A Wake Up Call for the Daughters
Ms. Alice Paul
It’s been two millenniums since the birth of Christianity and history witnessed thousands of women giving their lives, toiling, and even becoming martyrs for the Lord. The contributions of these dedicated women for the building of the church of God can never be underestimated. The advancement of the Kingdom in many places happened because of the selfless and sacrificial service of women. They have never stopped responding to the call of God. Only in recent times bold steps have taken by few writers to consider a research of the contributions of women to Christendom.
A careful study of the Pentecostal history too will prove the fact that women were instrumental in bringing about revival and restoration in many parts of the world. They dared to be pioneer missionaries, medical doctors, language teachers through which they sought to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Indian Pentecostal Church of God had many such women who have toiled in a number of ways for the foundation and the growth of the IPC. It is obvious that none of these great women of God expected any recognition or appreciation; rather they did everything that they could within their limitation for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom. The intention of this write up is to point out what God’s chosen women have accomplished working shoulder to shoulder with men in the past so that an overview of their contribution can motivate today’s women to respond to God’s call in their lives and accomplish His purposes. Although the information available is very limited, their challenging experiences can surely spark a fire in our hearts.
Mrs. Annamma Abraham - The “Hebron Ammachi”
It is not an exaggeration to say that Mrs. Annamma Abraham, known as “Hebron ammachi” was one of the pillars of the Indian Pentecostal church of God. She was born into a traditional Syrian Jacobite family. In 1921, while she was working as an elementary school teacher at Thatta, K.E. Abraham married her. Pastor Abraham anticipating to enter into fulltime ministry had told her about his plan and asked if she was willing to take up the challenges of ministry and the possibility of suffering. She joyfully agreed to do God’s will even if that involved starvation and suffering. After a year of their marriage, she resigned her job and helped Pastor Abraham in ministry. She believed, more than anything, in a life that demonstrated Christ’s character. Her sacrificial giving, caring and godly living had attracted numerous people to Pentecostal faith and led some to ministry.
Annamma was known for her hospitality. she welcomed everyone with love and respect. No wonder Anne, her granddaughter records in her memories of grandmother the words of Archbishop Benedict who once visited and received a warm welcome and treat from her grandparents. He said, “Pastor Abraham, your wife is the main reason of your successful ministry”. She was compassionate and loving to all those came across her. Even the nonbelievers in the surroundings witness her Christ-like character. She kept a good testimony in and outside of the church. She had contributed to the church as a prayer warrior, Sunday school teacher, and motivator of many young people who in turn gave their lives to the Lord and some became full time ministers. Her involvement with the women marked the establishment of the Bible school for women which clearly reveals her desire and vision of involving and training women in ministry. It paved the way for many hesitant women to boldly commit their lives for ministry. Within the limits of the ethos of the church Mrs. Annamma did her best for the upliftment of women encouraging them to respond to God’s call. In the pursuit of her calling she not only faced a lot of struggles and starvation but also experienced God’s faithfulness and love through the testing times.
Mrs. Annamma continued to be an active support for IPC even after the demise of Pastor. K.E. Abraham. She served as the president of IPC Kerala women’s fellowship, organized camps and special meetings in different parts of Kerala. The places where she was not able to go personally she sent people to enquire about the work and its progress in other places. Her primary concern was always the well being of the church. Annamma’s son Pastor T.S. Abraham in his book The brief history of Indian Pentecostal Church of God wrote that she cared for the IPC, like her own family. Mrs. Abraham was promoted to Glory on May 31, 1980. The Indian Pentecostal church of God will always cherish the memories and contributions of this great woman.
Annamma Mammen – The Bold Soldier
From the early days of the establishment of IPC many single women also dedicated themselves for serving the Lord. Miss. Annamma Mammen was prominent among them who stood in the frontline of ministry.
Annamma was born in 1914 to Kochuparambil K.M. Mammen and Mariamma Mammen. She was brought up in a strict and strong Marthomite tradition. After high school, she completed a teachers’ training course and took up her career as a school teacher. While teaching in the school, found time to tell others about Christ. Pastor K.E. Abraham notes of a revival that took place at the end of 1104 (Malayalam year) in his book on the beginning years of IPC, during which Annamma Mammen accepted Christ and was baptized. She obeyed God’s calling for ministry in 1930 at the age of sixteen. Regardless of the severe opposition of her family, in 1936, she resigned her job and went to Elluru along with Pastor P.T. Chacko and family, who was her cousin.
Annamma travelled through many places in Andhra Pradesh and north India proclaiming the Gospel. She visited several foreign countries and was powerfully used by the Lord. She was a gifted song-writer. Many songs written were from her own challenging life experiences. They are inspiring and powerful and are used in today. She was able to speak multiple languages and the Lord has used her to train many powerful soldiers for His Kingdom. She was very supportive to the single women who committed themselves to full time ministry. She extended financial help to the IPC sangetham in the early days. Her compassion for the destitute, concern for the homeless and care for even those who persecuted her is noteworthy. Annamma had no desire for earthly blessings but was passionate about Christ and his cause and was sold out to him. The Pentecostal churches, especially IPC, did benefit from her remarkable services to the Kingdom. After completing the race she went to be with the Lord on 21st November 2002.
Thangamma Varghese – The Fearless Pioneer
Thangamma* was the firstborn of a Christian couple, K.M. Varghese and Mariamma Varghese and was brought up in strict Jacobite tradition. She got married to Varghese when she was eighteen. Attending the revival meetings that took place in the fifties in Kottayam, Thangamma made the bold decision of leaving the traditional church and accepting the Pentecostal faith. She was diagnosed with cancer but was not willing to take any treatment. She was healed miraculously and later many were healed through her prayers.
Thangamma and her husband felt called for ministry in Malabar, hence they left their home to become one of the pioneer Pentecostal missionary families in Malabar. There was not even a single believer when they reached Kalladikodu, where they pioneer a new church. Binoy Eapen comments that Mrs. Thangamma started to share her life experiences and the Gospel with the people, visiting each house and as a result the church began to grow.
They have also pioneered work in Karimba and Mannarkadu and again according to Eapen it was the tireless effort and passionate witnessing of Mrs. Thangamma that resulted in the success of ministry. She was a strong and consistent prayer warrior. People who were delivered or healed through her prayer became strong in their faith and some committed their lives for full time ministry. She held leadership positions among sisters of IPC and motivated many young people for godly living and for ministry, accepted everyone regardless of caste or status, and cared for the needy and homeless. On 23rd July 2005 she reached her eternal home after accomplishing the Master’s purpose for her life here on earth.
Mrs. Annamma Chacko & Mrs. Mary Abraham – The “Eunice and Lois” of IPC
Paul writes to Timothy about his grandmother and mother who were influential in building sincere faith in him. This can said about Mrs. Annamma Chacko who went along with her husband P.T. Chacko to pioneer IPC work in Andhra as well as about Mrs. Mary Abraham who actively served the Lord in Andhra and in Kerala. They both have passed down the “sincere faith” not only to their own children but to numerous spiritual sons and daughters.
Mrs. Annamma Chacko and her family went to AP as pioneering missionaries in 1936. In spite of the many struggles, persecution and starvation they faced they have faithfully fulfilled God’s call on their lives. Mrs. Annamma diligently brought their children up to serve the Lord. She was a prayer warrior, preached to the women in English and in Telugu. Her home was opened for anyone regardless of their background. The demonstration of true love and service has won many followers to Christ. Pastor P.L.Paramjyothi and several others were saved through their ministry.
Mrs. Mary Abraham surely had the influence of her mother in loving the Lord and living out the faith. Her father too always motivated her to read missionary biographies and encouraged her to be involved in ministry. From early childhood she exhibited exemplary Christian character and love for the lord. After the completion of her studies she took up the job as a teacher in Andhra Pradesh. She participated in ministry beginning as a Sunday school teacher and translator. She translated the messages of the visiting pastors from English and Malayalam to Telugu. Sunday evenings she used to teach Bible lessons to the Hindu children.
Mary’s marriage to T.S. Abraham gave her even broader opportunity for ministry. Although Mary was a strong pillar of support for the long successful years of ministry of Pastor T. S. Abraham she was never confined to the supporting ministry, rather was directly involved in many ways. Aleyamma her younger sister recalls in the biography of Pastor T.S. & Mary Abraham that there is hardly any place in Elluru and nearby towns where Mary has not preached or translated messages. Friday was public holiday in Hyderabad since the royal family was Muslims. Mary worked for the Lord in a place named Budhidhigatha. She took bible studies for women and children there. She became an education officer in the twin city of Hyderabad-Secunderabad, who was responsible for hundred and six schools. Yet, she found time to visit the ministers, the sick and needy after her demanding job.
After the demise of Hebron “ammachi”,
Mrs. Mary Abraham came to Hebron Kumbanadu to live there permanently. She took up the responsibility of the Bible College and became instrumental in shaping many young men and women for the service of the Lord. Just as Mrs. Annamma Abraham was called “ammachi” by others, Mrs. Mary was addressed as “mummy”. She really did mentor many as her own children. She was a hard working person who always insisted the students to work diligently and encouraged them to work as if unto the Lord. As one of her former student the writer personally has seen her exhibiting the extra-ordinary characteristics of a godly woman. One could never see a shadow of laziness in her; in fact she didn’t tolerate laziness. She wanted her students and all those who worked with her to be accountable men & women of integrity. She was very punctual. There was regular time set apart for prayer and everybody knew that her door wouldn’t open for that 1 ½ to 2 hours. She kept in touch with and prayed for the Bible college alumni who are in the different mission fields especially those who were outside of Kerala. Hospitality was another good quality she maintained and taught her students. She had constantly motivated the female students to use their talents and learn from the Biblical women characters. Her contribution specifically of training young people for ministry has benefitted IPC the most.
This mother and daughter carried the torch and made deliberate attempt to spread the fire of the Holy Spirit wherever God sent them. They both have contributed greatly for the growth and expansion of IPC in Kerala and in Andhra Pradesh. There are certainly a lot of other women who contributed to the establishment, growth and expansion of IPC. There are inspiring stories of those who are actively working now for the welfare of the church and society equally or more. Their effort and service are commendable yet space does not permit mentioning their names here. It is to note here that women’s contribution to ministry is an unavoidable factor for the existence and expansion of the church whether one agrees it or not. The advancement of Christianity as the number one world religion was not without the efforts of women; equally so the advancement of IPC. It involved the sacrificial and cheerful service of hundreds of women. In the early days they toiled, sacrificed and they achieved a lot with all the limited resources. How much more can be done by women with the advantage of the advanced technology, economy and also many other conveniences available today? Nevertheless, Indian missions faces a decrease in missionary going from the south to north. No, we cannot ignore the call, nor can we close our eyes to the unreached areas of our nation. It is surely a wake-up call for the daughters of the church to rise up and respond to the call of God. Let us learn from our mothers! Also, it is a reminder for the body of Christ that it should keep encouraging its daughters to fulfill God’s call on their lives. Without their active participation it may be impossible fulfill the Great Commission in our nation.