The Shaping of Biblical Training
Let us be enlightened by this conversation between Pr. Priji and the world renown father figure Rev. MA Varghese who is pastoring the Bethel AG church at Hebbal in Bangalore.
Pr. Priji : The Lord has immensely used you to minister to people all your life but I’d like to trace back to where it all started. When and how did you first have an encounter with God?
Pr. MA Varghese : My parents had committed me for the Lord’s work even before my birth, specifically to be a Marthomite priest because we were still under that denomination. They had trained me with Bible verses from the very beginning so much that the first word I ever uttered was “Yeshuve”. My mother had constantly fed Biblical words and sentences to me by repetition that my first sentence was “Jesus wept”.
I had biblical training at an early age as prompted by the influence of my parents. At the age of 6, I had finished reading 3 chapters from the Bible. I had to read a chapter so as to receive the benefit of having meals or drinking milk which led on to being a habit. Besides that, my parents consistently reminded me that I was set aside for God’s work.
I had finished reading the Malayalam Bible as a whole at the age of 10. My father had suggested that if I read three chapters daily and five on a Sunday, I’d be able to complete reading the entire book in a year. And so I began following the same but gradually reading more than 3 chapters a day didn’t seem so complicated. I had also gained interest in reading that I increased my content for the day all the more. Due to that, by the age of 12, I had read the Bible multiple times and had an understanding of what it was about.
I had enough exposure to the message of salvation from my Marthoma Churches. My father was a Sunday School teacher and my mother was leading the women’s fellowship; both active spiritual workers in the Church.
I still recall that at the age of 11, I had knelt down and given my life to Christ. The word of God meant a lot more than it used to be.
A lot of questions rose with my in depth study which my father couldn’t quite answer. I knew religion and the true word couldn’t go hand in hand.
At 11 and a half, I was convinced about water baptism but this was mostly practiced among the Pentecostals. God had provided me a way to meet a man at an open air meeting who answered my question regarding it.
I was finally got baptised and opposition from various people tagged along with it.
My schooling was stopped because the management wasn’t accepting of my faith so with the time I had laying around, I went around to shout at the top of my voice proclaiming salvation.
To this day, I haven’t stopped progressing in my faith and ministry.
Pr. Priji : This testimony is going to inspire parents with children to train them in the way of God. Can you elaborate on your first experience with the supernatural move of the Holy Spirit?
Pr. MA Varghese : I had always been a witness to prominent preachers performing mighty miracles. At the age of 22 while I was still enrolled in the air force, I was praying and God had anointed me with the Holy Spirit with the gift of speaking in tongues. I had hosted my first prayer meeting in Calcutta which grew to a Church. Due to transfers, wherever I was placed, I started meetings which grew to be Churches in Northern India.
Pr. Priji : There’s a misconception youngsters often have that the baptism of the Holy Spirit can be only received through a public meeting which can be disproved with your experience.
Pr. MA Varghese : I was desperate to receive it. I have also attended meetings as much as I could having the same doubt.
But I had an encounter with a foreigner who preached at a meeting who after greeted the attendees at the door once it was over. When he saw me, he revealed that the Holy Spirit has a message for me.
He laid his hands on me and exposed my unbelief based on the lack of the anointing of the Spirit. He said I will be filled in the Holy Spirit.
And that is when I reached home, prayed and started speaking in tongues. This experience made a tremendous difference in my life.
I never spent my time on the world. I kept myself occupied by reading the Bible or biblical books or by listening to sermons and attending conventions which led me to where I am today.
Pr. Priji : This is going to encourage us to be more hungry for His word and be more eager to learn. I noticed that you proclaimed God saving you into the streets almost immediately after He did. How important is it to spread God’s Gospel and evangelising among people?
Pr. MA Varghese : I recall wanting to inspire others through the way I express from the time I was a Marthomite. When I had heard sermons then, it stirred within my heart. I knew that if I was inspired, others could too. Among the 1000 people I preach to, God will raise up ministers to spread the gospel even more.
Pr. Priji : Pastor, how long ago was Bethel AG Church started?
Pr. MA Varghese : 60 years but I have been pastoring for over 37 years. The Church has grown immensely as well as it had its share of decrease. When I first came, there were only 22 people. I had received multiple prophesies that God wanted to place me to change the souls of many towards him. I had received my confirmation through a prophetess.
I received a call from Assemblies of God to take over the Church which consisted of most members being under the poverty line. No Pastor was interested to take over as the richest member was one owning a car. The 22 was stricken by poverty, hence I was offered.
We had officially begun our service and a year later, started Baptism. However it was conducted only once a month due to less people coming forward to make that choice. That’s when a young boy of 12 approached me and said that the Holy Spirit is going to bring more souls for His kingdom. Since then, we have been overwhelmed with people choosing God’s way and being baptized very often.
Pr. Priji : In your ministry of over 37 years, you have overcome your battle with cancer, spiritual warfares as well as legal battles. What is a disclaimer you can give to young Church planters or early on in ministry?
Pr. MA Varghese : The Bible calls Christian ministers as spiritual warriors. So you are to be alert as if at war at all times. Do or die. God should be your first ministry then comes everything else. I had to head to a Convention via train when my wife had her first heart attack. I instructed my son to call Brother John and take her to the hospital. I had to leave for the sake of fulfilling God’s work. I returned after 5 days to my wife at home and there was no grumbling. God has blessed me with a family who is compliant to serving God first and man second.
Pr. Priji : Would you please share a word of blessing to our listeners?
Pr. MA Varghese : Wherever God has placed you, honor Him there. That’s where the Holy Spirit has intended you to be. And from there, He will lift you up so that you can lift God up. The Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you.
Pr. Priji : Thank you for being here, Pastor. We are really blessed to have you here.
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