This handsome gentleman is my friend and neighbor Mr. Anamkott Saji Muthalali Ezhamkulam (owner of Shell Petrol Pump, Adur.)
He and his spiritually enthusiastic wife are on fire for God, blessed with many spiritual gifts.
Our grandparents shifted from Chengannur---Saji's grandparents from Chenagnnur Alummoottil family directly to Nedumon, Ezhamkulam, around 1920, and my grandparents from Aiyrookkuzhiyil family to Mithrapuram(Adur) in 1924--- and then to Kalleth Village about four kilometers South-East of Ezhamkulam Junction in 1931.
When I left India for higher studies in 1970, Saji's father A. M. Kunjukutty Muthalali was one of the richest landlords in Kollam District. He owned seven BENZ buses that serviced the Pathanamthitta-Chavara route, in addition to several rubber plantations.
His dad's mansion on Kayamkulam-Punalur Road near Mangad was an eye-catching site in those days.
Saji's grandfather's younger brother's wife Annamma-kochamma(Nedumon) was one of the first-fruits of Pentecostalism in North Ezhamkulam. My mother and her four sisters were the first-fruits of Pentecostalism in Kalleth Village about four kilometers South-East of Ezhamkulam Junction. They boosted each other's faith in the early days of Pentecostal revivals in the 1930s.
Saji's grandparents were traditional Jacobites deeply involved in Mother Mary adoration and mediation through dead saints. They financed a good part of the old and the new Nedumon Orthodox Church.
His grandfather A.M. Mathai Muthalali was furious when he noticed that one of his relatives Anamkott Pappichan was partly influenced by the Pentecostal church(1940s). A.M. Mathai Muthalali released his anger on the local IPC shepherd Pastor C. K. Daniel by slapping his face with his leather chappal. C. K. Daniel stayed silently praising God wiping the slimy mud that stuck on to his face from Mathai’s shoes.
Honorable C. K. Daniel later (1980) was elected to serve as the international president of the India Pentecostal Church.
Saji faced a few crisis-moments in his life as he invested money in several enterprises including a movie production business.
A few business failures led the Saji-Shirley couple to fast, pray, and seek the Lord Jesus and the Word of God---Shirley first and later Saji himself.
Shirley started many interdenominational prayer meetings in their spacious house. They both cancelled out infant baptism and submitted themselves to water baptism based on Romans 6: 1-16.
During Christmas vacations in Kerala in recent years, I have visited their house and business place.
A few months ago, they called me from Kerala to ask for my prayer. They desired a more productive evangelistic ministry.
I encouraged them both to start a house-to house visit taking the delivering message of Jesus in Adur-Ezhamkulam-Parakkod areas.
I have personally visited more than six hundred houses in Ezhamkulam Panchayat handing out freely gospel books and copies of the NEW TESTAMENT. In 2009 December, during my visit to those houses in the evening hours, I used to see many Hindu ladies lying down prostrate in front of metallic idols worshiping god Krishna and the goddess Sarasvathi.
After a week of my book distribution, a Muslim rowdy visited my friend (Pastor Vilayil J. Varghese) and a retired Pentecostal high school teacher (Madam Molly). They inquired about my whereabouts--- probably to locate me and attack me. Further, the Muslim leaders at Parakkod mosque collected many books I distributed and burned them on wood-fire.
In the same week, Zalem-Good News Book Shop (Kanjikkuzhi, Kottayam) had also received a phone call from Ezhamkulam Hindu Temple asking for my residence address, threatening to harm me.
When they were searching for me, I was 27, 000 feet high up in the sky sleeping comfortably in a jumbo-jet over the Atlantic Ocean headed for America.
When I prayed for Saji and Shirley over the phone a few months ago, we could not hold our tears.
Saji's daughter is married to Thomas Valiplackal(Chittar), New York. Thomas Valiplackal, a Mar Thoma Church member, was my hostel-mate for two years from June 1967--March 1969. We stayed together on the 3rd floor of EJPM Hostel (Catholicate College, Pathanamthitta). I used to argue with Thomas on the topic of water-baptism as practiced by Pentecostals, criticizing infant baptism practiced my MarThomites.
Thomas was and is very decent, soft-spoken, and soft-hearted person.
One day in my room I attempted to discredit Orthodox and MarThomite methods of water-baptism. We also discussed doctrinal differences between Orthodox-MarThoma churches and Pentecostal churches. I put forward many arguments in front of our roommates quoting Bible verses to validate Pentecostalism.
When the arguments got heated up, I saw tears filling up his eyes. Immediately, I stopped the heated debate not to offend one of the most soft-hearted person that I know of.
Thomas and I used to take evening walks together frequently. At EJPM Hostel, we were supervised by two Hostel-Wardens---Botany professor M.I. Kurian and Chemistry professor John Kuruvilla. Occasionally the wardens used to take a group of residents to the Pathanamthitta movie theater. I never joined them to watch any secular movies because Pentecostal guidelines prevented its members from attending non-spiritual movies. My personal conviction is that Pentecostals should not watch secular movies.
However, I remember watching a movie twice. I attended a movie theatre to watch a movie titled "BHARYA" based on a murder connected to a professor at a Thiruvalla Tutorial College.
Because it was based on a real event, my mother permitted me to go to the Parakkod Movie Theater (S.K. Talkies) with a senior friend in my neighborhood. When I was a Pre-Degree student at N.S.S. Hindu College, Pandalam, the same movie was shown at Pandalam City Theater (1966), and I went to see it the second time--- this time without my parent's permission.
Someone who saw me at the theater reported my trespass to my mother when she visited Pandalam to see me. When I returned home in the following month, my mother spanked me with a cane until I screamed begging for her mercy.
After 1966, I studied at Catholicate College for three years (1967-1970) for a B.A degree and studied in America for 8 long years (August 1970 to May 1978), but I never attended a movie.
From 1967 up to today (April 18, 2018), I have never stepped inside a movie theater.
My habit of abstaining from movies triggered a few more debates with Thomas and a few orthodox hostel-residents.
I had long discussions with Thomas and others on the reasons behind my boycotting secular movies.
Thomas was a non-smoker, non-drinker who lived an exemplary life.
Now, Saji, Shirley, and Thomas---none of them attend secular movies in theaters, as far as I know. They feed their minds only with spiritual thoughts.
It was a very pleasant surprise that my old hostel-mate Thomas Valiplackal called me from New York a few years ago to tell me that he is attending a Pentecostal-type prayer meeting in New York. He also told me that his wife got re-baptized in water, lining herself with Pentecostal method of baptism. Water-baptism was a topic we argued a lot at EJPM hostel (1967-1970). It seems that Thomas is moving closer to Pentecostalism.
He still attends a MarThoma church in New York. There is not much difference between the doctrines of MarThoma church and Pentecostal churches except in the doctrines related to water-baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
MarThoma Church does not promote Mother Mary adoration and Saint mediation. I have great admiration for the priests in the MarThoma church because they keep very high standard as far as morality is concerned.
I am hoping that Thomas would call me again and give me his present contact number.
My prayer is that God use both Anamkott Mathew and his wife Shirley to bring comfort to many suffering families in my native place Ezhamkulam.
Dr. E. C. Samkutty, Louisiana (18 April 2018)