Flory Jacob: Going Strong at 92
HT editor, Koshy Mathew had a brief interview with an elderly sister Esther Florence Jacob, who is well known in the assemblies of the city of Mumbai for her selfless Christian Service. She is affectionately called as ‘Aunty Flory’
At present she resides at Thane. She had come to Borivali for a week to stay with her ‘spiritual children’: Brother and Sister Franklin. This is an excerpt of the interview during her stay at their residence.
KM: Good morning Flory Aunty. This morning I have come to see you for a special purpose. I praise God for giving you a healthy long life. During my childhood days, I still remember your visits to our home along with sister McGregor. That was a great encouragement for my parents and us as little children. Similarly many have been benefitted by your selfless service to the Lord. Would you like to share a few experiences from your long spiritual journey for the benefit of young sisters, reading HARVEST TIMES?
FJ: Of course. Your parents were very closely associated with us. Your mother is a best friend of mine. I have a great delight to share God’s faithfulness to me with others especially the younger sisters.
KM: Can you give us a brief account of your family and education?
FJ: I was born on 1st December 1922, as the fourth child of my parents, Pacha Muthu and Miriam. My father Pacha Muthu was a Hindu convert. I had a brother and four sisters. I did my schooling in Danish Mission High School at North Arcot Dist. of Tamil Nadu. I have completed 11th standard. After my schooling I joined a teacher’s training programme. I also completed my Secretarial course and joined the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India) (WAC (I)) which was a branch of the Army and worked in the Delhi office. After serving for four years, I returned to Madras and began working at Kilpauk.
KM: Briefly explain your salvation experience.
FJ: Both my parents were godly and my father was an evangelist in Danish Mission. Though not born again I was regular in attending the Church services. One day Bro. Bhakt Singh visited our Church and spoke from 2 Chro. 7:14-“ If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”
I was convinced of my sin and accepted Christ as my personal saviour.
KM: Can you tell us about your marriage?
FJ: I got married to Bro. Deshraj Eleazer Jacob at the age of 32 and he was 35. Initially I thought of remaining as a spinster in order to support my parents. This proposal came when I was in Delhi. At that time I refused and while I was in Kilpauk, after four years the same proposal came to me again, through a sister. That night the Lord did not allow me to sleep and I surrendered to the Lord’s will and we got married on 12/05/1954.
KM: Can you tell us something about Uncle Deshraj Jacob?
FJ: He was born in a Christian family and they were more influenced by the western culture. He was a member of the choir in his church. He studied in the Bishop Cotton Boy’s School in Bangalore. At the age of 12, he cleared Junior Cambridge. However in that same age he met with an accident and remained in hospital for the next ten years and underwent 19 surgeries. Once he got discharged from the hospital, he pursued both Radio and Diesel Engineering. He joined Boots Pharmaceuticals and opted out of it in 1955 to join Automobile Products of India (API). He retired from API in 1980 at the age of 60 yrs.
KM: Are you disappointed that the Lord did not give you any children?
FJ: No, never. The Lord has blessed us with hundreds of spiritual children, scattered all over the world. Many of them invite me to their houses and provide all my needs more than one’s own children.
KM: Both you and uncle spent most of your life and time in fellowship with the Santa Cruz Assembly. Could you give us a brief history of your ministry?
FJ: It was in the early fifties, that Bro and Sis McGregor came to the city of Mumbai in connection with the ministry of GLS. They started a Gospel activity in a hired shop at Bandra. Bro Deshraj Jacob was the first fruit of Bro McGregor’s ministry in the city. It was this small ministry that resulted in the formation of the Bethel Christian Assembly presently at Santa Cruz. Bro. Deshraj Jacob was one of the elders of Santa Cruz, till his home call. Though he was not a public speaker, he had a heart of a true pastor. He encouraged many youngsters in spiritual matters. He was a good singer. Most of the time he led the singing.
Our home was open to saints; it was a place of consolation. Together we made sure to visit the needy ones. On many occasions his health did not permit him to move freely. After accomplishing his ministry on this earth, the Lord called him home in the year, 1988 on Feb 24th at the age of 68yrs. On the morning of his home call during our morning prayers, we sang the hymn- All the way, my saviour leads me. What have I to ask besides?
KM: For the past 26 yrs, you are living alone. How are you meeting your financial needs?
FJ: I am always encouraged by Phil 4:19- But my God shall supply all your needs according to 1his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. The Lord wonderfully met my financial needs, by moving the hearts of the saints. Santa Cruz Assembly also extended practical fellowship to me on many occasions. From my parents, I learnt to give liberally and receive freely.
KM: Give a brief account of your spiritual activities.
FJ: While staying at Santa Cruz, I was actively involved in sisters’ ministry. For more than 20 yrs, I handled bible studies for sisters at the Air Port Colony near Kalina. I was also involved in House visits, Hospital visits, meeting lonely people and training youngsters. Now the Santa Cruz sisters, together, are continuing the work.
I used to conduct Sunday schools in various places; about 300 children came for Sunday School. Apart from that I was taking Bible Studies among the sisters’ meeting at the assembly.
I joined the Living Waters and did Radio Broadcasting in Tamil. I could win many souls for the Lord through that ministry and handled Emmaus correspondence course.
Mrs. Doris McGregor was praying for a companion for her, in the Christian ministry, who could communicate in English and vernacular language. She found me to be the answer to her prayers. She always told me that I was an answer from the Lord. Both of us used to visit the Tamil dominated Dharavi slums and strengthen sisters in that assembly. Another important area of my ministry was hospital visitation. This is one of my most favourite ministries. I used to visit Nanavati Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital, Bombay Hospital and others. The Lord rewarded me by giving many souls.
KM: What was the most memorable event that happened in your spiritual life?
FJ: I do remember many memorable events in my life. But the following event is one of the most memorable and remarkable. Once when we were on a holiday, I heard that a family had come to the assembly at Santa Cruz for about two weeks and then suddenly they had stopped coming. After having returned from the holiday, we heard a brother pray for that family. On enquiring for their address, I found that no one had it. It took two weeks to find their address. The night before I visited them, the Lord did not allow me to sleep the whole night. The next morning I urged my husband, to go with me to find the family. With great difficulty we found the house and the lady was in tears with the fear of death. I showed her the words of the Lord, 2 Tim 1:7- For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind” and led her to the Lord. She was on the verge of committing suicide by drinking Tik 20, but then found the Lord. Praise the Lord. She started to visit the church again. Now her children have got married and are settled well in their life. She is happy in the Lord.
KM: What caused you to move from Santa Cruz to Thane?
FJ: I never thought of moving out of Santa Cruz, even though Dr. Stephen Alfred, my cousin’s son insisted me to avoid staying alone.
One day I was in the Kitchen singing the hymn
“ When we walk with the Lord,
In the light of His word,
What a glory He sheds on our way: While we do His good will
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey,
For there is no other way. To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey”. And the last stanza is, “Then in fellowship sweet, We will sit at his feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way,
What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey”.
But the Lord stopped me from singing the last stanza. When I questioned why, He asked me, “Will you do what I say? Will you go where I send you?” When I curiously wanted to know where He wanted me to go, He clearly said “Thane”. I agreed and asked Him to give me a promise and He gave me Deut 31:8- And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
Now, in Thane I continue the same type of ministry, especially in connection with Bethany Hospital. Now-a-days, I am unable to go alone, I need some assistance. I give priority to visit cancer patients and share comforting words and pray for them.
KM: Can you tell us the secret of your success in life?
FJ: Its God’s Grace and Faith.
By God’s grace as of today, I have no major sickness; I am quite healthy for my age. I am self- disciplined in eating habits.
Regarding my spiritual life I keep my ears open to the still small voice of the Lord. I get up early in the morning around 5 am. I continue reading and praying up to 7 am. I always keep a list of prayer matters. I look to the Lord for my guidance and provisions. My main ministry is to comfort the wearied souls; thereby I am also benefitted. My favourite verses are Col 1:10-11, 1Peter 5:7 and 1 Cor 1:27-31
” Being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power and Casting all your cares on him for he cares for you”.
KM: What is your personal advice to the young sisters?
FJ: Shed away pride and jealousy; humble yourself. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Read the bible daily and pray, without fail. Help your husband in the spiritual ministry and serve the Lord together. Keep an open heart and open home.
In the end I would like leave a small encouragement for all the sisters
This empty cup for Thee to fill.
This trembling heart for Thee to Still.
This yielded life to do Thy will.
O Lord of love I bring to thee.