Recently, I met a fellow pastor and ministry leader, Dr. Paulraj Massillamony. Over breakfast one morning, he told me a remarkable conversion story.
Paulraj grew up in the small village of Kanniseripudur in south India. His family religion was a mixture of animistic Catholicism mingled with popular Hinduism. To supplement his income as a government schoolteacher, Paulraj’s father practiced palm reading and communicating with the dead.
One evening a lay Bible worker named Jeyaseelan knocked on their door. He was visiting their village as part of an evangelistic team in their area. Jeyaseelan made a simple request: “Could I please have a drink of water?” Since this act of hospitality was expected in their culture, Massillamony agreed. After drinking the water, Jeyaseelan went on his way. The next day he returned, expressed his thanks for the cup of water, and asked whether he could offer a prayer of blessing for the Massillamony family. The persistent lay Bible worker returned the following day, asking whether he could read a text of Scripture and offer another prayer for the family. His persistence was being rewarded. Jeyaseelan returned again the next day and asked whether he could explain the Scripture he had read the previous day.
After building a bridge of friendship, Jeyaseelan invited Massillamony to attend an evangelistic meeting in the neighboring town. He agreed. As he listened to the Bible-based presentation, Massillamony was deeply moved. He returned again and again for more than a month, excited to learn about the truths of God’s Word. But Massillamony was also experiencing intense internal conflict. The teachings of Scripture were challenging his long-held traditions and superstitions. There was an intense tug of war. Was this teaching really the truth or just another person’s opinion?
One day while walking to work, Massillamony encountered a whirlwind on the road and was unable to move forward. Then a gentle voice called to him from out of the whirlwind: “Massillamony, I am with you. I call you. You are on the right track.”
This supernatural revelation gave him courage. Massillamony encouraged his wife and seven children to embrace the truths he had recently discovered. Using his gift of teaching, he also shared this revelation with his neighbors and friends.
Massillamony became a Christian leader in his village, and his three sons all became Christian pastors. His oldest son, Dhanapaul, pastors a church near their family village in south India; his middle son, Jeyapaul, pastors in Beirut, Lebanon; and Paulraj pastors a church and serves as a leader for pastors in Singapore. All together, 33 family members are involved in active ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ. And the miracle began with a simple request for a drink of water.
Does that story remind you of another incident in the Gospels? John records the story of Jesus asking for a drink of water. His subsequent conversation with a Samaritan woman resulted in her miraculous life transfor-mation. This woman’s witness would impact an entire city. According to the apostle John, “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman” (John 4:39, NKJV). And that miracle also began with a simple request for something to drink.
Every conversion is a remarkable miracle of God. Sometimes those miracles are accomplished in spite of apparently insurmountable obstacles. Take, for example, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. He was not merely disinterested, like Massillamony, or mildly resistant, like the Samaritan woman. Saul was openly hostile. Yet, his life was so radically transformed as a result of an encounter with the risen Christ that his name was changed to Paul. He knew, firsthand, the miracle of life transformation.
May this issue of Ministry give you an opportunity to reflect again on the miracle of your own conversion and rejoice that your name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20).