Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year, M!

This morning my sister Deb forwarded on this email to Dad and me:

Dear, Uncle Greeting to you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I wish you a very very happy and prosperous year. Uncle, God answered our prayer for my dad. God is so faithful to us.3. jan 2012 my Dad was released from the jail. I thank you for praying for my Dad. I hope your all are doing good. May God bless you.

I Thess 5:24 ( This is my Promise verse for 2012 )

Leading a chorus ...
And now the story can dare to be hinted at, the story of a son - one of my Dad's former students - whose father was arrested and imprisoned for three-plus years with no reason given. The man was seized and jailed, in a country north-east of India, without a trial and without any legal recourse. When the family started to question, they were told that if they launched any complaint or investigation his sentence would be doubled automatically to six years.

With the younger Chelli kids ...

M (I am not putting his full name in for fear of reprisal), though a fairly small man in stature, is a giant in his love for people, for his work and for God, rooted in no small part from his father. He has a natural musical ability that, if he were raised in the western world, people would have seized on and sent him for training and development of his talents and potential. Children love him and are drawn to him - and he always has the time for them.

He is a champion of the students he now teaches, a quiet encourager offering a word to someone he senses is downtrodden and under a cloud.

And yet, for over three years, he has laboured under a cloud most of us cannot even imagine.

His beloved father, in prison, allowed one visitor a month. M's sister would make the arduous journey most of the time. The man was given one handful of rice twice a day, with a spoonful of dal (lentils), a subsistence diet that ensured he would not die while draining him of all his strength. 

Cup your hand like you're going to fill it with water. Now imagine rice being put into the palm of that hand. Now level the rice off - no heaping handful for the prisoners! Two of those and that's your food for the day.

The conditions in jail were difficult, to say the least. And - worst of all - there was no guarantee that M's father would actually be released.

"Pray for my father, Sir," is what he would say to Dad when he saw him each time over the past three years. He himself could do little more than pray - the journey to his birth place is long by train and expensive by plane, by average Indian standards; and what money M could afford he would send to care for his mother who, one can imagine, was beside herself with grief and worry.

Yet, M persevered. He leads the music at the College; this year, the President's wife, Sarah Chelli, reported that the Christmas Cantata, under M's direction, was one of the best ever in recent memory. They had to schedule an additional performance as so many people in the neighbourhood showed up for it that there was no hope of accommodating all who wanted to come.

And M was the one who held the rehearsals, coaxed western-written four-part harmony out of people who are used to the doh-re-mi scale, pulled the choir and the narrators together.

Graduation, March 2011
At the very bottom of something I wrote last year about worship is a link to a clip of the congregation in Bangalore on a Sunday night. The first 30 seconds are of M. The reason I draw it to your attention is for you to see this man's face - not morose, not dwelling on the worries of his heart, but focused entirely on the goodness of God.

But his eyes - ahh, his eyes could not hide the tale of his very real pain ...

I would love to see those same eyes right now. How I wish those eyes could be looking at his Dad face to face - but I'm sure his Dad knows how much his son has done for him and for the family over the last long years.

What better way to start the year than with an email like this?! We're looking forward to seeing you and rejoicing with you in person in March, dear brother!


  1. Beautiful! What a wonderful way to start the New Year - with a message of freedom from The freedom giver along with such a fitting promise!
    Dear Brother M, we celebrate in gratitude with you. Indeed as your promise says, "Faithful is He who calleth you who also will do it". May God's benediction rest on you as you continue to serve in answer to His call.

  2. Wonderful words, Deb, and exactly right! I also recall that the verse M received as his "promise verse" for this year is Dad's "life verse". What a great verse!

  3. His father is free! What joy; and yet what depth has come from the pain of waiting - no doubt expressed in M's music. That's what draws people. What God begins, He completes.... So wonderful to know that what Mum started also continues, with cantatas for the wider community. Praying for M, for his family, and for full recovery of heart and body for his father. Glory to God!

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  5. Goons in blackface creeping in the road. It does not matter that we did not suffer the privations with M and his family, their victory is a victory for us all to celebrate. Those men in the ridiculous hats are fooling no one: we see right through their jackets despite all the worthless, self-congratulatory medals and the meaningless, self-referencing ribbons and know that their hearts are still two sizes too small. Hats Off Day is two months from today, maybe t.s. and a bunch of his pals will have their names on this years list by then. Our tears are tears of joy!

  6. Uncle M was overjoyed that day! I don't think a smile ever left his face! :) He is also a leader in the youth, and last Saturday we had just prayed for his dad's release. What a wondrous miracle- working God OUR God is.


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