APPACHEN -A PASSIONATE AND COMPASSIONATE MAN OF GOD
Ms. Shirley Chacko
This was a short simple gospel message that appachen printed with a rubber stamp and handed out to people on the bus, streets and everywhere he could spread the salvation message. He practiced and led an exemplary life of “no supper without evangelization”. Two hours before supper each day, I would find appachen at the front gate of our home in Secunderabad distributing the above gospel tracts to those who were walking on the street. Over the years, due to excess use and wear and tear of the rubber stamp, the period or full stop after the word –“world” in the tract was no longer visible when printed. Appachen was a perfectionist and I vividly remember spending several evenings, correcting hundreds of these printed tracts with a blue ink pen. Almost 33 years have gone by and I recollect an evening when I was upset and felt that appachen was wasting my precious playing time with friends and wondered why he could not get a new rubber stamp made that was perfect and legible and save me from all the extra work!!
There are many aspects that come to mind about my dear appachen, but in a photographic flashback, I would like to highlight some aspects that he taught me to – thrive in life and ministry and not just survive.
As a kid growing up in Secunderabad, I often focused on my own needs and myself – but appachen in his simple way of making me correct the printed tracts, taught me to refocus from the inward to the outward. He was passionate about Christ and about sharing the love of Christ for people. Appachen truly understood God’s love and was a practical example of the greatest commandment – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…. You shall love your neighbor as yourself “. Because appachen thoroughly understood God’s love, he was burdened to share this great love with neighbors and friends. Loving his neighbors, friends and people on the street was a lifestyle for appachen – not just a one-time deal. His compassion and love for lost souls was contagious and I am so thankful for the mentoring role that appachen had in my life.
Appachen was not a discriminator of people. He visited the rich in their huge homes and the poor people in their mud huts and shared the gospel with both. While the educated were given tracts and material to read, the uneducated had the privilege of receiving the artistic talents of appachen. He would draw and illustrate the bible stories to them on paper or use a stick to draw on the ground and explain the gospel message. He was an intentional man in his methods of teaching. He only said what was necessary and followed the example of Christ. He had a meaning to every sentence and story that was narrated.
Two years before I was born, secunderabad ammachi passed away in 1964. Although I never met ammachi on this earth, I know that I will meet her up in our eternal home. Appachen always told me that though ammachi is in her eternal home, she has only changed her address. Appachen always talked lovingly about ammachi and cherished her memories during the time that he was alone from 1964 to 1989. I had the wonderful privilege of growing up with appachen and when I turned 13 years old, my mom had to take voluntary retirement from her teaching career and join my dad at Kumbanad, Kerala. From the year 1980 to August 24, 1989, I had the honor and privilege of taking care of appachen and the household responsibilities.
During this period in my life I have learnt many valuable lessons from appachen and as I recollect, appachen was a compassionate mentor and taught several evangelists the English language and proper communication in evangelizing. The word 'development' was an ongoing process for appachen and he constantly taught those around him on how to improve themselves in every area of their lives. James 1:4 –5 says, “Let endurance have its full effect, so that you be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God.”.
Appachen was a firm believer of making conscious choices and disciplines in his life. He made a conscious choice to study the word of God thoroughly. He always taught the younger evangelists to be equipped with tools and resources for ministry and encouraged them to be prepared in season and out of season. He practiced the saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and as his granddaughter, I am proud to say that I have inherited this discipline from him. Cleanliness was not just evident in his personal hygiene or surroundings, but was very strongly carried out at the dinner table. Appachen taught us kids to chew our food with our mouths closed and to use our fingers to pick up our food and eat. After we were done eating he asked us to show him our hands and he checked to see if our palms were messy or clean!!
In the midst of a busy life and schedule, appachen chose to focus and prioritize his life. He focused on the important things and cropped out the many unnecessary things that came his way. Appachen never got carried away with the riches of the world and the comforts of life. He had several opportunities to excel himself in the material aspects, but he chose to remain humble. His deep and strong passion for lost souls kept him obedient to the purpose that he was called to be. However, appachen never limited his vision or his mission.
Appachen had a sincere passion for the lost and over the years he just learned to love and accept people even if they refused to accept Christ. He was an encourager and always did his best to enhance others and bring out the best in them. He was very particular about his dealings with others and especially how he interacted with those in our neighborhood. During the years of 1981-1989, we had some awesome neighbors – the Nookla family. Uncle Nookla is a famous classical singer. His children and I have been and continue to be good friends. However, uncle Nookla was a very pious hindu man and I remember there were several times he got upset during the Sunday worship services when the worship got loud. He would come out of his home, knock on the windows of the church and tell us to lower our voices. Appachen’s answer to him was always firm yet loving.
I had the privilege of visiting uncle Nookla in July 2007 when I was in Secunderabad after 18 years. Currently he is 81 years old and as we chatted, uncle Nookla reminisced on the good old days when Appachen was alive. He stated,” I have never seen a Christian like Pastor Chacko who was so persistent and passionate about his faith and I really appreciated his loving and encouraging nature”. This statement brought such joy to my heart and reinforced in me that appachen truly loved those who were not Christians. It’s easy for present day generation Christians to get along really well with like-minded Christians who hold similar values and status in society. But, appachen was a perfect example of his motto - to love all kinds of people, as Christ wanted him to love them. Thank you dear appachen, for being a role model for me in this area of life.
Proverbs 13:22 say, “Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren….”. Appachen has left a tremendous, unique inheritance for us his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My prayer is that as a family – my husband Vijai, my son Joshua and I will continue to follow appachen’s example and carry on the legacy that he has left behind. I pray that we will be found faithful in living passionate and compassionate lives and be a true witness for Christ in a world that desperately needs HIM.