Proclaim the Good News
The last instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples before he ascended into heaven was, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation.” (Mark16:15) At Sehion Ministries Fr Soji Olikkal was inspired by these words and felt that the Holy Spirit was asking him to send teams to India and Africa. My husband and I were chosen to go to Punjab, a state in Northern India, and we gladly agreed, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us? I said: here I am, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) So in July 2014 six of us (including three young people) started our journey to Punjab.
ARRIVING IN PUNJAB
We arrived at the Amritsar Airport and Fr Simon Kalladayil was at the Airport to receive us. We then had a four hour journey by road to “Prarthna Bhawan Retreat Centre” in Machian Khurd where we stayed during our trip. Punjab is a beautiful state, it is a fertile plateau filled with lush vegetation. It is very flat, we couldn’t see any hills at all and the weather was hot and humid, about 43°C. When we arrived at the Retreat Centre we were welcomed by Fr Paul Roy, the Parish Priest and Fr Basil Mookkenthottam, the Director of the Centre.
THE HISTORY OF THE RETREAT CENTRE
Seventeen years ago Fr Basil, a religious monk, was the Head Master of a School, when Jesus told him to leave everything and go to the jungle to minister. He obeyed and stayed in a mud hut for the first eighteen months. Over the next few years his preaching ministry developed and he built the Retreat Centre. He suffered many hardships and problems but he surrendered himself and submitted all these problems to the Lord who protected him. Now God uses him powerfully. He is a well-known and well respected charismatic speaker and the Lord works many healings and miracles through him. Many retreats and conventions are conducted at the Retreat Centre and the majority of those who come are non-Christians. About fifteen thousand people gather for their monthly Friday Night Vigil Service.
BLESSED BY THE BISHOP
On our second day there, we were blessed by the presence of the Bishop of Julandar who was the main celebrant at the Mass. Bishop Franco was very happy that we were there, he gave us lots of advice to help us with our mission and he blessed us by laying his hands on us. Then we went out to visit the local people and prayed for them and shared our testimonies with them. We were surprised by their faith, which is simple and strong, and by their hospitality and love. The local people are very hard working and they respect and help each other. Their mother tongue is Punjabi but almost everyone knows Hindi. The Elders did all their services in Hindi and the young people did theirs in English which was translated to Hindi. We were taken to a village where most of the people are very poor, they could not read or write and many were snake charmers. The religious sisters and priests had worked very hard here and by the grace of God, many of them had become Catholics when they realized that Jesus Christ is the true living God and their children were being taught in Catholic schools. We were touched by their simplicity and strong faith. Many of them had said goodbye to their bad habits especially alcoholism and they now go regularly to Sunday Mass.
MANY HEALINGS AND MIRACLES
We helped with various conventions by giving our testimonies, teaching the locals some action praise songs, helping with the healing services and providing some spiritual sharing. Jesus said “These signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark16:17-18)
In each convention many people received physical, mental or spiritual healing. For example there was a lady who had suffered from acute asthma for the past twenty five years and another who had had asthma for eight years. Both were unable to walk properly and one of the ladies was lying at the back of the Church. Medical science could not help them, but during the healing service our Lord touched them and cured them. They both jumped to their feet and praised the Lord, thanking Jesus. There was also a baby boy, who was about eighteen months old, who had an abscess on his back. The wound was big and smelly and pus was leaking out of it continuously, but the boy was healed and there was no mark or scar left on the baby’s back at all. After the service the baby’s family didn’t want to leave because of this miracle. The amazing thing for us was that the people who were healed were non-Christians. In all the conventions only about a quarter of the people who came were Christian.
While in Punjab we ran services in the parish centre where many people came and were anointed by the Holy Spirit. We also had the opportunity to visit an orphanage and a home for disabled people run by the Sisters of Charity. The dedication and the hard work of these Sisters is amazing and it really touched our hearts to be with them. We were also asked to conduct a one day mission in two Schools run by the Sisters of the Congregation of Daughters of Mary, where about 90% of the students were non-Christians. Our theme was having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the true living God who wants to help each one of us to live our lives to the full. We worked with years 8, 9 and 10 and tried to show them how much Jesus loves all his creation, especially us humans. When we talked about how he died on the Cross for us many students started crying saying that they had sinned and were not living their lives as God wanted them to. During the school missions the young people with us led the sessions and shared their testimonies. Their teaching was so anointed that everyone who heard them was touched, even the teachers. Many of the students came to us for spiritual sharing where we prayed for them and they renounced their bad habits and became a new creation. They all wanted to start reading the Bible and praying the Rosary.
The Retreat Centre also runs a Television Channel and they broadcast programmes throughout the day and night. They recorded all our sessions so that they could be broadcast later. On our last day there we were all interviewed by one of their presenters who asked us about our missionary work with Fr Soji and the Sehion team and why we had joined the team. Everyone had half an hour to explain the motivation behind their missionary work.
A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE
On the whole, our Mission trip was a very anointed experience because the Holy Spirit used us so powerfully and in such a way that we will never forget. I will cherish the experience for the rest of my life. Jesus Christ gave us the opportunity to meet and serve other people with very different backgrounds and religions. If you ever get the opportunity to go on a mission, please don’t hesitate because the Holy Spirit will guide you and take care of you. Once you are working in the Lord’s Vineyard you don’t want to stop because he fills you with his missionary zeal. Please do pray for priests, religious and lay missionaries working in the mission field because they face many more hardships and problems than we could ever imagine.
Written by Marykutty Tomy