T. Stephen Abraham, eldest son of Pastor K. E. Abraham and Mrs. Annamma Abraham was born in a small village of Omallur near Pathanamthitta on September 13,1925. They named him Thekkeparambil Stephen Abraham, and affectionately called him “Kunjoonju.”
At the tender age of five, he moved along with his parents from Mulakuzha, their ancestral home, to Kumbanad, their place of ministry. Though the burden of financial hardships necessitated their move, this was a journey of faith that opened new vistas for the tremendous work of the ministry. Daddy gave his heart to the Lord on March 28, 1937 when Pastor V. J. Varghese (Mottakal Pappychayan) was the local pastor of Hebron Church.
Daddy’s father was constantly travelling for open-air meetings and evangelistic campaigns. As a child, Daddy endured many hardships.There were many occasions when he and his brother went to bed hungry. One such evening, while his father had gone for a meeting in North Travancore, there was no food to eat. Both Daddy and his brother approached their mother expecting to get something to eat. She replied, “There is no food to eat. So, go and pray.” The children took their mother’s word to heart and went to the room and began to earnestly pray to God. Their mother chided them as they were praying loudly, and warned them that the neighbors should not know about the shortage of food. She prodded them to pray quietly. While continuing in prayer, they fell asleep tired. That night, a brother came from far, bringing adequate provisions of food. This increased Daddy’s faith. And he told his mother, “now I know that God will answer my silent prayers also.”
In the midst of trials, Daddy was able to witness firsthand the work of the early pioneers of the Pentecostal faith. He also began to take personal steps of faith. On February 13, 1938, he was baptized in water. On March 21, 1951, Daddy received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He completed his high school education at St. Johns in Eraviperoor, and later went to Kerala University Trivandrum and Union Christian College in Alwaye.
Few Pentecostals opted to go for a university education in those days. While the nation of India was in the throes of independence, a great desire was in Daddy’s heart to start an organization for Pentecostal youth. Thus, on August 30, 1947, the Pentecostal Young People’s Association (PYPA) was born, an organization aiming to expand the work of the gospel and advance the spiritual growth of the youth in Pentecostal churches. It bears the motto, “Saved to Serve. ”PYPA has helped mold and train many young people for evangelistic work and leadership, in partnership with their local churches.
Daddy was united in holy matrimony with Mary, a vivacious and determined young woman. She was the daughter of Pastor P. T. Chacko (Poozhikalayil, Kumbanad). They were married on April 27, 1950, at Hebron, Kumbanad.The wedding was solemnized by Pastor P. M. Samuel.
A year later, the young couple boarded a ship,Queen Mary, heading to the United States where Daddy began his theological studies. After earning his B. D. and M. R. E. degrees, they returned to India. Though Daddy could have continued to live a comfortable life in the U. S., he chose to follow in the footsteps of his father and be involved in the Christian ministry in India. He was appointed as a teacher at Hebron Bible School.
Daddy split his time of ministry between Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Once while conducting a public meeting in Secunderabad along with his father-in-law, Pastor P. T. Chacko, he was beaten severely by a man in the crowd. Though writhing in pain,Daddy did not retaliate, let alone speak a word. His humility was there for all to see. Both Dad and Mom divided their time, resources and energy between Secunderabad and Kumbanad. Very often, personal comfort and family life was sacrificed for the extension of the Kingdom of God.
Daddy was a man of simplicity, discipline and dedication. He would never sleep beyond five in the morning nor retire to bed before midnight. He would spend hours, reading, writing and preparing sermons. He was never late for a meeting. His days were packed with classes during the day at Hebron Bible College, officiating at weddings and funerals, preaching in conventions and attending to administrative matters of the church.
Daddy provided stellar leadership to Hebron Bible College as its principal, and later with India Bible College and Seminary as its president. He never wavered in his vision, despite many challenges, obstacles and opposition. The beautiful and sprawling IGO campus is the fulfillment of his vision. Thousands of students have been trained and mentored for the ministry by him. Today, India Bible College and Seminary is affiliated to Senate of Serampore College and also accredited by Asia Theological Association. Several sister schools are located through out India, specially North India such as Punjab, Orissa, Mizoram, Darjeeling and Himachal Pradesh.
While Daddy was serving as the general president of India Pentecostal Church of God, he took the initiative to introduce an amendment to the constitution of IPC stipulating to set the age limit to 80 years for all office bearers in the General Executive Council. This bold move revealed his attitude towards positions of authority even when he was nearing that age limit. He never sought fame, adulation or power, rather, he exhibited humility in all he said and did.
Daddy’s exemplary leadership at home and in the church was a loving, giving, forgiving nature. His fun-loving nature combined with his gentleness and determination were some of Daddy’s winning traits. He was always, calm, serene, confident, consistent and transparent in his life. “A man of integrity who walks securely and a man of knowledge who keeps wisdom in view” – Daddy always stood firm in his convictions, moral values and sound in doctrine. He always chose his words diligently and expressed them carefully and to the point. He was very courteous and considerate of others.
Proverbs 17:27 says, “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit”. This was truly evident in Daddy’s life. We have never heard Daddy talk about someone unless he had a good word to say about them. Even in provocative situations, he always overcame evil with good. We are blessed by the rich legacy daddy has left behind. We love him dearly and will miss him very much. Our prayer is that his exemplary life and influence will impact many generations to come.
Rev. T. Valson & Laly Abraham
Annie & Jacob Thomas
Starla & Major V. I. Luke
Shirley & Vijai Chacko