May 30, 2014

FAREWELL GEORGE!  WE WILL SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE!!

A Tribute to Rev Dr George Lucas, Pioneer Speaker on The Tide Hindi Language Radio Program in India by Bishop Ezra Sargunam

Rev. Dr. George Lucas, the senior most Pastor, Bible teacher and an outstanding preacher of ECI North India area is no more.  He carried a great burden for the people of North India, especially Lalitpur, where he was born and raised and from where he carried out several years of ministry, mostly through Evangelical Church of India.

The Great Famine

Lalitpur and the surrounding villages located in the heart of India, was one of the regions in the Central Provinces of British India that was ravaged by The Great Famine of 1878-1879, in which thousands of people perished.  The famine orphaned Rev. George Lucas' father, who grew up under the care of missionaries along with hundreds of other boys and girls in a Christian orphanage.  This was how, Lucas' father got his Christian name, George Hackett and a Christian future... so did hundreds of other boys and girls raised by the Reformed Episcopal missionaries.

Lady Bacon, who was a missionary of the Reformed Episcopal Mission in Lucknow, 300 miles north of Lalitpur, heard about this famine and the death of numerous people.  She travelled all the way to Lalitpur on a bullock-cart and set up a mission to rescue the dying of Lalitpur.  Touched by Lady Bacon's compassionate heart and sacrificial love for the people, many under her loving care became Christians.  Today, Lady Bacon is a household name in this region like Mother Teresa in Calcutta.  ECI too is running a primary school in Lady Bacon's name on it Lalitpur campus in honour of the great kindhearted missionary.

Rev George Lucas at ABS

I first met George Lucas in the year 1961, when he came to Allahabad Bible Seminary (ABS) as a student.  I was quite amazed at his humility and servant-heart.  After completing his studies, he taught for a few years in ABS and was also the pastor of the ECI church on the ABS campus.  His burden for Lalitpur was so intense that he moved back to Lalitpur and worked with Every Home Crusade, who, at the initiative of Rev George Lucas purchased the present property from the Reformed Episcopal Mission.  Interestingly, this sprawling campus had an old bungalow in which Lady Bacon and her successor Rev. Watson lived.  When Every Home Crusade wound up their ministry Rev. George Lucas was so compelled to continue the ministry that he approaced ECI with an appeal to purchase the property and Dr Elmer Kilbourne arranged for funds through Samaritan Purse.  Later, when Dr. Kilbourne and I visited Lalitpur and purchased the property, Rev. Lucas told me that that day was a red letter day in his life.  There were two more acres of private property in front of this campus, which was later purchased with funds contributed by the ECI churches in Chennai.  Thenceforth, the church planting movement gained momentum in that region and a number of young men and women were trained for ministry with ECI.

George Lucas' Life and Ministry

We praise God for the life and ministry of George Lucas.  His unswerving commitment to the cause of evangelism, church planting and the training of young men and women to be come pastors and evangelists in North India was peerless.  Rev. George Lucas was a man of integrity and honesty.  He was a humble man of God and never aspired for any post or position.  When there was a leadership crisis in the North and I requested him to take charge as the Bishop of North India, he simply told me over the phone, "thank you for the offer, but my calling is not to become a Bishop".  We praise God for his life, and his role model as a servant of God in North India.  Here was a man with no personal ambitions and was absolutely honest with the funds and property entrusted to him from time to time.  There were numerous fruit-bearing treees on the expansive campus and no student was allowed to pick any fruit or flower.  Every fruit and flower picked from the campus was sold in the market and the funds directly went to the ECI account.

Teacher, Preacher, Writer and Radio Speaker

George Lucas was a great preacher and Bible teacher.  he was in great demand as a revival speaker both in the ECI and non-ECI circles.  He always preached with passion, emotional appeal and anointing.  He would move to tears during his sermons and was known as the "weeping prophet".  George was a well-known radio preacher as well.  His messages were regularly aired in the Masihi Vandana and Good News broadcasts.  He has published several collections of sermon outlines in English as well as Hindi.  His fifth such collection is yet to be published.  I personally admire and regard his life and ministry as a great example set before every one of us.  Deeming George and his ministry indispensable, the All India Conference of ECI voted that he could serve with the church till the last days of his life.

A Touching Funeral Service

I was immensely gireved when I received the news of George's Home-Call on 8th May 2014.  In spite of my ill health, I travelled all the way to Lalitpur by air, train and road along with Bishop Sundar Singh to be present at Rev. Lucas' funeral.  Together, we conducted the funeral service and paid our homage to him.  Dr George Lucas was a great man of God, certainly one of a kind and was loved by one and all.  God buries His workmen, but His work goes on and should go on.  This is our prayer.  I appeal to all the readers to pray for Rev. George Lucas' family and the ECI ministry in North India. 

A Stong Family Man and a Cricket Lover

Like most of us crazy Indians, Rev George Lucas was a diehard cricket buff.  He would never want to miss a match featuring the Indian national team.  I am told that even during the last days of his battle with cancer he would never miss a game and when it was too painful to lie on one side and watch the TV screen he wuld turn to the other side and continue watching the match in the reflection of the TV monitor in a mirror strategically hung on the oposite wall!!

Rev. George Lucas was treated for Prostrate cancer three years ago.  He was alright for awhile and there was a relapse and he succumbed finally to his deadly disease.  Do pray that the men and women that George Lucas had trained may carry on the ministry with the same kind of leadership ability and passion.

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