Opening of the Gate for Wider Pastures
FAVOURED BY ALL
In the beginning, before getting to know and understand deeper truths from the Bible, Bro. Lawrie was preaching the Salvation and Healing messages. He was welcomed by all the churches including Anglican, SPG, LMS, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal and etc. He was favoured by many Bishops, Missionaries and Church leaders.
“I am glad to note that you are doing very good work in and around Nagercoil. May God bless your work. I am also pleased to note that you are doing work in conjunction with the Church of South India”.
This was the credential given to Bro. Lawrie in the year 1958 by the then Bishop of Tirunelveli, Rt. Rev. A. G. Jebaraj.
Bro. Lawrie was very careful not to get involved in unscriptural activities such as the infant baptism or the sprinkling baptism or confirmation and etc. in any church. Because of the fact that the power of God was manifested in those meetings, no one much cared about it.
The pattern of work had been the same as our Lord Jesus when he walked this earth. He preached in the synagogues which was the denomination of His days. After that He preached in the open air or on sea shores going from place to place.
Also Bro. Branham, the angel to the Seventh Church Age, preached in many denominational churches wherever He was invited. Only in his own church and his own meetings in auditoriums that he was preaching against organized religion and also deeper truths as his ministry advanced.
It is but natural that God had the same pattern for Bro. Lawrie's ministry. He began his ministry among the denominational churches and was taken out later for the wider and more purposeful ministry from outside to preach the Truth of the Scriptures.
An exact from the Christian periodical “Good Samaritan” May 1961 issue would be enough to brush away the wrong notions about the man, that he is up to building a self ego, as the nervous churchmen try to paint him up:
“At last as the result of the prayers of many, God in His great mercy has raised Brother Paulaseer Lawrie, a Tamilian to rouse the Tamilians from their stupor. Madras has been blessed through his ministry during the past 3 months. Bro. Lawrie is a very unassuming young man with the voice and a message from God. He does not appear to belong to any particular denomination.”
“Although the Bishop in Madras seems to have thrown open to him all the Churches under his jurisdiction, so far Bro. Lawrie has not had the privilege of the wide publicity that was extended to Dr. Billy Graham. In the history of Madras, it was Dr. Graham who attracted record Christian crowds, which were sprinkled with Non-Christians.”
“It is strange that although Bro. Lawrie has not received much publicity, thousands have attended his meetings day after day, the attendance ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 per day in Perambur and Mylapore, 75% of them being Non-Christians. Holding meetings in the open air seems to have lured our Christian brethren, and quite a number of them proclaimed their acceptance of Christ as their personal Saviour”.
It looks as if Bro. Lawrie has been called specially for the ministry of healing. I appeal to the readers of the Good Samaritan to pray that God may take complete control of Bro. Lawrie and use him mightily for His glory. I also appeal for prayers that God may raise from Tamil Nad, men of faith like George Muller, Bible teachers like Dr. Torrey, preachers like Spurgeon, revivalists like Moody and Wesley brothers, etc., etc.”
“It is then that Tamil Nad will be healed of her elephantiasis, and Christianity will be a real power. May the good Lord hear us and bless our land”.
JEALOUSY AND CONSPIRACY
The Bishop of Madras (Chennai) was jealous of the popularity Bro. Lawrie had gained among the Christians and Non-Christians alike, due especially to the great success of his healing ministry. This success of Bro. Lawrie’s meetings only incensed the church leaders further and even those few in the high offices who had been reluctant to censor him now joined the ranks to discredit him.
It came as no surprise when the Bishop of Madras wrote an official letter addressed to every group, church, college, and hospital head under his Diocese of Madras comprising the whole of Tamil Nadu slandering Bro. Lawrie. The controversy was great. The laymen reacted sharply and refuted the charges leveled against Bro. Lawrie by printing a rejoinder.
They distributed the copies to the same persons the Bishop had addressed his letter. The rejoinder not only cleared Bro. Lawrie of all the commissions and omissions he was accused of in the Bishop’s letter dated October 6, 1962, but it brought to light the base motive that had prompted him to write it.
Should the Bishop not have been happy that so many non-Christians were attending Bro. Lawrie’s meetings coming to the Lord Jesus Christ? The rejoinders written by Bro. Lawrie’s supporters continued to blast the church leaders in their many attempts to slander Bro. Lawrie and pointing out that it was because he refused to become a tool in their hands that they were forcing him out of the churches.
The Bishop had also committed one of the gravest errors in trying to whip up the communal passions between the two major groups - Nadars and Pillais - by writing this letter. Though couched in carefully camouflaged words, it could be discerned by everyone who was in the know of the state of affairs within the Diocese.
It was a great battle in those days among the Christians in South India. The common people supported him, but mostly the leaders were fighting against him. Many people came out of the church because of this controversy. The Bishop of Madras who was instrumental in widening the cleavage had been at one time an ardent supporter and well-wisher of Bro. Lawrie. It was like the spirit of jealousy that haunted King Saul against David who was anointed by God. This caused Bro. Lawrie to go after wider pastures where the Lord alone would reign supreme.
One could also see the trend of the Protestant Churches those days to unite with the Catholics, and Bishop Chellappa championed the cause. This action of the Bishop too caused many people to leave the church to follow God according to the Word. The Catholics were known to fight tooth and nail all over against Bro. Lawrie, pasting large posters etc. The representatives met on 6th October 1962 at the Memorial Hall, and the circular letter against Bro. Lawrie was issued on the same day.
Could this be a master stroke to curry favour with the Catholics in a deadly unity, trampling upon the blood of countless martyrs? How could we, in all sincerity associate ourselves with the C.S.I. organization any longer and when we were all Protestants according to the faith delivered to us by faithful men of old like Martin Luther and others?
A sincere brother wanted to have meetings in a place called Arakkonam. The Arakkonam church authorities, rather than supporting, were antagonistic, as Bishop Chellappa had called all clergy and others and warned them of dismissal from the mission field if they helped Bro. Lawrie. He had made the Arakkonam church to pass a resolution that Bro. Lawrie should not be invited.
Knowing this, Bro. Lawrie fixed a far away open ground owned by a Muslim and more than 50,000 started coming. Mighty works of the Lord were wrought there. Then the church resolution and the pastors were in a sad plight. The pastor wanted Bro. Lawrie to see the Bishop, but Bro. Lawrie considered it useless to see the Bishop unless the resolution was cancelled as the meetings were meant mostly for Non-Christians.
This paragraph out of the editorial in “The Christian Focus” sums up what was wrong and where:
“But there was no limit to his (Bro.Lawrie’s) popularity. Pentecostal groups were peeved because one who was avowedly of Pentecostal faith would not come into their close corporation; the sects (Brethren among them) were critical because this non-conformist had no use for their time-worn evangelical “Gadgets” - altar call, decision cards, and adding to man’s statistical glory: institutional Christianity-both Protestant and Catholic-was nervous because (following an inner urge and without license or consecration) a churchman would go beyond the confines of the Church and become disturbingly popular”.
UNEQUAL YOKE BROKEN
Those were the days when the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission was broken into two and the expelled break away group came out under the leadership of Pastor Allwyn. Bro. Lawrie gave him refuge and that group wanted to fellowship with us. Many of those in that group accepted the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and were rebaptized.
Among them was also a sister called Sarah Navaroji who was with Bro. Lawrie. She was a good composer of meaningful Christian devotional songs and a good singer too. She had composed quite a number of very nice songs and composed the music too for them. Those songs are still very popular among all Christian groups. This sister later started a ministry of her own.
There was an united worship of both groups at No. 9 Rundalls Road, Vepery Chennai. This caused misunderstanding among believers. It seemed to be an unequally yoked alliance. One day Pastor Allwyn wanted to take over the ministry and said, the ministry was his and that everyone should take orders from him only.
Therefore Bro. Lawrie immediately separated from them since he would take orders from Christ only. Bro. Lawrie arranged for a very big hall called “The Jubilee Hall” at Vepery, Chennai so that the believers could worship freely without any bondage. Then all the believers were very happy and returned to Bro. Lawrie.
BIBLE TEACHING MINISTRY
By now Bro. Lawrie was teaching the deep Truths of Scriptures openly in the meetings attended by large gatherings of thirsting people. This prompted people to come out of denominational bondage. They were very eager to know the Truths of the Bible. Bro. Lawrie introduced the messages of Bro. William Branham to them all.
The preachers who opted for the ministry of Bro. William Branham first, backed out later seeing the depth of his teachings. Pastor G. Sundram, Bro. Henry Joseph, Bro. Manuel Fernando, Bro. P. Daniel were four preachers together who edited a monthly magazine called “Herald of Deliverance” (Viduthalai Thoothan). They published the Life Testimony of William Branham in the issues from May 1956 to November 1956. Now the same ministers and their groups are totally opposed to his Ministry and Message doctrines tooth and nail. But Bro. Lawrie stood his ground and stuck to the Truth preached by Bro. William Branham.
In the summer of 1965 the Lawries went to Orissa State also and visited Sambalpur and Cuttack. The then Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr. Biren Mitra’s son had a fractured leg and was in plaster. He got healed immediately after prayer, and removed the plaster. At Sambalpur they were invited by the Maharaja of Kanunga to whom they opened the deep mysteries of the Bible. They had some tracts printed in the local language and distributed them.
It was during these days that Bro. Lawrie had the book ‘Life that Pleases God’ by Fred L. Page, U.S.A. printed in large quantities and distributed them all over the world. This book helped many in their spiritual life to enjoy the blessings of God. The lives of many were changed and they decided to live a life of Total dependence upon God. The contents of this book are hosted on this website.
In 1966 Bro. Lawrie had to go over to Andhra Pradesh in the North, followed by a trip to Kerala - South and then on to Mysore - West. Later, they were again called to Andhra Pradesh and North India. On return from their trip to North India, meetings were held at S.I.A.A. Grounds, Chennai and then at Richard’s Park, Saidapet, where thousands of people came to understand the deep things and decided to serve God.
Dr. S.C. Jacob and Dr. (Mrs.) Mascreen with their families were among those touched by the Lord. A few years later they came to the ministry leaving their jobs and worldly possessions. Dr. Jacob was a Research Scientist in the Madras University Geology Department. When Bro. Lawrie wanted to have the book “Seven Church Ages” translated into Tamil, he was looking for a scholar to do the job. This Dr. Jacob was the best suited person for this purpose and he did a wonderful job of translating the book into Tamil.
This book was sent out to more than 1000 leaders and believers in Tamil Nadu who were able to take a bold stand and come out of their denominational bondage. A few years later he left Bro. Lawrie and took charge of the printing of William Branham messages in Tamil under the guidance of the Branham Followers in Canada.
During those days in June 1966, when huge crowds of people thronged the S.I.A.A. Grounds, Chennai, the volunteers had a tough task handling the various types of people, some out to create mischief. As is expected in a crowd, there were people of different mental build-up also.
One night when the crowd was thinning out after the meeting, a Hindu Sadhu (saint) in saffron coloured robe confronted the volunteers with the question, “Why was I not able to see God?” He was dripping with murky sewage water. It appears that this man was creating lots of trouble earlier in the meeting, asking questions like “What is the size of the soul?” “Show me the true God” and the like.
In order to get rid of him, one of the volunteers told him, “Why don't you get into the sewage running behind the Moore Market (close to the S.I.A.A. Grounds)? You may then be able to find the true God”. This Sadhu took him literally and was standing in the sewage water for hours immersed up to his neck!
He found the true God when Bro. Lawrie prayed for him. At one of the meetings this Sadhu Jeevaputhiran confessed that he saw an Angel of the Lord standing at the right hand of Bro. Lawrie in a protective stance. Seeing this he involuntarily screamed, “Lawrie is indeed a man called of God. Listen to him. Listen to him”.
Sadhu Jeevaputhiran was also watching the people who were being prayed for in the prayer line. There was a young girl who was totally blind from the birth. When Bro. Lawrie touched her eyes and prayed for her, she immediately received her sight. This made Jeevaputhiran to draw closer to Bro. Lawrie and subsequently receive the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again the call came from Northern parts of India, and Bro. & Sister Lawrie visited such places as Naidupettai, Nellore, Kavali and Bitragunda. At Naidupettai, a devil-possessed man went rushing up to the dais. When he could not reach Bro. Lawrie, he hit the ground with such force that his entire fist went into the ground! He was delivered from devil possession.
At Nellore more than 50,000 people attended daily, during the 30 days’ meetings held there. Many people received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. More than 1000 people were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In September 1966, the Lord dealt with Deva-Evu, the eldest son of Bro. Lawrie. On the way to the meetings at Kavali, Andhra Pradesh, he was reading the book “The Life that Pleases God” the Spirit of God moved his heart to serve God fully. This prompted him to leave his college studies and come into the ministry for full-time work about October 12, 1966.
In 1967 again they went north, to Jamshedpur this time. On the way they were caught up in a political agitation. The train they were travelling in was held up at a wayside station and was stoned. No harm came to the children of God.