Duke Jeyaraj for Evan Duke – two posters created on the Tuesday of the Wedding Anniversary Celebration Week!
HOW I MET AND MARRIED MY WIFE – Duke Jeyaraj
Often times, young people and even some pastors I get to speak to ask me how I met my wife. I would consider that very question a compliment. Well. Well. Well. I met my wife Evan for the first time (as far as my memory goes) at a camp meeting in Vellore called Ministry Efficiency Program for missionaries of Blessing Youth Mission, the year being 1987. I was 12 years old and she 10. Both of our parents were missionaries with Blessing Youth Mission (BYM). I distinctly remember how skinny and how stunning she looked even at that time! Another time I bumped into Evan even before I started thinking along the lines of being married to her was in the year 1993 at the BYM Missionary Kids Camp at Sitteri Hills in Tamil Nadu. Evan had just finished her grade 12 and was preparing for her Medical College Entrance Examinations, then. I was bathing near a hand-pump in Sitteri Hills along with a few boys when she climbed uphill from the Sitteri Bus stop, to arrive one day later than all of us. I cut short my bath and ran in! I did not have an Arnold Schwarznegger body to show her, you see!
BUTTERFLIES IN MY STOMACH ON SEEING A PAIR OF SANDALS….
After I finished my B. Tech. Agricultural Engineering from Allahabad Agricultural Institute in 1997, I briefly worked at Chennai. Evan, too was at Chennai then, working in the Madras Medical Mission – a famed heart hospital. We met at the English Students of Jesus (ESFJ) at the home of Mr. S. C. Vedasironmani, that almost kissed the Numkambakkam Railway Station. I recall how once I reached late to ESFJ meeting and saw a pair of footwear outside Mr. Vedasironmani’s home – a pair of footwear I recognized to be Evan’s! I told myself, “She is in there!” and had butterflies in my stomach! After one meeting I distributed the MISSIONARY KIDS magazine with my lead article, BEATING SEXUAL TEMPTATIONS, fresh from the press to those at ESFJ. Again, Evan, was there to receive it! Little did I know then that she would be the woman with whom I would have short accounts with in order to beat sexual temptation!
THE GUITAR STRUMMING GIRL
An important development then was that I got to know about Evan’s ministry involvement. She did not go ballistic about Blessing Youth Mission (BYM) as I did. But quietly she did ministry in her style: strumming the guitar in the prayer cell at Working Women’s Hostel, Vepery, Chennai, India – a hostel that housed some of most hip girls in Chennai; taking interested girls to the church she attended, the Apostolic Christian Assembly(ACA), India’s largest church when we take to count the number of people who sat for one service at that time (the late 1990s), for water baptism.
NOT A DUMBHEADED, HEAD-NODDER!
I also recall how Evan did not simply nod her head to whatever I said – a quality about her that I secretly admired. When I made a negative remark about a famous revival preacher who left BYM to start his own ministry she was not pleased and told me that she wasn’t, in no uncertain terms! The Prophetess in her probably told her then, that I too would do the same thing one fine day! And I did (in 2006)! When she told me that she had committed her life for the ministry during one of the special meetings in Santhosha Vidhyalaya, Dhonavur, the School she studied in for the best part of her life, since her parents were missionaries in Orissa, I took special note, for, I was looking for a life partner who had done that before meeting me! On one occasion, she recited Isaiah 6, while walking down the road with me! She had learnt by memory this passage and such passages as a kid! Here was a girl who had the Word in her heart and slowly and surely winning a place in my heart! Here was a girl who had the qualities I was looking forward to, in my life partner! [Even these days when Evan makes references to Bible passages while sharing God’s Word, she often recites the required Bible portion in entirety spontaneously, thanks to her astounding God-given memory. This has created ripples among the spell-bound audience].
From June 1998 I was at Southern Asia Bible College, Bangalore, studying for my M. Div. I started getting proposals for marriage from well-meaning family and ministry friends through my parents. It was at this time I rushed to the jungles opposite to the Bible College and started praying about my life partner very seriously. At the end of those seasons of supplication God wrote in my heart that Evan was His chosen girl for me! Before knowing that, I made sure she fulfilled some of the criterions I had for the girl I would marry: a believer, involved in the ministry, part of the Google generation – the generation I was trying to reach, but outside my caste, a caste so notorious in Tamil Nadu for marrying only within itself! The first time I met Evan after I knew I would marry her was at the Chennai Central Railway Station. When I let her know over a STD call from Bangalore that I would be arriving one fine morning, she came to the Station with her friend, Christy (she would not meet me alone even in a public place, you see!). She wore an Yellow salwar that dream day and my heart skipped a beat!
And to cut the long story short – we got married at Gudiyattam on the 9 July 2001 – in the presence of our beloved missionary parents along with 800 people. “Evan is the greatest thing that has happened to me, apart from the Lord Jesus,” I told the crowd. That was the first time she heard me speak in public, though I had been preaching for 10 years at that point in time! Yes, she did listen to me once on tape – a missionary challenge from Amos I gave to students in Santhosha Vidhayala. But she had never listened to speak live, till then.
After marriage we moved to New Delhi to work with the Assemblies of God there. I was the youth pastor cum Bible College Teacher. Soon we had modern youth coming up to us and opening their lives to us so that we could counsel them from the Bible. One reason why that happened was this: they saw Evan, a bubbly, extrovert next to their thoughtful, fiercely introvertish youth pastor. The first ever youth camp, Evan and I addressed together was at the Mark Buntain Memorial AG Church at Kolkota in October 2001 – just three months after we got married. I still remember how Evan’s moving solo, “He touched me!” touched the young people after my first message during that youth camp – a gospel message.
It was at New Delhi Evan started sharing the Gospel with Auto Drivers. She picked up Hindi just to be able to do this. Her testimony about how she did it was published in the Blessing magazine. Talking about magazines I must talk about how Evan edited almost everything I had written during the initial years of our marriage (before edit-volunteers took over that role) so that my writings would graduate from crass to crisp, elongate to elegance.
“SHE PREACHES BETTER THAN YOU!”
After we joined Blessing Youth Mission, the first town we preached in together was at Miraj, Maharashtra. It was a town with lot of youth who were HIV positive. Some youth from a church there had died of AIDS. Therefore, we were asked to speak on subjects that were relevant to that grim situation. Evan’s salvation message with a AIDS backdrop saw a lot of youth commit their lives to the Lord. One missionary aunty who was present remarked that she preached better than me in that meeting. I could not be prouder when I heard that, for I had spent several hours in training my wife who hadn’t been formally theologically-trained, in the art of preaching! Later during that trip, she stood before a packed hall full of youth of various churches in Kohlapur, Maharashtra, and taught them how to choose their life partner. The youth were all ears.
PREGNANT AND PREACHING!
I also recall how we preached in tandem in Lady Doak College, Madurai, Bishop Heber College, Tirchy (South India), Tell The World Youth Camp, Siligury (North East India) and New Life Fellowship All Karnataka Youth Camp, Bangalore. Each time Evan spoke the Lord opened the hearts of the young people to grasp truth He wanted them to hear from the Word. When she preached to the youth of Hyderabad Methodist Church at Karigari in May 2003 she was not only pregnant with the Word of God, she was pregnant with our first son, Dale Nathan! One young man blessed by the preaching of the Word in that camp would become a fulltime minister with Gideon’s International!
HER IMPACT ON GENPACT YOUTH
Her message “Sinking Ship Not Called Titanic” (on relationships) preached to 500 youth of the New Life Assembly of Church, Secunderabad, was video-recorded. That video was brought briskly in the meetings we addressed during the days we distributed CDs of our messages! Once I was stopped by a girl who then worked for Genpact in Hyderabad, in the early part of 2006. She stopped, just to tell me, “I still remember the message your wife preached on relationships in that youth camp. It was a big blessing!”
NAPPY CHANGING AND CHEERING FROM FAR!
She was invited again by the same church – the New Life AG Church, Secunderabad – to do a workshop on March 8 – World Women’s Day. That day, she made a compelling presentation titled, “Single and Despondent to Single and Confident” for the over 200 single girls. As I edit these lines on Women’s Day 2018, I must mention that only yesterday, a young woman who was part of this meeting told me over the phone about how much of a blessing that meeting was. On that day, my job was simple: nappy-changing and cheering-from-afar (it’s an all-women’s meet, that’s why).
POEMS FOR MY WIFE
From time to time I have written poem/short prose to express my love for this great girl called Evan God gave me. May I share one such poem I recently wrote:
Thank you, Evan, for sharing with me, your skin,
Thank you for pointing out in me, sin!
Thank you for paving the way for me to win,
Thank you for training me in matters like tomatoes, Face Creams and ‘Rin’!
And one time, I picked up my pen and wrote, “You are one Woman, I’ll gladly walk life’s road, even if that road is as long as Nile!”
It is not that we never fight or have disagreements. When we do, I tell Evan that I would be her roommate even in Heaven and so she better put up with me!
Now, there is a new woman in my life (post November 7, 2007). Shocked?! Don’t be – I am talking about my little daughter Datasha. When she smiles at me I float in thin air, mile high! When she calls me “Dad-dha” I am over the moon. I thank God for these two women in my life. I did not deserve them, yet God gave them to me! And I am so grateful to God.
On our 10th wedding anniversary (July 9, 2011), I recall with gratitude that Evan could have said ‘no’ when my marriage proposal came to her, but she still did not.
She could have said ‘no’ on the account of the SALARY I was earning. It was quite low considering the fact I was already in fulltime ministry. When I mentioned my salary to one of my friends at the time Evan married me this is what he said: “With the salary you are drawing you cannot even repair a pair of shoes in this city!”
She could have said, ‘no’ on the account of my ABILITY. My ability to do ‘romance-laced’ talk was almost nil. I would make 1-minute phone calls to her most of the time. I would say the matter and hang up during our courtship days. This was absolutely unimpressive when one is talking to the fairer sex that always want to hear extra words, loving words, caring words, etc.
She could have said, ‘no’ on the account of my FAMILY BACKGROUND. Both of us did not belong to the same caste and people of my caste were known to marry stubbornly within their caste and were hostile in general to those who did not belong to them when it came to marriage alliances (though there were exceptions).
Do not say ‘no’ to marriage proposals based on mere worldly, unbiblical reasons.
But she still said ‘yes’. And I am so glad and cannot thank God enough for Evan – the greatest thing to have happened to me apart from the Lord Jesus.
SECOND POST-SCRIPT: This article is for those who are working and in the age bracket to be married. But if you still studying, please concentrate on your studies and be friends with everyone in your class instead of spending all your time with a boyfriend or girlfriend; student days are not the best times for romantic love; there is time for everything! (Eccl 3). Falling in love during your student days could potentially drill two holes into your system, one, in your heart, and, another, in your purse!
ANNOUNCEMENT – Duke Jeyaraj has written a book titled, NO BEATING ABOUT THE BUSH STRAIGHT TALK ON SEX, LOVE, MARRIAGE, PORN AND MORE, published by Word of Christ publishers. This book has chapters that bring frank Bible teaching on how to wisely choose one’s life partner, postponement of marriage, marrying younger boy as a girl, finding God’s Will when it comes to life partner choice, apart from chapters on other hot topics. This book is available on http://www.Amazon.in. Search ‘Duke Jeyaraj Straight Talk’. Or get in touch with us via +91-8886040605 or via email@example.com and we will help you buy this book for Rs.125/- plus actual courier charges. It is also available in Word of Christ stores in India (www.wordofchrist.org).
Hear Duke speak about how he chose Evan as his wife in this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqyo4stiy74