Happenings, News

Rev George Barathan: Journeying on God’s ships

TWO missionary pastors from Short Street Tamil Methodist Church came back recently on home leave. JASMINE DANIELS spoke to them to find out what they had been doing these past years.

HE LIVED on a tear-drop shaped island in the Indian Ocean, south of India. But the Rev George Barathan’s real voyage began with the arrival of a ship named Logos.

“I saw many people living together — on the ship — and boldly sharing the Lord’s Word. I wanted to be part of them,” he said. Three months later, the young Sri Lankan’s wish came true as he went on board the vessel that changed his destiny. The Hindu youth went on to become a Christian missionary who travelled the world and transformed people’s lives.

Currently working as a facilitator in promoting missions for Operation Mobilization (OM), he has spent the last 25 years on both the Doulos and Logos, ship projects that promote international understanding and worldwide education.

During an interview, the sprightly 51-year-old rushed down the stairs of the Short Street Tamil Methodist Church function hall to bring back pamphlets of the many countries that these ships visit. On board these ships, he too has travelled the globe and has brought many ordinary people in touch with cultures of other nations.
One such expedition was to North India, particularly to the cities of Bhopal, Calcutta, Lucknow and Bihar.

“It was a tough experience for some of the Chinese Christians in the group to adjust to India. Others took the opportunity to learn. One of them, a doctor, wants to go back to India. Another doctor has gone on to a similar mission to China.”
The Rev Barathan too has experienced daunting circumstances on his missions.

“Two years ago, the Doulos went to Vietnam. It was a tough assignment as the authorities were communist. We kept a low profile and built a relationship with them. Even 24 hours before, we did not know whether they would allow us in. The officials met at a closed-door session. They let us through. We spent eight days in Ho Chi Minh City.

“God opened Vietnam to the 20,000 books we had on board. Thousands of hygiene packages were sent to orphanages there. It was a miracle of God. It made me realise that we believe in a big God who can handle anything.”

‘Getting people to know Jesus Christ is what keeps me going’

Closer to home, he faces trials of another kind. The Rev Barathan who lives with his wife, Janet, and children Sara, 18, and Peter, 16, in Vancouver, reveals that one of the greatest challenges is encouraging his children to walk with God.

“My son is under much pressure in a materialistic, Western society like Canada. It can be cold and apathetic. I would like to see godliness in my children’s lives.

He can understand the demands of a godly life. “There were high and low times. Sometimes, I wanted to give up. But God keeps calling me to mission work. Getting people to know Jesus Christ is what keeps me going.”

The Rev Barathan with wife Janet and daughter Sara.