The sabbath evening of July 18, 1993 marked a historic occasion for Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Houston. It was such an occasion, for the whole confederation of our churches as well, and at least a rare event in the church world at large. Pastor Jaikishin Mahtani, a minister of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore, was formally installed as minister of our Houston congregation, virtually an unparalleled action, but one made possible in the grace of God through the sister-church relationship which our denominations share.
The Singapore church began in the 1970s as a group of largely Chinese, unmarried young people living in the midst of a dominantly heathen land. They formed a Christian organization originally called the Gospel Letters and Tracts Department. Essentially, all of them came from families that were non-Christian, and many strongly anti-Christian.
In the providence of God, they were put in touch with our Protestant Reformed Churches, the year 1978 marking the beginning of our mission work with them. At that time, Pastor Mahtani was a teenage Indian youth from a Hindu family, who had to participate with this Christian group while under parental persecution. In the ensuing years, we sent tapes, literature, and emissaries of pastors, elders, and professors, often accompanied by their wives, to whom the girls and young women were especially drawn in their questions.
Perhaps of the greatest significance were the sending of one of our ministers and his family to serve as missionary with them for over eight years and the training of two of their men in our Grand Rapids Seminary. These men, one of whom was Pastor Mahtani, were to be the first two ministers of the new Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore, formally organized with the approbation of our own denomination. A sister church relationship was formed, as we have continued to support Singapore by the presence of one of our most experienced and valued pastors and his wife as minister on extended loan to them today and the soon-coming of a third young student at our seminary.
In these and many other ways, the Lord has been pleased to use the Protestant Reformed Churches to respond to the Singapore group’s hunger for the truth and high spiritual energies, all arising and being fed by God’s grace alone. We are brought low in humility before the wonder of His work, and yet lifted up in thankfulness for the fruit of His hand.
Now He has been pleased to show in yet another way the mystery of His power. The pulpit of our tiny Texas congregation had become vacant earlier this year. Our pastor, who had faithfully served us for seven years, answered God’s call to become missionary to a Reformed and Presbyterian group of believers in Northern Ireland, whom our churches have been assisting for a number of years.
In our need and our struggling in prayer that God would give us growth in numbers while we faithfully witnessed to the Truth of His Word, our tiny country church on the western perimeter of Houston, Texas was led to ask for help from Singapore. We called one of their ministers to become our under-shepherd. When we called Pastor Mahtani to come over and help us, we were greatly influenced by his reputation of commitment to God’s Truth and his evangelical fervor to present that Truth to all men. Not knowing God’s purpose beforehand, it came to us, at least as a possibility, that his own Indian ancestry and the Chinese origins of Esther, his wife, might be used of God in bringing the Gospel to the extensive Indian and Chinese enclaves in our large metropolitan, as well as to the population at large.
Our hopes for the future are in faith and not seen, but we have been blessed far beyond our expectation with the presence of the Mahtani family and the preaching of our new pastor for the few weeks since their arrival. Great has been the reward after months of human concern and activity during the immigration process and major renovation of the parsonage, all carried out by numerous dedicated hands. Time would fail me to enumerate all that has been done and by whom, but one acknowledgment must be made. We are thankful to God beyond our ability to express in words, not simply for bringing this great work to pass, but for His gift of faithfulness to every member of our Protestant Reformed Churches, each of whom has contributed to our being sustained for over 20 years now through the generous subsidies derived from synodical assessments from all our congregations. May He give us strength to show truly our thankfulness in our loving obedience to His Word, especially in the way of preaching the Gospel to all the world, and may He send some of you who read this to visit us in Texas so that we may personally show our gratitude to God for His work in you.
Elder, Trinity PRC of Houston