II. HISTORY OF THE BIBLE MISSION: EARLY
LATER AND PRESENT.
(A) The Early history of ‘the Bible Mission’ :
For the convenience of the reader, we have organized the Bible Mission history in three phases. They are : The
Early, the Later and the Present history of the Bible Mission. When Father Devadas began preaching about
1)The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, 2) The gift of tongues, 3) The gift of visions, 4) Divine healing, 5) Castingout demons,
6) The Rapture & 7) Waiting (for the Lord’s revelation);
there came a great uproar from the leaders of the Lutheran Mission. When asked why he is teaching them, (since they do not conform to the Lutheran doctrines) he said that, the reason they are in the Bible, he is teaching them to the public. Yet, the elders of the mission forbade him teaching them.This is the time Lord is looking for, to reveal His “Bible Mission” to this great man of God.
(1) The Revelation :
On 31st January of 1938, at about 3:00 p.m, when Father Devadas sat in prayer, a great lustre from heaven filled his room. In that he saw the golden letters in Telugu, “The Bible Mission.” Then the Lord told him to start His mission with His given principles & practices with His constant fellowship. Though Fr. Devadas was 90yrs old at that time he obliged to God’s revelation and started the mission having kept the Lord as the sole leader, guide, Patron and incharge of it. He said “It is not my mission or India’s mission, but the mission of the Lord. And He alone must run, cater, provide and develop His mission. With this staunch faith he started the Bible mission in Andhra Pradesh,
(2) The Founding :
Father Devadas established the Bible mission on May 5th 1938, with a very limited number of followers. (It is the Lord’s commission that the Bible mission should not depend on the foreign aid in any form.) Even those who loved him very much rejected him, on the pretext of the Bible mission. Mere faith alone is the sole base for him and the evangelists who work in this mission. This is the base of his faith: “The Bible Mission is not born out of human efforts but of God, the Almighty. His main ministry is in form of printing gospel tracts and distributing them among various caste Hindus. He also used ‘ a kind of local made trumpet’, which is named as ‘The voice of Maranatha” to preach the gospel in popular indigenous forms which appeal to all sections of people alike. Thus, he founded the mission on mere faith lines without fixing regular renumeration for his workers.
(3) Early hardships :
The followers of Bible mission suffered greater hardships or their faith during their early years. Many people, who became a part of Bible Mission, were socially boycotted from their villages. They were not allowed to take water from the village ponds. They were not sold any commodities. They were not allowed in Church buildings for any marriage functions and social get-to-gathers. They were not given work in the fields. All these, come from the local Christians. Because, the some of the believers of this mission, belong to other denominations primarily, Lutheran. This paved the way for the mission to penetrate among the Hindus who were convinced by the liberal theology of Father Devadas. As it is the message from the life of Father Devadas, that hardships are the royal cab of glory, the early followers felt it as a privilege to suffer for their mission. Even, they did not complain of their troubles.
(4) New Challenges :
Both the Pastor and the Church suffered alike in the early days of the mission. As the Church members were put to all sorts of restrictions, some of them withdrew from the Bible Mission. In some places the Bible mission churches were almost on the verge of extinction. Yet, they sprouted again in course of time. As the workers didn’t have constant income and fixed salary, these conditions augmented their woes further. To cope up with this situation was really a challenging for the workers to continue their ministry in the Bible Mission. Many believers sold their lands and properties for supporting their mission workers. The Christian leaders of other denominations had made it their mandate to debase and throw false allegations on the Bible Mission and its workers. They claimed that Father Devadas was a ‘false Prophet’ and the Bible Mission which was revealed in midair, would seen be mixed up in ether and would be no more after his death. But it is the promise of the Lord that the Bible Mission shall reach all the places where ever the air can penetrate. Creating faith in the Bible Mission among the Christians and the fresh converts was the other tough challenge, the mission had faced. The following lines are the only answer for all the challenges and woes of the Bible Mission.
1) “Thou hast established” – Thou wilt provide;
2) Thou hast established – Thou wilt Prosper.
3) Thou hast established – Thou wilt lead and guide.
(5) Turning Points :
In course of asserting itself in the main stream of Christianity, the Bible Mission has witnessed many turning points. The peculiar principles introduced by Fr. Devadas, formed majority of them. Since there are no fixed salaries for the workers, they always looked to Jesus for any small help they are at need. This formed the solid base for their life of faith which anchored them to the Lord against all tempests of this world. This was led to the futher mission expansion. The Special Bible clases conducted by him gathered all the workers and enriched their understanding and experience on the themes of faith, hope, witness, endurance and so on. Since the Biblical teaching had its deep penetration into the mindset of the workers, their commitment to ministry became solid and lasting. The special meetings for the anointment of the Holy Spirit are very crucial in the Early history of the mission. The healing campaigns paved the way for the people to come in and the Holy spirit anointment meetings established them in the mission as staunch believers and later turned them into faithful workers. This was how the early days of Bible Mission were in terms of its founding and standing.
(B) The Later History of the Bible Mission :
This phase witnessed some amount of steady progress in the mission’s struggle to assert itself on par with the others by the efficient measures taken up by Father Devadas with the help of some resourceful people at his disposal. Firstly, he registered his mission and then, started certain healing centres and framed the executive body and so on.
1) Rajahmundry to Guntur :
Due to the separatist turmoil at Rajahmundry, he had to leave that place. In that sojournment, he came to prathipadu and started a healing centre thrse. From there he came to Elur and finally to Guntur on 15th February 1949. This event had turned the course of Bible Mission’s history. In Guntur he came to “Bethel House”, the residence of Rao Bahadur J. Raja Rao who voluntarily invited him to be there. Here Fr. Devadas saw a written vision on which was mentioned: “Lord, Jehova had brought you to this place.” This vision was fulfilled in course of 12 years, which he spent there, explaining the meaning of ‘The Song of Songs’ and “The Book of Revelation.’ This place witnessed the growth of the mission and the fulfillment of Fr. Devadas’ vision.
2) Proper registration :
Guntur became the centre of the Bible Mission and its main network. The fulness of the mission is slowly seen here. Here, Fr. Devadas started his famous healing centre at Kakani, near Guntur on ‘Monday’ the 16th of May 1949. Since then he concentrated on the ecumenical character of the mission and published at least 40 new books on various new themes, concepts and practices of Christian life in the Bible Mission. At last, nearly after a full decade of growth and stability of the mission at Guntur, he registered his God revealed mission, according to His original revelation, as “The Bible Mission” in 1959, July 22nd. Then he praised God saying, “Lord, by now, I could able to set up your mission in the manner. Thou hast revealed me.”
3) First Executive :
After proper registration, Fr. Devadas nominated four of his senior Reverends and as the President, Vice-President, Secretary and Joint Secretary. When asked about his becoming the first President of the mission, he calmly remarked that He was just the first member of the Bible Mission and that He is only a God’s servant but not an executive authority in the mission. They are; Rev. B. Elisha, Rev. B. Charles, Rev.G.Samuel and Rev. P.M. Jacob, respectively. They are out of many, some of the prominent persons that clung to Fr.Devadas in his oldage, particularly during the time of bitter cleavage. Thus, he set his mission on the firm grounding and took every step for it’s further enhancement and penetration.
(C) PRESENT HISTORY OF THE BIBLE MISSION :
Father Devadas left this world and went home in 1960. Till that time, he worked for the mission and laboured hard to make it strong. After his departure some commented that, this old man’s mission will soon die down like him. Yet, the Bible mission is still alive and more active under the auspicious prayers of Fr. Devadas and constant guidance and the grace of the Lord Almighty. During his very last days he remarked that he would be emptying the crucible of his suffering body and after which he would make the mission run like anything. You and I are the witnesses of that statement. For the Bible mission has reached its zenith, today, truly after the four decades of Father’s departure.
1) Stability and growth :
Because of the unitary command of Fr. Devadas and his teachings, though the mission expanded in terms of its number of branches and multiplicity of membership, since majority of them primarily came from the traditional Hindu Communities, it was stable and free from all types of internal tumults and external cleavages. Presently, the Bible Mission had its own place and rank among the other denominations of the Christendom. It was estimated as the first, fast growing Church in the Indian Sub continent. The Annual Convention of the mission is the main attraction and prime source of its growth. Nearly, 5 lakhs of people have gathered this year and were fed for three full days on every 27th, 28th and 29th of January. These are the fixed dates of the Annual Conventions.
2) Missionary Campaigns :
Chiefly, the growth was observed from the various missionary campaigns organized and arranged by Rev.S.Samuel, the former president of the mission, to many capitals and important cities of India. People who are interested in Gospel work and tract distribution were taken by him in three to four tourist buses, depending on the number, to various cities only to fill them with the Gospel messages that are typical of the Bible Mission. Most of the visited places now bear fruit for the Bible Mission. It is he that sought after the mission’s development, after the departure of Fr. Devadas. Here, it is note worthy to mention the prayerful support of Smt. P.J. Graceamma to Rev. S. Samuel, in tune with the mission’s growth and progress.
3) Widening Horizons :
With these missionary camps the Bible Mission has made known its existence, work and vision to the rest of the Christian world in India and abroad. Now its network has expanded even to other countries. Due to his selfless services in the mission, Rev. S. Samuel was asked to the 1984 world Christian leaders conference held at Amsterdam under the leadership of Billy Graham. But he sent Rev. P. Sajeeva Rao, the present Joint Secretary of the mission, in his place, to voice the message of the Bible Mission. That was the first Inter national appearance of the Mission.
From then on wards, it never looked back. Many Gulf countries invited the mission speakers to conduct meetings there. Most of the African countries witnessed the glory of the Bible Mission. Now the doors are opened for the Bible mission and they shall never be shut until we completely establish our work on this surface.
4) Able Administration :
In the recent past, with the advent of Rev. Dr. J. John Selvaraj, the mission has seen through and proper functioning in terms of its administrative matters. He regularized many things in the mission. He abolished some of the harmful practices, in the mission, in tune with the foot steps of his predecessor. And incorporated certain new visions and ideals for the efficient output and growth of the mission.
He commissioned the translations of Fr. Devadas writings into various Indian languages with special reference to English the official language of India. For his outstanding contribution in governing and pampering the mission, he was declared the International Man of year, 2000.”
5) Beyond the Boundaries :
Now, the Bible Mission was the focus of many christian leaders and researchers, who tried to observe and analyse its activities and development from various dimensions of theological, religious and empirical models. This Paved the way for others to study and reflect upon the mission. The ‘Rainbow Team’ from the United States of America visited the Head Office, at Guntur and specially watched the healing programmes conducted there in. Delegates from the Mauritius Islands visited various healing centres of the Bible Mission and glorified the work of the mission. A Doctoral thesis has been submitted to the university of Hyderbad, on one of the premier topics of the mission i.e. the meaning of The Song of Songs.
6) The Clarion Call :
The Bible Mission with all its fulfledged state and outlook, now stands at the cross roads of the Universe and invites the subjects to come to the redemptive cross of Christ. We particularly extend our warm welcomes to the present day Christendom to get united at His feet and listen to His voice only to do according to what He says in evangelizing the whole world and preparing the universal church as the spot/less Bride.
This was was the small prayer offered by Fr. Devadas
to realize this mission :
O Lord! appear unto me
appear unto all.
O Lord! Speak unto me
Speak unto all.
Having Christ as its chief Teacher and Modulator the Bible Mission with His revealed universal expositions, principles and practices, invites the rest of the Christian world to be prepared as His raptured “Bride Church” who put on the form and nature of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.
7) The Legacy :
Now, the Bible Mission leaves behind it a great legacy from its varied and excellent spiritual traditions which epitomized the Rapture preparation and the pure state of the young Bride. Nearly, after 64 years of its inception, the mission had become truly mature and strong enough to influence the world in general and the Christian world in particular towards one particular goal i.e. is the Rapture (The second coming of Jesus Christ). It unfolds the path way to the ‘Bride’s line’ and encourages the Churches to practice the silent hour (Sannidhi) so as to transform their shape and nature to the likeness of the Sun of Righteousness, Jesus Christ. Dear friend, Here we invite you to ponder upon this wonderful Mission and be a part of its glorious mission and vision. May God bless you and catch you up in His Rapture.