C T Mathai
Born of Marthomite parents in the late 19th century Bro. C.T. Mathai went on to be a great warrior for the Lord's kingdom. His ceaseless and tireless endeavor to be a witness for the Lord who gave His life for him went a long way in shaping the spiritual lives of the people in both Northern and Eastern parts of Kerala.
Evangelistic work in Perumbavoor gained strength and produced desired fruits only after Bro. C. T. Mathai and Lonappan Upadeshi started working in a united fashion as led by the Spirit of God. Mathaichan, as he was affectionately called by all who knew him, could begin the Lord's work in the northern parts of Kerala largely due to the influence and support of Mrs. Nagal, the wife of a German missionary.
After having stayed at Trichur along with his family for a short period of time, Mathaichan moved on to Angamaly and assisted the brethren engaged in the ministry there for many months until the church in Angamaly become fully equipped and strong to carry on the Lord's work on their own. The church then dedicated and sent both Mathaichan and Lonappan Upadeshi to Perumbavoor town in 1919 to proclaim the Good News to the spiritually starved souls out there. Maithaichan thus rented a house in Perumbavoor town and began in earnest to get down to the task he was assigned to by the Maker of Heaven and earth .
With Lonappan Upadeshi
Due to certain unforeseen reasons Lonappan Upadeshi had to return to Angamaly soon afterwards and hence Mathaichan had to continue the ministry in Perumbavoor all by himself till 1922 when Lonappan Upadeshi returned on account of the persecutions afflicted on him by the anti-social elements of Angamaly. While at Perumbavoor, he started a Bible class at Kurupumpady and it was such a blessing that many came over to the Lord's side. Due to this tremendous response and witnessing the hunger of the people in Kurupumpady for the gospel, Mathaichan shifted his dwelling place from Perumbavoor to Kurumpumpady.
After reaching there his ministry extended to many nearby places like Aimuri, Rayamangalam, Vengoor and in these places also Bible classes and other ministry meetings began and many Jacobites and Marthomites accepted the Lord Jesus as their Personal Saviour. Chummar Upadeshi and his family who had been staunch Marthomites were among those saved on account of Mathaichan's ministry in those parts.
Well known evangelists like Late Bro. M. O. Varkey, C. K. Varkey, P. V. Joseph and others yielded their lives to the Lord in full-time ministry during this time largely due to the influence of Mathaichan and went on to support and help Mathaichan in his ministry thereafter and hence the ministry was blessed immensely. Places like Kunnakurudi, Valakom and other nearby places had the Lord's work extended to them on account of the work done during the "Palli Perunal " (church festival) by Mathaichan and friends. Many people used to come to the Palli Perunal mainly to listen to these messages given by Mathaichan and his co-workers. It can indeed be said that those places witnessed the Lord' s visit in those times.
Before he left for Valakom, Mathaichan went to many nearby places and spoke to many of the saving grace of the Lord and many were converted over to being true Christians. A few people who were saved in this fashion became actively involved in helping Mathaichan with carrying on the Lord's work not only in their own native places but also wherever he went afterwards as his co-workers.
Lonappan Upadeshi was a close confidant of Mathaichan who not only helped the latter in his ministries but also imparted valuable advice to him thus giving Mathaichan the spiritual support which he craved for. In all his activities, the church in Angamaly served as Mathaichan's back bone strengthening him at all times.
After beginning work in Pothanicadu, many people believed in the Lord Jesus and accepted Him as their Lord and Master. On one occasion as Mathaichan, Lonappan Upadeshi, E.P.Vargese and a few others were returning from the baptism of certain newly saved Christians, some relatives and natives of the village comprising of a large number of people gathered together in front of a road side country liquor shop waiting to assault them.
When they came near the country-bar, the angry natives drew a line on the road and asked them not to cross the line and go forward or else they would be badly treated . Then the relatives of the baptized people caught the newly baptized Christians and beat them up in front of Mathaichan and friends. As it was time of special meetings in Pothanicadu, many of the Lord's servants were also with them.
After standing there for a few minutes Mathaichan fearlessly spoke ," We have a meeting today and hence we cant afford to wait long." Then one among the rowdies started forward and yelled, "Don't go forward, I warn you". He then curled up his fist and gave Mathaichan a punch in the face. Undeterred, Mathaichan replied, " You can hit us if you want to but we cannot remain standing here simply doing nothing at all".
Saying this he took a step and crossed the restricted line. Enraged ,the rowdies barged forward to hit him again. Suddenly one man who had been attracted towards the Lord's message and who had been following Mathaichan's party jumped forward and declared," Whoever wants to fight can come and encounter me first". But since he was a strong and wrestler-like person with visibly powerful muscles, the rowdies shrank back in fear. Meanwhile Mathaichan and the rest went to a believer's house and conducted the proposed meeting there.
C. T. Mathaichan was also an inspiring factor in the work conducted in the Eastern parts of Kerala. After Mathaichan shifted to Valakom, there was a considerable change in the spiritual atmosphere of that place. Bros. C. K. Varkey and P. V. Kochuoeseph came to his help as co-workers in Valakom. While staying at Kurupumpady itself, Mathaichan used to visit Valakom and conduct meetings there. Witnessing the enthusiasm of the natives of Valakom, Mathaichan was encouraged to move to Valakom and start work there.
In Valakom he rented a house and conducted meetings everyday. These meetings were very different from the usual meetings as they were held in the fields of one Bro. Muttathu Uthoop. Many who came to disturb the meetings were attracted by the sound of the gospel and turned over a new leaf and became a part of God's family that very day. Many drunkards who came from Kadamattom to cause commotion and problem at the meetings were encountered by the Lord's presence and went home quietly. Like these many such incidents took place in those times.
After coming to Valakom, Mathaichan found some new co-workers like V. K. Varkey, Ananias, E. P. Mathoo and Pappalil Kunjuvarkey. Out of the many ministries of Mathaichan, the one of supreme importance is that his work enabled almost eight people to commit their lives wholly in the Lord's service and thus became full time evangelists. Mathaichan was ready to do anything whatsoever to help his co-workers and they too felt the same love and loyalty towards him. The relationship he shared with these co-workers can be likened to the close and sweet relationship which Mr. V. Nagal, a devoted German missionary, shared with his co-workers and what Bro. K. V. Simon shared with his disciples.
It is a commendable fact that in those times when full-time evangelists had none to financially support them, almost eight people turned to Lord's work through Mathaichan's ministry. They considered Mathaichayan to be their guru.
Mathaichayan was extremely skilled in public speaking . Even after listening to him many a time, many of his close associates and friends used to wonder whether he was the very same person to whom they had interacted a while ago. "They could not withstand the knowledge and spirit with which he spoke". As spoken about Stephen, the first martyr, in the Acts of the Apostles was literally true in Mathaichayan's case also for the masses could not help being drawn to the uniqueness of the gospel which was portrayed with all sincerity by Mathaichan.
In Palli perunals, market days and other public meetings, Mathaichan's gift of speaking could be very well seen. Many young men accepted the Lord in the open air meetings in Paravoor. Late Dr. A. M. Matthew dedicated his life to the Lord's service inspired by the zeal with which Mathaichan tirelessly went about week after week proclaiming the gospel in the rush and heat of the marketplace. This fact can be seen in the editorial of "Uthirunna malarukal", a book which relates the life history of many great servants of God of the 19th century.
Maithaichan, meanwhile, did not have any regular financial support hence he had to face many difficulties in the early days of his ministry. But two servants of God from Europe named David and Soutor tried to do their bit in helping him but on the whole his needs were catered to by the local churches of Angamaly, Paravoor and Trichur. Mathaichayan gave a lot from his meager finances for the Lord's service unmindful of whether he had enough or not. On account of this he incurred many debts too which pained him a lot during the last years of his life.
After having nurtured the church in Valakom till it could stand on its own, Mathaichayan had the desire to move to Piravom and begin the Lord's work there. But this desire of his was hindered on account of the illness of his aged father. So, he stayed on in Valakom till the very end of his life.
Years later, noticing Mathaichayan's absence at the Kurupumpady Palli perunal, Bro E. P Varghese inquired about him and found that Mathaichan was sick and bedridden. Within a span of weeks, Mathaichayan retired to glory. Thus ended the life of a great man of God who realized quite early in life that that "the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" and hence the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us". He lived looking at the author and finisher of his faith and died having completed what God intended of him. It is definite that on that day when we stand before the Judgment seat of the Lord we would surely meet many more souls than we expect who had been saved by the selfless service of Mathaichan.
Mathaichan was supported by his dear wife Rahel in all his endeavors and was blessed with 5 children, two sons and three daughters. Today (September 2001) only one of his children is alive, Bro. Matthew Thomas, 67 (Kunjukunju) who resides with his family in Angamaly. All the rest of Mathaichan's family rest with him by the Lord's side in glory.
His entire life, dedication to the gospel and to the Lord Jesus is indeed unique, one found very rarely in today's world. He has truly been an inspiration and model for very many to follow in His steps.