A periodic Letter to my Friends / 26 February 2007


Dear friends,


First of all I want to thank those who acknowledged my previous letter with words of testimony and assurance. Several of you have forwarded that letter by e-mail to your circle of friends. For a servant of God there’s nothing like having so many thousands of praying friends (Eph 6:19,20). May God use this letter also to inspire you to go higher and deeper in understanding the ways of God. Oswald Chambers’ (1874-1917) phrase, “My utmost for His Highest!” should become the motto of our lives. Your devotional exercises must not be just for the maintenance of your spiritual life. Strive to climb higher and dig deeper. Satisfaction leads to stagnation and you will begin stinking instead of smelling sweet to God and man!


I write this letter while returning to Vellore by train from Davanagere of Karnataka State where I just concluded a 3-day ministry. It was an Inter-Church Revival Programme coordinated by the local unit of YMCA. The attendance was 500, 700 and 800 respectively. I preached on Revival and it was a time of visitation of God’s Spirit among His people. My text was, “Can these bones live?” (Ezek 37:3). My Kannada Interpreter, Bro. E. D. Chelladurai of Bangalore, mourned that Sermons on Revival have become extremely rare though Revival is the immediate and absolute necessity of the majority of Churches. Five out of seven Churches in Revelation 2&3 were desperately in need of Revival, isn’t it? I urge you to watch my DVD message, Another Revival, a 2-hour Talk in English to the 90 participants of the National Consultation of the Blessing Youth Mission on Revival and Literature Ministry in Hyderabad, 28-29 Jan. Though the purpose of this Talk was to remind the BYMers of their basic calling, any Christian who longs to see Revival in his Church or Organisation will be encouraged by it to labour even more intensely for Revival. Let me know if you need a copy, at Rs. 100/- plus 30/- for forwarding.


One reason why prayers and labours for Revival are on the decrease is that the leaders and supporters of each Organisation are overoccupied with their own programmes and problems. They have little time to be concerned about the Revival of the Church. I have a suggestion for you to think about: Meet with a couple of friends in your town and form a Revival Prayer Fellowship. Make sure there’s atleast one believer from each of the Churches and Groups. Have a weekly or fortnightly gathering for about two hours to spend atleast one-and-half hours exclusively to pray for the Revival in your local Churches and the Church worldwide. Limit singing and Bible meditation to the remaining one fourth of the time. Church history tells us again and again that God puts His people on their knees when He’s about to do a new thing! Claim in prayer the Bible promises on Revival like—

  • “I will send down the showers in their season; there shall be showers of blessing” (Ezek 34:26)
  • “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25)
  • “If My people who are called by My Name shall humble themselves ... I will heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14)
  • “Repent ... that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19,20)


Circulate among yourselves books on Revival. This will sharpen your focus and heighten your passion for Revival. Missionary Evangelistic organisations help build bridges between various Churches for the sake of reaching the non-Christians. The Revival Prayer gathering I’m talking about here will bring together folks from both Churches and Missions for the sake of reviving the Christians. Such unity will create streams in the desert.


There were 25 delegates in the National Faculty Retreat of the Haggai Institute, India, held in Secunderabad, 26-28 last month. The theme of the Retreat was “Dying to Self.” I delivered three Talks. Several delegates testified that it was a prophetic word.


In my previous letter I had requested prayers for the recording of a few short sermons on the 2nd and 3rd of this month. This was for the DVD I was preparing as “Songs & Sermons.” My friend and Missionary Singer R. Elisha sang 5 songs in Hindi, playing his guitar. The songs were on the subjects of Salvation, Bible, Prayer, Worship and Evangelism. Following each song I preached a 20-minute sermon relating to these subjects respectively. What I preached in English was simultaneously translated into Hindi by my friend, Rev. David Lal, who pastors a Church in Jabalpur. This DVD of 2 hrs and 10 mts was released in Davanagere on the 23rd by Father Clement D’souza. The target viewers are nominal Christians and new believers. Several friends have commented that this is a novel approach. Let me know your requirements. (Rs. 150/- per copy, plus Rs. 30/- for forwarding). I desire to make this DVD in other Indian vernaculars also. Pray that God would help us choose the right singers and translators. Volunteers and recommendations invited.


“Tiruvalla has not heard such strong and corrective teaching for many years!”—This was the testimony of several senior Christians who attended the 15th Annual Convention of the IPC in the town, 9th to 11th instant, in which I preached three messages. To God be all the glory!


During my visit to Tiruvalla in Kerala for the above programme, I was quite surprised to learn that a town as small as that has 42 Banks! This town stands first in the entire Nation, according to a study of India Today magazine (15 Mar 2004), under Banker’s Best, with the per capita Bank deposit of Rs. 4,61,000/-. The figure for the second in this list of ten is just Rs. 1,50,000/- . As for Print Readership per 1000 population, all the top ten towns or cities in India are from the State of Kerala. The first town from outside Kerala is at rank 25. Also under Radio Listenership per 1000 population, all the top 10 are from Kerala, with Quilandy leading with a figure of 524. The India Today magazine concludes that the newspaper and radio reach in the towns of Kerala is atleast twice as much as it is in the other Indian cities.


I bear the above facts in mind whenever I receive an Invitation from a Keralite group. If the Malayalee Christians can be sufficiently mobilized, the total evangelisation of India will not be a distant reality. Pray that this State which is so rich in material and knowledge will soon experience an unprecedented spiritual awakening. Mr. K.G. Balakrishnan, 61, who has become the 37th Chief Justice of India hails from Kerala. It is widely reported that he is the first Dalit to rise to this post. He is said to have endured a tough childhood in this State. May God raise many prophetic leaders from this State for the Church in India and worldwide! The Department of Tourism advertises this State as “God’s own Country!” I write these things to challenge Malayalee Christians with what Christ said, “To whom much is given, of him much will be required!”


According to the traditional Church Calendar, the Lenten Season has begun on the 21st instant, which day is called the Ash Wednesday. Many Christians in the mainline Churches observe special days of fasting, and forego some of the even legitimate pleasures of life, and so on, during these 40 days prior to Good Friday. There are no commandments, in the New Testament, pertaining to food or observance of days. I go by the Pauline conclusion: “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it... Let each be fully convinced in his own mind... Let no one judge another in these matters” (Rom 14:5,6; Col 2:16,17). However, setting aside a season to push back certain physical and material enjoyments in order to increase concentration and devotion in spiritual matters is a healthy practice. This is the philosophy behind fasting. These exercises cannot impress God but they help us stay more sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. In May 1995 I delivered the following 4 Talks in the Cross Bearers Conference of the Blessing Youth Mission—

1. The Cross & Personal Sanctification
2. The Cross & Interpersonal Relationships
3. The Cross & Christian Ministry
4. The Cross & Daily Living.

These Talks, English to Tamil, are now available on two MP3 audio CDs, boxed in a booktype case, under the title, “Nothing but the Cross.” The duration is 7 hrs 30 mts. A fresh look at the Cross and its implications on our lives will be an edifying experience in this Season. One pack costs Rs. 100/-. Add Rs. 30/- for forwarding.


Pray for me as I will be bringing meditations on the Cross of Christ in the Chapel Services of the College Campus as well as the Hospital of the Christian Medical College in Vellore, each evening from Palm Sunday (Apr 1) to Easter Sunday (Apr 8). I wonder whether you remember that I worked as a Hospital Engineer in this Institution from 1971 to 1975 before I became a fulltime minister. We thank God for this Institution which stands first or second among the top 10 Medical Colleges of India. Striving for excellence should be in the bloodstream of Christian individuals and institutions. Through the Spirit of God, Daniel excelled in everything he did, and that impacted a pagan nation like Babylon.


Since my retirement in 2003 from administrative leadership in BYM, I receive several “non-official” personal letters from friends who share with me details of their longings, struggles and victories in their spiritual lives. Though I hardly find time to reply these letters, I certainly read them with interest and concern, and use the contents as illustrations in my sermons and writings. I share here one such letter which greatly inspired me—


“I am nearing 80. I am a retired clerk. My means are meagre. I wanted to attempt something great for God. I started writing the Tamil Bible by my own hand from Genesis to Revelation in 2003 and completed the work in 2 years, 4 months and 10 days. I am the greatest beneficiary of this exercise. I am deaf. God spoke to me through His Word while I was writing it. I now understand the Bible better. To God be the glory!”

Here are some questions each of us can ask himself—

1. Do I spend sufficient quality time each day in the meditation of God’s Word?
2. Do I use regularly the Bible Study Aids I have in my shelf?
3. Do I feel too lazy to write down the inspirational thoughts I receive in my daily meditations?


My host in Tiruvalla, Mr. Eric, presented me a copy of The NIV Quest Study Bible for my Birthday, 13 Feb. Though this Bible was published as early as 1984, I have seen this only now. This is a Question-Answer Bible which has answered over 7000 questions. There are 5 to 10 questions answered on the margin of each page. The answers are both inspirational and instructive. New believers as well as mature Christians have material in this Bible for hours of delightful study. It’s fresh. The answers are from great Bible Scholars who present various views in an unbiased manner and let the readers choose. I recommend this Study Bible without any reservation. Get a copy for you from Christian bookstores or order from me. I may have some copies of the hardcover edition available for sale in another month or two. Send Rs. 1500/- per copy.


Painstaking study of God’s Word is disappearing among Christians, especially among fulltime preachers and pastors. Administrative responsibilities take away the chunk of their time. They have become too busy with activities to spend unhurried quality time with the Bible. When Revival comes, we must have enough of Bible Teachers to establish God’s people on the rock of God’s Word lest they get distracted by pseudo experiences or deceived by strange fires. Bible Teachers cannot be produced overnight. Bible Teaching need not be always be from pulpit to pew. More often than we think, effective communication of the truths of God’s Word is by person to person. I urge every Revival-longing Christian to prepare himself for the Day of God’s Power by giving himself to the prayerful study of God’s Word. Ezra had thus prepared himself for the Restoration he was labouring for (Ezra 7:10).


My friend Pastor J. Easterdoss was an ardent Bible-lover. He passed away last month at the age of 75. He was the first fulltime worker of the Blessing Youth Mission. It was he who stationed the BYM’s first batch of Missionaries in the Sitteri Hills giving them the orientation. He never missed to purchase any of the Bible Study materials I had recommended. He bought one just two months before his Homecall! The last payment he made through family people just a few hours before his death was to me which was the cost of a Study Bible plus a love offering for me! The Tamil Christian world is losing the stalwarts one by one. The death of Pastor N. Jeevanandam and that of Sannyasini Ponnammal last year are a great loss. Dear youngsters, the Church looks up to you that you would be God’s Joshuas for this generation. Work hard! Away with soft-pedal Christianity!


There’s leadership vacuum both in Churches and Organisations. The founder-leaders can pass on the “baton.” With that you can run the show, but that’s not enough. What you need is the “mantle.” Prophet Elijah could have easily given his mantle to Elisha just like the latter gave his rod to Gehazi. That won’t work! Elisha can be prayed for, appointed and so on and so forth, but he can receive the mantle only from “Above!” The mantle cannot be “given” to anyone; it must be “fallen” on him! Hear what John the Baptist, the greatest of all prophets, has to say on this: “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from Heaven!” (Jn 3:27). Mistaking the “baton” for the “mantle” is the mistake of mistakes in ministries these days. Besides being chosen by God, one has to pay the price to receive the mantle. Self-denial and sacrifice are basic. There’s no resurrection without crucifixion!


March, April and May are examination season for Schoolers and Collegians. I desire to see top-rankers from Christians. See what Daniel, Ananiah, Azariah and Mishael could accomplish in Babylon because of their academic excellence besides spirituality! The number of IAS Officers from Christians is on steady decrease. Let not a fat salary be your aim. Write competitive exams for administrative services. Oh for more Josephs and Daniels—to replace corrupt officials!


Numerous Christian marriages take place in the month of May during Summer Vacation. If you marry in haste, you will worry at leisure! Choices make us or break us! I have a Talk titled, How to choose your Life Partner, English to Tamil, on an MP3 audio CD. I delivered this 1 hour 30 minutes talk in a local Church in Vellore on our 27th Wedding Anniversary in 1997. I have raised and answered youngsters’ questions like: “Are marriages made in Heaven? Does God guide in making choices? Is it a fate or a choice? What about falling in love?” I have explained the must factors for a successful marriage. Parents, Pastors and elders, please gift this CD to youngsters who are contemplating marriage. It’s in an attractive pack. Price Rs. 75/- plus 25/- for forwarding. Several listeners of this Talk remark, “I wish I had heard this message 10 years ago!”


Efforts are there to have my videotalks available on my website also for anyone to freely watch. Pray for Ashok Vedasironmani who is working on it. This letter is also available on my website. If you register your e-mail id on my website, any new addition of my articles or letters will be forwarded to you straightaway.


We don’t get good videographers in several places where I preach. The recording quality of some of my very helpful talks is poor. Should I go for a regular crew? Should I buy the equipments? These questions haunt me. I request your prayers and suggestions.


Thank you so much for your prayers for my programmes of January and February. Here’s my itinerary for March and April—

 

 
Mar
6-13
Ministry to the Staff and Keypersons
 
of the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society (GEMS) in Patna, Bihar.
 
23-25
Lenten Meetings, CSI Church, Vikramsingapuram, Tamilnadu
 
Apr
1-7
Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamilnadu
 
13-21
USA
 
23-27
Czekoslovakia


I am bothered by Menier’s Syndrome (Vertigo) now and then. I was free from it for over 15 years. Pray for God’s touch. I need volunteers from each State in India and from other Countries who can forward SMS messages of my programmes to atleast 10 to 15 believers each who would love to pray for me. If you would like to help mobilize prayer for me this way, kindly send a note by e-mail to me alongwith your mobile number. Don’t forget to mention the name of your Country and the international dialing code if you respond to this request from overseas. Our God loves to have His people pray, and more than that He desires to answer them!

R.Stanley