“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land” (PS:137) is the reflection of the distress while the God’s chosen people were captivates in Babylon. This has also been exactly the cry of our people in this foreign land; but God in His infinite mercy mysteriously did help His people. And now while there are thousands of Tamils in this land, about 500 do faithfully worship Him and it is indeed precious in His sight.
If you trace its very beginning, it brings to our mind the message found in Zach.4:10, God used Rev.C.A.De Bruin RCA Missionary from Madras Dioceses who was on a visit to Bahrain to stay with his daughter and son-in-law, to start the first worship service for Tamils in Bahrain, at the Majlis close to the present National Evangelical Church building. In the summer of 1958. Since there was no one to take up this responsibility and the numbers of Tamil Christian were few, no service was held for about seven years. Still a faithful few, did meet whenever possible for prayer. from then on, the Tamils were encouraged to meet as a prayer group till the year 1964 – 65. As an answer to prayer, again the worship service was revived in 1965. Since then this has been continued. Praise is to God. In those early days Br.Rajendran regularly visited Christian homes and invited them for worship services. The hospitality rendered by Br.Dharmaraj for Christian fellowship can never be forgotten. Rajendran Benjamin was one of the earliest members who co-ordinated efforts to get all the Tamils together. John Peter, C. Swamickan, Davidson Solomon, Dharmaraj and Babyans are the names of the other early members of this then small congregation.
Satan at this stage tried to sow the seeds of discord. Bishop I.R.H.Gnanadasan, who visited Bahrain at that time, met many Christian individually and made them realize that the Church is one. His attempts fetched the desired goal and glorious word of God that he shared is still aglow.
The Lord wants prayer to be an integral part of our lives and so most of the bothers who have known this truth, started a Church prayer-fellowship in 1972. This prayer cell gave rise to men’s prayer fellowship and women’s fellowship which functions every Saturday , till date, praying for the Churches, the needs of the Congregation, for the Nation, the Rulers and World peace. Those sisters those who could not join the worship service because of the duty schedule or in their hostels. The house visiting and prayer meetings in 1973 resulted in the steady rise of the Church membership. In this year, the book “Song of Salvation” was released and the Christmas carol groups visited every home and engendered the Joy of Christmas all around. This practice was continued until 1978.
While it was so difficult even to get around BD 2 or 3 as offering in the Church service, the Church bazaar (Thanks Giving Festival) in 1973 marked a turning point when it raised BD 732.700 after expenses. With increase in salaries, there was increase in giving for God’s work. It began to support many Churches in India and also worldwide Ministries.
The service of Rev.Devenport, the Pastor of ELC in 1973, can never be forgotten. Pastors from E.L.C. Arabic and Urdu congregation of the National Evangelical Church and American Mission Hospital Chaplains, helped in sacrament of the Lord and sharing God’s word.
1976 marked the year of the youth. Although its beginning was not speculate, it soon became fruitful because of those who submitted to the will of God. The sing song service was also initiated by choristers has led to the joint venture of all language Christian carol groups in the same year. Yet another important involvement of the youth group is that, the members meet the poor laborers and shared the Gospel with them.
No more could the Majilis building accommodate the Tamil Christian Congregation which has steadily grown and hence the worshipping was shifted to NEC. The N EC were continued on every Thursday evenings and then from 1979 it was changed to Friday evenings. Now the Church indeed began to grow and sometimes there was no enough room for members. Praise the Lord. In year 1980, during the visit of Br.R.Stanley, Bible study group was started. Prayer is the place where burdens change shoulders. The all night prayer also strengthened the spiritual life of the people. At the request of Dr.Pushparaj, the church came forward to support 3 Missionaries in the tribal areas. At present the Church supports 46 Missionaries all over India.
1984 is an important mile stone in the history of the Tamil Church in the Kingdom of Bahrain, for this year marked the formation of mid night prayer vigil of the month of February, fasting prayer and children Bible study cell in October and the opening of Church library in December. Though all these involvements, the Church indeed grows and the name of the Lord is Glorified. There are many whom we gratefully remember because of their prayers and services. Of them we like to mention a few: Bros. Rajanderan, David Samuel, Justus, Anugraham, Swamikanu, Paulraj, Seelan, Daniel Chellappa, Pandian, Baaripal, Solomon, Arthur, Baraeca, Wilfred, Dr. Ambalavanar, Sister Annathai, Rani Sigamony and Ratna. Although they are not here with us, we thank the Lord for their faithfulness.
1997 was the year which brought us a leader to guide us and help us worship the Lord and join us in His kingdom and table. The NEC Common Council gave us permission to instate our own Pastor for our Congregation. The Tamil Church was successful in bring Pastor Rev. Ananda Kamalashekaran (1997 – 1999), he served the Church for two years followed by Rev. Abraham Lincon (1999 – 2001), Rev. Samuel Bhaskar (2001 – 2003), Rev. Dr.Kanagaraj (2003 – 2004). Presently Rev. P. Sam Blessing is guiding us in the Lord’s path to glorify the God.
“To Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph 3:21)