lessons from thatha

On the shores of the Arabian Sea, the little village sits, tucked at India’s side.  To the north of the common well live the fishermen, to the south the weavers.  Thatha* lived on the south side, on Weavers’ Street. Neither a fisherman nor a weaver, he technically didn’t belong.

He lived there though, for more than 40 years, until he died at the age of 82. Listening to the annoying, monotonous clackety clak of the looms, smelling  the pungent odor of yarn marinating in starch turned sour. Why did he choose to live where he didn’t belong?  An aspiration, that’s why. An aspiration to share his HOPE in Jesus with the fishermen and the weavers.

Thatha was a pastor. A very effective pastor: His churches thrived. The baptisms were many. But more than bringing in new members into his church, Thatha yearned to bring his neighbors to Jesus. And so he lived a hot, dusty, bumpety, hour-long bus ride away from the churches he pastored, away from the luxury of plumbing and electricity.

40 years and more, Thatha awakened every morning at five o’clock, opened his windows wide and sang.  Totally out of tune, he would sing hymns of hope, of God’s love, of Jesus’ soon coming. And then he’d kneel by the open window and pray aloud for the drunken neighbor who mercilessly beat his beautiful wife the night before, for the money lender who charged an exorbitant interest rate to the young widow, for the young boy trying so hard to get through high school, for the fishermen who had a bad night at sea . . . . All day long, he would help, share, counsel. He chose to reflect Jesus and speak of hope to those not just in his village but also in the villages around and in-between. Thatha even built a chapel that shared a wall with his  home– a wall and the same blue trim on the doors and windows. He held prayer meetings and vespers, Sabbath School and divine service. Always with the doors wide open. Sometimes he would have a visitor or two. Most often, there were none.

You’d think that in 40 years he would have established a solid congregation in his chapel. No! All he had to show for 40 years of exemplary Christian living was one baptism. That too, not in his village, but in another far away. All in vain? A life of disappointment and discouragement? On the contrary, his was a life of hope.

Thatha died in his bed, by the open window, content. And outside that open window, stood fishermen and weavers–two, three, and four generations of them. They came to say goodbye to the man they loved.

20 years and more later, they still speak of the man who prayed, who encouraged, who loved–while asking nothing in return. And in the other village, where the lone man was baptized, are many, many more Seventh-day Adventists.

Sometimes I wish Thatha had lived to see his aspiration take on wings. But the fact that he didn’t says so much more. His life was like a clear spring in a forest. A spring that gives and gives of itself, enriching some, quenching the thirst of others. A spring that doesn’t dry up just to measure how much it is needed.

From Thatha I’ve learnt not to ask why, not to tally my little victories. From Thatha, I’ve learnt to rejoice that God wants me for who I am, to share Him and His love just by being His child–always. I’ve learnt that sharing the Hope of Jesus is my responsibility. But more importantly, I’ve learnt that

1.  I don’t need to see the difference I make. It is not my glory but His.

2.  I don’t need to wait for the right occasion. Every moment I breath is an opportunity.

3.  I don’t need to possess special gifts. I have all it takes. I am, after all, His child

*Grandpa

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2 thoughts on “lessons from thatha

  1. Reminds you in some ways of the experience of William Carey. Spent a lifetime without many human outcomes for his labour, but the translation work he accomplished during that time has a positive generational impact.

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