Roby Andrews – The wonders of His grace -An Autobiography

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The wonders of His grace

SAVING GRACE

And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph;2-1)
For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph:2-10)

A humble family where Christ Jesus had the preeminence was the writer’s home. My father’s father Samuel Andrews was a Hindu convert, and my mother’s father Gabriel Almanda was a Coorg convert. Both were ordained priests in the Basel Mission Church at Mangalore.

Born in Mangalore in the year ­­1926, my greatest asset as I see it now, was the heritage of Christian Faith. My father owned a shop where he sold and repaired watches. His earnings were sufficient to keep the family of eight children going. In a simple, yet satisfied manner, we enjoyed the Lord’s provision of food and clothing , beyond which my parents never sought after. Entertaining missionaries and visiting preachers were our joyful luxuries.

My parents, Paul and Katie Andrews. were influenced by my father’s brother Justine Andrews of Calicut, who after receiving Christ into his heart, came to Mangalore and led my parents into faith in Christ.

Soon after, the well-known missionary Silas Fox was holding a series of gospel meetings and the assembly in Mangalore was established in 1933 with about a dozen believers baptized by Bro. Silas Fox. I was a child of seven years, witnessing the baptism in a river at Sultan Battery, at the outskirts of Mangalore.

The first gathering of the assembly in Mangalore was in the home of Bro. Doomanna Shetty, known as D. S. Bolar, who had great concern for the salvation of my soul. “OUR HOME” was the name of his residence, which was opened to all. The oneness of the believers in that small assembly at times of joy and sorrow is an expression marked permanently on my life.

REBELLIOUS DAYS

From the age of seven, though I was present at all assembly gatherings, my heart was never there, being a very playful boy. Later, not keen on studies, I joined the Royal Indian Navy for training as a wireless operator. It was in 1944, when one evening I was at a laundry near KalaGoda, Fort, Bombay, that I heard sweet music of hymns I was taught at home. On the pavement of Hornby Road, presently know as D. N. Road, I witnessed a group of believers of commonwealth countries, serving in Army, Navy and Airforce during the Second World War, preaching and singing with many instruments, which greatly appealed to my heart. At the closing of the session, they invited me to join them at the “MEETING ROOM”, in Queens Mansion. I walked with them to find a joyful welcome, with an egg sandwich and a hot cup of tea or coffee served by a few sisters, as their service for the Lord.

The Naval mutiny took place in 1946, which marked a new course in my life. The Royal Indian Navy kept the door open for those who wanted to be released from the naval service. I opted to leave and so found myself back at home in Mangalore. I was 20 years old and I found many friends with whom I wasted my time. I found myself singing worldly songs in an orchestra to earn a living. Not satisfied in life, I always chose my own ways, never seeking advice from any.

GOD’S PRESERVING ARMS

The stretch of my life would have been very short, but for the wondrous plan of God.

When I was only a boy of three, there was a barrel of water kept outside in the courtyard; meant to wash one’s feet before entering the house, as was the practice those days. The barrel that day had only about nine inches of water. I tried to reach for water, straining on my toes. Losing my balance, I fell headlong into the water, with my little feet sticking out of the barrel. With my head inside the water, there was a gargling sound, loud enough to attract the attention of my visiting uncle, sitting in the verandah. Had he not visited us that day and acted swiftly, I would have been drowned in that shallow water. I recall my uncle holding me with my feet, head downwards, trying to get the water out of me. That was my first brush with death.

The next incidence was when I was ten. Sitting in my class room, I looked out to behold something very strange. A fireball,  bigger than a football, was spiraling at a very high speed, about 15 feet above the ground and about 30 feet away from my class room. Before I realized it, the lightning struck a coconut tree about 200 feet away. Though so close to me, the Lord directed the lightening in another direction. Isn’t He the Lord of hosts!

A year later, in 1937, returning home after spending the summer holidays in Puttoor, 50 kms. from home, our bus,  running at high speed, swerved to save a little boy running across the road. I suddenly heard many voices saying “Ram, Ram”. In no time, our bus had fallen upside down into a little pond by the wayside, with all four wheels spinning in great speed. Only one passenger was wounded  severely. There was not a scratch on my body!

A bicycle accident in 1940 should have hurled me and my bicycle 20 feet  to the ground below, but for a villager walking, against whom I dashed and got a beating from him for reckless driving. God saved me and my cycle from what could have been a major crash!

Another incident was when cleaning our well at home, which was an annual operation. While my friends joined me in this feat, my mother would prepare a good meal, which we enjoyed together after the work was done. I was in the well; when a 25kg bucket filled with dirt and mud broke off from the top and fell to the bottom, missing me by just 2 inches. Had it fallen on me from that height of 40 feet, my death would have been certain!

On 8th December1946, during a hockey match, a hard hit raised the ball, straight on my chest at the goal post, which I miraculously missed. The ball was hit so hard, that it got stuck in the mud wall, 6 feet behind me. Had the ball hit me on my chest, I would have died instantaneously. The same day, and the same ball left a mark on my right ankle, the swelling of which I carry for life.

The same year, I was climbing up a coconut tree, when midway, about 20feet above the ground, I suffered palpitation. In a sudden decision, I slid down the bark , resulting in bruises on my body. I could have fallen from that height, causing grave injuries. The Lord delivered my feet from falling.

Indeed the Lord had his purposes in preserving me!

Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. (Ps:116 -7,8.)

RESTORATION

In mid 1952, my uncle Justine Andrews’ son Christie invited me to his shop  in Calicut to learn watch repairing. God took me there to come in contact with godly elders in Calicut assembly.  Bro. P. V. Simon, a timber merchant, had built a hall for assembly worship, attached to his residence at Puthiara. In this assembly, the lives and ministers of two other elders Mananna Namby and P. A. Paulose always posed a challenge before me. Being in their company, marked a great blessing in the yet to come spiritual life of mine.

In April1953, I went to Madgoan, Goa, to work in a watch repairing shop. I had no friends at all and the language spoken there, Konkani and Portugese were strange to me. Here was the FIRST work of the grace of God to cut me off from all my friends, who occupied the place of God in my life.

SECOND was the loneliness I had never known before. God was at work when evening after evening, for two months, my loneliness drove me to a nearby hill where I spent at least 2 hours, singing from my heart the choruses and hymns I had learnt by-heart as a child. God was speaking to my heart from the words I sang and tears ran down my cheeks, as I began to taste the joy of the Lord, with a real sense of His presence. I prayed with tears, confessing my sins, desiring that the Lord will accept me for Himself. Thus I went to sleep peacefully night after night.

On the Lord’s day, it was a practice from childhood to be around the Lord’s table. I missed this very much and realized how great a privilege it is to be in fellowship with God’s people. While in Madgaon, I would start from home on Sunday mornings and walk alone through the streets and then through the rice fields, sometimes finding myself by the railway tracks all the while singing and praying. At times tired, I would sit down and confess my sins of the past. For the first time I realized that I was disobedient to my parents and elders and also rebellious against God. My Lord was very gracious and gentle with me. He did not quench the smoking flax, but surrounded me with His love and put His loving arms around me. He prepared me in these two months to a task He had for me, while I was totally oblivious of it.     

I never was ambitious. I had nothing to fall back on. No money, no education, no support of any kind. At such a time the Lord lifted me up.

From sinking sand, He lifted me,
with tender hand, He lifted me,
from shades of night to planes of light,
O praise His name, He lifted me!

As I prayed and waited for the Lord to deliver me, I received a letter from my mother, saying that Madhav, who was trained by my father in watch repairing and was working in WestEnd Watch Co. in Bombay, had come on leave and was inviting me to come to Bombay, promising to find a job for me. It was as though the Lord said “Rise up and Go”. I made an immediate decision and left for Bombay, despite my employer’s offer of better emoluments.

June 16th has a special significance in my life. On that day in 1946, I confessed Christ as my Saviour at Cannanore, after the funeral of my eldest brother-in-law. It was on this date in 1953, that I arrived in Bombay  from Goa, with six and a half annas (37 paise) in my pocket. Later on in 1963 on the same date, I was co-opted into the oversight of the Bombay fort assembly.

On arrival from Goa, I walked from V. T. station with my luggage and slept overnight on the pavement, near the junction of D. N. Road and P. M. Road, right across the Fort assembly; not knowing I was so close to what was to be my home for over 50 years. Next morning I met my cousin Rollie Andrews, at the Air Lines Hotel at Church Gate, who was happy to help me. He requested me to first visit his room with my mouth organ and my song book, a collection of about 300 worldly songs, which was too very dear to me. I would never part with my song book except for some one too dear to me. But in the wisdom of God, and the THIRD point of the Grace of God, this book had to be taken away from me.  Rollie said when I left his room, “Please leave your song book with me. I shall return the same to you after a week.” Praise God, I  never  saw that  book  again! God had wrought a victory in my life.  This idol, which reigned in my heart for 7 years, was dethroned that day by the Grace of God. It is then  that 2 most important decisions of my life were made;  the first, that I will never again sing these worldly songs.

Now  I’ve  giv’n to Jesus ev’rything, Now I gladly own Him as my King, Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary

Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.

The second decision  was that I should  never visit my umpteen cousins and relatives who would be happy to have me, especially if I join them in drinking and singing, while they will not oblige me in attending a gospel meeting. Since that day, my dear relatives were met only on occasions of weddings and funerals. Many invitations for religious functions like child baptism and confirmations had to be ignored. I told them that what is not taught in the bible, and what my heart is not convinced about, I will not have a part in it. So I remained free from such practices since June 1953. As against these, my decision to attend all activities of the assembly was richly rewarded as I grew spiritually year after year and in the knowledge of the Word of God. It is then that the GRACE of God became evident in me.

In tenderness he sought me,
weary and sick with sin;
And on his shoulders brought me
Back to his fold again;
While angels in his presence sang
until the courts of heaven rang.

Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold.
Wondrous grace that brought me to the fold.

SUSTAINING GRACE

How precious are Thy thoughts unto me Oh God ! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sands. (Ps.139- 17,18.)

HIS PROVIDENCES

For this man with no educational qualifications to claim, I can say with joy that my Lord has been ever faithful. Madhav of WestEnd Watch Co. kept to his promise and fixed me with the Eastern Watch Co, where I worked for about six months in 1953 as a watch repairer. In 1954, having known the joy of being with believers, I was attracted to work in the Gospel Literature Service (GLS), then situated in the Meeting Room premises. When I learnt a little of printing and Silk Screen printing for a year, the owner of Maxine Radios, on a visit to G.L.S, invited me to work on silk screen printing in his workshop at Kamal Mansion, Colaba, on the advice of Bro. Bill Thompson. Not being a good paymaster, I left the job after 5 months and was without one for an equal period. “All things work together for good to them that love God.” (Rom 8:28)

It  was during these months one evening, I visited my cousin who held a responsible position in Burmah Shell Oil Co. When he learnt of my jobless condition, he gave me a sheet of paper and his pen and dictated an application for a job of a foreman at the Burmah Shell installation, which was waiting to begin operation, at the Wadilube blending plant; where they needed a silkscreen printing in-charge, to print and fill 2000 barrels a day.

My application was handed over to Mr. Gilby, the manager of this plant; who in turn gave it to Mr. Yeo, a specialist from U.K who was assigned the responsibility of starting the operations. Mr. Yeo urgently required a man and was willing to consider my application. Jobs were advertised for 20 vacancies of engineers. On the day of interview, there were 116 short listed applicants BEs, BScs and B.Techs. I had no degree at all; but a decree from heaven was made in answer to many prayers of the saints. Yeo the specialist consulted  Mr. Gibson the top man, who was the Controller of all main installations in India and I was called on the phone by Mr. Gibson, asking me to meet him at his Sewree office. I met him as appointed. Great and highly placed Mr. Gibson was so kind and considerate. I felt he was appreciative of two things – firstly my being truthful and secondly the fact that I was an ex-serviceman. He saw my High school leaving certificate along with a few Naval certificates and promised that he would call me on the day of interview.

Meanwhile, the Labour Officer, Maj. Venugopalan, below Mr. Gibson seemed to have someone else in mind for this job, and was not in favour of me. In fact, I was informed by someone who spoke over the phone from Mr. Gibson’s office to say that I am not chosen for want of qualifications.

On the day of the interview, Mr. Gibson called me and offered me a seat across his table. I was extremely humbled to receive so kind an attention from such an high official to a totally unworthy person as I was. He told me that I need to sit for an exam the next day. I was taken aback to hear of an exam, first time after I left school in 1943. I asked him what exam I was expected to write? To this he replied “You will have in the morning a test on English and general knowledge and in the afternoon maths and engineering.” That was too much for me; I simply looked at his face. Mr. Gibson sensing immediately my discomfort patted me on my back and said, “You will be alright Andrews.” That assurance coming from the operation head of Burmah Shell gave me a great confidence that God has already answered my prayers.

On the day intimated by letters to 116 applicants, I, a high school student felt completely lost in the company of B.Es, B.Scs and B.Techs. The morning test began on general knowledge, of which I knew very little to answer. I could hear the candidates exchanging words in English, Hindi and Malayalam. I picked up from them most of the answers and wrote a few pages, right or wrong. I still had 40 minutes to go. I quietly prayed. One of the 3 options for an essay was Who is your favorite author and why? To be truthful, I did not have any author that I could think of. But then, only a few days before, I was reading a book “Revelation” by Clarence Larkin. I felt, if I write on Clarence Larkin, none of the judges would know anything about him; all that they can is to judge my language. Hence I started writing about my favorite author and mentioned some things about God’s plan for the world, salvation for mankind, adding to it my testimony and God’s leading in my life. I was satisfied of having written something. In the afternoon, maths was the last subject I would have liked to face. I could answer only one question, which I did and handed over the answer paper in 20 minutes, with my name and number “117”. All other candidates were looking at me, as though I was a genious. After that, the engineering test was  fortunately practical. First, Mr. Dugal, an engineer showed me a very big diesel engine and asked me if I could tell him something about its metal. I  said, “I am sorry, I am not an engineer; I know nothing about it.” He said there is no point in wasting our time; for which I answered, “Yes sir”.  The second test was held in a workshop, where I was asked to do chipping and filing  on a big wrench. The mechanic who worked on this vice, happened to be a Goan. He mistook me for a Goan and came to my rescue and did the job that was allotted to me. Having completed the job, the mechanic showed me 6 different kinds of valves and asked me if I knew their names. When I answered in the negative, he told me their names and said Mr. Dugal will come and ask you. Just then Mr. Dugal came and asked me and I was able to satisfy him.

Exams and tests having finished, the final interview began. Here in his cabin, Mr. Gibson was in the chair. Mr. Yeo, the specialist, 2 other British managers and Maj. Venugopalan the Labour Officer were also present. Mr. Gibson offered me a chair opposite to his; and I was the last candidate to be interviewed.  

Mr. Gibson turned to Mr. Yeo and said, “You are the one who wanted Andrews. You can ask him your questions.” Mr. Yeo replied, “I have seen him, I do not need to ask him any question.” Just then Maj. Venugopalan, the Labour Officer who was to my right, a little behind me said, “What is your qualification Mr. Andrews?”  Mr. Gibson knew that I had no qualification at all and so, at the end of Maj. Venugopalan’s question, without a second’s delay, as if to say “shut up” to the labour officer, he said to me, “Thank you Mr. Andrews, you can go.

I thanked Mr. Gibson and left his cabin. Immediately, Mr. Kapoor, the Assistant Labour Officer directed me to go for my medical examination, then and there, and asked me to collect my appointment order the next day.

By then however, Maj. Venugopalan tried playing a trick. When I went to his office the next day, the letter of appointment was ready; but the letter stated my job as in ‘labour category’. I

was expecting my appointment in ‘Management category’. There was a struggle in my mind, whether to accept it or not. After praying and hesitating, I went to Maj. Venugopalan and declined to accept the letter in that category. Angry with me, he said, “I am offering you a good job with a good salary. If it is not acceptable to you, you can go.” I apologized and turned to leave the room. As I was about to open the door of his cabin to leave, he called me back, and said, “Okay, you come tomorrow, let me see if I can give you something better.” Through my cousin who first suggested me this job and first took my application, I knew Mr. Yeo wanted me immediately and also that Mr. Gibson has approved my recruitment to the ‘management category’. The next day was indeed a great day that marked  a distinct difference to my life and family by way of salary and allowances, a pension scheme and a very good medical fund, especially for my family and me, proving God’s care and provision for our old age. I accepted  the appointment letter and thanked the Labour officer, and began my service in Burmah Shell on 19th March, 1956.

However, satan was not happy with my appointment. My immediate boss Mr. Herold Gracious was anything but gracious to me. He did not like me as a believer. He read a few verses and poems hidden under my table top. He also influenced 4 catholic colleagues of mine to taunt me; and they made fun of me every day at lunch and teatime.

After 2-3 years, Mr. Gracious sent a suggestion through my colleagues that I should accompany them to a speech by the Cardinal of Bombay. I did not oblige them. After a few days, Mr. Gracious came up with what seemed like to him a bright idea. He planned it with a Gujarati supplier and asked me to accompany him to his office, to choose a few materials for our use. Not knowing the plot hatched,  I traveled in the supplier’s car and inspected the materials and

on our way back to the office, the Gujarati gentleman and me were seated in the back seat of his car.

As we were approaching our office, the man pressed into my palm a bunch of currency notes, which I refused to accept. I told him that my Company pays me a decent salary; you need not make me rich. If you supply good quality materials, I will be happy to accept them. After an hour or so, Mr. Gracious came to my department and enquired about the man. I said, the man is okay, but please do not tell me to go to him again. Had I accepted the bribe that day, I would have been proved corrupt and Mr. Gracious would have succeeded in throwing me out of Burmah Shell, and in the event, I would have lost not only the privileges which my wife and I enjoy even now till the end of our days on this earth, but more so, my testimony as a follower of Christ.

HIS FAITHFULNESS

After about 15 years’ of service, when it came to my emoluments, I was always treated as one not qualified as others. I committed this matter to God in prayer and remained satisfied with the salary I received. Then, the management staff of Burmah Shell all over India, numbering 1116 started an association to fight for a rise in salary & allowances, under the presidentship of Mr. Manohar Kotwal, who was the union leader of the Bombay Port Trust. The association lost its case in the Lower and Labour courts and finally succeeded in their efforts partially in the Supreme Court of India. The day the Supreme Court passed the judgement, it was revealed that only 4 of 1116 management staff all over India were declared as workmen, by virtue of the description of the job they were engaged in, on the day an enquiry team was sent from the Supreme Court. (Interestingly, the pilots of Air India were also categorized as workmen, because they work with their hands.) With this the Lord opened for me, one of the fortunate four, a flood of relief, thus bringing me on par with all others with regard to salary, allowances and promotions. The very next day the promotion was effected. The Lord brought the Supreme Court of India to execute righteous judgement on my behalf. “What shall I render unto the Lord  for all His benefits toward me”?(Ps. 116:12)

Meanwhile, the taunting from the Catholic colleagues continued for years, till Tony D’souza, one of them, requested me one day for a Bible. I was thrilled to see him changed and in fellowship with the New Life Fellowship along with his wife; when I met them one evening at Mrs. Durham’s residence.

ACCOMMODATION IN BOMBAY

In a city known for its accommodation problems, the Lord, once again proved His mercy and faithfulness to me. When I arrived in 1953, I went to my mother’s sister’s home at Chowpatty, who was kind enough to keep me for a period. They being a family of 5, I realized their difficulties and after 2-3 months God provided me a paying guest  accommodation with Bro. Mark San, at Holland House, each having to pay Rs.40/- for bed and morning tea. It was a very convenient place, situated at the beginning of Colaba Causeway. This gave us the liberty of spending our evening free hours in fellowship with believers in different places and attending various spiritual activities. At this juncture Bro. John Buffam, an American missionary, invited Mark and me to stay with him in his home in Marina House.

 When it was time to leave Marina house, by which time Bro. Mark San went to study at the London Bible College, the Lord worked through Iscah’s mother(who was later to become my mother-in-law) to provide a still more convenient room in the house of a Parsi couple, Mr. & Mrs. Malabarwala.  Bro. Allan Luther shared this room with me for  less than 2 years, by which time I married Iscah.

Another great burden of accommodation was solved when my Aunt at Chowpatty welcomed Iscah and myself to stay with her, by which time she was alone. I paid Rs.100/-sharing with her a flat of 2 bed rooms, a hall and a kitchen at the foot of Malabar hill where Nathan was born on 28th Jan, 1959. After eight years of married life, a brief period was spent with Iscah’s mother, which ended with the Lord’s wonderful provision of my company’s quarter of 3300sq feet, with all amenities to suit a ‘western style living’; but our only neighbors were security guards all 24 hours.

After 6years, when my mother-in-law decided to stay with her younger daughter, we shifted to her home in 8/A Malabar Mansion on Colaba Causeway, where the Lord preserved us  from June1972 to June 2004. Other than the monthly rent, I have never paid  any extra money all these years; for it was God who provided us all things.

ESTABLISHING A HOME FOR THE LORD

Iscah Christine Guaba and I met at the Fort Meeting Room in 1953 and were married  at Queens Mansion on the 4th January, 1958. Our wedding was a very simple one, so much so that, many were surprised at it. Iscah’s sari, a beautiful white piece, just cost Rs.40/-. My office friend Purushothaman often mentioned about our wedding, especially Iscah’s  simplicity as a bride. I believe the Lord has blessed our married years with many good things because He was truly glorified at our wedding.

Many believers, especially the brides who say they want to glorify God in their lives, have often failed the Lord by excessive adornment, taking the glory for themselves, on this one day, thus robbing God of His glory, on a day given by God, which will never repeat itself.  I have followed several cases and have noticed the blessings they have lost for life especially in their old age. 

My wife Iscah was used to big things in life before her conversion from a Muslim background in 1949. Gold and Diamonds, as also other esteemed things of the world were part of her life. Her mother used to read every day a portion of the Koran and the Bhagwatgeeta. She also advised her children to read the same, but Iscah was never interested, more engrossed in the glories of the world. She had a collection of French novels, which she loved much. But when my mother-in-law was converted, she often pressed her to read the Bible. In order to please mother, one day she started reading from the New Testament. As she continued reading, she was convinced that the Bible was a special book, very different from all other books. She could not stop reading until she came to Luke chapter 12. She was afraid to read verses 2 & 3. This forced her to seek the help of Mrs. Liddle in the neighborhood, who led Iscah to the saving faith of Jesus Christ the Son of God on 12th June, 1949

Nathan our only child was born on  28th January,1959. He was a lovely child and filled our hearts with many joys. We watched him through various stages of childhood and thanked God each day for blessing us with the joy of parenthood. When Nathan was four years old, even before he started schooling, as was our custom, we as a family used to attend all the activities of our assembly. On one mid-week evening before the service, he entered into the G.L.S. book shop, which was then situated within the assembly premises, requesting Uncle Ravi Wilson, the bookshop manager for a book. He obliged him with a small booklet entitled “Talking with God”. I have preserved this book till today to remind me of this joyous incident. By the time he reached home, he was sleepy, and so he safely kept the book under his pillow, prayed and went to sleep. Next morning he woke up when it was time for me to leave for work. He requested me to read one page from that book. I obliged. Then came the demand for another page. The headline of the second page read “Christ Jesus  came into this world to save sinners” I stopped and asked him, “Who is a sinner?” To this he answered, “Uncle Billa.” “Why?” I asked. “Because he drinks.” “Who else?” I quipped; “Pappa”, he said, “Because he doesn’t come to the Meeting Room. ” “Who else”, I continued and he mentioned his schoolmate Philip, because he is very mischievous. Then I turned to him and asked, “What about you?” Without wasting a second he replied, “NEVER”. To this I said, the Bible says that all have sinned and therefore you are also a sinner. He immediately threw himself crying on the pillow and demanded that I leave him alone. I was in a hurry to leave and Mummy was in her bath. She heard him cry and enquired why? I said, “You come and deal with him”, and left. By the time Nathan had shifted himself to the sofa in the drawing room, crying. Mummy came and asked him why he was crying? His reply was Daddy said I am a sinner. Mummy’s words had always been the gospel. Mummy also said that he was a sinner, and he listened further to what mummy had to say. Mummy read from the Bible that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. She explained how a sinner can believe and accept Jesus Christ into one’s heart and have his sins forgiven and become a child of God. Nathan did this , knelt down and prayed with mummy, and the question of a sinner was settled. On my return from work that evening, I rang the doorbell and Nathan opened the door. I asked him, “So how is the sinner?”  For this he answered “I am a sinner saved by grace.” That seemed the sweetest words to hear from our son, for whom we have prayed even before he was conceived. By the grace of God, Nathan has always been a source of joy to us.

ENJOYING FROM HIS BOUNTIES

I retired from Bharat Petroleum (the new name of Burmah Shell) on 1st April,1984. A year before, Bro. Allan Luther asked me what I plan to do after retirement. My reply was, “ I have left it in God’s hand and have no plans of my own.” He suggested that I  work for his advertising company, in response to which I said, “I am an oil technician; how will I fit into your advertising business?” He said, “You sit in my chair in the Bombay Office, while I take care of the Delhi Office.” When I told my wife about it (she having worked as Manager and Copywriter about ten years back, in the same office), she said, “What do you know about advertising?” I replied, “I do not know, but Allan wants me to sit in his place in Bombay.”

I started with Alfred Allan Advertising on the 1st of April, 1984 and by His grace I continue to draw a salary after 22 years. This is God’s provision for my retirement years. I am writing this in March 2006 and I can testify that God’s hand has never left me. I went fishing for souls on a

Sunday evening on Hornby Road (now known as D. N. Road), in 1956. It has always been and continues to be  a part and practice of the testimony of the Fort Meeting Room, when young people go out on the streets and request people to come and hear the gospel message. That day in 1956, I got 2 big fishes, two Panjabi unemployed youth were strolling aimlessly on the pavement. They had come to Bombay in search of employment, with a desire to join the film industry. They came willingly and heard the gospel for the first time.  The Spirit of God touched Allan Luther’s heart and Prem Chopra, who now is a well-known film actor just kept company with him. They continued to come on Sunday evenings, but Prem Chopra was uninterested. After a few more weeks Allan surrendered to the Lord of the Gospel and continued to grow spiritually and proved to be useful in the open-air preaching along with Bro. Alfred Hickey, an Australian. They both were an asset in the assembly’s open air ministry, Hickey in English and Allan both in English and Urdu. My stay with Allan as a bachelor in Malabar Mansion in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Malabarwala, enabled us to know one another intimately and a trust was formed which opened a way for me to work for Allan in his advertising business. So was the hand of God planning and working to provide me the needs for our old age!

The operation of the Grace of God has satisfied me, as a happy and a contented man. God has been very good to us as a family. His goodness had always been beyond my comprehension; especially in regard to health and protection. Seldom have I asked God for any material need. I prayed for my son, never asking God to make him big. My only claim was the promise “The seed of the righteous shall not beg bread” (Ps37:25). God has answered my prayers abundantly. I rest satisfied in Him.

SOME LASTING IMPRESSIONS

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Phil 4:9)

MY PARENTS SIMPLE BUT OF GREAT INTEGRITY BEFORE GOD AND MAN

My short stint of 3 years with the Royal Indian Navy, proved to be in the designs of God for my life. A very mischievous boy and very independent, I was tamed and trained to obey. I left home with a sense of protest against strict upbringing up and restrictions on many fronts, which did not give me the liberty I desired. Today I thank God for my parents who steered the way for my good conduct. They have evidently prayed much for my spiritual well-being.

My father Paul Andrews was a simple man, but of great integrity. He never showed a desire to obtain wealth. He was never rich; but he taught me, “A good name is better than rubies.”  This was also his motto in his business career of 49 years. He practiced his motto was reputed to be

a very honest man. In 1956, when I was staying temporarily in a hotel on Colaba Causeway in Bombay, another inmate Mr. Rasquinha, also from Mangalore enquired after me. When he learnt my name, he asked if I was in any way connected to watchmaker Andrews in Mangalore. When I replied in the affirmative, he shocked me by saying, “Your father was a fool! He could have earned in lakhs, but he did not.” To this I quipped, “Because my father did honest business, he did not make money and for the same reason God has blessed me and made me rich heavenward.”

Even before my father professed faith in Christ, he once stood surety for his friend Dr. Santhon. Unable to pay back the installments, his friend disappeared. My father had two properties in his name. He immediately sold them and paid back his friend’s debt, which by then had become his responsibility by virtue of being a surety.

My father’s customers had great faith in my father. In 1940 my father was laid aside for many days due to an attack of typhoid. It is then that I saw his friends, customers and those who were trained under him to be watch makers, visiting him and speaking well of him, holding him in high esteem.

My mother besides being very fair and beautiful was a godly woman of faith. It was her practice to gather all her seven children at sunset every day to read the word of God, explain it and pray with us. This has left a great impression of a loving godly mother, who cared not only for our daily needs, but also prayerfully led us to the feet of the Lord. I have no doubt that the Lord has in answer to her prayers touched my life, as also all others in our family. Though in a small way, I thank God that I was able to support  my widowed mother from the time I was 17 years old, till she was promoted to glory in 1979, at the age of 82.

VALIANT SOLDIERS, GRACEFUL SHEPHERDS

Though there is nothing worthwhile to mention about my life, many individuals have been instrumental in making my life; thus resulting in a desire for my life to be an example to others, seeking  to live in complete obedience to the word of God.

My second visit to the Fort Meeting Room was as a believer on the 21st June,1953, when I was welcomed to the assembly by Bro. Justus Samuel.  That day after the worship meeting, the assembly went for the baptism of two Hindu converts, Bro. Luke Dasgupta and Bro. Philip Ramamurthy. While Luke was a Bengali Brahmin, Philip was a Brahmin from Tamil Nadu. All being bachelors, very soon they were my brothers and friends. I can think of at least 20 lively young people and one over 50 years, Bro. Carl Potts, a very good leader of us all. Bro. Carl Potts was an exceptional Anglo Indian convert of Bangalore, “saved from the gutters” as he put it. His conversion was so bright and so was his ministry to the assembly. I can never forget the Sunday School classes he used to take for the youth. He taught us one day from 1 Sam 15:22 “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”. His ministry on this verse has stood carved on my mind. Though Bro. Potts was crippled by arthritis and was therefore a telegraphic morse instructor in the Central Telegraph Office; he never missed an assembly or open-air meeting. In his free time, he would stand outside Regal Theater, near his residence and distribute tracts or visit sick ones of the assembly. He truly was an example of a believer.

Another Christ-like person, who influenced my life immensely, was Bro. John Buffam. Though an American, he lived with his wife and three children as normal Indians do. His wife, Eunice  served as a warden with her children, Ann, David and Sharon, studying in Breeks High School in Ootacamund. Sharon, now Mrs. Donaldson is serving as a missionary.    

Bro & Sist. John Buffam resided at Marina House , opp. Liberty theater. The entire family would be together for two months, when the children came down from the hills on summer vacation. Rest of the time, Marina House flat was a home for many young people of the assembly. As many as 16 brothers at a time, working mostly in the GLS used to take advantage of Bro. John Buffam’s kindness.

A Jewish old couple, Mr. & Mrs. Ezra, when their building in Byculla collapsed in one of the rains, was brought by Bro. Buffam to his home and looked after for many months. One day their son who was suffering from leprosy, came visiting them and Bro. Buffam entertained him for lunch. He,  with the Ezras and their son ate at the same table, unmindful of his leprosy.

Bro. Buffam was a true missionary, who went out morning and evening on the streets, preaching the gospel and distributing gospel portions to those interested. His dress was as simple as a pair of khaki shorts and white short sleeve shirt, carrying a gospel bag on his shoulder.

One night a Sindhi man who had contact with Bro. Bufffam, having missed the last train for Kalyan, arrived at Marina House at midnight 1.00am. Bro. Buffam opened the door for him and welcomed him to sleep in his drawing room. Of the many youths who lived with him, were 3 regular members of the Fort  Meeting Room. Mark Sowriraj San, Daya Seelan and myself stayed with Bro. Buffam for three full years, except during summer vacations. We learnt great many lessons from Bro. Buffam as we watched his life and studied the scriptures with him.

John & Eunice were Baptist missionaries, who when convinced of the New Testament teachings switched over to the assembly at the Fort Meeting Room. During this transit, they received no support from their home church and they lived a very simple life. One evening another missionary couple visited them at Marina House. Mrs. Buffam made tea for them , which she denied for themselves. She had hid a little tea leaves and sugar out of the reach of the family, reserved only to entertain the visitors.

Bro. John Buffam was one of the pioneers of open air preaching on the streets of Bombay. At times I have seen him with another brother Friekenburg at the open air preaching. It was his practice to kneel down and pray on the dirty pavements with the team mates, before preaching. With the assembly team going out to preach were Bro. Bill Thompson (who first came to India as part of the Royal Airforce and later returned to Bombay to serve the Lord for 2 decades), Bro. Ossie Wharton, a manager of Thomas Cook and Carl Potts.  They drew large crowds as they presented the gospel at Marine Drive where the Oberoi Hotel stands. Many people confessed Christ through this ministry including 2 Parsis and a Muslim, as a result of which, this spot was soon referred to as the ‘Salvation Corner’. Others who followed the example which was first set by the godly man Handley Bird were brethren Alfred Hickey, Allan Luther, Sathyabalan, Wilson Christian, P. L. Patole, Lt. .James, Ravi Wilson accompanied by many others who are in the lead today.

SERVING THE GREATEST MASTER

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Phil 3:7,8)

SINGING FOR THE LORD

Music and singing were my great joy from childhood. As a family we very often had a time of singing, the whole family joining together, mostly from the Songs and Solos and Kanarese hymns from the Mangalore Tunes. My headmaster Jeevothama sensed my talent and encouraged me in this direction. He used to call me to his home and trained me to sing. On a Christmas day he presented me a mouth organ and encouraged me to sing, while he played the violin. My father was a good mouth-organist  and bought himself one every Christmas. His used mouth organ was transferred to me year after year. A good mouth organ those days used to cost three rupees and a Puck only 14 annas.

Uncle D. S. Bolar of “Our Home” also presented me a mouth organ during a Sunday School anniversary. Thus I was induced to practice more and more and started playing more often, which exercise has become useful in the hand of God even at present as we preach the gospel on the streets of Bombay.

I was also fortunate to be invited to the Balmatta Musical Association in Mangalore, where youths were trained to play various instruments, which in turn was used as an orchestra in the Bassel Mission Church. I sang tenor and  was learning to play the Double Bass.

In Bombay Fort Assembly, a “Young People at Home” programme was arranged under the godly leadership of Bro. Carl Potts, on August 24th 1953, which was a holiday on account of Coconut Day. Musical items were well practiced in advance, where my part was to sing a solo. This was my first performance in the Fort Assembly. There were two testimonies of Hindu converts, Philip Ramamurthy of State Bank of Travancore and Shudir Dasgupta of Meckinon Makenzie. Many young people presented their talents and refreshments were served. It was a great day indeed in more than one way. After that, Bro. Bill Thompson used to encourage me to sing solos in the gospel meetings, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing to glorify my Lord.

BOMBAY FORT ASSEMBLY  (also called the Meeting Room)

My memories of the Fort Assembly, since I entered Queens Mansion in 1944 are very pleasant. God blessed the work, which was started by one man Handley Bird, who was instrumental in the hands of God, being very humble and godly. At the first breaking of bread, there were only ten, at Henry House, Colaba, on 8th April,1934. After brief periods in Kamal Mansion and Esplanade House, the assembly started gathering in Queens Mansion from 2nd June, 1940. Bro. Handley Bird used to go preaching in the open–air, and I have heard about his arrest on one occasion. Bro. Manoranjan Rayappa was his son, cook and driver till the end in 1938. On one visit to Belgaum, I was happy to see the tomb of the great saint of God, which I thought was not well maintained, keeping in mind, how precious he is in the sight of God.

After Bro. Handley Bird, the mantle fell on Bro. Wilf Durham, a very capable young man. Though English, he mastered two Indian languages, Kanarese and Urdu and exercised his burden for literature ministry by starting the Gospel Literature Service at Queens Mansion in mid 1940s.

With the break of 2nd world war in 1939, God brought to Bombay, some very devoted men of God from Commonwealth countries, serving in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. They made use of the “Rest Room” within the Meeting Room, to bring their unbelieving friends while off duty. Bibles and Christian books were available and refreshments were prepared.

The men being godly and prayerful, the Lord blessed this ministry, resulting in precious souls being saved almost every day. It was during these days that I experienced the moving of the Holy Spirit literally in the likeness of a mild electric shock. It happened only once.

These were the days when Bro. Bill Thompson and Bro. Ian Hall were prepared by God to serve Him. Both these brothers are still in touch with us, being over 80 years of age now. In fact, those who were converted in the Meeting Room, during the 2nd world war, were sent by God as missionaries to all five continents of the world. I have met at least one of those missionaries when he visited Bombay, and I was told by Bro. Ossie Wharton, who spent his retirement days in Australia, that a Bishop of the Church of England in Australia, who was born again in the Fort Meeting Room conducted believers’ baptism by immersion and effective Gospel preaching in his Anglican Church.

When it pleased the Lord to call home Bro. W. S. Durham in 1951, just 39 years old, God prepared Bro. Justus Samuel, a young business executive and Bro. Bill Thompson, who was by then a civilian, returning to Bombay to serve the Lord.

Bro. Justus Samuel was an able minister of the Word and sacrificed much to build the testimony at Fort. He stayed back in Bombay, refusing transfers and promotions in the Sandoz Pharmaceutical Co. and continued carrying the burden and the care of the assembly till 1970s. Assisting him were Bo. Bill Thompson, Bro. Oswald Wharton and Bro. B. P. Thomas. Between 1940 and 1950 the spiritual temperature seemed to decline a little; but the Lord’s presence was evident under the leadership of these four , who formed the oversight.

Those days many P&O Liners used to touch Bombay Port and we were often overwhelmed by the good number of visiting believers and able teachers from these great liners. At times the joy of fellowship took us to Ballard Pier to wave hands and sing “God be with you till we meet again” when the ship broke from its moorings. Truly, Ps.16:11 came alive “In Thy presence there is fullness of joy, and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Succeeding these godly leaders were Bro. Daya Patel, Thomas Mathew, K. V. Simon & Roby Andrews and temporarily Bro. George Lazar, Bro. T. K. Kuruvilla and Bro. R. S. Mishra, in whose hands it pleased the Lord to commit the spiritual growth of the Fort assembly. Prayers are essential to strengthen their hands to uphold the sagging testimony, made up of people who stay as far as 50 kms from the assembly, with the exception of a few from the Naval Base. The composition of the assembly has changed over the years, with the conversion of dozens of Hindi speaking believers.

The Bombay Fort Assembly moved into Queens Mansion in 1940. The Lord has made a wonderful provision in providing an area of 2200sq.ft, which stands near Flora Fountain, 5 to 7 minutes walking from VT and Churchgate stations.

By the grace of God, in these days when satan is breaking up so many assemblies, we have been kept together by His power. There has always been a desire to stay and work together in the faith of the gospel. A lunch together on Sundays, keeps us together, enabling us to go out to preach the gospel on the streets by 3.30pm, and return to pray and preach the gospel at 6.30 in the assembly hall. The evidence of God’s blessings and the resultant reaping of the harvest has added many souls to the Church. Pastor Joseph of New Life Fellowship is one of the fruits of our outreach work.

In 1989, when I was 63 years old, I felt the burden of this ministry and felt the need of undertaking a little cooking, with the desire to keep the flock together in the assembly on the Lord’s day. This had the hand of God upon us. A simple rice and curry with a little dal was a source of satisfaction for as many as 20 and more, eating together; and after an hour’s rest, going out on the streets to preach the gospel. Today we have the joy of seeing several families participating in this effort, which has strengthened our outreach ministry with a team of ten to twenty, carrying gospel portions in 14 languages.

The Lord has blessed us with a few sisters, who along with Sist. Maud Augustine, happily join hands to prepare a cup of tea for the open-air team, when they return from street preaching, prior to a time of prayer and the assembly gospel meeting. The fishing ministry before the gospel preaching, consists of about a dozen, who go out to the streets nearby to approach men and women with a tract, inviting them to come and hear the gospel message. Hundreds of strangers of all backgrounds have been brought under the sound of the gospel through this humble effort, during the past more than 50 years.

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