THE calling of God to His ministry was always clear in Rev. Paul Francis’ life. His parents, who were childless for a long time, had taken a vow to the Lord to offer their son to His work, when He gave them one. Years later, Paul then a post graduate in English literature, refused a lecturer’s job and decided to be a pastor. According to his own admission, his mother, one of the first women lay preachers of the CSI Church, was a great influence in his life. Her preaching and serving have left an indelible mark on his life as a young man. Presbyter-in-charge of St. Paul’s Church in Choolai, Chennai, during its 150th year, Rev. Paul spoke about his life, work and family to The Christian Messenger. Excerpts from an interview:

How does it feel to be the pastor of St. Paul’s Church, during its 150th year?
When I became the pastor of this church, I did not know that St. Pauls will complete its 150 years. Neither did the Bishop, D. Devasahayam know that. The Bishop said ‘Paul I am happy that you are the pastor during the Sesquicentennial year’.

Why did you decide to become a pastor?
My parents did not have a child for a long time after they were married. They promised God that they would give their child to serve God, if He gave them a child. I am the only child. But they did not make this choice for me. After I finished my Masters in Literature, God called me to serve Him fulltime.

As a pastor what are the challenges you faced and how did you respond to them?
I have been a pastor for 18 years. There were many challenges I had to face, but God was always there to help me.

What role has your wife played in your life and ministry?
My wife, Indira and her family were devotees of Hindu god Iyyappa. Once, her sister was seriously ill and Jesus healed her. Ever since as a family they committed their lives to Jesus. My wife is also a pastor. She has been a constant source of support and has played a big role in my life.

Were you born in a Christian family?
Yes. My mother was one of the first lay preachers for the CSI church and she worked among the sick and the poor in the society. She was my inspiration.

Tell us about some of the memorable days of your life.
I can never forget my childhood days. I used to take part in almost all the activities of the church. I used to take part in drama, singing and VBS. I was in charge of VBS in our church. My childhood days are the most memorable days of my life.

In your career, have you encountered hostile congregations? How did you respond to them?
All my congregations have been good, but there are few people who make the others rebel. They instigate the church against the pastor. There is a difference between the rural church and the urban church. In villages, the people look up to the pastor like he is God and respect and obey him. It is not the same case in cities. I am called to pastor the sheep. I will have to pull them back if they go astray or use the whip if necessary, like Jesus did. Jesus is my role model. I fear no man.

What are your hobbies?
I love to read. I am a bookworm.

What are your plans for the future?
Only God knows.

Tell us about the youth in your church.
Most young people today would like to strum the guitar and sing in the church, but are not concerned about serving the society. They need a lot of guidance.

Youth not keen on serving society: Rev. Paul Francis

The Christian Messenger