I was born in a Hindu family of the Nair community of north Kerala. My original name was Kunyil Kunjuram Kurup. My mother died when she was only 19 years old leaving behind two very young children. I was two and half years old and my brother only four months. While dying, my mother entrusted my brother and me over to her mother. Therefore, my grand mother took up the responsibility of bringing us up. She was more than a mother to me. Very loving and compassionate woman that she was, my maternal grandmother, bestowed much love and care upon me. She was always feeding the hungry and helping the needy in the village and earned a very good name for her charitable deeds. She looked after me very well and tried her best to help me grow into a good human being. My father remarried, but I kept in touch with my father, stepmother and our stepsisters who were all good and nice towards me.
My grandmother had an earnest desire that I might make something of my life and to this end she wanted me to receive good education. After passing my elementary school examination, I was sent to the Basil Evangelical Christian High School at Badagara, Kozhikode. This mission school was an English medium School and everyone was dressed in Western style of clothing and conversed in English only. Coming from a village, It was a culture shock to me. It was also the time of Quit India movement and along with other school children I participated in the political rallies held by leaders of that time to express our support for the Quit India movement. Away from home and the control of elders, I gained liberty and was free to live my life as I wished. Within a short time of my joining high school, I made friends with a group of boys of bad character. At the same time, I also became interested in politics wasting my time in empty and fruitless activities. I became popular in the school and friendships increased. By the time I reached 10th Class, I fought the School leader’s election on a Congress ticket and became the School President. This new position kept me even busier, arbitrating peace between student groups, teachers and the management. This took away most of my precious time and I started to loose control over my own life.
Consequently, I had lost all interest in my studies and failed in my exams several times. I managed to get promotion only after engaging a tutor. Satan was out to destroy my life. As I look back, the condition of my life at that time was very much like that of the man in the parable who "went from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among the thieves, was robbed and wounded". Despite my grandmother’s earnest endeavors, I allowed myself to be robbed of life’s true riches at a very early age due to my waywardness and was perilously close to total destruction.
A true Friend
At the mission school, the principal and the vice-principal were very good and caring Christians and I loved them. We used to have a general assembly every morning where scriptures were read from the Bible. I had respect for the Bible but they did not influence me much because the teacher who read them was quite worldly and did not set a good example. We also had a Scripture class, which was led by the same teacher, but the general low impression of the teacher did not help matters much. As students, we were all staying as paying guests with Christian families and were eating at a mess run by a member of the Basil Evangelical Church. There I met a young man, who was about ten years senior to me. Although there were many other Christian and non-Christian students eating from the same mess, he took interest in me and invited me to his home. He hailed from a rich Marthomite Christian family. Though he was the son of a district magistrate, he used to dress in a very simple style and carried no airs about him. His kind manners and behavior impressed me so much that I began to like him for his good behavior. We became friends from the very first meeting. He turned out to be a good Christian and a very God-fearing one at that. I tried to influence him to join my kind of life, but soon I realized that his interests were quite different from that of my own. I did not like it and reacted against his disciplined and strict moral way of life. My earlier admiration turned into hatred. I branded him a fool and a hypocrite. But he continued to show me the same kindness and consideration as at first. He endeavored to convince me that my unclean life should be changed, but in reply I argued that man was a fool if he did not enjoy the pleasures of the world and that heaven and hell existed only in this life.
I decided that I would stop visiting this friend, but somehow I was drawn to him again, so I continued the friendship in a half-hearted way. The more I saw of him and I examined his life, the more I realized that he was not a hypocrite as I had first judged him. I realized that he was an honest person motivated by genuine fear of God. Gradually my hatred for him turned into admiration and I began to respect him for his life and behavior.
At the same time, a desire was born in my heart to reform the condition of my own life. I wanted to get rid of all my evil habits and clean up my filthy life. I accepted the fact that apart from holiness, no one could see God. I wanted my life to be pure and holy so that I could come closer to God.
A Desperate Attempt
From then on, I made a desperate attempt to reform my life. I separated myself from my evil companions and tried to break my old habits. I gave up smoking and stopped going to movies. In spite of my sincere efforts, I did not make much progress in changing my way of life. I failed in all my attempts to make myself holy by self effort. I did not realize that I needed a Savior to save me from the bondage of sin. However, I would not listen to my friend when he spoke about Lord Jesus Christ. I was prepared to believe in God but I did not want to have anything to do with Christ or his teachings. I emphasized that Jesus had nothing to do with me.
The Turning Point
Then my friend gave me a copy of the Bible in Malayalam, my mother tongue. First of all, I became interested in Psalms and then I started reading the gospels. As I continued to read about the wonderful life of Lord Jesus Christ, my prejudices and ill feelings disappeared. I started loving the scriptures and it really was the turning point in my life.
Voice of Peace
I had a desire to be holy. I was trying to avoid certain bad habits, evil friendships and control my evil thoughts. Despite my sincere efforts, my resolution to lead a pious life failed. I fell into a great temptation and committed a very evil deed. Someone told me that such a sin could never be forgiven and I was doomed to go to hell. I was very much worried and did have peace in my heart. I became restless. I could not eat, drink or talk to anybody. I felt so guilty that I was very much worried within. The struggle within became increasingly unbearable. When I thought of the consequences of the sin I felt very scared. I felt, that I betrayed myself and began to curse myself for having broken the resolution so soon.
Vision of the Shepherd
That evening at about 6 O’clock, I was lying on my bed very disillusioned. I was looking at the ceiling thinking about what kind of situation I had landed my self into. Then suddenly a person appeared in my room, stood by my bed, and looked at me very compassionately in a loving, tender and caring way. His countenance was very peaceful and the loving and kind expression on his face touched my soul soothingly. Then suddenly he disappeared. I felt very comforted and wondered who this person could be!
Then I remembered that the person who appeared in the vision bore a resemblance to the person in the picture frame of my Christian friend — like the shepherd with a staff in His hands and a lamb on His shoulders. Then I realized that the person in the vision was Jesus who came to assure me that God is love and He has come to seek and save those who are lost in sin but not to condemn them. Then I heard a voice speak within myself, which said, "Jesus Christ came not to destroy sinners but to save them".I was encouraged by this thought and I prayed a simple prayer in my heart asking God to forgive my sins and accept me as His child. After that, I felt that my prayer was answered and that I should simply come to God in faith. Then I asked myself as to what should I do? Then a heard a voice saying from within that I should go to a particular room and spend my time there. I went to that room with my Bible and I spent the whole day praying, fasting, and repenting for my sins in a Godly sorrow. I never prayed like that before nor heard of such repentance. Later I understood that it was the handiwork of the Holy Spirit who convicts first of all and makes a sinner confess His sins to Jesus Christ. (John 16: 7-9). At about 5 O’clock in the evening I could hear a voice within me saying that Jesus had forgiven all my sins and cleansed me from all the evil sins I committed. Then I felt a great happiness in my heart like never before. I felt like a new creation. I felt no more fear. I felt like a new person and a new light entered my heart that brought joy peace, hope and happiness and I could feel the presence of Christ in my heart. The Biblical verse, in II Corinthians 5: 17, suddenly came alive in my life "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; behold, all things are become new".
After being saved, I was very keen to share this good news with my family so that they also could believe in the living savior and be saved. I was very eager to share the essence of Christ’s love and compassion and the power to forgive sins of the mankind.
So I reached my village, went to my grandmother straight, and shared the word of God with her. She was very happy to see me and noticed the change in my appearance and speech. She found no cigarettes packets in my pocket and also noticed new hope in my talk. As I shared the gospel with her I cautioned her that she would go to hell if she did not repent and accept Jesus Christ as her personal savior. For her, seeing was believing. So impressed was she by the changes in my life, that she told me she that also believed in Lord Jesus Christ.
My father was not a religiously inclined person so he did not have any qualms about my becoming a Christian. Even my stepmother and stepsisters did not show any objection. My father listened to the gospel and understood the importance of salvation to attain Mukti but it did not bring about the desired change in his life.
During a subsequent visit, I arrived in my village, the same day as that of the finalization of the matrimonial alliance for my stepsister. I was introduced to them casually and I was unaware of the purpose of their visit. So in my enthusiasm I thought it to be a good opportunity and gave the gospel to the bridegroom’s entourage. I told them how Jesus changed my life and made me a good child of His. Outraged by my preaching and also that I became a Christian they stormed out of the house saying that they did not want any marriage with our family.
My father, stepmother and stepsisters did not like the turn of events and were afraid that none of my four stepsisters would ever get married if I were in their vicinity. So from that point of time I was not much welcome to my father’s home. My bother who was an atheist did not care much about my Christianity nor did my maternal uncles excepting the eldest of them who taught me morning puja etc., when I was a child. So he boycotted me completely and was very hostile to me after that. But these things do happen in the lives of Hindu brothers and sisters who accept Jesus as their personal savior. God did give me the grace to overcome all these emotions and go forward in my Christian life.
Search for a new beginning
Later in 1951, my friend invited me to join him in setting up a tire-retreading factory. His father gave him a big amount as a start-up capital for the venture and we were buying the necessary equipment. We could buy all the machinery except for a boiler, which we came to know, was available in Vellore, Tamilnadu. Enroute to Vellore, we briefly stopped in Madras and spent sometime in the fellowship of the saints in Jehovah Shammah. We went to Vellore but our mission to buy the boiler was unsuccessful. The Boiler mission having failed, I parted ways with my friend. Nevertheless, I was glad that I found Jehovah-Shammah, which proved to be a spiritual oasis to me that would later become the path to the Promised Land of my spiritual journey. God had a specific purpose for my life, hence, as I understand now, led me to the portals of Jehovah Shammah through a mundane boiler mission that failed.
The following year, i.e., 1952, I had the privilege of attending the All India Holy Convocation at Jehovah Shammah in Madras (now renamed Chennai). During that period, the Lord spoke to me about the meaning of Baptism and I was baptized in the presence of a large gathering of saints.
From the elders of Jehovah Shammah I came to know of the month-long special revival Meetings at Bangalore and I proceeded there to participate in them. Arranged by the Bangalore assembly, these revival meetings were addressed by Brother Bakht Singh and Brother Daniel Smith. The Lord called me for His Service during these meetings.
The Calling for His Ministry
My calling for His service merits elaboration here. During these meetings Brother Daniel Smith was giving a sermon from Matthew (4:17-22) about the calling of the fishermen Peter and Andrew. Jesus approached them while they were mending their nets and said "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" v 19 and "they left their nets and immediately followed Him " v 20.
The Lord spoke to me directly saying that this prophecy was for me and that I should trust His word, leave everyone and everything behind and follow Him to become a fisher of men. At first I was not so sure as to what the Lord was trying to tell me, but the Holy Spirit later made the meaning of the calling very clear to me. So I understood that Lord Jesus was asking me to leave everyone and everything I was depending upon and follow Him right away.
It so happened that Brother Augustine, an elder from Elim, and me were sharing the same room during the campaign. During the month-long meetings, God had constantly been speaking to me about His service. I had already made a resolution to become His servant. Not knowing my resolve, Brother Augustine on his own asked encouraged me to become a servant of the Lord. On the last day of the meetings, I went and met Brother Bakht Singh and told him that God had called me for His ministry. In reply Brother Bakht Singh told that he himself praying for me and was thinking of asking me to become the servant of God. He prayed for me and ordained me then and there as the servant of God.
Brother Bakht Singh wanted me to join Elim in Hyderabad immediately, but the elders at Bangalore felt that I should assist them with the Cantonment ministry among the Malayalam and Tamil soldiers and other army personnel before I could relocate to Hyderabad. I stayed with Bro.Alfred Flack and Bro.Angus Kinnear who were then in Bangalore as missionaries from U.K for more than 8 months.
Around the same time the friend of mine who led me to the Lord wanted me to work with him in his business and kept pressurizing me with this proposal again and again. But by now, I understood that the Lord wanted me to leave him and his friendship, despite the fact that he wanted to adopt me, and forsake all property and assets that I inherited from my parents and severe all relationships.
For me God’s word was final and it was not my will but the will of the Holy Spirit that guided me. Jesus wanted me to leave all these materialistic things so that I would cling to Him and Him alone whole-heatedly.
This friend of mine repeatedly tried to wean me from Brother Bakht Singh’s fellowship but God never gave me peace or liberty about these things. God spoke to me through Matthew 16: 24,25 " If any man will come after, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will loose it for my sake will find it" and it encouraged me not to yield to the temptation of materialistic gains even in the face of stark poverty, disease and slander.
A Great Test
After I was called to the service of the Lord in 1952, I started my stewardship at the Bangalore House of Worship. The first few months of my stay taught me very valuable lessons in Christian life. In 1953 in the month of November, Brother Bakht Singh sent two telegrams asking me to come to Hyderabad and I obeyed his orders. Before, coming to Elim, I was given a fearful account of the Elim life so I was a bit scared about coming. As per Brother Bakht Singh’s wishes I came to Hyderabad and stayed at the Elim compound. My stay at Bangalore House of Worship was very encouraging and very comfortable. There, I did not know anything about suffering for Christ.
Life at Elim was very different compared to my stay with Bro. Alfred Flack and Bro.Angus Kinnear in Bangalore. There was no proper food, nor proper accommodation nor any money to support myself. However, God comforted me and cleared all my doubts about suffering, trials and temptations through His Word in Job 23: 10-15. Then I understood why a servant of God has to suffer and go through trials and tests before he could be truly used for by God for His ministry.
In fact I was penniless for months together at a stretch but I knew that I was not supposed to give even a hint of my penury nor about my financial needs to anyone. Although I was in charge of the Book-room and was handling large amounts of cash, I myself was penniless. But I did not touch even a single paisa for my personal use. I used to hand over the cash and clear the accounts every day.
One day it so happened that I was very discouraged by the plight of my failing health and lack of financial support. In the morning, I prayed Lord if you don’t provide for my immediate needs today, I will leave this place and go away dejectedly". During those days, I was doing the painting job in the prayer hall. So I gathered the paints, brushes and oil and set out to do the day’s job. I had to mix paints using my hands to bring out a lump of paint from the white lead tin. While pouring it into the other tin, I felt a little weight in my palm and I saw something like a metal piece, round in shape. When I took it and examined it after wiping it with a cloth, to my great astonishment, it turned out to be a One-Rupee coin with the embossment of King George the VI.
I could not believe that it was a one-rupee coin and asked the brothers working there whether it belonged to them. Nevertheless, nobody claimed it as theirs. Then I suddenly remembered the prayer I made that morning and felt very sorry for my un-belief. I took that coin, showed it to the brother -in-charge, and explained it how it came to me. He prayed saying God did it to show that He was faithful and that with God all things were possible". This incident helped me in strengthening my weak faith and stopped me from going my own way and also challenging God about His faithfulness towards His children. I decided to stay back and continue God’s work. Thereafter whenever I wanted something I used to remember this incident and pray to the Lord to provide for my needs. My faithful Lord has continually been providing for all for all my needs until now.
Despite my ill health and poverty, God miraculously brought a companion into the spiritual journey of my life. In the year 1960, God gave me a promise from the Book of Psalms 128:3: Thy wife will be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house, thy children like olive plants round about thy table". This promise brought a great confusion to me, as I was single at that time and brought commotion among the brothers staying at Elim. Some brothers went and told Brother Bakht Singh about the promise. Then Brother Bakht Singh promised that he would pray about my future. I was very earnestly expecting for an answer from Brother Bakht Singh. But it took two and half years before he could tell me as to what God had shown him about my future.
One day Brother Bakht Singh called and told me that God had clearly shown him the person who would be my life partner. But when I heard about it I was a bit disappointed and even doubted if it was Lord’s choice, because she did not know Malayalam or English and I did not know one word of Telugu her mother tongue.
But I prayed and it took five months for me to understand that it was God’s perfect will for me. God spoke to me through His Word from I Samuel 15:22 (And Samuel said Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in the obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than to sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of the rams), saying that I should obey God’s will and not be guided by my emotions or feelings. Lord also clearly told me that my sacrifices were negligible compared to my obedience to God’s command.
I obeyed and the marriage was arranged. On 13th March, 1962, Brother Bakht Singh solemnized our marriage. My bride Mary was a Brahmin convert from Hyderabad. Only on that day did we see and speak to each other, and never before, although we stayed in the same campus for seven years.
After marriage, we served the Lord in several small assemblies. At each of these places, the Lord had tested our faith, patience, endurance, faithfulness and humility. There were many ups and owns but the Lord had compassion on me and my family. Even when about to sink the Lord miraculously were brought us out into safety.
God heals my sickness
In the year 1991, I became very sick and was perilously close to death. I was staying at the Zion compound in Hyderabad which is very close to the Hebron Headquarters. I could hardly eat; I could not sleep and hence became a mental wreck. My wife and children also suffered because of my deep depression. Those days were really dark and my chances of survival were very slim. However, my hope was in the Lord. All the believers who knew us came from far and near and comforted my family and me. Their demonstration of true Christian love did in fact help us. I can’t forget their love and prayers. Their prayers did not go in vain.
One fine morning I got up and felt very fine. Sickness had left me and new hope entered my life. I praised God for the miracle and asked my wife to give me something to eat and drink. My wife could not believe how it happened. I had gone for a walk and had a good haircut and had taken a bath. I was like the dead Lazarus who was brought alive out of the grave in grave clothes at the word of Jesus. Similarly I was freed from the jaws of death and fear. Truly, Jesus is alive and His resurrective power is available to His people when they pass through the valley of death. Praise the Lord for He is alive.
During our stay in other assemblies also we faced several trials, hardships, sufferings and poverty. However, the faithful God, helped us to serve the Lord together as a family. God has granted us two sons and as a family, we are committed to serving the Lord.
Today, we are very happy and contended because our God is a living God and wonder-working God who fulfills His promises in the Holy Bible. His Holy Word says, "All things are possible to them that believe in Him". Whatever we ask in the name of JESUS He will provide.
As a sinner who was lost, I heard the voice of the good shepherd and became His follower. I was in spiritual darkness and for many years was dead in trespasses and sins but Lord Jesus Christ drew me to himself. He has given me a new hope in my life. He has given me the gift of eternal life. He has given me grace to follow Him during the past fifty years through many trials and temptations.
I can truly say "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" I know He will se me through to the end of this life and afterwards receive me to glory. "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" Hebrews 3.15
I am a living testimony. God has turned around my life– from Kerala, he brought me to a place I knew not; and then he rebuilt my life to be His witness, both here and abroad– to be a living witness for Him.
Friends, in the last seven decades of my sojourn, I have seen so much progress of our country: Freedom from the Colonists Agricultural revolution, Industrial Revolution and now digital revolution. Alongside progress, the human misery has increased due to poverty and increasing hopeless social order. I have interacted with some of the finest human beings and talked to many more. My assessment is that there is no short cut to happiness in life.
The real happiness comes from the Living God. Its God’s Grace that you are alive today reading this booklet and I thank God for that. We do not know when our own end comes, so we should be fully prepared to meet our maker.
But it is impossible to enter heaven with our sinful life. We need to repent and benefit from the gift of eternal life freely available through accepting Jesus Christ as our personal saviour.
As the Bible says in the gospel of John 3: 16" For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life", the gift of eternal life is freely available to all those who are ready to accept Jesus as their savior today.
Dear friends! I humbly request you all, irrespective of the caste, religion and region to believe in Lord Jesus Christ. You will be saved from a hopeless life into a life full of hope.
I am sure that this testimony would encourage you to come forward boldly for Lord Jesus Christ — a decision which you will cherish both here on earth and in eternity.
Bro.Habakkuk has since then has gone to be with the Lord after a brief period of sickness. He was sick for more than two years and was in and out of the hospitals frequently. The Lord gave him a promise for the year 2007- Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Rev .2:10). He preached his last sermon in Hebron (Hermon) on the first Sunday of 2007.The Lord confirmed his earlier promise, by giving him a promise for the 2008-The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee ( Ruth. 2:12). The Lord called him to eternal rest on 4th, September, 2008 afternoon. On 5th, September morning a heavenly spectacle was seen by hundreds of people who were in Hebron – A round halo around the Sun and two rainbows in opposite directions adjacent to the Sun. The believers were much comforted by this heavenly testimony of His servant. The mortal remains were thereafter interred in the Narayanaguda Cemetery on 6th, September, 2008 before thousands of fellow believers from all over A.P state. May the Good Lord prepare for you for His glorious Coming?