It was a Friday morning.
Although I do not remember the exact date, it was in May 2005 that I received a call early in the morning. I had just returned late during the night before Â fromÂ a business trip abroad and wasÂ initially a bit reluctant to pick up the phone. Yet, I thought I will answer the phoneÂ and request the caller to call me later.
“Praise the Lord!”, said the caller before introducing himself as K.K.JamesÂ fromÂ Bahrain. The voice was so warm and friendly that I did not feelÂ like asking him to call meÂ later! Instead, the call lastedÂ over one and a half hours or so and in the end, I realized I had developed a close bond with James.
Thereafter, we used to Â exchange telephone calls more frequently and it had become a daily routine especially after Vineeth andÂ RoshanÂ got married. I got to know James and his familyÂ at close quarters during the period that followed, the turn of eventsÂ from the timeÂ their darling daughter JamieÂ took ill which eventuallyÂ turned out to be leukaemia, the long stays in CMC Hospital, Vellore andÂ RCC Trivandrum that brought them face to face with the misery and suffering of the unfortunate , the meditation and prayer sessions including retreat sessions at PottaÂ Retreat Center, the final moments whenÂ they bade farewell to dear Jamie holding her in his armsâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.and how they dedicated the rest of their lives in the service of the dear Lord, workingÂ much of their off-duty time among hospital patients, the poor and the needy, irrespectiveÂ of Â religion, caste or creed doing selfless serviceÂ and sacrifice in terms of time, effort and money! Many friends of mine in Bahrain have spoken volumes about the selfless serviceÂ rendered by James andÂ Jessie to the needy, the sick and theÂ suffering, and those in distress.
In fact, JamesÂ explained to me how the pain and suffering that they personally experienced when their dear daughter Â was ailing, (and eventually left this world) brought them close to Christ and how this cast a burden on them towards bringing people to Christ before they need Him without the need for having to pay a heavy price for that! â€™”AmÂ I my brotherâ€™s keeper ?”, Cain retorted to God when He asked him “Whereâ€™s yourÂ brother Abel?”. Â James and Jessie believed that they had a duty of care and concernÂ for the less fortunate, the sick and the suffering, the un-employed and the under-employed, those who had lost their jobs/visas, those who were bereavedâ€¦..the list is endless! All their efforts during the last over 10 years of James and his familyÂ were towards reachingÂ out succour to the suffering and wiping the tears of the distressed! It was their daily routine to spend at leastÂ 6 hours on a typical working day, after office hours ,to visit hospitals and homes, extending support and solace to the sick and the suffering,Even during the days that he spent as an inpatient in Sree Chitra Institute, I remember the painstaking efforts that James took towards extending financial support for facilitating heart-surgery for his fellow inpatient.
The tremendous amount of energyÂ and enthusiasm that flowed from a compassionate heart driven by a concern for people and winning more souls for His kingdom seems to be the real reason for Jamesâ€™ fast paced life towards the last 10 years of his life. Alongside his humanitarian work,James and his family gotÂ closely involved in theÂ â€˜Thursday Prayer Fellowshipâ€™, an inter-denominational Prayer Group in Bahrain whichÂ James led from the front over Â the last several Â years with cent percent commitment , control and prayerful Â co-operation and co-ordination. I had the privilege of attending their weekly worshipÂ during May 2010 when I visited Bahrain (along with Latha, my wife) to call on ailing James. I was deeply touched by the love and affection poured on James by its membersÂ when he joined the worship, leading itÂ despite his physical Â weakness.We also remember James, during one of his earlier trips to Dubai, responding to Â a prayer request by a chidless couple (for many years ) living in Dubai, rushing to meet them and interceding with the Lord for them. Thank God,Â James could get the good news from them before his demise, that they had a child, a gift from the Lord! I have had then personal experience of his conductingÂ on to me the spiritual energy while praying for my ailment, touching me on my head. James had an empathizing mind and a compassionate heart that made him identify with the person who he was praying for, and interceding with the Heavenly Father.
During the last few days that James spent in Kerala in Ernakulam and Â Chettikulangara, despite the decline that he has been passing through and probably looking to and listening to the reaction of onlookers, he never displayed any negative emotions , on the contrary ,re-affirming his faith muttering the words â€˜Trust in the Lordâ€™ with a gentle smile on his face.
18 July,2010. That was a Sunday. As we were getting readyÂ to go to Church, the sad news reached us. The words that immediately came to my mind were â€˜Praise the Lord!â€™! For, James had fulfilled his mission in this world Â worthy of his calling and was being re-called to His kingdom by theÂ Almighty to shoulder higher responsibility.
â€˜I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day â€“ andÂ not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.â€™
2 Timothy Ch.4 vs 7|8
As we were pondering as to why this happened to a Â person like James, God consoled us with the following verses from Isaiah Ch.57 vs 1|2 reading asunder:
â€˜The righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.’
Looking back a year after dear James left this world for his Heavenly abode, he is Â fondly remembered in his absence, just as Â he is sadly missed in this world! â€™PRAISE THE LORDâ€™,Â those words still reverberate in my ears!
GEORGE P. KURUVILLA (CHANGANACHERRY)