I am delighted to have the opportunity to write about what the Lord has done in my life. I do hope that it will bring glory to His name and will challenge many. I have been writing about what the Lord has been doing in others’ lives for the past 27 years. Finally, I have the opportunity to write about myself.
Someone said, “There are people who can create opportunities for themselves and others who can only make use of given opportunities.” I belong to the second category. However, I cannot say that I had made use of every opportunity that has been granted to me from above because I was slow in recognizing some of those, and in some cases, I counted myself unworthy of it.
I thank the Lord for the rich Christian heritage that I have inherited. I had the privilege of being instructed in the ways of the Lord right from my childhood and accepted the Lord at an early stage in my life. As the only “Brethren” family in the town, lots of believers passed through our house and several activities were conducted from our home. There was hardly one night without a guest staying with us. My parents were good examples of giving to the Lord and the Lord’s people. My paternal grandfather was a well-known preacher and a full-time worker (missionary). He was nicknamed the “Little Simon” after the famous Brethren revivalist Mahakavi K. V. Simon of Kerala. He came to the Lord from an orthodox background through the preaching of Sadhu Sunder Singh in an Orthodox church at the age of 12. All these impacted my life in a myriad of ways and developed in me a love of God’s people and the ministry. There were many direct interventions that God brought about in various stages of my life.
The first direct intervention of the Lord in my life, which I recognized as such, was with regard to my education. I was a child with some kind of a learning disability in today’s terms. But in those days, it was only thought that the child is not doing enough. So, to my parents, the only remedy was rigorous chastising. My mother being a teacher in the very school I studied wanted her son to excel in studies; instead, I was a disgrace to her. So, I was chastened and rebuked publicly and labeled as a “good for nothing” child. I was slow in speech and hardly opened my mouth. As a result, I grew up with a serious inferiority complex and very low self-esteem.
After my PUC (12th grade in today’s terms) I decided that I could not go to university as every other child normally did and was looking for some kind of training in a trade. I then saw an advertisement in the newspaper about a course in Printing Technology and wanted to apply. It was a central government institute and my state Kerala had a quota of only four seats. But my father refused to give me money to get the application form and said that he did not want to waste that money; because he was so sure that a dumb person like me had no chance of securing a seat within that four. But, by God’s grace, I somehow managed to secure enough money to get the application and applied. I was selected as the third person of the four and thus I began my journey with printing.
The second intervention of God I have seen in my life was joining Operation Mobilisation (OM). It was at the advice of my father that I joined OM in 1970. He wanted me to become a better Christian more than anything else and thought that the experience with OM would help. This proved to be a God-send as it was there that I learned much about discipleship and found out my spiritual gift. I learned that my gift is service and had the opportunity in OM to put that to use for the Lord. I also developed a strong desire to serve the Lord for the rest of my life.
In 1975, after the completion of my course in Printing Technology, I was looking for a job. Then I was asked to join the OM ship Logos as they were looking for a printer. I prayed about it and asked the Lord to confirm His will through a vision as I wanted to be sure of God’s guidance in that matter because I knew it was going to be something that would shape my future in a big way. The Lord honored my prayer and gave me a vision to confirm His calling to Logos. On Logos, my job was to get all study materials printed for different conferences that were conducted on board. It was here that I learned that I could make use of my trade to serve the Lord.
As I was praying about the Lord’s leading for my future after Logos, a door was opened for me to join the New Life League in Japan. When the ship was in Japan, I came to know about them and they were also looking for printers. They had the largest Christian printing press in Asia. In 1976 I joined them and had the privilege of producing millions of Bibles in different languages and sending them to different parts of the world. Thus, I could have a part in fulfilling the Great Commission of the Lord, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” This was a rare opportunity many did not have. My wife was also able to work in the typesetting department and did typesetting for several African languages.
Another important direct intervention of God in my life was in connection to my marriage. Before going to Japan my marriage with Bizy, another OM trainee, was decided. While in Japan I was praying for the Lord’s intervention in that matter and to make it happen. But one day as I was fasting and praying about it, the Lord said very clearly, “Wait.” After that, for almost two years I never prayed about that matter. In 1978, Logos came to Japan and from there was going to South Korea. I had some visa issues and thought of going to South Korea to get it fixed. Since Logos was going there, I thought I could get a free ride and talked with my boss and he agreed. Dave Hicks who was the director of Logos also agreed to my request. So, I went to Pusan with Logos and applied for a new visa for Japan at the Japanese consulate. I thought the visa would be granted in three days as was the normal case. But I was told that being an Indian, verification in India was necessary and that it would take a long time. I could not stay there for that long. So, the only option for me was to get a direct ticket to India.
There was one problem! I had no money on hand to purchase the ticket. I went back to the ship and Dave Hicks was standing at the entrance. He asked me, “what about your visa”? I told him what had happened. Immediately he asked, “Do you have money to get the ticket”? I said no, I did not bring enough money. Then his reaction really surprised me. He said, “go to the kiosk and get what you want, I will speak to them to give you enough money, you can pay it back later.” I thanked the Lord from the bottom of my heart for a direct intervention that turned around my life in a great way.
I came back to India and told my parents about my intention regarding marriage. But my mother was not happy with my choice and created many problems. She was a person of “my way or the highway.” Finally, my father who was a prayer warrior and one who always sought the will of God, said, “I believe it is the will of God and so I will conduct the marriage.” So, after three years of waiting, we got married. By this time word came from Pusan saying that my visa was ready. I went to Pusan and collected my visa to Japan and returned to New Life League. Bizy joined me six months later.
Moving to Canada:
For some reason, we knew that Japan is not going to be our permanent place and we were praying for God’s guidance. In 1989, my brother from Canada called me and said, “Are you interested in coming to Canada, now the immigration rules have made it easier.” So, I went to the Canadian embassy and fielded visa applications for both of us. Within two weeks we were asked to appear for the interview with the medical test results. The medical tests were very expensive, so I said let us go without medical tests and if it is God’s will we will get the visa without the medical test. We appeared for the interview and the visa officer asked for the medical reports. I said we could not get it done. Then he said get the medical tests done soon, your application is accepted. I was told that in normal cases the procedures will take six months, but since you are from India, we have to send for police verification in India as well. Therefore, it will take longer. But within four months the visa papers came to us by post. After 13 years of service in Japan, we moved to Canada in 1989.
Later on, after we settled in Bangalore, India I planned a visit to Canada. I had to get a new visit visa as we had already surrendered our immigrant visas. I went to the Canadian Embassy and the visa officer asked me two questions, “why did you surrender your immigrant visa and return to India?” I said, “It was a call from above and I had to obey.” The officer replied, “I wish I also had some definite call like that.” Then she asked the second question. “Where do you get your financial support?” I answered, “The Lord supplies.” Then she said, “Alright, we will give you the visa.” What else is it other than God’s direct intervention?
Life in Canada
We reached Canada in October 1989. I got a well-paid job within a week. For the first year, we stayed with my brother and family in Edmonton. It was difficult for me to cope with the working situation and pressure there. But the Lord gave me a better and more comfortable job with better pay in Regina and we moved there.
Even before moving to Canada, I had a strong desire to serve the Lord in India. But I could not find a ministry where I could fit in. The reason was that the “Brethren” community with which I was associated did not regard anything other than preaching the Gospel as a ministry. I was not a preacher but a practical service person. So I was praying that the Lord would show me something I could do in India. During our vacation in India in 1990, the Lord showed me something and gave me a vision. I returned back to Canada with that new vision and was praying for an opportunity. But I was reluctant to leave my good job and venture out in faith.
In the year 1993, the recession cost me my job. Then the immediate thought was to come back to India, but I had no guts to make a decision. After a long search, I got a new job in Chicago, USA. Bizy also came with me to the US as we planned to visit some of my relatives there. While coming back to Canada with a plan to pack up and move to Chicago, while waiting for our flight in the airport, I began to read my pocket Bible.
Jeremiah 42:15, 16 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die.”
The Spirit whispered in my ears and said, “Chicago will be your Egypt.” I immediately knew what the Lord was saying. So, I turned to Bizy and said this is what the Lord is saying. She did not say a word and within minutes we sat down and prayed and committed our lives to the Lord and said, “Lord we are going back to India.” This was a direct intervention of God to direct us to take the right turn in our lives at a crucial moment. The Lord also gave us the grace to obey it. So, my desire and prayer for seven years began to finally bud.
Beginning of a Life of Faith:
One hurdle we had to overcome was to sell our house in Regina. As I mentioned earlier it was a time of recession and it was hard to find a buyer. I had to sell it to clear my mortgage. I engaged a real-estate agent but for three months no buyer came. My plan was to sell the house and use some of that money to start our ministry. After three months I became a bit frustrated and asked the Lord why the house could not be sold. One day I went to a Christian book shop to buy a book to give as a birthday present to an elderly Indian Christian lady who lived in that city. As I glanced through the books on the shelves, one title caught my eyes. I pulled out that book and flipped through the pages. Again, one line on one of the pages leapt from the book. It said, “You have one more decision to make.” Immediately the Spirit whispered gently, “this is the message for you.” I pondered over that message over the day and on the following morning I asked the Lord, “Lord show me what is that decision that I have to make.” Then the Lord impressed on my heart, “you plan to sell the house and use the proceeds to start your ministry; that is not my way. I will show you how I can provide for your needs. I want you to go in faith.” Then I said, “Lord I am willing to do that, but I have to settle my mortgage and I do not have any money to do that. So please prove to me that it is your plan for my life by bringing a buyer today.” This happened at 6 ‘O’clock in the morning. At 8:00 am my phone rang and it was the real estate agent. She said I am bringing someone to see your house. For three months no one came, but when I surrendered my plans to God and agreed to obey His will, He intervened and made it possible. I was offered a price just enough to cover my mortgage and I settled the deal. The money that I invested, which was all my savings at that time was gone. But I felt a great peace in my heart. Now we as a family were going to start a new phase in our life, a “faith-life.” In all these Bizy was a silent but willing participant.
When I shared my vision and decision with the elders in our church, the elder said, “I knew something is coming up, we are glad for the decision, but you know that our church does not have the means to support you financially.” Yes, it was true, our church was a small church with only about eight families and most of them elderly without any income. They had already sent one missionary to France and were supporting him. So, to take up another responsibility was unthinkable for them. So, I said, I know the situation well, but if you are convinced of my call, I only want this assembly to commend us, leave the rest to the Lord. The Lord has called me to go in faith and has given me enough faith to do it. So, they commended us and sent out a letter of commendation to other assemblies in Canada and also to mission agencies. That was one thing I asked the Lord as proof of His call. So, the Lord confirmed it once again and that increased our faith.
Though our church expressed their inability to support us they have been supporting us from the beginning. Therefore, the Lord blessed them and increased them. As the Lord blessed them, they also increased their support to us.
Our New Ministry in India:
During our vacation in India in 1990, I had the occasion to associate with a team preparing for a missionary challenge conference. We had to return back to Canada before the conference took place. It was that involvement with the team for a short time that gave me a vision for my future ministry. The first thought that came to me was that there is a need to present a continuous mission challenge before the believers; the need of the field and the need of the workers. While in Canada preparing for our return to India the Lord expanded my vision and gave me some practical ideas about what and how to do it.
We called the ministry “Operation Barnabas” as we wanted it to be a ministry of encouragement and support to the workers in India. At that time there were about 2000 workers serving the Lord in association with the “Brethren Assemblies” in India. They were scattered all over the peninsula, most of them unknown to the believers in general and lacking support of any kind. They were virtually leading a “faith life” struggling without sufficient financial support or fellowship, isolated in many ways without any coordination between themselves or the commending assemblies. A good number of them were working in multi-cultural environments.
My first burden was to visit them to provide some fellowship and find out their need, then present them before the believers in general to raise prayer and financial support. For this purpose, I started a magazine called “Insight India.” This was not well taken by the “Brethren” community and its leaders in India. I had to face a lot of opposition. Many Brethren leaders told me, very strongly, to stop all these, and that they would not accept this as a ministry. They told me that, if I want to serve God, I should go to a remote village in North India and preach the gospel. When I introduced the first magazine to one of the leaders, he took it and threw it on my face! That was the kind of response I received from my brethren in India.
All of a sudden, I had to become an editor of an English magazine. I never had any English education and my language was not good. In the beginning, the Lord gave me some experts to edit what I wrote. Later on, I had to do it myself. But the Lord gave me strength and used me to write many articles. Recently, one of my old OM friends living in the UK now took my article from Insight India and sent it to many of his friends internationally. He also asked me to write a foreword for his book. One thing I found is that when I start writing words, vocabulary and thoughts will just flow without interruption. But when I speak it is very difficult to get proper thoughts and words.
Despite the disappointments from my brethren in India, the Lord encouraged me and I could feel His hand leading me. As the believers came to understand more about the workers, increasing prayer and financial support began to flow to the workers and they were greatly encouraged. In 2002 we published a directory of all workers commended from different “Brethren Assemblies” in India, which we called the “Prayer Handbook.” This enabled the believers to see all commended workers from different parts of India on one single platform and see the need as well. This together with the Insight India magazine has revolutionized the support system for the workers in India in a great way. Many workers and supporters have personally testified to me about how it is helping them.
Our ministry did not stop there. The Lord had greater plans. One agency from the USA asked us to help them in distributing their funds to the workers in India. After much prayer and seeking God’s mind in this matter we were convinced that it was God’s direction and we accepted that responsibility. By this time Operation Barnabas was registered as a trust with five trustees. The distribution of funds started on a small scale and now has reached around ₹ 50, 000, 000 ($684,950) a year. Mission agencies and individuals from around the world use our services. Now we have 9 trustees and the ministry is bifurcated into five different branches as Medical aid to workers’ families, Education aid to workers’ children, Social welfare plan, Literature publishing, and also Training and conferences.
With the COVID situation making things grim, and workers suffering in many ways we have seen an increase in our inflow. Believers from Germany and Austria are supporting us in a great way. This in turn enabled us to give special COVID support to several workers who were affected.
The Lord also opened several opportunities for me to preach. I had to train myself to do that as it did not come naturally. One time, I was invited to preach at a convention in Andhra Pradesh. After the first night, I felt somewhat uneasy and said to the Lord that I did not want to do this. But I could not escape. So, I said, Lord if you want me to continue, please confirm it to me by saving two souls tonight. That night after my preaching, the elder of the assembly gave an altar call and 20 young people, stood up to receive Christ. The Lord does miracles!
I will close with one more incident of how the Lord worked on our behalf. We published the Ryrie Study Bible in Hindi in the year 2008. I got it printed in Japan where I worked. They printed it and shipped it to India without us paying any advance based on their trust in me. The agency which was expected to provide the finance withdrew at the last minute. This was a great blow to me and all the financial burden fell on me. The total bill was $ 110,000. All I had in that account was $30,000. I managed to pay a good portion of it from my own pocket for over a year. Finally, $35000 was left to be paid and I could not find any way to make it. I struggled and prayed. Then all of a sudden, I got a mail from MSC Canada which is one of the major contributors to our ministry, asking me about the payment. They wrote, “We remember you mentioning something about the payment for Ryrie Bibles, can you give us more details”. So, I wrote to them the whole story and they wrote to me back and said, “We will give $15000 as a gift to this project and can give $20000 as a personal loan to you. And you will have to pay us back from your personal funds, $500 per month. I agreed to that proposal. My personal funds were coming through MSC and they deducted $500 every month. So, I was able to make the whole payment for the Bibles. This taught me one lesson. I am not to save any money for myself even from what is coming into my personal funds. The Lord is able to supply the need in time and I only need to trust Him. So, when I have excess funds, I use them for the ministry. The more I give away, the more the Lord gives.
The Lord’s ways are not our ways. Sometimes He will do wonders and sometimes He will make you pay for what He wants to accomplish through you, by making you a channel of blessing at your expense. It is not what you are, or what you have that is important. But what you do with what you have is important. When the Lord is your king, you have to submit yourself to be used as an honorable vessel. There is no victory without surrender. When you surrender to the Master, He will transform you into an honorable vessel. Are you willing to be transformed?
Roy T Daniel
Roy Daniel is based in Bangalore, India. You can read more about his ministry with Operation Barnabas at https://obindia.in/