Bishop M.A. Thomas
Dr. M. A. Thomas was brought up in a poor Christian family in South India and was religious from the early days. He tried to get in heaven by being good. In his teen years, even though he tried his best, he knew due to his own sin he had lost hope to get into heaven. While he was in college, due to the sudden death of a good friend, death and hell became a terror for him. He cried to God for mercy and pardon. When he found the joy of forgiveness and salvation in God, he gave his life to share this Good News to others, especially to the poor and needy. He felt he was a choice arrow drawn from his parents’ quiver, but he knew he needed to be sharpened for God’s service.
Will and Testament of Bishop M.A Thomas
“In my will I have no land to leave for you all. I have no bank account to leave for you all. My will is that you follow God’s will. If I die in the USA, please do not spend money to take my body to India. The money you save from that use it to gather more orphans and raise them as arrows for God. If I die in India, please ask all my friends not to waste money to come attend my funeral. Please ask them to send that money to raise orphans into arrows for God. I want God to give me long life to see one million arrows sent out to establish one million churches. I always love seeing God use ordinary orphans to do extraordinary Gospel work. I do pray and desire for a martyr’s death. I want to see the nations in the 10/40 window come to accept the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and be saved. I cannot wait to see my Savior whom I have loved and followed with my life. Look forward to seeing you there. God Bless! Papa”
1957 – 1960
After finishing his second year of Bible College, Dr. Thomas took a trip home to see his family, since he didn’t have 40 cents for the trip he decided to walk home 500 miles along with two other friends. On the 53rd day he arrived home. As a result of witnessing the Gospel to people during that walk, 11 worship centers were started that are still in existence today. God gave Dr. Thomas a heart for the poor. He used to walk 5 miles to engineering school with a half empty stomach, and would often give his rice packet to the poor and hungry. During Bible College, he gave what he had to the poor. His evening food outside the gate would be given to the poor and the hungry. He would gather the poor street children and start a Sunday School. He had 66 children in Sunday School under a tree! Every one of them cried when he left the Bible College to go to Kota, but he was now sharpened and ready to be launched as an arrow of hope into the heart of Northern India.
When Bishop Thomas graduated from Bible College in 1960, Dr. Bill Bright was the commencement speaker. He had heard about Bishop Thomas’ call to serve in North India. Dr. Thomas didn’t have the money to travel with his pregnant wife to Kota after graduation and so God blessed them through Dr. Bright supplying the $25 needed to make the trip by train. God launched them 1,500 miles to Kota in Northern India where they were met with daily challenges, but the Lord blessed the work. All of their Gospel materials were burned, and Dr. Thomas was put in prison, but the Lord saved men in the prison and the first prison based worship center was started.
Dr. Thomas started the first elementary school with eight children. It has now hundreds of branches all across India.
As Dr. Thomas traveled all over North India, he saw millions who had never heard the Gospel. He knew that it was impossible for one individual to reach all these people with the Gospel. One day, with God’s leading, he opened the first Emmanuel Bible Institute. His purpose in establishing the Bible Institute was to train young men and women to become Pioneer Missionaries. God has blessed this small ministry and now Hopegivers has Bible Institutes all over India and beyond, with tens of thousands of graduates, and worship centers.
The first orphanage was started with 8 orphans which now has hundreds of branches and thousands of children who have been rescued.
Dr. Thomas went to a poor leper colony in Faridabad, Delhi. He had no money with him to show his friendship to these lepers, so he shook hands with the lepers. Bishop Thomas had never seen another person shaking hands with the lepers. He fell in love with them and started collecting money through the school children. He brought twenty-six children from the leper colony to the orphanage. The children of the lepers did not have leprosy. Hopegivers now help hundreds of leper colonies.
The Dalits, the low castes, and the gypsy leaders (all untouchable castes) met Dr. Thomas along with other Gospel leaders and explained the condition of the poor Dalits and their needs. They said that in thousands of villages, tribal areas and gypsy villages there was not one person who could read and write. People were living in spiritual and physical bondage and poverty. These untouchables number over 800 million people. They asked us to come and help them, but they only asked one thing, that we start an elementary school with one teacher and a clinic with a nurse. They allowed us to preach the Gospel and the love of God from the first day and start a worship center. Now Hopegivers has a school and worship centers in thousands of such places (villages, tribal colonies and slum areas) with a dream of seeing schools and worship centers in every village and city in India where there is no Gospel witness. These are the ways God is using us as His arrows of hope to make a difference in India.
On December 4, 2010, Dr. M.A. Thomas, the man known by orphans, Bible students and missionaries all over the world simply as “Papa,” went home to be with the Lord. Praise God for this great man of faith.
“The work of Hopegivers has outlasted Dr. M.A. Thomas; it will outlast Dr. Samuel Thomas and all of us who passionately support this ministry.” — Luke J. (MS)