Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tribute by Rev.Dr.Henry Joseph - Chairman, Chennai Full Gospel Ministers Fellowship

I am happy to send my greetings on the occasion of the Birth Centenary of Pastor John Vasu and the Platinum Jubilee of the Madras Pentecostal Assembly .I praise God for the life and ministry of Pastor John Vasu which had a great impact on my life.


In the early 1940's Pastor John Vasu was the only Pentecostal leader who would invite many powerful international preachers and conduct large public meetings which were mostly held in the Egmore tram shed grounds ( where the periyar thidal is now situated ) . I had the opportunity in those days to speak in many Pentecostal and non-pentecostal churches including mainline churches. On one such occasion I was invited to preach at MPA church at Royapettah. In this service I had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Pastor John Vasu. From that moment onwards I developed an intimate relationship with Pastor John Vasu.

Thereafter whenever Pastor John Vasu invited overseas speakers and organised big public meetings for them , I used to assist him in organising those meetings. Those big conventions were major events in those days in which all the pentecostal churches would join together to make it a grand success.I was working in the Accountant General Office at that time . During the interval time at the office , Pastor John Vasu would come to my office at Teynampet in his car and we would sit in his car and discuss matters regarding organising meetings and conventions involving all the pentecostal churches.


One very unforgettable event which I cannot afford to miss and must leave on record happened during one of those big conventions that Pastor John Vasu had organised. It was a massive meeting involving all the pentecostal churches held in the Egmore tram shed grounds. There was a powerful international preacher from U.S.A who was ministering in that meeting. On the last day of the meeting towards the end of the service , the preacher announced that he would pray a special prayer for those who needed guidance from the Lord regarding their future life and ministry. A large group of people gathered at the altar in response to the invitation of the preacher.

Pastor John Vasu who was the chairman of the meeting was seated on the stage. As I was assisting him in organising that meeting , I had all the files and account books regarding the expenses of the meetings. I took these files and account books to Pastor John Vasu for his signature as we had to close the accounts. Pastor John Vasu took all the books and files from me and placed them by his side and told me ' Bro.Henry , the man of God is praying for the people and the Lord is revealing many things about their life . You also go and join them in prayer as the Lord may speak to you '.

I immediately obeyed and went and knelt down in prayer along with the others. The preacher came and laid hands on me and began to prophesy about what the Lord wanted to do through my life and the ministry that the Lord wanted me to do. I was thrilled by the revelations that the Lord gave me that day. It was a turning point in my life. A few years later the Lord confirmed that prophesy through another servant of God from West Bengal who repeated verbatim the exact prophecy that was given to me by the American preacher. I was deeply humbled by this experience and it established the future direction of my life and ministry.


In those days just as Jerusalem served as the headquarters of the early church , Chennai also appeared as a spiritual capital for the pentecostal churches. In particular the Madras Pentecostal Assembly started in Royapettah by Pastor Jacob and Pastor John Vasu. The Church of God started by Pastor Kuruvilla and followed by Pastor M.Benjamin, The Assembly of God church started at Chetpet by Pastor Moses , The Apostolic Christian Assembly started at Purasawakkam by Pastor G.Sundaram, The National Revival Crusade started at Otteri by Pastor Upham from New Zealand and continued by Manuvel Prasangiar and Pastor Otteri Prabhudoss, and several others were noteworthy in the early days of the pentecostal movement in Chennai.

As the pentecostal preachers and churches began to increase , some of us began to feel the need of unity among the pastors and churches . Three of us namely Mr. Kuttralam Pillai ,Pastor Otteri Prabhudoss and myself went to meet first with Pastor John Vasu. We obtained consent from him to invite all the pastors for an evening of tea and fellowship.

In those days the spirit filled pastors preferred to work individually and were not eager to associate with other ministers. It was difficult to think about bringing them under a single umbrella.When the pastors first met in this meeting , they sat silently without mingling freely with one another. It was a tense moment in a surcharged atmosphere.

However soon the Holy Spirit began to move on everyone and the meeting which began with a sense of uneasiness soon began to come alive with loud cries and prayers unto God along with voices of praise. After this session of prayer and praise the whole atmosphere was changed and Pastor John Vasu rose to address the pastors with a short exhortation.

Pastor John Vasu gave three suggestions which could help the fellowship among the pastors to be strengthened.

1. The Pastors should be willing to forget any past bitter experiences with each other and bury their differences.

2. The Pastors should avoid speaking ill of other Pastors behind their backs and instead approach the concerned individuals directly and clear any misunderstandings.

3.The Pastors should have unity in essentials and liberty in non-essentials. They should insist on unity as far as the fundamental doctrines of salvation , baptism , holiness etc. However they should allow freeedom for individual churches to follow their convictions in peripheral and non-essential issues.

After this address by Pastor John Vasu the pastors present in the meeting desired that this meeting should not end as a one day affair but should continue as a regular fellowship and be a blessing to all. Thus they elected office bearers for the fellowship.The fellowship was named Chennai Pentecostal Fellowship and Pastor John Vasu was chosen as the President of this fellowship. He was assisted by two secretaries namely Pastor P.S.Chelladurai and myself. Thus the first fellowship meeting ended on a blessed note.


Pastor John Vasu was a quiet and soft spoken person and a man of few words. His wife Mrs. Kirubai Vasu was also the same although she was a highly qualified person. Once there was a meeting at MPA Church for all pentecostal pastors and leaders to discuss matters relating to the growth and expansion of the pentecostal churches. The meeting was chaired by Pastor John Vasu and attended by many pastors and their wives. During the course of the meeting Mrs.Kirubai Vasu rose and requested permission from the chairman to express her view on a particular matter. Immediately a missionary from U.K who was present at the meeting raised an objection saying that the bible does not allow a woman to speak in the church. The entire audience was shocked at this blunt outburst by the foreign missionary which could be considered as a public insult to the chairman's wife who was a highly educated lady . The entire congregation was waiting tensely for the reaction of Pastor John Vasu.

Pastor John Vasu did not get upset at this development. He simply smiled and nodded at his wife to sit down which she did in a good spirit and Pastor John Vasu then gently announced that we will continue the meeting. This made a great impact on the congregation . What could have become an ugly incident ruining the whole meeting was handled by Pastor John vasu with great wisdom and sagacity. This was the kind of leadership qualities that Pastor John Vasu possessed. I learnt a lot from him about the practical spiritual life which we should observe in our daily walk.


The time was coming when the Lord would call me to serve him full time. I had worked for 17 years from 1943-60 in the state and central government of India. One day I received a letter from England from the dean of the International Bible Training Institute (IBTI) located in Burgess Hill , Sussex ,England. The letter informed me that I had been selected as a full time residential student for 2 years for training in ministry with full scholarship which meant that the entire education for 2 years was completely free of cost. In the letter ,the dean had urged me to join as early as possible . I was totally shocked and did not understand what was happening as I had not applied to any bible college. I kept the letter in my pocket for two weeks. I was perplexed not knowing what to do next.

One day I met Pastor John Vasu in a convention meeting in a pentecostal church in which he was the speaker. After the service he asked me if I had received any letter from England. I was stunned for a moment and slowly learnt the truth about the matter. Pastor John Vasu informed me that he had written to his close friend Rev.Donald Gee, who was the chairman of the British Assemblies of God and a visiting senior lecturer at the International Bible Training Institute , recommending me for admission there. That was how I went to study in the Bible School in England.

When I was in Bible School in England , Pastor John Vasu , who was visiting many countries in Europe at that time , came to England and came all the way to International Bible Training Institute just to see me and spent two days with me at the Institute. We went on a tour of London together and had a wonderful time of fellowship. After spending two days with me , he bid farewell to me and left and that was last time I saw him alive. When I returned to India after my training , he had already gone to be with the Lord , his Eternal Father.


I had the opportunity to spend time with Pastor John Vasu on many occasions and once while we were talking together at the MPA church , Pastor John Vasu pointed out his son Prabhudoss to me and asked me to remember him in prayer as he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and serve the Lord in the ministry.

After I returned to India from England , Pastor Prabhudoss Vasu , the son of Pastor John Vasu become close to me . After a few years of ministry , he told me one day that he would like to study in a bible college for 2 years and asked me if I could recommend him to the same bible college that I had studied. So I did what he requested and Pastor Prabhudoss Vasu went to England and studied at the International Bible Training Institute . After his studies he returned to India and served the Lord in the ministry for a total of 33 years before he went to be with the Lord. He has now joined his father in glory land.

On this occasion I pray for God's blessings to rest upon Pastor Stanley Vasu and the entire family as they continue to serve the Lord and may the Lord bless the ministry of the Madras Pentecostal Assembly and use it for the expansion of the Kingdom of God until the coming of the Lord. Maranatha.

Rev.Dr.Henry Joseph

Chairman - Chennai Full Gospel Ministers Fellowship

Founder - Maranatha Ministries.

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