In Honour of a Christian Champion
A faithful Christian champion has gone to meet his maker:
As you get older, you learn of more and more people who have passed away or are on the verge of it. These can include friends, ministry colleagues, loved ones, and even family members. I have been experiencing all of these of late. It sure can help you to get your priorities right, and to focus on eternity and the things that matter. Indeed, I just recently turned 70, so I certainly think increasingly of the life to come.
Just this morning I learned of another close friend and fellow Christian worker who passed away. This will be a bit of a personal piece, to give honour to this great man, and share some of our stories. Many of you of course will not know anything about him, but his life is worth celebrating. But this is not a proper eulogy, as I do not know much about his earlier life and so on. Closer friends and family members will provide all that detail.
I refer to Abraham Varughese of Perth. His son Pastor Mark Varughese posted this earlier today:
I want to honour my dad, Abraham Varughese, who earlier today, graduated to his eternal home.
He was on mission in this foreign land for over 76 years and he returns to heaven with a legacy and a generational spoil, which by the grace of God is more than he ever thought (in his own words).
Dad, you fought the good fight, you ran your race and now there is stored up for you the crown of righteousness and a commendation that is so well deserved, “Well done good and faithful servant”.
After a very sudden downturn in health over a week ago, it became clear that it was God’s time to go home. His end was so peaceful. Death has lost its sting!
Dad, I honour you, I love you and I am so grateful to God for all you have done for mum, all 4 of your kids and grandkids. You have blessed so many around the world in so many ways and only eternity will measure its full impact
We will continue to extend your legacy with good stewardship and till we meet again on that beautiful shore, enjoy your eternal reward.
While many Perth Christians might have known him, most of my readers likely do not, so let me offer the briefest of background info, then spend the rest of the time discussing how he helped and influenced me. I hope these few details are accurate, but… He was born in India, lived for some time in Singapore, and then settled in Perth.
He had been a successful businessman, but seems to have more or less retired when I first met him. He was involved in marriage and family ministry, an active member of his church, and quite influential in Christian circles in Perth and beyond, and not just among fellow Asians.
I had to spend a bit of time digging around in my own records to learn when we first met. I believe I have it nailed down: In July of 2005 I spoke at a marriage conference in Sydney, perhaps put on by Fred Nile. I am pretty sure that was when we first met.
I had given my talk, and he came up to me and introduced himself. He said this area was a passion of his, and he liked what I had to say, and he wanted to get me to Perth to speak at various places. I said I would be happy to do so. If that indeed was our first meeting, we have known each other for nearly 18 years.
I also looked up my trips to Perth since then. Because of my work and various ministries I of course regularly speak all over the place, not just in Melbourne but around the country, and overseas. I believe I had spoken a few times before in Perth, but after getting to know Abraham that city really opened up for me.
If my records are accurate, all up I took 25 trips to Perth since we first met, and much of this was due to Abraham. He liked me and my ministry and wanted to see it exposed far and wide, starting in Western Australia. I ended up going to Perth later that year, and pretty much every year thereafter. I was usually there 1, 2, or 3 times a year. Yes, other groups and individuals invited me over, including doing a week-long worldview school for YWAM for ten years in a row.
But it was Abraham who really got me active in Perth, speaking at his meetings, his church, to his ministry mates, and so on. And because he had been in Singapore for a while, he had a lot of contacts there. So he said he wanted to take me there to meet with various pastors and leaders and give some talks.
That we did, and that led to me going back to Singapore and Malaysia a few more times in the following years to give more talks at various churches, meetings and conferences. Again, most of this was due to Abraham. I have never been into self-promotion or trying to speak all over the place, usually just waiting till I am invited to speak somewhere. But Abraham supported me and my work and wanted to get me a wider audience.
But I want to mention other qualities of this great man. As I say, he was a businessman, and he must have done well, as he had a few nice cars, a nice home in a nice neighborhood. The thing about being a wealthy Christian is not that you are wealthy, but how you use your wealth. You can use it all on yourself, or you can use large portions of it for Kingdom work.
Abraham of course was in the latter camp. In either my first or second trip to Perth, Abraham picked me up at the airport and we went to an Asian restaurant. (I let him know early on that I loved Asian food, and he of course is Asian, so he knew about most of the good and yummy places, but the ones that were not expensive – he was frugal and wise with his money.)
So while we were at the restaurant, he told me that he wanted to be available to help me – including in very practical ways. He said I should never be shy about asking, if I had any needs. And that happened plenty over the years: he often had me stay at his home; he often took me back and forth to the airport; he often covered various expenses of mine; and he often took me out for more neat Asian meals.
And he helped in other ways. He soon learned I was not well off, and I often did ministry trips out of my own pocket. I have never asked for a speaker’s fee, and when people ask me what it is, I always reply: ‘Did Paul have a speaking fee? Or Peter or John?’ Sure, if I can get my travel expenses covered, that would be helpful. And sometimes that was not forthcoming.
But Abraham always ensured that my expenses were covered and that at the many meetings he convened with me as speaker, a good honorarium would be collected. It seems many of the Asian community in Perth are somewhat wealthy as well, including many Christians, so when Abraham would tell the audience to dig deep, it was often quite an offering. Many times I went to Perth with little or no money in my pocket, only to return with hundreds, and even thousands!
I recall once some years ago I was going through some piles of papers on my desk. I found an envelope that had been sitting there for a few years. One of Abraham’s Asian friends had filled an envelope with a few thousand US dollars and handed it to me some time earlier. Moral of the story: always clean your desk, and never throw things away without first checking them out!
So that was another big part of Abraham; generosity and support of me and my ministry. But he did even more than that. For a while there on the social media I was reporting how things were back home, and how every time it rained both our house roof and our car roof would leak.
Abraham was not a ‘be warm and filled’ type of Christian (see James 2:14-17). Faith had to be put into action. So the next thing I knew, Abraham had called me and said his brother lives in Melbourne and is looking for a second-hand car for us. And sure enough, a ten-year-old quite nice car (a Toyota Avalon, complete with sun roof, etc) was found and bought for $10,000 and given to me! Wow, we never owned a car that new or that nice. That was Abraham in action.
He was doing stuff like this all the time. I am just one who can tell such stories – there would be many others who could tell similar tales. And so much more could be said about this champion. For example, I believe a year or two ago he came down with some health issues – cancer I think. But he kept praising the Lord and trusting the Lord. Never a complaint nor murmur, but always a strong faith.
However our days are numbered, and we all have to go sometime. You never know how soon it may be before you or someone you know breathes his last. I am sorry it had been a while since I last saw him. Of course with two years of Covid then a year-plus of cancer in my own family (my wife) I have not been to Perth since December 2019.
I am pretty sure I saw Abraham back then, so that was our last face to face encounter, although he did call me (or perhaps I called him) sometime last year, when he learned of my own wife’s struggles. And the ironic thing is I am due to be in Perth next month – the first time in some years – but too late for the funeral however.
As I say, this was a godly man with a godly family. I believe all four of his children are faithfully serving the Lord. He has left a huge legacy to his friends, family and colleagues in Perth and beyond. And he has left a real legacy with me. God bless you Abraham and enjoy your new forever home.
I will see you there sometime soon.
6 Replies to “In Honour of a Christian Champion”
It glows about your text, is touched and infected by that passion.
Personal, close and loving…about Abraham Varughese
This has nothing to do with your article but I wanted to ask you if you could either do a piece or point me to one you’ve done about illegal immigrants. My church refuses to say anything about it because they claim that the Bible says we should help strangers and resident aliens. I’ve never actually seen a Biblical viewpoint of what is happening here in Texas.
Thanks. Praying for your wife.
Thanks Anne. Yes here is one: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/11/09/christians-and-asylum-seekers/
And 51 more such articles are found here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/category/ethics/immigration-asylum-refugees/
Lots of memories. Thank you for sharing them. Hold the memories forever. It was a captive read.
Dear Bill, This is truly a lovely piece written about a good man I had never heard of. I personally make it a point now to thank God everyday for the lovely people whom He allowed come into my life and who have now passed away. I tell Him that there are so many of them now that I can’t name them all but I tell Him He knows who they are and He knows how much I loved them and cherish the memories of the wonderful times we had together. I ask Him to please make sure that they are happy with Him even though most of them were not what you could call practising Christians but they were still good people.