The fruit of perseverance, Rev. Samuel. J. Stephen
Of all the states in India, Uttar Pradesh is by far the most dangerous state for Christians to live in. The state has a small Christian minority of 0.18 % according to the census of 2011 and are often the target of increasing violence. In the 1st Quarter of 2020, Persecution Relief recorded 47 cases of hate crimes against Christians in Uttar Pradesh alone. Church leaders and Churches are frequently attacked as police raid and investigate them without a trace of evidence to support their allegations. Almost every Pastor/leader/missionary has faced some form of persecution in the field in Uttar Pradesh, however, many of them have courageously persevere, keeping their gaze fixed on the One who holds their crown.
One such person is Rev. Samuel. J. Stephen. For the past 10 years, Rev. Samuel has been serving the Lord in the North of India. Having excellent command over Hindi, one would be surprised to hear that he is originally from Kerala. It was his passion for the lost that led him to master the national tongue. Just 36 years of age, Rev. Samuel obeyed the call of the Lord and moved to Uttar Pradesh. He currently lives with his wife and 2 young children in the district of Gorakhpur and serves with the Grace Assemblies of God Church.
Rev. Samuel works amongst a community of poor people who beg for a living. These people survive daily only on the money that they accumulate from begging. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an overnight lockdown, the whole nation was caught unaware and unprepared. The poorest were hit the hardest. The beggars found themselves in a helpless and weak position. Entire families were left worrying when and from where the next meal would come from.
Rev. Samuel felt handicapped in this situation as there was a restriction on movement and everyone was asked to stay at home. With no ration cards and no aid from the government reaching them, Rev. Samuel was aware that these people would die of hunger if nothing was done to help them. His co-workers also voiced their concerns. Rev. Samuel called and encouraged his family and co-workers to fast and pray for this situation, trusting God to show them how they could reach out to the poor and needy.
God laid Persecution Relief on Rev. Samuel’s heart. The first time he was introduced to them was when one of his friends Pastor Kuldeep was persecuted for his faith and taken to the police station. Persecution Relief had helped them in that situation. After that, there were many other instances, when Rev. Samuel and other Pastors faced persecution and Persecution Relief promptly came to their aid.
Before giving Persecution Relief a call, Rev. Samuel prayed that God would intervene and help him. Little did he know that God had already made the necessary arrangements and had prepared Persecution Relief to join hands and stand with him. What is miraculous about the call is that Rev. Samuel never once mentioned that he needed help to feed his friends who were dying of hunger. Instead, Persecution Relief themselves asked him if he needed any help during the course of their conversation.
“I believe this is the Lord’s doing” said Rev. Samuel, “I just thought of asking them how they could help me but instead, they asked me what help I needed first!” Being a missionary and caring for the needs of his own family is also a challenge but caring for the poor and needy was his priority as God has given him a burden to love them.
Persecution Relief was able to support 48 families through the kind favor of Rev. Samuel. Supplies and Groceries which would suffice for a month were distributed to each family. Manuapur village, Sarvathal village and Bodawari village were the three places where relief hampers were distributed by Rev. Samuel and his team to the poor and hungry.
When asked if he needed any aid for himself and his family, he replied, “The beggars that I minister amongst have nothing much to give, but the love and care they lavish upon me by sharing whatever little they have never fails to astonish me. During the lockdown, they gathered a few groceries among themselves and sent it across to me telling me that they have not forgotten the one who loves and cares for them!” Truly a huge testimony of God’s wonderful love being shared.
“Persecution Relief has provided support where it was needed the most. They have helped those who genuinely needed relief. No other organization has stood with me the way they have. They are a source of strength and encouragement to me. I pray that God would strengthen their arms and cause them to reach out to many more who are suffering” said Rev. Samuel, expressing his gratitude.
Psalm 139:4 says, ‘Even before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, O Lord.’ This is the God we serve! He knows what is good for us and He supplies all our needs according to his riches in Glory. Furthermore, Matthew 7:11 says, ‘So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?’ Yes, Jehovah Jireh cares for this world!
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