Massey Sahab

Massey Sahab
I was surrounded with chaos, fear and hopelessness. Though I was looking for an escape but I chose to seek the company of Lord Jesus Christ. I always wished to attend the English Service, so one day I made up my mind and finally landed up in the Church in May 2019. I used to attend the Church only on festivals. This thing was new to me. This time I was here to seek the company of Lord Jesus Christ. I found the English service to be peaceful as there were lesser number of people. I needed peace to connect with Lord Almighty and the aura of the English service had it all.

Pastor Koted, who was taking the charge of English service was transferred. He was a very humble and noble person. A new Pastor was appointed and Mr. J.C. Vishwas introduced him to the congregation of the Shepherd Memorial Church, Udaipur. He extended his first sermon and he had something to offer beyond the scriptures. I always used to greet him after the Church by saying that his sermon was good. He was mostly expressionless.

On the day of my Dad's birthday, we used to keep a prayer meeting in his memory. Both the Pastors, Rev. Damor and Pastor Avinash came to our place. On that day I got a chance to interact with him and realized that his expressionlessness is just a part of his personality, while he is open for interactions. He told us about his interest in music and that he wants to conduct praise and worship in the English Service. I was happy to know that.

I wasn't even a bathroom singer. The only place where I used to sing was in my car, yet I conveyed him my interest in singing and sent him one of my favorite songs - '500 Miles', which turned out to be his favorite as well. He asked me to sing a worship song - 'Lord I Offer My Life To You' in the English Service. I prepared the song and tried to deliver it. Pastor Avinash said that I sang it well and I believed him. Luckily one of my acquaintances, Annie, was present in that worship as well and she recorded a portion of the song. I was really grateful to her.
Pastor Avinash tried to take it ahead. He formed a choir with the three of us, Pranjal, Dhruv and I, while Pastor Avinash used to play the guitar. The first song that we sang as a choir was 500 miles. From there we never turned back and we adored Lord Almighty in the Church during the English Worship Service, every Sunday.
Then in March 2020 the world was hit by the Covid 19 crisis and everything was shut and lockdown was commanded by the government. We had no option but to stay at our homes. We still continued with an online service through google meet, where we used to pray and adore Him through praise and worship. After several months the lockdown was lifted under certain conditions. The Church opened and things were pretty fine, yet I joined back a bit later.

By the time I started to visit the English service again, there were a few new faces. Ashish, Rahul, Shalom, Keren, Mrs. Ekta, Michelle and Vedant were a few of them. Our choir was bigger now and soon after, several new faces sailed in, Annie, , Mrs. Sheela, Blessy, Mr. Bukky and several others. We witnessed a time when we were around 15 people who were singing in the choir. It was the inclusive character of Pastor Avinash that he gave a chance to everyone to adore Lord Almighty by singing the hyms of praises for Him.
Moreover, Pastor Avinash also gave us a chance to deliver sermons on certain Sundays during the English service. I'm grateful to him that he extended such an opportunity to a few of us. It only helped me in getting closer to the Almighty. I would not say every, but I connected with most of the sermons of Pastor Avinash. The best thing that I always admired about him was this, that he was open to questions and was always ready to enlighten us with his words of wisdom. He even started Bible Reading sessions after the English service and gave everyone of us a chance to deliver our reflections upon the Biblical verses. After every session, he used to appreciate us and at the same time corrected us, if we misinterpreted the actual substance of certain verses or instances from the Holy Bible. He was always inclusive. He always tried to bring forward the youngsters from the congregation.

By now I came very close to him, to this extent that I never questioned or doubted his ways, in which he wished to take things forward. We were close yet we always kept a distance of dignity, where I obeyed him as a teacher and he treated me like his student. We were friends yet I maintained a relationship of respect, that I never over spoke or over did anything beyond his wish. While I was seeking Lord Jesus, Pator Avinash helped me a lot through his sermons, which were words of wisdom for me. The company of Lord Jesus, His Church and His faithful servant, Pastor Avinash brought a lot of positive changes in me. All my fears were washed away and I started taking things as they came, rather getting worried about them. I always try to become a better human being, though I'm still not anywhere closer to it, but in all these years I realized that I'm still better than many.

Later, I caught up some infection when the Covid's new variant was spreading and I couldn't attend the Church for almost 2 months. When I joined back, things were a bit different. Many of the choir members weren't coming anymore. Only a few of us were. Things were a bit cold. There was an environment of criticism, disliking and unrest. It happens when few changes are introduced and the things which were completely irrelevant suddenly become relevant.

Soon after two young lads, Abishai and Abhijit joined in, who were blessed with the skills of music. Ashish received an extended support with Abhijit. They both were outstanding with their talents. With us a few others, including Anjela, Kritika, Abhinav, Anchal and her two brothers and Anushka joined in. Pastor Avinash organized a few meditation eves in the Church. Even while there were differences and there were times when Pastor Avinash felt humiliated, we never stepped back and always participated or conducted certain meditation eves in the Church successfully.
A time came when on the recommendation of Pastor Avinash, our Choir was given an opportunity by Rev. Damor to sing in the Church Convention for three days. We practiced for several days to deliver our best, to live upto the expectations, as it was the first time that no other choir was invited and only we were given the charge to sing and adore Lord Almighty for three days. The day came and we delivered our best, irrespective of several challenges. We all were appreciated by the guest Pastor. He admired our singing and the choice of songs. He even called us on the stage to sing along while he prayed. It was such a spiritual moment when the aura was filled Jesus's presence. I would say that I got to witness some of the best sermons by him in all the three days. He was talking truth and facts. He was straight and his words were like swords and he was narrating realities that exist within our community. After the service used to finish on each of the three days, I witnessed some really strange vibes when people used to gather around Pastor Avinash. The vibes weren't good. I was concerned about him, as he always tried to protect us against everything and everyone.
Things were already building up in the background and now our choir was left with just five of us, Abishai, Mrs. Sheela, Ashish, Abhijit and I. Things were getting dark and Pastor Avinash fell a prey to all the unfortunate events one after the other. He was surrounded with difficulties and chaos. He was surrounded with fear, humiliation, disgust and rejection. He was even threatened. I stopped going to the Church for my reasons, as the sanctity of the house of Lord Almighty was maligned. I was constantly in touch with Pastor Avinash and I often used to have a word with our Bishop, Right Rev. Raimson Victor. I knew him personally and I knew that he won't let the things go out of his hands. His assurance was a sigh of relief. Pastor Avinash and I were in touch, almost everyday. He faced the situation like a true Christian. He suffered a lot yet he didn't surrender to the misbehavior of these handful of people. He stood stout and kept patience.

Soon, the dark clouds were scattered and the sun rose again. Things were better. I congratulated Pastor Avinash for his stand in favor of the Lord's house. His patience and suffering paid of. I salute him for this, for I've seen and heard him suffer. It was him alone who was facing the situation. He faced it with dignity and courage.

We were back to the English service, adoring Lord Almighty with praises. Pastor Avinash often used to give us an opportunity to present a song on Christmas, new year and other festivals. By now, Mrs. Sheela, Abishai, Ashish, Abhijit and I were a family. Pastor Avinash had always been a friend, guide and philosopher.
Things were pretty mild and at peace. Soon it came to our knowledge that the tenure of Pastor Avinash was about to get over and he'd have to leave after the Easter service. I wasn't so happy about it but his service to the Shepherd Memorial Church was time bound. Even while I was occupied, I made myself available for his plans. He wanted us to be present for the Wednesday service during the lent days. I attended the worship service on every Wednesday and sang a few songs to adore Lord Almighty. I was also a part of his plan, for extending a sermon on the last Wednesday, a week before the passion week.

This time it wasn't an opportunity but a responsibility. I had never given a sermon in Hindi and it was for the first time that I had to deliver it in front of the elders and prominent members of the pastorate committee. It was never so, but still people recognized me as some disciple of Pastor Avinash. It was a heavy responsibility on me as he trusted me on this. I had seen a lot and this was the time to summarize everything, that people could comprehend the reflection of Jesus Christ, than to be just going about the religious rituals and the holy scriptures. I conveyed what I had to convey and I hoped that a few might have realized the message and would have surely tried to change the things around them and inside of them.

I took a sigh of relief when Pastor Avinash said that I delivered it well. Several others came forward and congratulated me for the sermon. They said that I mentioned the things that were necessary to be conveyed. I was happy that I lived up to the expectation of Pastor Avinash.
He also wanted us to sing during the passion week and so we sang a few worship songs for the whole week. On Easter as well, he asked us to sing a worship song. We practiced a song for the blessed occasion. We added some elements which were different from the original song. We sang our hearts out. It was the last day while I was singing in his presence. The song went well. Every time anybody used to admire us, that admiration was actually for Pastor Avinash.

He introduced me to hundreds of beautiful worship song and those songs became my prayers. I used to sing to the Lord Almighty. We invested a lot of time and efforts in practicing some of the toughest songs. While the original tracks would have been thoroughly practiced for months, we had to deliver them with a practice of just few hours. There was a time when we used to practice and sing 5 worship songs in the English service. The convention and other events were where we had to practice more than 20 songs. We mostly did it because Pastor Avinash made it look easy. I would say that it was a spiritual and musical journey with Pastor Avinash.
The group of the five of us who stayed while everyone else left due to some reasons or situations, invited Pastor Avinash for a farewell dinner. It was the last fellowship of our choir. Pastor Avinash is surely a wonderful human being. He is only human and humans commit mistakes. It's rightly said that those who do not make mistakes usually do not make anything. He is young and he is still in the process of growing into his better version. While everyone lived the regular and monotonous ways, he tried to put forward new ways of adoring Lord Almighty. His efforts were sincere. He has a long way to go.

I shared a very special bond with him. There were times when people used to tell me that Pastor Avinash had said something bad about me, that he took a jibe on me or he is like this or that. To which I always used to say that I know him and even while he would have said anything bad about me, I've given him the right to say anything about me, criticize me or look down upon me. I shared a very different bonding with him. Massey Sahab is the name by which I address him often, as once he mentioned this desire of his.

Life is shorter than we know and we do not know where we'd land up in the coming days or years. I'm glad that I came across such a wonderful person like him. I'm sure that he'd get better. His simplicity is his asset. He has miles to go and he'd surely deliver his best. I'd be happy to see him back as Presbyter incharge of the Shepherd Memorial Church, Udaipur, some time soon. He'd be serving and enlightening many in the years to come. I'm sure about that.

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