I believe that our journey of faith begins as soon as we become aware of our existence in the world, even without clear knowledge of our exact beliefs. We have the power to follow our family's religious practices and rituals if they have them, whether we consent to it or not. As we know, most religions have traditions and practices that must be carried out when a child is born into a family. Whether that child is simply blindly following the beliefs he was born into, or whether he is willing to question his reasons for believing and exploring for himself and exploring the meaning of life, existence and whether there is a God is another story. Faith can start as small as a "mustard seed" (Luke 13:19) and grow to the size of a tree.
In a conversation between Jesus and his disciples, he asked who the crowd thought he was and, after hearing the different views, asked Peter how aIndividually'Who do you say I am?' and Peter replied, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:13-16).
My earliest memory goes back to the age of three, if not earlier, when I lived with my siblings in Haripur Hazara, Pakistan, a small town in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We lived in an apartment that belonged to the company where our father worked as a stenographer. I don't think there's a church close by. It's like we're the only Christian family in the area. They taught us to pray before eating and give thanks for everything we had. I have vague memories of a place of worship in a nearby town and being there with my family at Christmas. They had a Christmas tree with flickering candles. Sounds like fun, but I've been wondering for many years how the candles burned and didn't light the tree. As I got older, I looked around to see if such candles really existed, not realizing they were actually electric!
Somehow I found out that I was part of a Christian family living in a Muslim-majority country. I have strong memories of playing with my brothers and cousins when visiting my maternal grandparents' home in Manipur, a village near Faisalabad, where my mother's father served in his local church as a kind of guardian. As I recall, his duties included pastoral visits to church families to pray and offer support. He carried with him the electoral rolls for those who wished to pay their monthly church dues. Here we were surrounded by aunts and uncles (our mother's brothers) who loved us very much and cared for us.
I was born on the 13th of May 1952 in the city of Lyallpur,1Punjab, Pakistan at St. Raphael, near the vicariate of 'Dada', my father's father. Faisalabad is an average city; It could be called the Manchester of Pakistan due to the many textile industries located there.
Faisalabad is famous for its clock tower. Following a decision by Sir James Lyall, the Deputy Commissioner, the British Deputy Governor of Punjab, Sir Charles Riwaz, laid the cornerstone on 14 November 1905. The tower is located in the oldest part of the city and in the center of eight markets (bazaar). From a bird's eye view, it looks like the Union Flag of the United Kingdom. This project still exists today and is referred to by locals as 'Ghanta Ghar' in Urdu, which means 'House of Hour'. During festivals, the mayor of Faisalabad gives a speech at this place and hoists the flag to the full pole.
I found out that the day I was born, my elderly aunt wrapped me in a blanket and took me out of the hospital. He took me home to show everyone when I was supposed to be at the hospital with my mother. He then took me back to the hospital without the cops noticing! As the first grandchild, I can only imagine how exciting it must have been to get a glimpse of myself sooner rather than later.
My Dada Chunilal lived with his brothers in the city of Quetta in India (now part of Pakistan) before India was partitioned and Pakistan was born in 1947. His family were Hindus by faith, Kshatriyas by caste (second in the Hindu caste system) and goldsmith by profession. They were economically prosperous and socially highly regarded. When Dada was a high school student, he was given Christian tracts by British missionaries on his way home. He read them all and something about the Christian faith touched his heart; special were the words of the Lord's Prayer. He was convinced of God's truth when he called God his "Father". When he met the missionaries again, he asked more questions and was given a Bible to read for himself. It was a new experience for him. Reading the Bible opened his eyes to the reality and existence of God that he had never known, or maybe deep down he had always been looking for this truth.
He went to meet the local priest, who was also a converted Hindu. The pastor advised him to get baptized, which he did a few years later at the age of 25. However, the news was not well received by his family, particularly his mother, who was devastated; She was saddened by what she saw as a betrayal of the old faith, but also fearful of losing him forever.
Converting to Christianity was like becoming one of the lowest castes and betraying the gods. Dada's family tried to persuade him to return to Hinduism, but he was adamant. A first consequence of his now being considered lower caste was that he was not allowed to eat in the kitchen area; Instead, his mother handed him the food to take to a separate area where he ate alone.
Later, he was told to leave the house and given only a sheet to sleep on and a bowl to drink from. He left home for good and never looked back. He chose the new name Jacob as his last name and kept the initials of his first name, hence he was known as CL Jacob.
Names are an important part of our identity, given to us by our parents. Some parents decide based on the meaning of the name, others just the sound of the name. Some people may choose to change their name to yours when they get older. It is interesting to note that when God calls people to his purposes and plans, he often gives them new names, such as Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah).
Dada felt called to the full-time ministry and was educated at Gujranwala Seminary, the oldest Presbyterian seminary in Pakistan. He later married an orphan girl, Jasmine, who had been raised by missionaries after her parents died of the plague. After their marriage, Dada and his new wife lived in the city of Sheikhupura in Punjab, which did not have an established church. He started a house church there until 1925 when the first church building was constructed where the congregation grew. He served seven years in Sheikhupura, where four of his children were born. Sadly, the fourth child died in infancy. They lived in rented apartments while a permanent vicariate was built. He was then received into the United Presbyterian Church at Lyallpur in 1933 and served there for 28 years until his retirement, where he witnessed the partition of India in 1947. Four more of his children were born there. In all, he and his wife had seven surviving children, four girls and three boys.
Dada's elder brother once visited him in Lyallpur after the partition to offer him his share of the family inheritance, but he refused to accept it, saying: 'I have left your religion and therefore I do not wish to receive anything from you. you. His brother refused to drink or eat anything from Dada's house and never visited her again. Much later, during her retreat, in our nightly family prayers, Dada would often testify and quote the words of Jesus in Luke 18:29-30:
I assure you that anyone who has left home, wife, siblings, parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will be richly rewarded in this life and will have eternal life in the world to come.
Due to government travel restrictions, Dada was never able to visit post-partition India to see his family. It must have been painful for him to be rejected by his own mother and family and never see them again. In memoirs, she once said that she fondly remembered how her sister used to prepare her favorite dessert with many different nuts. However, he didn't seem to regret making the decision to follow Jesus.
I took Dada as my model. The idea to write about his life originally came from a relative of mine some thirty years ago. This relative told my sister that our grandfather's life and ministry were so impressive that a book should be written about it. This idea stuck with me and I started to make connections between Dadá's life and mine. The more I thought about it, the more these thoughts started to expand into a more complete picture in my head. I kept thinking about it and began to gather information from his children about his life and ministry. I realized that my own life story stems from his ministry.
As I look back on Dada's life, I am inspired to embrace the same dedicated ministry in the church that he had. As he was growing up, I remember watching him in his office, reading and preparing sermons. The sermons were handwritten in a notebook. Sometimes he would sit in his rocking chair in the parish garden and go over the sermons in his head.
Also, I observed your regular habit of prayer. Early in the morning, he spent time in prayer in his office, kneeling beside his chair. I remember thinking this was an awesome way to start the day! He always said prayers of thanksgiving and supplications aloud.
I treasure a paperweight in my office that used to be on your desk. It takes me back to my childhood. Dada regularly visited the area with his steering wheel for nightly prayer meetings. He did this every week with all his heart and dedication.
I must have been about five years old when I accompanied Dada to an evening worship service that was being held in the hallway of my elementary school. It was late and I fell asleep on the bench. I started to cry with embarrassment, but they picked me up and sat me down next to Dadá. On another occasion, I accompanied Dadá to visit a very sick man. He prayed for him and later learned that the man died shortly afterwards. I now appreciate the purpose of this ministry as I serve in this capacity. Maybe accompanying Dadá was a small vision of my future vocation.
After many years of service, I still want to develop a regular habit of quietly kneeling, praying, and spending quality time with God. I hope to one day develop this sacred habit! My spiritual leader has always encouraged me to start my devotional time with five minutes and then gradually increase it as I get used to it and appreciate the spiritual enrichment. Prayer, thanksgiving and confession are a way of life for me and I am encouraged to do so.
Having nightly family prayers is another habit I've been trying to do more regularly, but it always has its breaks and starts. Our family and church celebrations always begin with the reading of the Holy Scriptures and prayers of blessing.
Dada's strong, clear faith and determination to follow Jesus always inspired me, and the way he sacrificed everything he could have inherited for the gospel. As an act of remembrance, I bought a chair at St. James's Church in Alperton, where I served, with a plaque that read: "Chunilal Jacob, a pioneer of our Christian heritage". -Building benches have been replaced by chairs. We could buy a chair and a plaque with an inscription of our choosing, and I did. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that I share my date of birth with Dadá and that he was baptized on the same day I got married.
I also learned what didn't work so well in my family and tried to avoid those things. I learned that Dada was very disciplined and strict with his children's education and spiritual development. Everyone had to get up at 5 am to read the Bible before breakfast or to get ready for school. I understand that this was not well received by his children, even though they all maintained the Christian faith and practiced Christianity all their lives. For my children, I continued the example of the prodigal son in Luke 15, who learned from his mistakes when given the space and opportunity. I tried to give them what teaching and example I could and I left the rest up to them and God.
Marriage was another important matter in life that she needed to have an opinion on. Dadá organized the marriages of our uncles and aunts, taking special care to match them with Christian families. All of her marriages seemed to be working. Marriage was for life. Once married, you had to live in obedience for it to work for the glory of God. Divorce was not acceptable in the local culture. Women had no other option, choice or support system to turn to.
I looked into the intricacies and saw a certain security and comfort in this marriage system, so I decided to follow this family tradition for myself. Besides, he knew he wasn't usually good at making the best decisions! It's been nearly half a century since I "married" my husband Stanley, and I'm not saying the road has always been easy.
Of course, the world's view of marriage has changed dramatically over the years. When it comes to my children, I decided to give them some freedom of choice because I believe that it is good to get to know and get to know the potential partner before getting married. Marriage seems like a complex matter now, and it takes a lot of work to make it permanent! I believe in the government of God: take marriage as a covenant and remember the commandment of love. Vows made must be valid for life. It might be worth repeating these vows every day of the wedding! Choosing a partner should be done with God's wisdom and clear guidance.
I realize that some people reading this may have been through a tough and difficult divorce process, but God is our loving Father who is able to redeem any situation and use any of our circumstances for His good purposes.
It was important for me to learn about Dada's financial problems. He had a big family and lived on a small salary. The grandmother played her part of helper beautifully, sewing clothes for her own children and neighbors and selling buffalo milk to raise money to feed the family. When she was younger, Grandma was eager to learn to sew, knit and crochet and signed up for training in these skills. So they sent her to a special school to learn these things.
Just as Eve was given the role of Helper (Genesis 2:18-24), I tried to fulfill that role as best I could. it was important to meand learn to manage finances and create budgets for the benefit of the family. I learned that we are just stewards of our money and accountable for everything to the Mighty Giver.
I knew itI needed to hear other people's experiences and hear their wisdom to maintain my marital relationship; I had to understand my own likes and dislikes, who I am, my purpose in life and my focus had to be on the big picture. I understood that we grow and change with time; I needed to grow in the love and knowledge of God to better understand human relationships.
This is often saidwe cannot change the other person; first we have to change. For example, choosing to live in love and peace, choosing not to cut off communication and not let the sun go down on anger (Ephesians 4:26) without apologizing and being reconciled – that's what the Bible commands me! Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so shall you love one another” (John 13:34), and right in 1 Corinthians 13 it is declared that the greatest of all things is love (verse 13)! Ephesians 5:25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church," and verse 28 goes on to say, "Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies." word will continue to sprout in my walk of grace.
In 1958, when I was six years old, my mother contracted tuberculosis (TB) while pregnant with her sixth child. My father did not like her as she had not told him about this illness earlier and took her straight to Sialkot Mission Hospital which was more than four hours away from Faisalabad. We five children were all sent back to Faisalabad to live with our grandparents, aunts and uncles in the vicariate. Our father returned to Haripur Hazara for work and visited us during his holidays.
Although I missed my parents greatly, I look back very fondly on this period of life with my grandparents and appreciate what a privilege it was to grow up in the vicariate and witness the spiritual discipline and devotional service of Dada that it became. We received immense love and affection from aunts and uncles. The vicarage was surrounded by all kinds of native fruit trees that we could enjoy. There was also a swing attached to a large tree that we shared with our cousins for many hours during school holidays. I recently learned that the vicariate was demolished a few years ago and that there is now a modern church with a capacity of 5,000 people.
As Dadá had a buffalo on the property at the time, he cultivated a field of green corn around the rectory's land for the buffalo to eat, and we ate fresh milk, butter andLassi(kind of yogurt-based drink). There was an old-fashioned hand cutter for cutting the vegetables for the buffalo, which a maid had to first cut from the field and then finely chop.
I have strong and happy memories of spending hours playing in the shade of the trees with the children of our cousins and neighbors. Extended families living together seem like a thing of the past, but I am reminded of its great value and warmth, where everyone lived in peace and harmony and where love and respect were given and received by all.
During school holidays, our aunts would come to visit us with their children, and my grandmother would cook big pots of food on the homemade wood stove, as was customary at the time.Chapatis, flatbreads, were prepared in a clay tandoor oven, also heated with wood, and then shared around the large dining table. Men of the house were not expected to help with cooking or washing dishes - this was typical of Asian culture at the time!
My best memory is going to church with Dada. Every Sunday he brought and brought a large clock from the church wall to keep at home. We enjoyed Sunday school, taught by our youngest aunt, and we learned a lot from the Scriptures and Old Testament stories. The class consisted of about thirty children, most of whom continued to maintain the Christian faith and made good progress later in life.
Our grandmother was a working woman. After raising seven children herself, it was her job to take care of the five of us. She worked a lot in the kitchen with the help of the maid. Our grandmother was a believer who participated fully in church life and conducted the church choir on Sundays. Our bedtime stories contained biblical and moral stories that I remember to this day.
I always benefited from Grandma's stories about what life was like, even before the breakup. I wish she could always stay with us. She lived to see me go to Britain and died a few years later. I will always appreciate her empathy and help in many ways.
Our evening family prayers were held in the open air in the rectory's courtyard, in the presence of my uncles and aunts and under the direction of Dadá. Those times impressed me a lot. We sang a psalm, read the scriptures and Dada shared a short message before asking one of us to pray.
Once, during a time of family prayer, in the courtyard of the rectory, I remembered the unforgettable flapping of wings, like that of a large bird flying over the rectory. This was explained by our aunt as a guardian angel visiting every night. My sister told me that after the Dada retreat in the new house, when we went to sleep on the roof, she also heard the sounds of wings. When he asked Dada, he said that he was the guardian angel who came every night. For her, that memory was always comforting, no matter what happened in her life.
Another incident that I remember vividly and that we can all laugh about now was that during an evening prayer my little sister saw a cat approaching and started screaming. The rest of us automatically started screaming too and that was the end of Dada prayer time!
One autumn morning, Dada took me to visit my mother at Sialkot Hospital. It was a large room with many beds spread out, as is necessary in tuberculosis. I don't remember getting very close to her, but I will always remember that scene. It would be the last time he would see her face. I will always be grateful to Dadá for taking me to see her. It was after my brother was born, my sixth brother, and I remember my mother telling me, "I'm better now and I'll be home soon." But that same year, 1958, on Christmas morning, as our new clothes were being ironed to church, a telegram arrived from the hospital that our mother had died that very morning.
I sensed what had happened through the whispers, even without being informed of the telegram's contents. That day, nobody went to church except Dadá, and after the service a crowd started to pour out their condolences, which is a very important part of our cultural tradition. This can continue for many weeks after a person's death.
It must have been on my second visit after my mother's death that my maternal grandfather announced, "Our daughter has passed away and we no longer have anything to do with her family." Tension, but I was too young to know why. We haven't met for many years.
Our mother was buried in the city cemetery of Sialkot. My father, her brother, both grandparents and my oldest aunt went to bury her and when my aunt came back she hugged me and screamed loudly: 'We buried her mother under tons of earth.' the only verbal confirmation I was given of what had just happened.
Shortly thereafter, my life returned to so-called "normal". It was decided to put the newborn up for adoption. The reason may have been that it was too much for our grandmother, as she already had to raise the five of us! Alternatively, there would be concerns that my mother's tuberculosis would have a negative impact on her future health. We meet him again much later when he was married and had a family of his own. He looked healthy and happy with no such issues.
Our uncles and aunts gave us the best love that could be given. We appreciate your wedding ceremonies. When my uncles and aunts got married and started having children, I innocently thought, 'They only have children after the wedding ceremony. It must be an answer to the prayers offered in the marriage ceremony. Now I smile about it and consider it one of my embarrassing stories.
I was one of the bridesmaids at my uncle's wedding to my cousin. After seeing them, a happy young couple, the thought of mortality crossed my mind, that one day they too would have to die. I must have been eight years old. I began to realize that we all have to die one day, and I thought, 'That means nothing in this world is worth doing.'
I was thinking about these questions. Slowly but surely, the meaning of life became clear through teaching and learning from the scriptures in Sunday School. I understood that God's love shown to the world in Jesus Christ gave me the assurance that death would not rule me and that after death I will live with Jesus forever through His sacrifice on the cross for me, His blood is sufficient for me. cleanse from my sins.
I must have been about nine years old, three years after my mother died, when I realized that this whole experience of growing up without a mother was not natural. It felt like a rough start in life, and I always felt kind of empty inside. Perhaps this left me with a sense of foreboding in life, as if something important was missing. It made me grow up fast and my prayers always go out to the children of the world for a safe and loving home to create.
While my cousins had their mothers with them, I often had the recurring question of why this had to happen to me.
I grew up not knowing what a mother's love is like. Mother's Sunday has always had mixed feelings for me, I couldn't relate to having a mother, although our stepmother did her best to play her part. But now, through relationships with my own children, I feel like I can be more of a part of that party. Furthermore, my Christian faith assures me that God is both my mother and my father. He loves me far more than my earthly mother could love (Isaiah 49:15) and he can fill in any gap in my life. I know he's always been there for me no matter what I've been through in the past.
As the eldest child, I was expected to behave well, be good at life, and be a role model for my younger siblings. Though I failed many times, in the grace of God, He was there every step of the way to lift me up.
My primary education was at a church school where daily meetings and a period of Christian study enriched my life. All the teachers were of the Christian faith and they always asked me to share Bible stories in front of the class. Unlike previous years, Muslim students enjoyed learning the scriptures with us.
On a results day at the end of the year, the director's speech impressed me a lot. She said something about how our findings were consistent with the work we've done over the year and nothing can be changed now. I was worried about the idea that it might not go well and I promised myself that starting next year I would work hard all year round. I was relieved to hear that I had passed my exams and kept my promise to always work hard. From this incident I learned that our lives do not consist of experiencing separate isolated events and then simply forgetting about the past; Rather, all of life's events are interconnected, and God intends for us to live life as a whole and complete the journey.
My school was a kilometer from home. The idea of walking back and forth alone scares me now, but back then it was much safer to do so. Later, when I was in high school, I remember riding in a simple horse-drawn carriage known as a horse-drawn carriage along with other students.Tonga. This led to some funny incidents! Sometimes the horse would stumble and those in front had no safety bar to hold on to or a safety harness to lean forward. On the contrary, the people in the background rose into the air! When I think back, it was really scary, but that was the most common and cheapest way to travel back then.
It became difficult for the grandmother to take care of us. About four years after my mother's death, at Dada's insistence, my father remarried; I was about ten years old then. He and his new wife settled in Haripur Hazara with my three younger brothers, leaving my sister and me with our grandparents. We visited them with Dada during the summer break and our cousins from Lahore joined us. Here I remember our aunt taught us a little prayer to say before eating. We all remember and pass it down to our grandchildren as well.
I have lasting memories of distant hills in front of our condo and beautiful weather with cool breezes in hot summers. Haripur Hazara is also known as the birthplace of our former President Ayyub Khan.
The memories of this place, the calm and pleasant environment, the time to play with friends are very fresh in my memory. Our house had a large front yard where my father pursued his hobby of gardening and had a vegetable garden and we ate fresh organic fruits and vegetables on our visits. Beautiful colorful flowers grew on the other side of the house.
My grandmother and my aunts inspired me to sew and knit. We had to wear cardigans and that encouraged me to learn to knit for myself and my brothers too. Most of my cooking skills and advice came from my father, who cooked for us and gave us helpful advice. And when I developed a passion for gardening I could easily attribute it to my father's influence, not knowing at the time how important this analogy with seeds would become; it would become part of my belief.