Decades ago the government of Kerala coined a phrase to promote tourism in Kerala. The think tanks of the time wanted people across the world to flow into Kerala. Realising that only around 13% on earth are atheists or non-believers in God according to demographics,they decided to include the word “GOD” into their tourist promotion slogan. They thought they could attract the remaining 87% people to this southern tip of India near the equator irrespective of their religious affinities. Ironically,no opposition came either from the governments of political parties who never believed in any form of God or from the predominant Christian communities for whom the Third Commandment of the Ten Commandments which clearly states that,“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain,” (Exodus 20:7 – Holy Bible) was clearly violated. Being born and brought up outside India,indeed Kerala had fascinated me right from childhood with its beautiful rivers,temples,churches and mosques in their thousands,the tall coconut trees in their millions,the scores of elephants on the roads and a people who could communicate in English and practice exemplary religious tolerance. All these factors may have encouraged the authorities to promote this piece of land as “God’s Own Country”.
Things have changed today and Kerala has captured the attention of the world itself on the issue of killing of stray dogs. The matter has been taken to the highest law-making authorities of the nation by the animal lovers,especially dog lovers. Before I pen my thoughts,let me say that I love dogs and have found them to be one of the most faithful and loving animals. Their love for their master is immeasurable. I have had a pet dog since I was twelve years old. At present I have my Rottweiler,“Bruno,” who is a member of the Kennel Club of India. It is my love and concern for dogs that prompts me to write these lines.
Those who find cruelty in killing stray dogs should have concern for their hunger and suffering as well. What options are in place currently to feed these starving animals and give them shelter? They live of the wastes of food littered on the roadside and garbage heaped everywhere. Many of them have visible skin diseases. Dogs run down by vehicles are yet another common sight on roads. Those who deplore the killing of these uncared dogs,advocate sterilization so that their growing numbers can be contained. But the question remains,who will take care of these poor animals? We may have to look deeper into the intent and plans of these well-wishers who try and defend these stray animals who are increasingly being driven to violence possibly from their hunger and suffering. How many of these advocates of dog-compassion rehabilitate these stray animals or feed them once a day? These animals in the middle of their tortured existence and suffering do not have the luxury of euthanasia which some nations provide for humans.
Is it not cruelty then to allow these animals to continue to live in misery,hunger and suffering? Let us think aloud! If we are unable to find a lasting solution and lead the nation on this issue,we may have to give Kerala a new slogan:DOG’s Own Country. Then the only consolation would be that the letters in the word GOD still remain in the slogan,just backwards. This reversal may well be a reflection that the values we treasured from old, are slowly being reversed for the worse.
The vision and mission of the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators,Mr. William Cameron Townsend,has always been an inspiration to me. So on this World Bible Translation Day 2016,Raaji and I decided to visit their headquarters in Orlando,Florida. At the front desk,I introduced myself as a Bible translator and presented them with copies of the New Testament in the four Indian tribal languages we had translated. He replied to me that their policy did not allow them to accept or endorse Bible Translations by others. I stated that I was there neither for their endorsement nor acceptance but to inform them about these translations,so that these four languages could be removed from their much publicized list of languages that were in need of a translation of the Bible and their resources could be used for other languages in need. I requested them to place these translations in their Asian showcase of Bible translations. Once again I was informed that their policy was to display only the translations made by them. It was evident that their policy of not promoting or letting the world know about other translations made on earth arose from their fear of losing their prominence and benefits.
I had similar experiences earlier from the Bible Society of India,Bible translation organizations and even Churches involved in making translations of the Word. The common factor is that all of them lament a lot about the thousands of languages in which at least a portion of the Bible is yet to be translated. But they fail to appreciate or accommodate a new translation made by lesser known people with no assets or affluences in some remote corner on earth,because they do not belong to any such organization. They fail to realize that a translation can be made only when a spiritual battle is won,and only spirit-filled men of God can bring forth a translation of the Word of God.
That night,as I poured out my heart before the Lord about this dampening experience,He led me to a new vision:to start a museum to showcase all the Bibles on earth in all the languages translated by any organization,church or individual with an up-to-date record of such translations. It would also show the progress mankind had made ever since God had written the Word with His own fingers and handed it over to Moses for His people. Thus the “The Museum of the Word” was born! It is an uphill task,but God has used such negative situations in the past,guiding me to set new goals for Him,complete them,and crowning them with His blessings.
About two decades ago,I was broken hearted when the Bible Society of India in Bangalore refused even to look at the errors in their outdated Malayalam Bible translation that I had painstakingly documented. They turned me away,asking me what theological credentials I had to propose such corrections. I wept that night at their insults. They did not even bother to look at the corrections or their validity – corrections I had researched and compiled over fourteen years. That night the Lord came to me in all His glory. “Fear not I am with you. I want you to complete and publish the Bible all by yourself and yourself only. Now I am anointing you with the gift to translate my Word,” the Lord said. The very next day,I started the Millennium Modern Malayalam Bible Project or the 3MBP. The Vishudha Sathya Vedapusthakam,my translation of the Bible in Malayalam,was published on the 22nd of December,2000. Satan never gave up. I was deported with my family from the country I had worked for twenty-four years because I translated the Bible. It was masterminded by my own Christian brethren. They proclaimed that I was finished forever,as was my Bible translation. Again I heard the sweet voice of the Lord,“I will not let you down. I am with you.”
Yes, He is ever with me and has enabled me to pioneer translations in 6 more languages!
Three years ago,the leaders of the fasting prayer fellowship I had toiled to build up over three and half decades,conspired together and expelled me from the fellowship with false accusations and injurious insults…It broke my heart. It seemed my efforts of a lifetime for the Lord were shattered by a few people who feared their wickedness would be exposed. Again the Lord assured me nothing was lost and that He would lift me up and lead me in His glorious path. The Lord reminded me of Bill Bright and Merlyn Carothers who faced similar solitudes in their spiritual journey. The Lord helped me to start the broadcast of Word to World Television Channel 165 days ago and the Word to World Centre to house it 24 days ago. The Lord has used every adversity of mine to accomplish mighty feats for Him. And now once again,from the dampening experiences on this World Bible Translation Day arises a new project for His glory- THE MUSEUM OF THE WORD.
Praise the Lord!
Hugs,flowers,greeting cards,gifts,some good food and once again Father’s day is over. My thoughts about father’s day go much beyond these social gestures.
When I think of Father’s day,the very first thought that rushes to my mind is about my Heavenly Father Yahweh,my Almighty God. It is He who allowed me to come on earth through my father whose faith,love,and discipline led me to the knowledge and experiences of my Heavenly Father. Again I am grateful and ever indebted to my Heavenly Father for granting me three loving children. Above all,I have no words to express my love and gratitude to my Heavenly Father for making me a spiritual father to thousands on earth,speaking different languages and hailing from different cultures. This is the greatest of all reasons to place my Heavenly Father far above all considerations on or about father’s day reminiscences.
My father,late Mr. M.V. Mathews,whom I call Pappa has the paramount position in my heart among mortal humans on this father’s day. It is Pappa,whose life and principles drew me to God. His family life was exemplary –I say because of his care and love for my mom. They were unanimous in everything,doing everything in one accord.
He was very strict,possibly even too strict with me in my childhood with no appreciation or exhibition of love,which my younger siblings got. Being his first born he could not tolerate any pranks,nor put up with my mischief and strong willed nature. He tried to discipline me with the cane but failed as I refused to be tamed. This went on till the age of 12 and his attitude began to change as there came five others after me. His confidence in me grew and from my 16th year he freely allowed me to handle the finances. It was the tune of thousands those days which today may mean lakhs. He has never scolded or even uttered a word when I ran into losses because of my immaturity. He has never asked me whether I drank or smoked and never asked me for the accounts of his money taken by me. He tried his utmost to give us,all what we children asked for. He sold a piece of his property to pay the capitation fee for my admission to the B. Pharm course in spite of the advices of dear and loved ones who tried to stop him. However,I failed repeatedly in the first year B. Pharm course and went to Pappa with the results of my fourth failure. I expected a shout from him and had prepared myself to apply for a job in the Indian Navy. To my surprise Pappa told me,“I want you to complete the B. Pharm degree at any cost even if I have to sell all my property.”It shattered me because he never blamed me,though he knew that one of the main reasons for my repeated failure was that I was involved in student politics going to the extent of even leading a strike. His words gave me a new sense of hope and confidence. I returned and never failed again,graduating with a first class! I was chosen for a highly paid job even before graduation among 15,000 applicants from all over India. At the end of my final interview conducted by the top brass of the company I put forward my hand to shake hands with the members of the interview board. Everybody except the top man shook hands but he refused. I felt humiliated. When I returned home,all at home were buoyant that I was selected and stood first in the interview. However I told my father that I could not work with a person who had no basic courtesy to shake hands with someone who stretched forth his hand. There were a lot of debts at home and this high paying job would have eased the situation. I thought he would compel me to take up the job due to his financial strains,but he strongly said,“Don’t take it up if you are not happy.”I didn’t take up that job and furthermore,decided never to look out for a job in India. I wanted to go abroad and that wait cost me another 15 jobless months in India. Pappa never ever blamed me and was still supporting me when debts were on the increase- that was Pappa!
His spiritual life paved the way for my own journey. He was the pioneer in building two churches one in Kuala Lampur,Malaysia and another in his native place Mannar Kerala,India. His prayer life was a great example for us,as was his honesty and determination to stand for truth. Indeed his life,love,and confidence showered in me,is the foundation of all what I am today.
The shining stars in the horizon of my reminiscences is that God blessed me with three lovely,loving,God-fearing children and their spouses who share my principles and join me in the building of the Kingdom of God. Their zeal and passion for God till this moment is something I treasure on this father’s day.
Praises a million and glory to my Heavenly Father,for His showers of blessings,for granting me a father and making me a father for building the Kingdom of God on earth.
Praise the Lord
Father’s Day 2016
The patrons of the Word to World Television flocked to the weeklong Maramon Convention – the biggest Christian convention of Asia from different parts of the world,for the promotion of their own beloved television Channel “Word to World”. They made history in the 121 year existence of the convention by reaching the message and vision of the Word to World Television to the hundreds of thousands of people swarming the banks of the great river Pamba.
Praise! Praise! Praise!
Praise! Praise! Praise!
Fluttering like butterflies in their Yellow or Blue uniforms,they found their way to all people,old and young ,men and woman alike on every road and lane leading to the convention handing out sun shades,hand fans and copies of Word Vision and Bible Times. Neither the scorching sun nor the long walks or even the continuous standing could dampen their spirits. The epitome of each day’s activity was the spirit filled praise session of the patrons proclaiming the glory of the almighty God. It touched the hearts of thousands who were returning from the convention. It brought everything to a standstill – the buses,cars,and the traveling pilgrims. Police came in several times to keep the crowd moving who stood spellbound at the heavenly melodies… History was being made,as never before had a television channel yet to begin its regular broadcasts,gone into the hearts of the people.
Bibles for Bibleless
H.E. Archbishop Kuriakose Mor Severios Valiya Metropolitan
This journey started when my heavenly Father commanded me after the glorious 72 hour fasting prayer at New York to go to Maramon convention and conquer it. It seemed an impossible task as only about 20 days were left for the convention. The premises for stalls at Maramon were all sold out well in advance…. It was difficult for our brethren worldwide to come to the convention as they had all taken all their vacation to attend the annual fasting prayer…. I was in New York and there were none around to go ahead with the massive preparation to fulfill God’s command.
But I was sure of one thing. My commander,the Lord of hosts had supreme confidence in me and thus He had commanded me to go and conquer the ocean of souls that would gather at Maramon. He led me and His own people whom He had brought to be with me from Canada,The Middle East and India,every moment – every day and at the end to hoist His flag. Julius Caesar upon his conquest of Asia Minor had famously said “Veni Vedi Vici” – meaning “I came,I saw and I conquered. So too,the patrons of Word to World Television who came to Maramon can lift His banner high and proclaim We Came,We Saw,We Conquered.
PRAISE THE LORD
The media in their unending race to capture the attention of the human mind very often use superlative words,adjectives and descriptions without weighing the implications and influences that are brought about by such usages. Recently a legend in the field of sport,visited India and the newspapers were vying each other to report the event with the greatest importance. A leading Newspaper of India published the photograph of the celebrity on a full page with the Himalayan caption “GOD ARRIVES”.
The use of “GOD” by media to glorify people who have the greatest records in various activities of human life is becoming more frequent. The media very often forgets that the great majority in the world revere,respect and regard God as the Supreme Being,the creator and the ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority. There are many who consider God as a superhuman being worshipped as a deity having power over nature and human fortunes. Is it not foolish and absurd to compare this sanctified and sacred word “GOD” to glorify the two legged human beings whose sojourn on earth vanishes with their breath,with the Almighty GOD who is glorified,magnified,worshipped and referred on earth in different names as “YAHWEH”,“ BRAHMA”,“ALLAH”,“ZEUS”,“JUPITOR”,“AHURA MAZDA” or the “GREAT SPIRIT” ???
The consequences of such media gimmicks can be understood only when we realize the future of ignorant and innocent people who accept and begin to worship such Living Media Gods whose life is dependent on the tick of their hearts and that too in a country where people make temples for living actors and worship them. Let all those who love “GOD” always stand for God and strive to Sanctify and Glorify His Holy name irrespective of regions,religions and languages. Remember each reaction matters as even a single drop of water in a great ocean has its own identity.
The World Bible Translation Day enters its 50th year of existence ever since the US Congress established it on September 30,1966, as a permanent day of the year to honor Bible translations. This day was chosen,as it is the feast of St. Jerome,the patron saint of Bible translators. He pioneered the first major Bible translation of the world,translating the Word of God from Hebrew to Latin to make what is called the ‘Latin Vulgate’. There are many to be remembered on this auspicious day, including John Wycliffe,who translated the whole Bible into English from the Latin Vulgate and William Tyndale,who was burnt at stake for having translated and published the Word of God into English from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. His last words as he was being burnt at stake,“O Lord open the eyes of the King of England,”opened the door of Heaven and decades later the king of England himself brought out the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible,which has by far the greatest number of printed books in the world till date. After the martyrdom of William Tyndale, thousands were persecuted and shed their blood,including his disciple and associate,Mathew Rogers,who was also burnt at the stake in front of his wife and eleven children for helping to complete the English translation of the Bible which Tyndale left unfinished. Ironically,a prominent Christian church was behind these outrageous and cruel persecutions against all these Bible translators. These martyrs remain unsung heroes and are seldom remembered by the present day churches. The unfading crowns of these martyrs in heaven can be seen by the so called Christian leaders only when they leave their abode on earth.
It is estimated that there are about 6,819 spoken languages in the world,of which more than 2,700 are yet to have even a verse printed. In this grand total,India has around 447 living languages of which 29 languages have more than one million speakers. According to unofficial estimates, the Word of God has yet to reach more than 375 languages in India .
Ironically,the established Churches of different language groups are neither bothered about their outdated Bible translations nor about the language groups who do not have even a single verse of the Bible in their language. The wealthy Christian churches and Bible making societies are more focused on beautiful buildings,business and educational establishments than to give the Word of God to millions of poor brethren in different language groups. In my personal experience,they neither pioneer the translation of the Word nor do they encourage people who struggle to get the Word to other language groups.
My bitter experience is that Satan used Christian leaders to try and crush my translation of the Modern Malayalam version of the Bible –Vishudha Satya Vedapusthakam. My wife and I both lost our jobs abroad …my children…their education. They tried to keep this Bible out of the Christian bookshops in Kerala. In spite of all the ridicule and discouragement,the Almighty God has carried the Vishudha Satya Vedapusthakam to the hands of hundreds of thousands across the world. Though no awards,rewards or appreciation came from the so-called overseers of God on earth,my testimony on this sacred day of prayer is that,He never let me down and lifted me further up to present His Word to the Paniya,Jennukuruba and Banjara language groups,making the Word of God,the first piece of literature ever presented and printed in their language,since their existence on earth. God enabled me to pioneer the translation of the Bible into the Telugu language,which is the second largest language group in India. And above all,the Lord blessed me to present the Christian Walk Bible,the first ever Study Bible in any language in the world on Fasting Prayer.
Bible Translations presented by Bro. Dr. Mathews Vergis
God made all these possible without any aid from any Church or Bible making societies,but just by the earnest efforts of my brethren in my fasting prayer ministry across the world,who fast and pray in unison crushing the barriers of churches or congregations,under the banner of “WORD TO WORLD”.
I place my humble prayers at the feet of my Heavenly Father beseeching blessings for all those who have shed their blood and laid down their lives for the translation of Word of God and for everyone engaged even at this very moment in translating the Word to the untouched languages,to carry the Good News to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Praise the Lord!
Ever since I heard the call of the Almighty God and started the Inter Denominational Christian Fellowship Foreign units (now the Inter denominational Christian Fellowship International),the Lord burdened me with promoting and propagating His Word beyond the borders of nations and languages. It seemed a mighty unattainable task,for someone who had not even a Sunday school education. I did not know where or how to begin. I knew that if I took the first step in obeying His command,He would hold my Hands and lead me on. The first thing I realized,was that many who claimed to be led by the Spirit of God had no real intimate or intrinsic relationship with the Word of God. For many Bible reading had reduced to simply a “Sermon Reading” experience (reading only for references while hearing sermons).
Thus I started the “Brother’s Bible Lovers League” to encourage our members to read the Bible daily. Monthly Bible reading programs were initiated along with Quizzes,and other Biblical competitions to enhance Bible study. Bible Exhibitions named “Biblex” were held annually for promotion of the Word of God beyond the parameters of our Fellowship. I remember Rev. Dennis Gurney (now Sir Dennis Gurney) whose guidance,help and prayers brought thousands to the “Biblex” –the first such event of its kind in the Middle East.
Over the course of my ministry after nearly 14 years of study,I could no longer turn a blind eye to the outdated 100 year old Malayalam Bible translation which was in dire need of correction. After the Bible Society authorities turned me away,refusing even to look at the corrections I had noted through years of study,I was forced to take up the task myself. I am always thankful to such authorities because ultimately it was their insult and inaction that paved the way for me to get the most blessed command from the Almighty God to translate and publish His Word. He bestowed upon me numerous Gifts and Graces for translating His Word into different languages,but additionally warned that I will have to face storms,tempests and fiery trials to be victorious. But He also promised “I will be with you and never let you down.” The “Vishudha Satyavedapusthakam”,the translation of the Bible in the modern Malayalam language was published on 22nd December,2000.
I had taken three 40 day fasts to overcome the obstacles Satan had created –including adverse health conditions that even baffled doctors. But the worst was yet to come. Soon after the release of the Vishudha Sathyavedapusthakam, I was forced to leave the country of my residence for nearly 25 years. My erstwhile spiritual brethren were behind it. My Bible translation research work of two decades were destroyed by their actions. My wife and I both lost our jobs. Our children’s education was disrupted. Not a word of consolation,comfort or encouragement came from any quarter – people led by Holy Spirit or otherwise. Tabloids filled with lies from the enemy were read and quoted even in Churches. They were rejoicing that the new Bible was destroyed.
No! Never! My God never let me down! The Vishudha Satyavedapustakam was revised and reprinted with an additional feature –Subtitle Index,which no other translation of the Bible in Indian languages had. There was no looking back!. Today hundreds of thousands across the globe have made Vishudha Satyavedapustakam a part of their spiritual lives. From there,the Lord blessed me with one Bible translation after the other,enabling me to scale new peaks that were beyond my imagination!!
Over the past one and half decades the Lord helped me to present the New Testament to the Paniya Tribe which has population of only about a hundred and fifteen thousand in the Paniya language and the Gospel of Mark to the Jennu Kurumba tribe which has a population of around sixty thousand in the Jennu Kurumba language. These Bibles were given free to these ethnic tribes. Above all,the Lord enabled me to present the “Christian Walk Bible”,the first ever study Bible on Fasting Prayer in English to all the English speaking people on earth. Besides “Bibles for Bibleless” and “Scripture Sharing Students” ministries were started to give Bibles free for those who could not afford to have a Bible of their own.
The Lord who called me,continues to lead me on. All this was made possible by the Almighty God because I never gave up my pursuit in spite of the fiery trials and tribulations created by Satan at every phase of the Bible translations. My actions for the Almighty God were not limited to mere words bound by inactivity . Satan cannot be silent as Word of God will destroy him because “the Word of God is like a fire and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces”(Jeremiah 23:29). So he will be constantly using all possible means to create dissensions and divisions,envy and enmity to isolate us and deter us from our goals for the promotion and propagation of the Word of God.
Sometimes he will use Christians themselves for his purpose. William Tyndale and Mathew Rogers were burnt at stake by the forceful instigation of the then powerful Christian Church because these poor men had no endorsement of that church. People were banned from reading the new translation by Tyndale. Thousands of Bibles were burnt publicly and tens of thousands of people were tortured and put in jails for reading and distributing the Bible. But no king or church could destroy the Word of God translated by these martyrs. God used it to pass on through generations and millions and millions read it even today.
It is my prayer these words would inspire to go forward. God will lead your battle and guide you to victory.
When I planned our trip to attend a seminar in Indonesia,little did I expect that the Lord was going to give me a new vision about the building of His Kingdom. Very little is known in the outside world about Indonesia or about the Christian Churches in Indonesia. It was a rare and rich experience to be a part of the prayers for the “Global Harvest”at the Indonesian Christian Church during our recent visit to Jakarta.
Indonesia is a unique country comprising several islands and has approximately 726 languages. I have yet to come across another nation in my travels which has these many languages. It is also one of the poorer countries of the world which I have visited. The Indonesians appear to be simple and honest people. On the three hour train ride to Ciberon,I found the countryside to be as poor as in North India and modernization had not crept in. The train journey was indeed a pleasant one with A/C coaches and reclining seats and the cleanliness maintained was remarkable as compared to my experiences in India.
Christianity is the second biggest religion in Indonesia which is around 10% of the population. The unique feature of Christianity in Indonesia is that Protestantism and Catholicism are considered as two different religions and are included among the six religions of Indonesia recognized by the government. Of the 23.5 million Christians,7% account for the Protestants which number about 16.5 million and the remaining 3% are Catholics numbering about 7 million. There is no curtailment or restriction on worship though new churches are rare.
“Alkitab”is the name of the first Bible translation in Indonesian language. It has now been replaced by the TERJEMAHAN BARU,meaning the New Translation which is the most popular of the 22 available translations of the Bible.
What was amazing to me was that,of the 726 languages,some portions of the Bible or the whole Bible has been translated into about 100 languages. This is indeed remarkable considering the meager resources for the Christians of Indonesia.
My seminar at the “Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia”,which is the equivalent of the Indonesian Bible Society was very fruitful. The well organized Bible Museum at the headquarters is indeed praiseworthy. It really gave me a new dimension to my dreams,of setting up a Bible Museum.
Though I have been leading fasting prayers in many nations across the globe,I must admit that I have not prayed for a rich Global Harvest for the Lord. The Holy Spirit led me to a new vision about the Global Harvest,at the worship of the Indonesia Christian Congregation in their prayer for a rich Global Harvest holding artificial golden stalks and ears of wheat in their hands. Though a small minority with little knowledge of the Christian activities on earth,their earnest and honest prayers touched me. Their purpose driven prayers were illuminated by the golden stalks and ears they held in their hands.
The prayers of these small groups of Indonesian Christians to reap a rich Global Harvest for our Lord should ignite our prayers too,for a great Harvest on earth for our Lord as we approach the end times.