In l967 summer K.S.Varughese and I joined OM for gospel distribution. We were not so adventurous as MMMathew who went to Nepal that summer. Our summer trips transformed us to the core. MM came back changing his mind about child baptism as he stayed with a veteran engineer turned evangelist at Gorakhpur.
At first we were in Bangalore for about ten days when we had orientation and training. Some fifty boys were there and they were all to go to different places. There were five messages daily and I was privileged to be the translator for the whole time. After the orientation course we were sent to different places. Our team consisted of ten boys, all below twenty and our team leader was a foreigner in his thirties who also was the driver of our vehicle. Our team first went to Mysore and since we were one of the best teams we were sent to Rajasthan. In Rajasthan we made Jodhpur as our head quarters. Assembly work had not started in Jodhpur then. We were staying with one pastor Philip of a Pentecostal fellowship. He was very cordial and very helpful to us. We cooked our food and we used their place for our convenience. As a team we were doing extremely well. We had to sell books and meet our needs and we did not face much difficulty doing that. There was no persecution or disturbance for our work. Only once a crowd burnt our books and tried to throw burning books into our truck. We had a petrol vehicle which gave 4KMs for one liter of petrol. Petrol was Re.1 per liter. Our vehicle looked like the present day long chassis Tempo Traveler with no seats in it. It was Navy Blue with a big GB board in yellow.
After being in Jodhpur for more than a month and being very successful in our distribution work, the team decided to go to nearby places for distribution which we did. We would have just sufficient money to reach the place and we would sell books buy food and continue till evening to come back to our camp.
Once we decided to go to Pali which is in the border of Pakisthan. They said it was some 40 KMs from where we were and we would reach there in two hours and we can do distribution there and come back in the evening. Now we know that information was wrong. Then we were very excited and packed our truck with lots of literature and started after an early break fast to go to Pali. As we crossed about 20 Kms we came to roads which were covered by sand due to desert winds. There were no vehicles on road or no man to whom we might ask any thing. With our shovel we cleared the road and proceeded our journey for the next three hours to reach a place where there was a dilapidated temple and a handful of humble huts. We saw a camel there and one or two pea hens straying around. Our vehicle showed that we had traveled about 40KMs. We got down from the truck and found that we had to travel another 40 KMs to reach Pali. We had lost our way and came to a wrong place altogether!
Just imagine the situation. We had no money in our hands. Petrol in the vehicle was almost over. There was no one to buy books. From the locals we found out there was no bus service to that place either. No telephone facilities. In the scorching heat of Rajastjan towards the end of May at noon we were literally stranded with no shade even to park our truck. Looking all around we could only see sand, sand, and nothing but sand. We were all hungry and tired. We just did not know what to do. We all knelt down in our truck and began to cry to God for help. Only God had to help us now. If He did not help, we did not know what to expect. After every one prayed we all got out of the truck and washed our hands and faces with a little water. We had a few big onions and lemons in the truck. We cut onions into pieces and applied lemon juice on it and had it for lunch and waited there literally for help from above!
In just half an hour a miracle took place! There came a Government Jeep. It had a trailer with a 200 liter tank full of petrol. The Jeep stopped there and seeing our truck the man in the Jeep enquired who we were and how we came there. We narrated our story as students from Madras who came to sell Christian books, lost the way and stranded without petrol! The man we found out was a doctor on duty from village health department, visiting remote villages of Rajasthan with medical help. He always carried his trailer with petrol as he visited remote villages. The kind doctor was very compassionate and he bought books worth Rs.15/- and gave us 12 liters of petrol and Rs. three in cash. The books which he bought from us had Peace With God, This Way To Happiness, Pilgrim’s Progress, Ben Hur etc. The doctor went on to say, “This is not my regular route as no villages are near by. But half an hour ago something prompted me to come this way. It is your God and your prayers which brought me here.” Our joy knew no bounds. We thanked the doctor and got back into our truck and thanked God for the miraculous provision and started our journey back to Jodhpur by 2 pm and reached the city by 6 pm; on the one hand tired and exhausted and on the other hand excited to have had such a miraculous answer to prayer. And we never tried going to Pali again!
Who can imagine what would have happened to us if that Jeep had not come there with extra petrol and a willing man in that Jeep?