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Father Joseph and His Family

It was my honor to visit India two years ago through a wonderful Christian organization. During my two-week trip, I met dozens of people who touched my heart deeply. It is difficult to select one person to write about when so many stories, hugs and tears were shared! After much reflection, I chose to share Father “Joseph’s” story. 

    Father Joseph was the first to greet our group when we arrived in Delhi. My fuzzy eyesight did not miss his bright, joyful smile despite the late hour. This man was literally giddy with the joy of the Lord! Throughout our five days there, Father Joseph proved to be happy all the time. He told us he worked 18-hour days and his wife never complained. I admitted to him that I complained…frequently. He looked at me with his huge smile and said, “Ah, it does no good!” His smile never seemed to fade despite his heavy workload as a pastor in a mission church. His responsibilities included visiting orphans and students at the after school project center, and ministering to other needy and impoverished people around the greater Delhi area. 

I met his wife, “Meera,”and their two small daughters. I’ll never forget Meera. She was quiet, graceful and purposed. When I introduced myself she recognized my name, which means “God’s spoken word” in Greek. She explained that she waited for God’s spoken directive each morning. She was about six months pregnant at the time, and her tiny daughters belied their poverty; the girls wore stained clothes and their front teeth showed decay. Yet to many in the area, they seemed rich. Meera admitted to me that missions were her passion and the child she carried was unplanned. She was happy to have the child, but God had shown her she must wait to fulfill the burden of her heart, and she would have a powerful ministry for women once her children were a bit older. I was in awe of this woman, unknown to the world, who lived so richly in Christ despite her limitations.

Father Joseph’s background was remarkable, too. On our last day in Delhi, I happened to ride in his vehicle on our way to the airport, and I wrote down his story as he shared it.

    He was born into a poor family; his mother was a believer and his father a Hindu. When he was born, the doctor said he wouldn’t live more than six hours. His mother silently dedicated him to God and vowed to raise him fit to be in the King’s service if He would let him live. After this Joseph thrived. His mother honored her vow to the Lord and raised Joseph differently than she raised his siblings. She was strict with him, making him read his bible and pray many times a day. If he didn’t read his bible, she would not eat. Father Joseph laughed as he recalled this, saying, “It was like hell-fire to do that to my mother.” 

    As Joseph grew up, he received many prophetic words over his life and he knew that he was called to become a minister. He went to a bible college in Kerala at the southernmost tip of India. When he graduated he was sent to Delhi where the weather was much colder. 

Father Joseph believed he shouldn’t marry so that he could wholly devote himself to God. One day, a woman approached him and said, “Have you vowed never to marry?” Father Joseph denied it and the woman replied, “Don’t lie to the Holy Spirit! Repent and break that vow you made. Your call requires your family’s involvement!” Father Joseph sheepishly did this, though he still doubted that he would marry. Soon after he broke the vow, a friend asked if Joseph would like to meet his sister who had a passion for mission work. Father Joseph declined. Yet another person came to him with a prophetic word, this time he was told he’d be engaged by December 31st of the same year. There was not a woman in his life, so he doubted the prophecy was from God. On the afternoon of December 31st, Joseph’s friend asked again if he would meet his sister, and this time Joseph agreed to talk with her on the phone. They spoke that evening for four hours and the entire conversation was about mission work. At the end of the conversation, they became engaged. 

    Father Joseph and Meera never saw photographs of each other and they didn’t describe themselves over the phone. They saw each other for the first time when he lifted the veil at their wedding! Just after the ceremony, Father Joseph received a phone call that he must move to Rajasthan the next day. He felt sorry for his new bride, but she was ready to follow him. They took a crowded train and had to lay newspaper down on the floor to sit on for the long journey. The couple had seven bags with them. They fell asleep and woke up as the train lurched to a stop in Rajasthan and found that all of their bags had been stolen! They had nothing but his wallet, boarding passes and the clothes on their backs. For one week, Meera washed their clothes by hand and hung them to dry each night. She slept in the bed sheet as her clothes dried. 

    After a week, some do-gooders mistook their small missionary office for an orphanage and handed Father Joseph two large bags. When he opened them he was astounded to find 100 pairs of trousers, 26 saris, and other women’s clothes. He and Meera each took one outfit for themselves and gave the rest away.  He said that began the Lord’s tradition of meeting their every need and taking perfect care of them. 

    Father Joseph credits his mother’s quiet strength for his character. She prayed and saw healing for people, cows, water buffalo, and other creatures that people depended on for their livelihoods. Her husband was an unreliable man and an alcoholic. Once when the children were young, they came home to find another family living in their house. Joseph’s father had sold the home and left his wife and children abandoned on the streets. He was gone for 7 years. Joseph watched his mother respond to this event—and every predicament with godly character.

    When she passed away, the Lord spoke to Joseph and said that his mother would have greater honor than any woman in the land. Over 2,000 people came to her funeral. Many told of the miracles the Lord had done through her. A very prominent pastor came forward and said that she had led him to the Lord. Joseph had no idea because his mother was humble and never spoke of such things. At the end of the funeral, Joseph’s father came forward. He looked down at his wife’s body and surveyed the crowd. Then he said, “If this is what it means to follow Christ then now I make Him my Lord.”

    When Father Joseph shared this part of his testimony, there wasn’t a dry eye! His mother’s legacy touched thousands and even proved Christ’s love to her unbelieving husband. This family’s commitment to God in the face of loss and hardship moved me beyond words. Father Joseph, who happily worked long hours among the most destitute people on earth, was a hero. Sister Meera, who did not complain, was pregnant with her third child and patiently walking out God’s instructions.  These are truly heroes of the faith!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Rhema Peet

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