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Academic Articles of Duke Jeyaraj Evangelism-Mission Challenges

PAUL’S GRIPPING ENCOUNTER WITH KING AGRIPPA –

LESSONS FROM THIS CLASSIC BIBLE NARRATIVE TO PRESENT THE GOSPEL PERSUASIVELY TO THE GOOGLE GENERATION YOUTH FROM OTHER FAITHS

Dr. Duke Jeyaraj

INTRODUCTION

          The Google Generation youth—the modern generation youth, that is—hail from different religious backgrounds. They actively seek and choose a religion of their choice. Take for example, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the daughter of former Indian Prime Minister and a Google Generation icon of India. This is what a report published in a leading news magazine says about her:

Though she guards her privacy fiercely, it is an open secret that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has turned to Buddhism in her quest for personal peace. A Vipassana practitioner for 11 years, she has done many courses, including the advanced, very rigorous and intensive ‘Sattipatahana’ courses, as taught by S.N. Goenka and his Vipassana Sadhna Sansthaan. Last October she also participated in a retreat to learn about Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s meditation techniques. Priyanka is currently in the last year of completing her MA in Buddhist Studies. [1]

The task of sharing the good news of the Gospel to such folks who have deliberately chosen a non-Christian faith after much deliberation is certainly not easy. In this paper, practical lessons to do that are gleaned from the way Apostle Paul presented God’s truth to those from other faiths. I have chosen Apostle Paul because I agree with Ajith Fernando when he writes, “Paul’s ministry is extremely helpful in learning how to relate to people of other faiths.”[2] The Bible passage in which Paul interacted with King Agrippa as recorded by Luke is used as the primary Bible passage of consideration to do this. This passage was deliberately chosen, because, I discovered  that while there are lots of material that pulls out lessons on evangelism of folk/people from other faiths from passages such as Acts 17 (where Paul speaks in Athens), there is hardly any literature that does the same from Acts 28 (where Paul speaks to King Agrippa).

Appreciate the Good in Those From Other Faiths

            When Paul was speaking to King Agrippa, one of the first things he does is appreciate him. He appreciates his expertise on “Jewish customs and controversies.”[3] Earlier on, when he stood up to speak to the Council of Philosophers[4] in Athens, he said: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious!”[5] Again, these words can be seen as words of appreciation for their spiritual hunger.

When one shares the Gospel with the Google Generation, one must consciously look for ways to appreciate them. Straightaway attacking their false religion may put them off and may possibly completely close their minds from considering the claims of Jesus. Therefore, special effort must be taken to find out certain positive things about the religion of the Google Generation youth which the Gospel agrees with. These findings should be shared right at the start of the Gospel presentations with such people.

Attach Your Testimony in the Gospel Presentation

In his Gospel presentation with King Agrippa,  Paul then/also shares his detailed testimony (Acts 26:4-22). A philosophy can be argued against, but a personal story cannot be. That is why it is pertinent that one attaches his own testimony in every Gospel presentation that is presented to a  non-believer from the Google Generation background. As a group, the Google Generation just loves sharing their personal stories. This is seen in the huge popularity of social networking websites such as Facebook where ‘status updates’ are basically a short report of what someone is actually up to (a testimony). Here is a comment from a news magazine about Facebook’s role in helping people open up their life stories with greater ease and regularity:

Facebook has changed our social DNA, making us more accustomed to openness. But the site is premised on a contradiction: Facebook is rich in intimate opportunities — you can celebrate your niece’s first steps there and mourn the death of a close friend — but the company is making money because you are, on some level, broadcasting those moments online. The feelings you experience on Facebook are heartfelt; the data you’re providing feeds a bottom line.

The willingness of Facebook’s users to share and overshare — from descriptions of our bouts of food poisoning (gross) to our uncensored feelings about our bosses (not advisable) — is critical to its success. Thus far, the company’s m.o. has been to press users to share more, then let up if too many of them complain..[6]

            Since the Google Generation is not wary of sharing their personal stories, as we’ve seen above, testimonies from the mouth of an evangelist would be mostly welcomed by them.

Appeal to Common Sense

            While sharing his testimony in his talk with King Agrippa, Paul includes this statement: “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me? Is it hard for you to kick against the goads?” By using this statement, Paul is appealing to the common sense of his listeners, including King Agrippa. Those who kick against the goads would hurt themselves in the process. What Paul is trying to say is this: a life without a relationship with Jesus is self-destructive in its core essence. When one observes the world of the Google Generation that are from other faiths and which is without Christ, the same is found to be true. A report in a news magazine about a real life story of a student studying in a college touted to be India’s best engineering college, confirms this:

Dad – sorry I couldn’t be a better son to you… all you asked was my betterment of my career and future and I couldn’t give it to you… I have failed you dad and I am so sorry about it. I cannot show my face to you

Mom – Sorry mom, I really did love you more than dad….

I was weak I thought I could become strong but I was weak, I was so so so weak the fault is my own. The fault is my own. Hope something good happens with my death. Fire stallion has left the building…

I wish to donate my eyes and internal organs…. At least somebody can be benefitted with my death.

In another 2 min it will be 3:13 both my fav numbers. awesome time to die

These were Nitin Kumar Reddy’s last words in an email he sent to his father. The final-year M.Tech student at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his hostel room after he got a semester extension.

The pressure cooker description given by the media certainly does not go with the IIT Madras campus, located within a 620-acre natural forest with a magnificent lake and a wide range of flora and fauna.

However, in the last three years, the campus has witnessed six suicides—the highest number across IITs. This year eight IITians killed themselves across India, and IIT Madras leads this list, too, with two students, both from the mechanical engineering department, killing themselves. [7]

            Some of the students of one of India’s top colleges were “kicking against the goads” – what is most unfortunate is that they kicked against the goads till their death.[8] This real-life story provides a challenge that one must employ a line of argument that appeals to simple reason and basic logic while the Gospel is being shared with the Google Generation. Particularly, the basic reasons for the uniqueness of Jesus should be lovingly presented during a Gospel presentation. A person who rebels against such a unique Savior can only be hurting himself or causing himself untold trouble.

Announce discovery of purpose





           Paul in his Gospel presentation efforts before King Agrippa announces how he discovered purpose and meaning for life after an encounter with Jesus. Christ appeared to him to make him a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 26:16-18). The curse of the Google Generation is life without a purpose. Here is the confession of Boris Becker, accomplished German tennis star:

“I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player. I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed… It’s the old song of movie stars and pop stars who commit suicide. They have every-thing, and yet they are so unhappy. I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.”[9]

This confession reflects purposelessness in Becker’s life. An encounter with Jesus alone can give anyone, including all those from the Google Generation, purpose and meaning in life. This news has to be shared with those from other faiths for whom life is meaningless and empty.

Address the person you are sharing the Gospel with by name

Paul continues his Gospel-laced conversation with King Agrippa in Acts 26. He addresses Agrippa by name saying, “And so, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to that vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19). He need not have included the name of King Agrippa in this statement. But he did, driving home an important point.

The Indian Premier League – season 5 was hugely popular. A particular incident took place before the toss of a game in which Rajasthan Royals was played.

During the toss their captain, Rahul Dravid was asked about the changes to his line-up, he paused for a few seconds before giving up trying to recollect the second spinner Ajit Chandila, but for sure Chandila has ensured with his match-winning performance in Jaipur that his captain and world will never forget his name…. This two first-class match’s old tall spinner responded against Pune Warriors with a hat-trick…Chandila took up Jesse Ryder, Sourav Ganguly and Robin Uthappa to record the first hat-trick of his cricket career.[10]

The press made a big hue and cry about this particular event. For them, recalling a person’s name is a basic courtesy that is expected of all. While announcing the Gospel with a person from another faith, especially from the Google Generation, one must take special care of this. Calling out the name of the person the Gospel is being shared with, brings about a certain degree of closeness between the two and creates a greater opportunity for the person to be converted to Christ.

Charge all to repent

In his conversation with King Agrippa which is the focus of our study in this paper, Paul charges all who are hearing him to repent. Hear this: “I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must turn from their sins and turn to God – and prove they have changed by the good things they do.”[11] Please note here that Paul says even those from a gentile background must repent. It is no co-incidence that while speaking in Athens also Paul asks his hearers to do the same: “God has overlooked people’s former ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone everywhere to turn away from idols and turn to him.”[12] In the city of Ephesus, Paul kept hammering the point that his hearers should turn from idol worship. The response was so immense that it caused a dent in the business of those in the city that made idols! And this was the complaint that was raised against Paul: “Paul has persuaded that handmade gods aren’t gods at all!”[13]

How do we go about the sensitive task of warning the Google Generation from other faiths to turn from idol worship and follow Paul’s model? We could start of by including among the Google Generation youth, even from Christian families in the list of people who need to repent from idol worship. Perhaps the most common form of idol worship which the Google Generation youth from both Christian and non-Christian backgrounds are guilty of is the worship of technology and gadgets. The Washington Times published an article:

Let me ask this: Have you ever spoken with an Apple enthusiast and felt like you were being proselytized?… Riffing on the Greek myth of Narcissus, Mr.Marshall McLuhan in his famously complex 1964 study of the then-emerging mass media culture, “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man” wrote that technology gadgets were like narcotic extensions of the self; we worship them as idols and thus become a self-enclosed system.

Sound familiar?

“Servomechanism” was the term of art that Mr. McLuhan employed: a device that controls something from a distance.

He said of gadget love: “We must, to use them at all, serve these objects, these extensions of ourselves, as gods or minor religions. An Indian is the servomechanism of his canoe, as the cowboy of his horse or the executive of his clock.” [14]

After making it clear that one could be guilty of gadget-worship no matter which religious background one belonged to, we could go on to lovingly warn about other forms of idol-worship. Dr. Jack Deere talks about another form of idol worship prevalent in the modern church which goes unnoticed and unnamed: “A Bible deist has a lot in common with the natural deist. They both worship the wrong thing. The deists of the eighteenth century worshiped human reason. The Bible deists of today worship the Bible.”[15]

After being humble enough to admit that the sin of idol-worship exists amidst those of us from the Christian background, we must not shy away from talking about idol-worship practiced by friends of ours from other faiths belonging to the Google Generation.

Anchor Everything in the Bible, Wrap Gospel Truth Around Contemporary Events

Paul, after doing different things in this Gospel presentation of his with King Agrippa, lets King Agrippa know where his anchor was. His anchor was in the word of God, the Bible. He said, “I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead and as a light to both.”[16] As Paul witnessed, he crossed social barriers (‘from the least to the greatest’) and racial barriers (‘as a light to Jews and Gentiles alike.’)[17] The Gospel message is to be taken across social barriers (from the call center agents and to the assistant Vice Presidents, Chief Executive Officers!) and across racial barriers (to those from Nadar background, Naidu background, Nambhoodhri background, etc.) from among the Google Generation. Vinoth Ramachandra rightly wrote:

It was the conviction of the distinctiveness and universality of Jesus Christ that impelled men and women over the centuries to cross geographical and linguistic boundaries, and to offer their lives in the self-giving service of their fellow men and women. It was this conviction that enabled them to recognize the human worth, as well as desperate need, of tribes and cultures long despised by their non-Christian compatriots. [18]

After building a sufficient launching pad, Paul goes into a full-throttle presentation of the Gospel replete with prophetic proofs along with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The number of prophecies that Jesus fulfilled is good enough proof for his divinity and uniqueness. These fulfilled prophecies presented to the Google Generation which is goes gaga over Paul, ‘the Octopus who correctly predicted the winner of all of Germany’s World Cup 2010 games, including a shock defeat by Serbia in the group stages and the ousting of Germany by Spain’[19]. The Google generation must be reminded that ‘Octopus Paul’s’ record was not perfect in reality/actually, according to his own owners. Paul had predicted wrong in about 30% of Germany’s games during the 2008 European Championship, including their loss to Spain in the finals.’[20] When it comes to predicting the future, the Word of God is far more accurate than ‘Octopus Paul’s’ predictions, as God’s word has not gone wrong even in a single prediction so far.

The death and resurrection of Jesus can be wrapped with contemporary events in which the Google Generation has interests in that way Paul wrapped one aspect of the Gospel with a secular quote in his Athens speech.[21] This is something I keep doing all the time in my ministry to the Google Generation. In a recent message I preached to audiences that included Google Generation youth from other faiths, I referred to a particular event that took place in the Indian Premier League and wrapped that event around the Gospel. Let me elaborate:  

It was one of those moments in Bangalore that got overshadowed amid MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings’ onslaught. Mumbai Indians were in pursuit of 188 runs to stay alive in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League against Chennai. Cruising at 47 for no loss in 4.5 overs they looked set to make the most of the fielding restrictions when disaster struck. Sachin Tendulkar played the ball to the off side and Dwayne Smith at the other end ran while the Little Master did not. The ball was thrown at the non-striker’s end even as Smith and Sachin were stranded on the same side. And before the bails could be dislodged Sachin made a swift decision. He took a few steps forward to give up his wicket to keep Smith, who was looking in ominous form, alive. Of course, Smith, eventually, perished eight balls later and Mumbai ended up on the losing side…[22].

Just like how Sachin Tendulkar, the legend of Indian Cricket, sacrificed his wicket in favor of little-known Dwayne Smith, the God of the entire universe, Jesus Christ sacrificed his life voluntarily for unworthy you and me. Just like Dwayne Smith got out irresponsibly— after just eight balls following Sachin’s act of sacrifice—we too treat the supreme sacrifice of Christ with utter contempt by falling back into deliberate sin. This was part of the message I preached which was well-received by the audience of Google Generation youth.       

 

In the Face of Arguments, Win the Person as well as the Argument

            After Paul’s presentation of the Gospel, Governor Festus shouted, “Paul you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”[23] When we present the Gospel among the cream of the society, the likes of Kings and Governors, we can expect some opposition. That is what had happened to Paul. If we preach the right Gospel, opposition ^^^! Paul handled the opposition by giving a direct reply which was not bereft of its dearness! A reply which was not robbed of its sweetness! Chris Wright points out that while Paul ‘confronts the sophisticated and curious Athenians (Acts 17:16-34)’, he was not only ‘distressed’ but also ‘courteous’.[24] He said, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. I am speaking the sober truth. And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak frankly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner!”[25] “Paul knew that Agrippa had a fairly extensive knowledge of Jewish beliefs”[26], and would be the right person to counter Festus’ opposition. To counter the non-believing governor’s objection, Paul looked for the help of the non-believing king! We must try to counter the arguments of non-believers  with arguments from other non-believers. It is often argued by some skeptics that Christ never existed. To counter this, I fished out a quote from a secular news magazine published in India called “Open”–a magazine that has previously published anti-Christian writings. Here it is:

There is no doubt that Jesus existed. In comparison to other ancient individuals, he is well represented by ancient sources. New Testament texts are naturally the primary sources. We have thousands of ancient fragments where the oldest preserved are written some 30 years after the Gospel (John) was composed. Compare this to Homer and Herodotus, where the few preserved manuscripts were written about 1,000 years after being originally composed. The preserved sources for Caesars’ Gallic Wars are nine or ten and the oldest were written 900 years after its original composition. The number of texts and the nearness between preserved New Testament texts and the time when they were written is without parallel in ancient literature.[27]

Ask Personal Questions and Open the Scriptures With Those From Other Faiths

As we move forward in this gripping narrative of Paul sharing the Gospel with King Agrippa, we see that Paul asks a personal question to King Agrippa next: “King Agrippa, do you believe in the prophets? I know you do – “[28] The Google Generation takes exception (/usually tries to avoid) when personal questions are asked. But Paul went ahead and asked King Agrippa if he believed in the Prophets. If he believed in the Prophets, he would not be having an incestuous relationship with his own sister Bernice[29] for these are the words of the Prophet Moses: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister…”[30] If he believed in the Prophets, he would not hesitate to release the unfairly arrested Paul from captivity, for he would have read from the writings of Prophet Amos, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”[31] What one believes affects the way one behaves. That is the reason Paul asked that pertinent question to King Agrippa, who  “had a reputation as a pious Jew, which is why Paul could make this appeal.”[32]

            At this juncture, I would like to draw a parallel between King Agrippa and the Google Generation youth. Just as King Agrippa was sexually immoral in the extremely gross sense, the Google Generation youth of today are also sexually immoral in an extremely gross sense. Let me provide a case-point: “At least 112 people were arrested in a massive police operation against online child pornography in 22 European countries, a media report said.  The suspects were arrested for allegedly sharing online videos of children being sexually abused and raped, said the Daily Mail.”[33] Peter Roebuck was easily one of most renowned cricket commentators, and a Google Generation icon. “Cape Town police confirmed Peter Roebuck, 55, had taken his life about 9.15pm, plunging six storey’s to his death at the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel following allegations of a police probe into fresh claims of sexual assault.”[34] Instead of pretending that sexual sin is far away from those of the Google Generation, we must tackle the issue head on. When talking about sexual sins we could use the following phrases: “We have sinned against our Creator with our body…” instead of “You have sinned against your Creator with your body…”

             Using the writings of the Prophets—the Scripture portion that Paul asked if Agrippa believed in—one can lead a person from another faith to the experience of salvation with an open Bible. It has been my privilege to do just that. One day when I was busy with my work of calling the American customers of the International Bank I once worked for, from Hyderabad, India, with the objective of trying to recover loans from them, way past mid-night. One of my call coaches saw the Bible I had placed on my desk and told me, “Someone gave me a Bible once. I tried to read it. But I could not understand it. Can you help me understand the Bible, please?” I was stunned by this missionary call that came from the mouth of an unbeliever from another faith, a modern young working professional, even as I sat in that corporate office. Of course, I was no stranger to the unmistakable hunger for the things of God among the modern young professionals. A newsmagazine in India announced on its cover with a picture of a praying techie: “Helpline God—When everything around you starts looking dismal and depressing, spirituality and prayers have become the last refuge even for preppy yuppies.”[35] After I had logged out from my computer after work, I walked up to this particular call coach with my Bible. I asked him, “Shall we sit in a quiet corner in our office so that I can take a few minutes to explain the main message of the Bible to you?” He instantly agreed.  Within minutes, he was praying the prayer of salvation with me after I explained with a help of a few verses the Gospel message. All of those verses were from the prophetic book of Isaiah. We read Isaiah 54:10 to understand that God loves us abundantly. We read Isaiah 57:20, 21 to understand that sin causes an unrest/vacuum in our hearts. We read Isaiah 59:2 to understand that sin separates us from God. We read Isaiah 66:24 to understand that stubborn sin will ultimately take us to ever-lasting hell. We read Isaiah 53:5 to understand that Jesus died to forgive us and give us true peace. We read Isaiah 53:6 to grasp that we need to take a U-turn and come back to God in faith to receive Jesus’ sacrifice. We read Isaiah 66:15 to comprehend the fact that the resurrected Jesus is coming back to judge the World.  The starting point for this startling development was an open Bible I had placed in my workstation!

Press the Accelerator to Lead the Candidate to a Definite Commitment

            Paul’s interaction with King Agrippa—the focus of this paper—is truly absorbing. King Agrippa, in response to Paul’s personal question says this: “Do you think that you can make me a Christian so quickly?”[36] King Agrippa’s instinct tells him/ feels in his gut that Paul did not want him to delay his repentance from his possible affair with his own sister Bernice. But instead of sending Bernice out and inviting Paul to lead him in a prayer of commitment for salvation, King Agrippa leaves/left the place along with Bernice.[37] Perhaps he thought that he had lots of time to decide what he would do with Jesus. But he did not. When one suddenly dies, it becomes too late to come to Christ, for the Bible says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”[38] When the Spirit stops speaking to a heart made stubborn, it becomes too late for that person to come to Christ. Pharaoh is an example of this. God hardened his heart when he was repeatedly stubborn, despite seeing some outstanding miracles time and again.[39]  When Jesus returns the second time—He is going to do that suddenly and unexpectedly as a thief in the night would—it would again be far too late to come to Christ in repentance.[40] That is why there is a dire need to push towards a commitment when one shares the Gospel with a person with faith or no faith.

            A fourteen-year old Indian girl named Taruni Sachdev, who appeared in a Rasna advertisement (Rasna is a soft drink) on Indian Television saying, “I love you, Rasna!” died in an air-crash in Nepal on May 14, 2012.[41] It may be that Taruni never came to Christ in repentance and faith, and therefore it is quite possible that this Google Generation teen never had the opportunity to say, “I love you, Jesus!” The sudden death of Google Generation youth like her pushes youth workers like me to speed up the announcement of the good news to as many as possible. Interestingly, this is Paul’s final point, as Luke’s narrative of Paul’s encounter with King Agrippa closes—he not only wanted King Agrippa to come to Christ following a genuine repentance, but everyone to do so![42]

CONCLUSION

In this paper, Paul’s encounter with King Agrippa is used to glean lessons that can be used to give out the Gospel effectively to those of the Google Generation. At times, references to other portions of Scripture are made. The lessons so gathered will augur well for those passionate about sharing the Good News with those that belong to the Google Generation!

SOURCES CONSULTED

Deere, Jack. Surprised by the Voice of God: How God Speaks Today Through Prophecies, Dreams and Visions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

Fernando, Ajith. Sharing the Truth in Love: How to Relate to People of Other Faiths. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2001.

Ramachandra, Vinoth. Faith in Conflict? Christian Integrity in a Multicultural World. Secunderabad: OM Books, 1999.

Wright, Chris. Thinking Clearly About the Uniqueness of Christ. Crowborough, Sussex: Monarch Publications, 1997.

PERIODICALS

Our Daily Bread, 9 July 1984

The Sunday Indian, March 29, 2009.

INTERNET

“112 arrested in European online child porn racket” ,“http://in.news.yahoo.com/112-arrested-

european-online-child-porn-racket-135454313.html, 16 December 2011 (accessed on May 6, 2012).

Dan Fletcher, “How Facebook is redeeming privacy?” Time, May 20, 2010,

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1990798,00.html (accessed March 15. 2012).

Outlook, “Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – Gandhi Family Scion”, Outlook India, 

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?239775 (accessed December 14,  2011).

“Paul’s defense before Agrippa,” ESV Study Bible,  http://www.esvbible.org/search/Acts+26/

(accessed on 12 April 2012).

Peter Badel, “Sex Assault Claims Emerge In Peter Roebuck death inquest,” Nov. 14, 2011,

(http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/sex-assault-claims-emerge-in-peter-roebuck-death-inquest/story-e6frexni-1226194021508, accessed on 18 Dec 2012).

IPL 5 : Chandila’s performance will not let Dravid to forget his name again”, jaipur.co, May 14,

2012,   www.jaipur.co/ipl-5-chandilas-performance-will-not-let-dravid-to-forget-his-name-again/ (accessed May 15, 2012).

 “Bernice”, Jewish Encylopedia, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3050-berenice

(accessed on 5 May 2012).

Madhavankutty Pillai, “Christ on the Cross…maybe not…” (an interview with Gunnar

Samuelsson), 20 November 2010 (http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/living/christ-on-the-cross-maybe-not, accessed 23 January 2012).

Mandira Nair and S. Neeraj Krishna, “Bright minds and Dark Angels.”, The Week, October 31,

2011, http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?contentId=10350823& programId=1073755753&BV_ID=@@@, (accessed on December 12, 2011)

Somak Adhikari, “Selfless Aspect of Sachin Tendulkar Comes To The Fore”, 

http://sports.ndtv.com/ cricket/features/item/190537-selfless-aspect-of-sachin-tendulkar-comes-to-the-fore (accessed on May 26, 2012).

 “Rise of the Pod People”, The Washington Times, March 23, 2006,

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/mar/23/20060323-091545-7734r/print/ (accessed on April 14, 2012).

Rasna Girl Taruni Sachdev Among Dead in Nepal Air Crash.”

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/asia/rasna-girl-taruni-sachdev-among-dead-nepal-air-crash-610 (accessed on May 16,  2012).


[1] Outlook, “Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – Gandhi Family Scion”, Outlook India,  http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?239775 (accessed December 14,  2011).

[2]Ajith Fernando, Sharing The Truth In Love: How To Relate To People of Other Faiths (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2001), 27.

[3]Acts 26:2, All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New Living Translation, 1996.

[4]Acts 17:19.

[5]Acts 17:22.

[6] Dan Fletcher, “How Facebook is redeeming privacy?” Time, May 20, 2010, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1990798,00.html (accessed March 15. 2012).

[7]  Mandira Nair and S. Neeraj Krishna, “Bright minds and Dark Angels.”, The Week, October 31, 2011, http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?contentId=10350823& programId=1073755753&BV_ID=@@@, (accessed on December 12, 2011)

[8]Acts 26:19, English Standard Version.

[9]Our Daily Bread, July 9, 1984.

[10] “IPL 5 : Chandila’s performance will not let Dravid to forget his name again”, jaipur.co, May 14, 2012,   http://www.jaipur.co/ipl-5-chandilas-performance-will-not-let-dravid-to-forget-his-name-again/ (accessed May 15, 2012).

[11]Acts 26:20, NLT.

[12]Acts 17:30-31, NLT.

[13]Acts 19:26, NLT.

[14]“Rise of the Pod People”, The Washington Times, March 23, 2006, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/mar/23/20060323-091545-7734r/print/ (accessed on April 14, 2012).

[15]Jack Deere, Surprised by the Voice of God: How God Speaks Today Through Prophecies, Dreams and Visions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 251.

[16]Acts 26:22,23, NLT.

[17] “Paul’s defense before Agrippa,” ESV Study Bible,  http://www.esvbible.org/search/Acts+26/ (accessed on 12 April 2012).

[18]Vinoth Ramachandra, Faith In Conflict? Christian Integrity In A Multicultural World (Secunderabad: OM Books, 1999), 130.

[19]“Psychic’ octopus predicts Spain to win World Cup,” BBC News Europe, July 9, 2010, ://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10566287 (accessed on  January 11, 2012).

[20]Ibid.

[21]Acts 17:28.

[22]Somak Adhikari, “Selfless Aspect of Sachin Tendulkar Comes To The Fore”,  http://sports.ndtv.com/ cricket/features/item/190537-selfless-aspect-of-sachin-tendulkar-comes-to-the-fore (accessed on May 26, 2012).

[23]Acts 26:24 NLT.

[24]Chris Wright, Thinking Clearly About The Uniqueness of Christ (Crowborough, Sussex: Monarch Publications, 1997), 136.

[25]Acts 26:25-26 NLT.

[26]“Paul’s defense before Agrippa,” http://www.esvbible.org/search/Acts+26/ (accessed on 30 April 2012).

[27]Madhavankutty Pillai, “Christ on the Cross…maybe not…” (an interview with Gunnar Samuelsson), 20 November 2010 (http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/living/christ-on-the-cross-maybe-not, accessed 23 January 2012).

[28]Acts 26:27 NLT.

[29]“Bernice”, Jewish Encylopedia, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3050-berenice (accessed on 5 May 2012).

[30]Lev. 18:9, ESV.

[31]Amos 5:24, ESV.

[32]http://www.esvbible.org/search/Acts+26/ (accessed on 13 March 2012).

[33] “112 arrested in European online child porn racket” ,“http://in.news.yahoo.com/112-arrested-european-online-child-porn-racket-135454313.html, 16 December 2011 (accessed on May 6, 2012).

[34]Peter Badel, “Sex Assault Claims Emerge In Peter Roebuck death inquest,” Nov. 14, 2011, (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/sex-assault-claims-emerge-in-peter-roebuck-death-inquest/story-e6frexni-1226194021508, accessed on 18 Dec 2012).

[35]The Sunday Indian, March 29, 2009.

[36]Acts 26:28, NLT.

[37]Acts 26:30.

[38]Heb 9:27, ESV.

[39]Ex 7:13,14,22; 8:15,19,32; 9:7,12.

[40]I Thess. 5:2.

[41]“Rasna Girl Taruni Sachdev Among Dead in Nepal Air Crash.” http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/asia/rasna-girl-taruni-sachdev-among-dead-nepal-air-crash-610 (accessed on May 16,  2012).

[42]See Acts 26:29.

(Duke Jeyaraj wrote this academic article as a student of Doctor of Ministry in Southern Asia Bible College [CGLD]. This assignment was submitted to Rev. Dr. Ivan Satyavrata, the course instructor. Duke, gratuated with a Doctor of Ministry in 2014. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. This is a reader supported Indian ministry.)

Categories
Duke Jeyaraj Life Story G4 Mission History G4 Mission Real Life Stories

Saturday, MAY 14, 1988 – The Unforgettable Day I Committed For Full-Time Ministry As A 13-Year Old / Duke Jeyaraj

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 Goddo 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).

Categories
Carona Pandemic Bible Devotions

CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUT OF CORONA?

Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj on the ‘CR’s from the Bible We Need To Recall When Life Plays Football With Us!

I was in Allahabad, North India, studying a college course (B. Tech., Agricultural Engineering) when I heard first about this beautiful actress from Nepal in Mumbai. Her name? Manisha Koirala. She won a tough battle against cancer recently. She said, “I think cancer helps to transform a person. It affected me so much that it enabled me to grow!” (I read this in Outlook mag). She is not a believer to the best of my knowledge. But I was amazed that she was able to see something positive in suffering. Though the Corona pandemic has caused many inconveniences to Corporates, churches, individuals, etc., can anything good come out of this? What are the blessings that come out of this pandemic?

Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer, popularly known as CR. Using the acronym CR, I have outlined my message which captures the biblical CRs we need to keep in when life plays football with us. These CRs will keep us playing the game of life with a positive attitude despite setback such as the Corona Pandemic. When life plays football with us – that is when we suffer – we will do well to remember these biblical CRs!

CHARACTER REFINEMENT (CR NO. 1 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)

Job is one of the earliest books of the Bible and it has a lesson on suffering. Job experienced untold suffering – loss of his children, loss of his wealth, his wife encouraging him to curse God and die, acting as Satan’s agent (She repeated Satan’s words to God about Job that he would curse God when his worldly blessing are removed). Job 23:10 says “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” God does not contradict himself. From the Old Testament to the New Testament God says the same thing in a progressive way. I Peter 5:10 says “after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” The suffering which is only for a while confirms us, strengthen , and establish us. Our character gets refined in a mysterious way. It does not matter who caused it but blessings will come out of this pandemic.

COPYBOOK (BIBLE) REFLECTION (CR NO. 2 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)

If a shotput hits your head during game time in school, you might lose your memory. You might say crazy things. But no shotput ball hit the author of Psalm 119. He was in-fact directed by the Holy Spirit when he wrote Psalm 119:71.

Psalm 119:71 says “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Generally our tendency is to waste our time and be addicted to the screen. We like to go down the easy path and are like water that flows wherever there is a way. Usually we are always in a hurry but this lock down time has given us unhurried time to study the word of God.

Suffering should not just turn our attention to Scripture. But also make us obey Scripture. I say this because I have read Psalm 119:67 – “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your Word!”

CROWNING OF OUR ROCK (CR NO. 3 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)  

By the phrase, ‘Crowning of our Rock’ I mean the ‘the glory of God our Rock’. John 9:1,2 speaks of a blind man from birth. “What is the cause of his blindness?” asked the disciples of Jesus. Was it his sin or the sin of his parents? He was born blind in order to display glory to God; raise the glory of the Lord in a mysterious way, the Scripture says in John 9:1-2. How does a black buffalo eat green grass and produce white milk? I don’t understand.  But I drink milk and give my kids milk to drink! How can the corona virus situation bring glory to God? I don’t understand. But I do not doubt the goodness of God even in this situation! We are living in times of inexplicable suffering and inconveniences/lock down. During, the times of suffering we must keep praising for our creator. The Lord’s name must be glorified even during the time of suffering because suffering brings glory to his name according to John 9:1-2.

CHRIST ‘REPROGRAPHICS’ [COPYING] (CR NO. 4 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)

We become more like Jesus during suffering. When we suffer with a positive attitude we copy Christ. Apostle Paul writes, “that I may know the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). We become like Him in death. Suffering with a positive attitude helps us to imitate Jesus. We become more like Him. That is God’s ultimate purpose for us (Rom. 8:29). We look for different models to imitate. Teens tend to imitate famous movie stars. The only model completely worthy of imitating is Jesus. Job 5:7 says “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” If we are human, suffering is unavoidable according to the Old and New Testaments. Acts 14:22 says that we must go through many hardships in our day to day life till we enter heaven by our death or after the return of Jesus.  

We get our salvation through the suffering of Jesus but He is also a model when it comes to suffering. We must copy the attitude of Jesus when we suffer. How did Jesus suffer?

Jesus saw suffering as something allowed by God enroute to the Cross. Jesus prayed this model prayer at Gethsemane:  “Take this cup of suffering from me but yet not my will, but your will.”

We too must understand that times of suffering are allowed by God.

When Jesus suffered, He forgave those who made him suffer. That’s why he prayed while hanging on the Cross this: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do!”

In the Old Testament when someone cursed David, David felt God gave him permission to do that (2 Sam. 16:11).  The Son of David, Jesus, also said in similar vein: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

There may be financial difficulty coming, terrible health issues, and untold trouble during this pandemic. There is a gripping Malayalam movie “Virus” about the Nipha virus outbreak which broke out in the Indian state of Kerala in 2018, but the Corono virus is more deadly and global. God has allowed it to happen (though we aren’t sure who is the cause for this)

And when we exhibit a Christ-like attitude during this time of suffering – saluting the Will of the Father, forgiving whoever may be involved –  God will be pleased! And we will become Christ-like!

COSMOS REDEMPTION (CR No. 5 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)

The most relatable example of how God can use our suffering as a channel of blessing for others (the cosmos) concerns the Old Testament hero, Joseph.  Genesis 50:20 says “ye thought evil against me but God meant it unto good.”  Those are Joseph’s words to his brothers who were super-mean to him when he met them after he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph undergoes sufferings on multiple occasions. I preached a message on the sufferings of Joseph when I was invited to preach in a Baptist Church earlier this year (2019). That message on the ‘arrows’ launched against Joseph is found on YouTube. But despite these arrows, Joseph’s bow remained steady. He believed God had a plan in allowing his brothers to be envious of him. The envy of Joseph’s brothers was caused by Satan, of course. But Joseph saw that as God-allowed for the greater blessing of his family, the nation of Israel. Read Genesis 45:5-8.  Count the times Joseph says there, “God sent me….”. He says it three times! Joseph did not feel that his brother’s envy sent him to Egypt but he came to Epypt because of the God’s good purposes! Joseph was not bitter when he suffered (via his brothers, Mrs. Potiphar, Mr. Potiphar, the forgetful cupbearer, etc.) but he thought differently. Great people think differently. He saw God’s hand in allowing these folk to make him suffer so that a grander plan can be executed for the blessing of many people.

Government restrictions for travel keep us home. Our international travel may have cancelled. The World’s finances may be in disarray. But Believe that God allowed this virus to go beserk for a good purpose.

By saying this I am not justifying envy or any sinful thing. If the Corona virus was manufactured in a lab as a weapon for bio-terrorism, whoever responsible for that must be punished. God will judge that person either on this side of eternity or the other side of it (if the concerned does not repent).  Was that act wrong? Absolutely.

Joseph was in a position to bless so many people even though he was the second youngest sibling in his family as he grew up. He became an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ! What a blessing!

Graham Staines was an ordinary missionary in the interior parts of Orissa. He was burnt alive along with his 2 sons when he stayed in his jeep following a meeting in a village (January of 1999). But this has inspired many to take up medical mission, to respect humanity, and pursue truth. Jim Eliot, worked among the Aucas in Ecuador, South America and was killed in 1956 at the age of 29, amidst remote tribals. His life inspired many people to labour for Christ and go to other countries to share the love of Jesus. In mysterious ways all this resulted in cosmos redemption.

CONTRAST AND REVERSE-APPRECIATION (CR No. 7 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)

Read I Peter 1:6,7 (we already read it earlier in this message). Twenty-one day lock down may seem long. When you compare our time of suffering here and now with eternity, is such a short time. When we understand the fleeting nature of our suffering here and now, then only we will be able to appreciate the reverse – the time of everlasting joy in heaven. For example, a tiny kidney stone can cause much excruciating pain, even though temporary.  I have experienced hours of kidney stone pain twice in my life (a pain that is said to be close to the labor pains a woman experiences). When I go through a pain-free day, I praise God even more with delirious joy because I recall those two terrible bouts of pain. Eugene Peterson, an American Presbyterian Minister, says hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us (in his contemporary English translation of II Corinthians 4:17,18). We have light and momentary troubles (to use another version’s rendering of the same set of verses).

Sometimes we feel our suffering is so gigantic but when compared to the suffering that Jesus underwent, it is very light. God has a grand, glorious plan when he allows anything. God had foreknowledge of this pandemic and this is not a surprise for God. He already knew about it.

Read Acts 2:22,23; Acts 4:27,28. Different people became united. The religious leaders of the time and common people, Jews and gentiles schemed together, came against Jesus who is the only one who did not deserve any suffering (as he never sinned and yes, suffering first came into the world because of sin – check out John 5:14; ofcourse not all suffering is because of sin – John 9:1-2 teaches that). We may not understand the intricacies but something good will come out of this corona virus pandemic. The teaching that we will not have to suffer here and now on this earth because Jesus suffered for us on the Cross is a false teaching. We suffer because Adam chose to disobey and we also commit sin and disobey. Hebrews 13:12,13 is clear that even though Jesus suffered on the cross, we have to suffer as well – especially when we take a stand for Jesus in this pluralistic World and in this prosperity-false-doctrine embracing backslidden church.

This world is not our home. We are just passing through looking for a new heaven and earth.

Let  me reproduce a story from my article that provides a practical summary of the book of Job titled “Why me?”

MARTIN AND GRACIA BURNHAM STORY VIA A NAT GEO TV PROGRAM

My wife and I tucked our kids to bed and settled to watch the National Geographic channel program called, “Locked up Abroad!”  in September 2008. It featured the story of a missionary couple by the name of Martin and Gracia Burnham.

They were American Missionaries who served God in the country of Phiippines. They had met and married each other with a singular purpose of serving God together in the mission field he would send them to. God had blessed them with three children all of whom were born in the mission field.

On their eighteenth wedding anniversary, they had gone to a beachside island resort in the same country to romance each other afresh and to celebrate their wedding anniversary minus the children.

That’s when a terrorist group led by Abu Sayyaf linked with Osama bin Laden kidnapped them and took them away in a speedboat along with 18 others. In this group of 18, there was only one more American, apart from the Burnhams. This missionary couple was chained to two terrorists. They kept moving in the dense forests as the Philippine Army tried to track them down.

They starved for most part of their 377-day captivity. While they fainted physically, spiritually they did not. They kept believing God and kept serving him by sharing the gospel with their captors. When they did eat something, dysentery was the result. Though the food came out of their bodies like water, their faith during this time was rock solid. Their bodies were cut. Blood oozed out. But their faith in Jesus did not fizzle out. Their captors demanded $1 million for their release. $330,000 was given to them, yet they did not release them. 3 men in that group of 18 were beheaded. Even after these horrific incidents, this missionary couple in captivity did not want to kick their Christian Faith from their hearts and heads. The terrorists married four women in the group against their wishes and sexually violated them.  Even this incident did not force this determined duo  to divorce their faith from their life during the time of extreme trail. On June 7, 2002, during a cross-fire between the Phippine Army and the terrorists, a bullet pierced the chest of Martin the soldier of the Cross, and he died. Yet, the faith of his wife, Gracia, did not die. She continued to serve God with a steely resolve. Injured on her leg in the same cross-fire, she was finally free from her captors – nearly 400 days in horrific captivity.

Max Lucado writing about this incident memorably asks a series of questions you may have wanted to ask as well as you read this true story: “Why didn’t God block the bullets? Why did he let her get shot? And why God let him die?…She was a widow, and we are left to wonder why. Is this  how God honors his chosen? How do we explain this tragedy? And as you’re thinking of theirs, how do you explain yours? The tension at home. The demands at work. The bills on your desk or the tumor on your body. You’re taken hostage, but aren’t you occasionally taken aback by God’s silence? He knows what you are facing. How do we explain this?”

Gracia Martin, the dead missionary’s widow, answers this “why” question in an interview she gave: “During the 10th week of my captivity, this Bible truth I had taught others all-along strongly came to me: life’s not all about me getting my way; it’s about Him getting His way. I decided that I was going to believe God was good, no matter what…. It seemed like God would answer every prayer but to get us out of there. I think we realized that He wanted us in there for a reason. Our prayers really changed at that point – we just wanted God to be teaching us.”

Today, Gracia Martin, is stronger in her faith after having gone through such a harrowing experience. She leads a ministry that uses aviation for mission work that involves getting the Gospel to those living in closed Islamic countries. The terrifying trails she underwent being a captive to a dreaded terrorist group for close to 400 days helped in mysterious ways to demonstrate the glory and power of God in her life!

This Corona Virus Pandemic and consequent lock down time will also be for our ultimate good! I am sure of that!

There was a time when Apostle Paul was chained to a roman soldier. He considered that as an opportunity to share the Gospel. The chains that bound Apostle Paul caused him inconvenience. But he say that as an occasion to advance the Gospel (Phil. 1:12).  This is one obvious reason and purpose.  In their discussion with God, Satan tried to tell God that Job loved Him because of all the gifts He gave Job.  God said that Job loved Him because of genuine love and had no ulterior motives. The reason that Job had for loving God was love for God and nothing else. As a popular secular romantic song goes, “Love me for a reason. Let the reason be love!” We must love God for no other reason, but love! And if we do, this pandemic time will become a purposeful time for us!

Prayer:   Thank you Lord for helping us understand from the Bible why there can be a mysterious blessing even via this Corona pandemic. Bless our time of lockdown and suffering so that we will continue to learn your word, raise Your praise, share your Gospel , and grow in character. In Jesus name. Amen.

[Transcribed by Mrs. Malini Prabakar voluntarily from a devotional that Duke Jeyaraj shared via video on 29 March 2020. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this piece, is the fouder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, a listener supported Indian Ministry. Find out more at www.dukev.org. You may choose to subscribe to www.youtube.com/visitduke and like www.facebook.com/dukebook. You can reach Duke via WhatsApp at +91-8886040605. If you send a message via this number we can send you the PDF of the magazine that Duke publishes called, The Days of Your Youth, with the article, ‘Why Me?’ (summary of the main lessons of Job put in outline j-o-b o-f u-z)]