Reaching Out to the Youth in this Day – Pastor Stephen Samuel

This podcast is a repost, originally published on Feb 24, 2018.

Here’s the interview excerpt with Pastor Stephen Samuel. He pastors House of Healing Church at Manipal.

Pst. Priji Varghese : Could you give us a brief glimpse of your walk with God?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : Like every other teenager I was quite broken. I went to church for the sake for religion.In 1999, while in 9th standard, at a youth camp God spoke through the preaching. My life was opened up and I gave it to Jesus. The same year I submitted my life to full time ministry

Pst. Priji Varghese : You went on to plant a church. Were you always on fire or were there low moments in life?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : 2013 I planted a church, so there has been quite some time after my salvation. I was impatient regarding the prophecies and even tried to make things happen by my own strength, and get discouraged when it would fail. I learnt that we should always wait for God’s perfect timing.

Pst. Priji Varghese : Were you married when you planted the church?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : I wasn’t married. The church started in Feb 2013 and I was not married till June the same year.

Pst. Priji Varghese : How did your life change after you became a pastor?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : From 2003 to 2013, I was a worship leader and preached when invited. Becoming a pastor was a greater responsibility as I had about 60-70 people to whom I was a father. It involved getting hurt often and the transition was difficult. I would confess I was unable to handle it. But what changed me was soaking in the truth of the fact that God loves me. That guarded my heart and kept me.

Pst. Priji Varghese : How was it for you to pastor a church being a young man? What are the leadership lessons you learnt?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : As a young pastor, I faced the same challenge that Jeremiah faced – being young.I remember at my first baptism service someone called me and said I was too young to baptise people and asked me to call in a senior (older) pastor. I always held on to the belief that your seniority comes with your history with God and not the number of years you’ve lived on earth. But in such constant problems, I was not able to see myself as a pastor, until a man of God showed me that I should be the first one to respect myself before expecting it from others. From that day I looked at myself as nothing else than a man who’s called by God with the equipment and anointing I needed.

Pst. Priji Varghese : The church being in Manipal, a “student city”, what are the challenges you had to face?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : Because it is a student church, every year you have about 30 people moving away. The world thinks that success is shown in numbers but that can’t be shown in our case because of the students leaving. It was a challenge to convince myself that the success is not in the number of members you produce but in the disciples you produce.
People have often made me question my financial providence, but God reminded me that it was the Lord Who called me into ministry and not the students. He took care of everything. Another challenge was that students, being away from home, are not so well behaved. So, you are to be their spiritual parents too, loving them as messed up as they might be. But it is worth it because those with addictions are now in a place where they can plant a church. I get to train them for four years and release them to go into the world.

Pst. Priji Varghese : Would you share about your invitation to stay back in the city?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : I challenge them to be a student missionary while they come to get their degree; to enrol for a Master’s degree to do God’s work in the campus. We must, as pastors, encourage student missionaries.

Pst. Priji Varghese : What do you do to share with students who do not know God?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : The key has been to love them no matter what. They wouldn’t open up with the broken things the Lord shows us in their lives, but after months of loving and being patient, they would break down and ask for help. It can be difficult sometimes because they may insult you bluntly, but you must love them till they change.

Pst. Priji Varghese : Have you faced challenges regarding people not submitting or being accountable to you? How do you teach them?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : It was quite hard at first to hold people in leadership accountable till the day the Lord told me I had not taught it to the church. From then this is the rule that no matter what service you do in church, you need to be present throughout the week for the gatherings.

Pst. Priji Varghese – How do prayers work in Manipal?

Pst. Stephen Samuel – We have three meetings through the week. First 45 minutes of the Friday’s Bible study is for prayer. After worship practice, the team is to stay back for 45 minutes in prayer.

Pst. Priji Varghese : A church that does not pray or value prayer on the long term will lose the main reason for its existence. If the bride is not in constant communion with the Groom, it’s a fail.

Pst. Priji Varghese : What has God taught you about prayer?

Pst. Stephen Samuel : One of the major distractions of today is technology and social media. We need to be disciplined regarding them. Fix a schedule with timings reserved for prayer and a time for the other things. We may fall, but our righteousness does not depend on that. We pray because we want to know the heart of the Father, to have fellowship and be strengthened.
Jesus often withdrew to secret places to pray. If He did it, how much more do we need to do so! Prayer is not just an essential principle in ministry but in our Christian lives.
Before ministry, there was a season where mostly all I did was pray. One year, apart from studies, I spent hours praying every day. That is what transformed and equipped me.
You already have the grace to pray, you only have to go and do it.
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