Over the last few months we have often appealed for support for pastors. This is still an important task. But what does a pastor actually do in these Corona times in India? Today I would like to personally introduce one of our younger pastors to you from Trichy: Sam John Aser (31).
Gideon: Sam, how did you actually come to faith in Jesus?
Sam: I was born into an average traditional Lutheran believing family and unfortunately I experienced a lot of arguments, discord and separation. My father, James is a drinker (still to this day) and this addiction led to the separation of my parents very early in my life. To this day, my father still lives in another city and over all these years my parents have not got together again. The separation was a huge burden for me, already in my younger years.
Then I studied chemistry at college, but my heart was full of sadness, questions and loneliness during my studies. Then one day somebody from Trichy put an invitation into my hand on the street. It was an invitation to a prayer time at the start of August 2007. "Begin the month of August with Jesus" it said, and I was immediately curious. Yes, due to my family background I was "officially" a Christian, but I had nothing to do with the Church of Jesus Christ and I had no own deep personal connection to Jesus. So I went to this gathering and during the worship time I had a very deep and personal encounter with God. His presence was so strong and tangible on this evening, that I began at once to think about my relationship to Jesus. Suddenly I was filled with an unspeakable joy in my heart!
Over the coming weeks I met regularly with the youth leader of Good Shepherd World Prayer Centre Church and learned a lot about Jesus, His Church, His calling and plans for my life. I began working with the young people myself.
Gideon: How did it come about that you became a pastor yourself?
Sam: In the following summer I applied to a Bible School and then did my degree as a Bachelor of Theology. The Good Shepherd World Prayer Centre helped me to finance my studies and when I completed my studies in 2014, I returned to this church as a staff member. In 2016 I married my wife Maria, who completed her Master of Theology at the same Bible School. My mother was very unhappy about the marriage at first, because we came from two different castes. But due to your teaching and many sermons pastor, I was totally convinced, that such racist apartheid has and should have no place in the church of Jesus Christ. Finally my mother consented to the wedding and gave her blessing, and still today we are a very happy family. We have a son, Josiah, who is a great joy to us – not just for us, but for the whole Good Shepherd-family.
Gideon: What is your vision?
Sam: Our vision as a family is to plant and renew churches. We want to go this way with God, not only in India, but also in Sri Lanka. Therefore we are extremely grateful when people support us with dedicated prayers.
Gideon: What are your tasks at the church?
Sam: I have many different tasks, I am in the leadership team, I lead the prayer sessions and worship services, also I am co-responsible for the several hundred home groups that we have and help in the worship team. And of course I visit church members at their homes and often preach.
Gideon: What is your job like in these Corona time, when nothing is "normal" anymore?
Sam: The Corona crisis began for me with three weeks of quarantine. I had just returned from an outreach project in Sri Lanka and the government ordered all returnees to quarantine themselves at home, even our houses were sealed from the outside.
Following this, due to the extreme situation of need in our country, we the staff, decided to share all we have with others. Since April, the Corona emergency aid campaign for other pastors, for the needy from our church and the neighbourhood has been running, and also in our churches in several other Federal States. It is my task to coordinate these campaigns and to monitor how they are run. Here in Tamil Nadu I help out at all the campaigns myself. It really moves me, how the food aid packages provide not just nourishment, but also hope. For many we are a concrete answer to their prayers!
Gideon: The Corona crisis has caused many areas to come to a standstill. But we have more than enough to do here, and we are grateful to God for all the possibilities which He gives to us. One large area is our worship services and prayer sessions, which we regularly broadcast via live stream and YouTube. For some months now, they have even been broadcast by TV and so reach many people who have no internet access. In the meantime, we now receive calls from all over India and even worldwide. People ring us because they need prayer, or simply because they want to tell us that they have found hope again. Thank you all for your support which has made this possible!
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