SEVERAL years ago, my mother took me to a Gospel meeting in Chennai. I don’t remember how old I was then but I guess I was old enough to know the difference between a crusade and a meeting for the believers. The meeting I attended was intended to strengthen the faith of the believers.
Evangelist P P Job spoke at the meeting but he was not the star attraction that day. The main speaker of the day was Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian preacher of Jewish origin. Wurmbrand came along with his petite wife Sabina. I remember Wurmbrand, a lanky old man, sitting in a chair and sharing his prison experiences as a political prisoner in the Communist Romania of the 1940s. His first imprisonment was for eight and a half years. Most of that time was spent as in solitary confinement. “The only sound I ever heard in my prison cell was the cling-clang of my shackles,” I recall Wurmbrand telling the meeting.
Job was instrumental in bringing the Wurmbrands to India. He was by then associated with Torutured for Christ, the ministry of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. Job was introduced to the gathering as an evangelist and founder of Sabina Printing Press, the largest Christian press in India. Job was from my home state Kerala (Job hailed from Thrissur) and he was a Marthomite to boot.
My father was on the mailing list of Tortured for Christ, a leaflet printed at Sabina Press which those days mostly described Richard Wurmbrand’s torture at the hands of the Romanian Communist government and his response to the oppressors. Through those leaflets, I had read a lot about the Wurmbrands, the couple who braved persecution and stood for Christ in their country. So, I was familiar with their story. Yet when Richard Wurmbrand spoke, his life and faith became etched in my memory. I remember wanting to be a missionary and preach the crucified Christ.
When it was Job’s turn to speak, he came up the podium. I casually sized him up. He was not too tall, yet he looked gaunt because of the way he had dressed and carried himself. Dressed in a white shirt and black pants, he often patted his forehead that highlighted his receding hairline with a white handkerchief. He had to wipe the sweat off his face every now and then because of the unrelenting Madras summer. He quoted a few Bible verses, referred frequently to Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, talked briefly about his own life and wrapped up without letting the tempo dip. He spoke in chaste English with a liberal smattering of Malayalam words because there were a lot of Malayalis among the assembled.
Although I didn’t know it then, Job was well-known in Christian circles in India and abroad even then. Years later, my interest in Job’s magazine renewed when Job talked about his son’s deaths. I remember equating him with the Job of the Bible who lost his sons and daughters and yet stood firm in his faith. I felt sorry for the ‘modern-day Job’ and wondered how he would win souls for Christ now when his own nest had been made empty.
In February 2006, my journalist friend Vishal Arora interviewed him in his New Delhi office for The Christian Messenger. The interview revealed some hitherto unknown facets of his life and ministry.
Despite personal setbacks, Job ploughed on in God’s vineyard and achieved remarkable things. Michael Job Orphanage, Michael Job Memorial Higher Secondary School for Girls, Michael Job College of Arts and Science for Women were all testimonies of God’s providence to a man who dared to dream big for his Savior.
He was also one of the first Indian evangelists who toured over 100 nations with the message of the Gospel. Job has spoken to crowds of 500,000 people. Millions have been blessed by his books ‘With a dynamic Man of God’, ‘Fifth Gospel,’ ‘Why God, Why?’
The meeting at Periyar Thidal in Chennai was the only time I ever saw him. Last year, when he was in the news over what the media had dubbed as the ‘fake orphan scandal’, I resolved to meet him in Coimbatore and find out his version of the story. However, that was not to be. There were newspaper reports that said he admitted many of the Nepalese children in his orphanage were not orphans. The saffron brigade was also nipping at his heels. Although I did not doubt his integrity, I thought it was better to let sleeping dogs lie.
His death has left a vacuum in the ministries he ran but the work that God had begun in and through him cannot be stopped.
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Robin Sam is the editor of The Christian Messenger. You can reach him at editor [at] christianmessenger [dot] in