evangelical Union Fellowship senior, John Joe kept giving me these opportunities. I attended a 10-day training by the EU in Kotagiri (Committee Members Training Camp) in 1993.
I worked briefly in Chennai during late 1997 and early 1998. That’s when Pastor Daniel Navakumar, a Sri Lankan Tamil Pastor who lived in Germany, who had read my article for youth from the life of Absalom, invited me to preach to the youth of his churches in Botrop, Germany and other cities in Germany. I quit my job, so that I could prepare to preach in my first ever youth camp. Uncle R. Stanley again helped me with my outlines (as he did as I preached for the first time to a crowd of over 1000 boys, in Halo 1998 in Sitteri Hills). The eight messages I preached in Germany in 1998 to youth in the English to German were video recorded. The Question and Answer session I did at the end of the youth camp was also video recorded. Those are the oldest video message recordings of mine presently available. You can listen to those presentations even now via Youtube by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5DR3RjcgKY&list=PL2z1uBimIney9juybE93o0RFp9UBG1XWA
After I returned from that very successful youth camp in Germany, I went straight to Bible College – Southern Asia Bible College (now CGLD), in Bangalore. It was June 1998 when my pre-theology courses started with Mrs. Felicia Praveenkumar teaching us English! The rest is history. I started my own ministry, Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, in 2006, as my wife and I landed in Hyderabad from Jabalpur along with 1-year old Dale.
It has been my privilege now to give missionary calls/fulltime ministry calls in several of my meetings across India. To see young people come forward with tears has given me immense satisfaction.
I do not say, “Full-time ministry is the only way or the best way to serve Jesus!” Far from it! I worked in the years 2006-2008 as a tent-making missionary when I founded G4 Mission. I worked in call-centers, raising money for the ministry God moved my wife and I to start. I was an active witness in those call-centers as well (I led in breaktime, three minute fellowships). But then people moved by the Holy Spirit – all Indians – started to send offerings for our newly-started ministry. I also could not do both – work a full-time secular job and do the ministry. Encouraged by my wife, I quit my HSBC Global Resourcing job in November 2008. I have been fulltime with G4 Mission, my own ministry ever since (as has been my wife). This journey of faith is so awesome!
Have you made a commitment to the Lord? Do not delay in fulfilling it! “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow!” (Eccl. 5:4). I am glad I could honor the vow I made to come to fulltime ministry!
(Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch his message videos at http://www.youtube.com/c/visitduke).