A Matador Van

By l984 we had five children.  The only conveyance we had was a Vijay scooter.  On one or two occasions we tried using it as a conveyance for the whole family of seven!  No one needed to tell us that it was very dangerous.  Once or twice some one commented on us  like “Sir is showing us free circus!” On another occasion some one else said: “You have a big family.  You need a big vehicle.”  Such comments from public made us to think about a bigger vehicle and we began to pray for one.

We had no sources by which we could look for a four wheeler.  There were one or two possibilities for getting a cheap vehicle.  One was to go for an old model petrol car like Standard 10 or an old Morris Minor which were still found on our roads during those days.  You needed a minimum of Rs.10,000/- to buy one.  But petrol cost is very high as it might give up to eight KMs per liter of petrol in the hills. Even for running the scooter we are looking to the Lord daily.  How to think of a petrol car? 

Then to go for a diesel vehicle was another possibility.   A cheap way of doing it was to buy a petrol Jeep which in those days were available for Rs.7,000/- and to convert it into diesel.  It would cost another 7 or 8 thousand.  So we would need some fifteen thousand if we went for that.  It would require a lot of strain in locating the Jeep and then mounting the engine and RTO problem etc.  So we dropped that idea also.

A third possibility was to go for a Standard 20 diesel van which in those days were available for about Rs.20,000/-; though it as a problem vehicle, with no resources at our disposal we could think of nothing else.  We had no idea as to where to get this amount from.  But we decided if we went for a four wheeler, we would go for a Standard 20 van which could be used for school as well as for assembly out reach work.  We did not want a family car for ourselves. 

Just the day after we made this decision, we had a letter from my old friend Sam Mammen.  We were class mates in college for one year and since we both brought lunch packets we sat and ate lunch together.  Once a week we had Evangelical Union prayer meeting in the college and we both attended the same.  Only later we came to know that we both were from the assembly background.  Then we became all the more close to one another.  Until he finished his M.Sc. and was working in Bhopal we maintained our friendship.  We visited each others homes and were good friends.  From Bhopal he went to the States and I went to the mission field after my studies and we lost track of each other.  In ’84 Sam visited his home in Kerala.  That year I was one of the speakers at the annual convention of the assembly there.  When Sam heard that I had come to his home assembly, he was truly excited and he got my address from the assembly before he went back to the States. 

In his letter Sam told me how he got my address and he said he wanted to write to me for more than three months but it was not possible to do it earlier.  He enquired how we were doing and asked details of my family etc.  He was truly excited that he could contact me after all these years and that I was engaged in field work.  There was a cheque in the cover and Sam asked me to use it for whatever was my need at that time.  It was US dollars worth Rs.10,000/- 

We did not know how to thank the Lord for this wonderful provision.  We never ever had this much amount as gift in the mission field!  The largest sum received hitherto was Rs.5000/- when we were praying for the land.  Now the Lord had heard our prayers  for  a van.

When the money reached the bank, I set out tolook for a Standard 20.  I took a mechanic and went to Coonoor because I heard that a vehicle of our choice was there for sale.  But when we went there we found that it was a useless one.  Then the Lord so wonderfully led us to another place the very same day where we saw a Matador van in very good shape for Rs.40,000/- through a middle man who literally dragged me to the owner because I knew I could not buy a vehicle for that price.   But the owner agreed to give the van for Rs.25,000/- over and above my scooter. (I usually say that I got a Matador in exchange for a scooter because that’s all I had when I began to pray for a van)!   I came back home and both Selvaraj and Rajan were excited to hear that we were buying a van. We had never discussed this matter with them before.  They both decided to lent us all their savings i.e. Rs.5,000/- each without my asking for it!   The owner gave us a month time to pay the rest of the amount.   In just two days time we went and brought the van to Kotagiri where all I had to do was to buy two new tyres for the van.   It had a very good engine in it.  Actually we paid only the cost of the engine!

We witnessed three specific miracles in this particular event.   The first was how the money came from zero!  Then the next was how we were led to the owner of the Matador!!  It is a long story.  And the last but not the least was how the man agreed to give it for that price!!!  Another long story how the Lord performs miracles for those who put their trust in Him. The scripture I read the following day was Eccl.2.   And the last verse is “For to the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the work of gathering and heaping, only to give to one who pleases God.  This also is vanity and striving after wind.” 

Truly we had manna every day.  I know more than one assembly commented servant of God, who have their own magazines or who run institutions, who sent out appeals for buying a vehicle but could not do so.   But the Lord provided us with a good vehicle in l985 as a direct answer to prayer.   Is it only my privilege?  My Bible says that God is no respecter of persons.  

It was Bro. Ruben Karuppusamy who helped me drive the vehicle to Kotagiri for the first time.  He knew us for the past five years and he knew well our financial situation.  While bringing the van home he said it would be great if we could run the vehicle for three months!  He knew for sure that with our limited sources we would never be able to keep the vehicle for longer than that.  But may all praises be to God.  We used the very same vehicle for the next seven years.  From l985 on we have always had a running vehicle except for a few months in between when we needed to buy a different one or when the vehicle was in work shop.