Partners International Canada lost a wonderful friend and effective leader this week. A kidney was donated in his fight against renal failure. However, a subsequent infection took his life. He leaves behind his wife, Tripti, and his two adult sons, Johnson and Paulson.
P.J. Thomas was a peaceful, kind man, whose passion for his faith, compassion for the poor and incredible perseverance led to the establishment of Emmanuel Ministries. In 1979, after his conversion from a strict Syrian Catholic upbringing, Mr. Thomas dedicated his life to sharing the Gospel. He left his work as a Senior School Administrator and began his ministry among the largest unreached people group in the world, the Bengalis.
Hours north of Kolkata, in the town of Samsi, PJ Thomas began planting churches among impoverished tribal communities. He was one of three Christians in the area (one who would later become his wife). The neighbouring towns and villages entrenched in Hindu tribal rituals had never had a Gospel witness. As the number of new believers grew he opened a small Bible school to equip them as pastors and evangelists to expand the kingdom work. At the same time, P.J. Thomas saw the great need for education among children and began a school. With the little money he earned through teaching he extended the school brick by brick, class by class.
Over thirty years, this good work has led to nearly 100 church plants, 90 leaders trained and a Gospel witness established among 125,000 individuals with over 7,000 professing faith in Jesus. Through the church network, Emmanuel Ministries builds wells for communities and distributes animals and micro-loans among poor families. The Emmanuel English School now stands as the top school in the District with over 800 students in attendance. The self-sustaining school boasts multiple students scoring the highest grades in the district examinations. P.J. Thomas gained a reputation for his good moral character and was requested by government officials to host the annual school exams. The Emmanuel School has hosted the exams for the past six years.
We are deeply grieved by the loss of our brother P.J. Thomas. We take this time to celebrate his life and the beautiful work that God accomplished through him with the support of Canadians. His light shone brightly and stands as an example to us all of a life lived out of love for Jesus and a commitment to others.