A young boy encountered the Lord Jesus one night in his dormitory and his life was never the same again. This boy grew up in a Hindu home and followed the faith of his ancestors. He grew up doing all that was necessary to be a good Hindu person. His father sent him to a Christian school to get a good education making him promise that he will not have anything to do with the ‘white man’s religion’ (Christianity). Of course, this boy would never want to have anything to do with another religion as he was a staunch Hindu.
One night he experienced a deep restlessness in his spirit and could not sleep. He got out of his bed and went to his desk and pulled out a book to read. It happened to be a Bible! It fell open to Isaiah chapter 53. He read and was gripped by God’s great love that caused Him to suffer a terrible death. The gospel message was not new to this boy as he heard chapel messages and stories of Jesus in his classes, but it did not mean anything to him then.
But this night was different. He realised that Isaiah 53 was talking about Jesus Christ but did not fully understand the passage. God gave him 2 visions: the first was about his sinful life and all the wrong things he had committed. The second was the vision of Jesus on the cross, dying for every one of the sins he had committed! This was the turning point for this young lad. He experienced love and peace for the first time because the risen Christ he saw was a God who loved and cared for him like no other family member could.
This was the start of a new journey and this lad would face many setbacks for his faith. His relationship with Jesus changed his life radically and God gave him a new purpose in life. This purpose was clarified through yet another vision that he received as a young adult.
In this vision, the risen Christ commissioned him to become His ambassador to his own people. He heeded this call and eventually became an evangelist. This person was Dr G D James, the founder of Asia Evangelistic Fellowship International (AEFI), and my beloved father! This year is the 60th anniversary of the AEF, with ministries extending to different parts of Asia. The ministry of AEFI is to train and empower nationals in their own countries and to take the gospel to their own people. This was the heartbeat of GD James who himself demonstrated this truth among his own people. He continued to be God’s ambassador to the ends of the earth where hundreds of people from different nations and people groups came to encounter the same risen Christ, just as he did.
Some 60 years ago, at one of these evangelistic meetings, I received Jesus into my life and became a new creation in Christ Jesus! I thank God that my father preached the gospel not only to other people but also to his family. God used G D James to impact my life and ministry and I am grateful for his legacy.
Upon reflection of my father, I was led to the book of John. Jesus had just been crucified and it was the third day. The disciples were paralysed with fear and they huddled together behind closed doors in one place. Their master was killed, and they could be next. Then Jesus appeared suddenly! They thought it was a ghost! But Jesus declared peace to them and showed them His nail-pierced hands, and the disciples were glad as they recognized their Lord! Then Jesus greeted them again with his this:
Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you (verse 21). After this Jesus breathed on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.
What did Jesus mean? We know that no one can forgive sins except God. Jesus poured his breath into the disciples and gave them spiritual life in Christ. (The first time God poured his breath into Adam in the Garden of Eden, when Adam received physical life). Jesus empowered his disciples with His Spirit and thrust them forth to be his ambassadors to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). They were to continue the work that Jesus had begun by proclaiming the message of love, forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to the holy God. We cannot forgive anyone’s sins but our responsibility is to declare the promise of God’s Word - that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)!
G D James was given that same ministry some 80 years ago. He never looked back. He suffered many obstacles and challenges, grievous accusations and even faced death but he soldiered on because he experienced the grace and the power of God in his weak body. He served his Lord for over 65 years till he was called home to his Father-God.
During this unprecedented time in our history, we may be gripped by fear of the unknown. Only God’s peace can dispel all fear and only his Spirit can transform and empower us to do exploits for Him and His eternal kingdom.
Like everyone else, each of us has only one life and this will pass away one. Only what we do for Christ will truly last for eternity. This same Jesus who first called his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, who called G D James to go to his people (the Asians) and beyond, is calling you to himself. He wants you to have a true and meaningful relationship with Him, and to make your life count for eternity.
Margaret Clarkson was deeply moved by the words of Jesus from John 20:19-23 and was inspired to write a hymn entitled So Send I You. I close with her last stanza from her 1963 edition.
So send I you to take to souls in bondage,
The word of truth that sets the captives free,
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death’s fetters,
So send I you, to bring the lost to You.