is the man who walketh
Not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
his delight is in the law of the Lord;
And in His law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That bringeth forth its fruit in its season;
Its leaf also shall not whither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
BROTHER BAKHT SINGHA
SAINT OF GOD
AN OVERVIEW OF HIS LIFE AND MINISTRY
By Dr. T.E. Koshy
"If any man serve
Me, him will my Father honor." John 12:26
". . . he being dead, yet
speaketh." Hebrews 11:4b
A Procession of Saints
On Friday, September 22, 2000, the city of Hyderabad
came to a stand still--the Hebron, Hermon compounds, all adjacent
roads and the main road (Chikkadapalli) between Golconda Cross Roads
and Narayanaguda Cemetery, were like a sea of saints, numbering
according to some estimates, a quarter of a million (two and one
half lakhs). Shops and offices were closed. Traffic was diverted.
Police and law enforcement officers struggled in vain to control
the wave of multitudes that participated in the funeral procession.
It took about three hours for the procession to cover the distance
of three kilometers from Hebron to the cemetery. The funeral procession
turned out to be the largest gospel procession Hyderabad had ever
witnessed, where the weeping saints inched forward holding Bibles
and Scripture banners, singing and praising God. What a witness
for Christ and Him crucified. It was not a typical funeral procession
but it was a victory parade for Christ triumphant, in honor of His
humble servant who served Him so faithfully for about 70 years.
It seemed as though the Lord had accomplished
so much even through the death of His beloved servant. The Lord
was greatly glorified and magnified as an unprecedented throng of
saints shook the city for Christ by proclaiming the gospel as they
went. It was so awesome and glorious. People desiring to take a
last glimpse of the casket containing the body of Bro. Bakht Singh
climbed on trees, balconies and roofs of offices and houses along
the three-kilometer stretch of Chikkadapalli Road. Hyderabad has
never seen anything like it and probably never will. Even in church
history a funeral procession of this magnitude has seldom occurred.
The unusual occurrences in nature before and after his homecall
reminded us that he was a man sent from God for the edification
of His body and for His eternal glory. For example, just a few hours
before he slept in Christ on Sunday, September 17th at 6:05 AM,
there was an earthquake in and around Hyderabad coupled with continuous
and unusual thundering and lightening. Lights were out and darkness
blanketed the area for a while. Then on Friday, September 22nd,
just before his funeral as the casket was being carried out from
Hebron at about 11:30 AM while the sun was shining brightly, a rainbow
circled the sun for a short time. As the rainbow disappeared, a
shining ring, which looked like a "crown," appeared around
the sun. Then suddenly scores and scores of pigeons flew over Hebron
as the funeral procession proceeded to the cemetery.
People came from all over India and from around
the world to pay their last homage and tribute to their spiritual
father and saint of God, Bro. Bakht Singh. Weeping saints from across
denominational barriers, languages, tribes and colors gathered together,
praising God for every remembrance of this man of God who was indeed
God's gift to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ worldwide. News
of his homecall spread like wildfire and over 600,000 came to pay
their last tribute to him from Sunday, September 17th through Friday
September 22nd. His passing away brought an end to an era. Future
church historians may refer to this period as Bro. Bakht Singh's
He Lived for Christ
What is the reason for such an outpouring of
love, tears and honor for this simple man of God who began his ministry
as an unknown itinerant preacher about 70 years ago in Colonial
India? There are many reasons, but let me cite at least seven for
this unprecedented honor showered upon him by God:
1) He was a grain of wheat that was willing to
fall into the ground and die.
2) He followed the footsteps of his Master.
3) He loved the Lord more than his own life.
4) He did not count his life dear unto himself.
5) He finished the race with joy.
6) He fulfilled the ministry, which he received
from the Lord.
7) He demonstrated the grace of God by his life
His life and ministry exemplified the life and
ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the Apostle Paul. John
12:24-26 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn
of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if
it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall
lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it
unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where
I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will
my Father honor." Acts 20:24 says, "But none of these
things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that
I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have
received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of
Brother Bakht Singh was the spiritual father
of tens of thousands in Asia as well as a spiritual role model and
inspiration to believers across the world. He was India's foremost
evangelist, revivalist and indigenous church planter who founded
churches based on New Testament principles. In many respects all
the five gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 were evident in him.
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." No other saint
of God was used more mightily than this man of God to turn many
to righteousness in India. No other man of God had been used of
God to spiritually impact his generation more than Brother Bakht
Singh. Being a man he too had his flaws and frailties, but his spiritual
strengths far outweighed his human weaknesses. Like the Apostle
Paul he could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished
my course, I have kept the faith." II Timothy 4:7
Bro. Bakht Singh was born to Hindu parents in
Punjab (which is now part of Pakistan). He was raised as a Sikh
. After graduating from Punjab University he went to England as
a student of Agricultural Engineering. Bakht Singh miraculously
accepted Christ in 1929 while in the West. In 1933 following his
studies he returned to Colonial India with a clear call from God
to be a witness for Christ among his own people in India. The Lord
received him for his ministry on three conditions:
1. Do not join any organizationsserve all
2. Do not make your own plan. Let Me guide you
and lead you every step of the way.
3. Do not make your needs known to any human
being. Ask Me only and I shall provide for your needs.
Brother Bakht Singh agreed. He resolved to trust
God to guide him through prayer alone in carrying out that purpose.
In seeking to obey God's call in various parts of undivided India,
he underwent many trials and testings, but God sustained him through
them all. After serving as an itinerant evangelist for a few years
in Karachi and other parts of Punjab, God brought about a mighty
revival through him in Martinpur (now part of Pakistan) and other
places in Punjab. In 1937 he was a speaker at the Sialkot Convention,
which was primarily organized by the Presbyterian Church and other
major denominations. He spoke from Luke 24:5 "Why seek ye the
living among the dead?" His preaching electrified the participants
and organizers alike, both clergy and laity. In the words of Dr.
J. Edwin Orr, British Church Historian, "Brother Bakht Singh
is an Indian equivalent of the greater Western evangelists, as skillful
as Finney and as direct as Moody. He is a first-class Bible teacher
of the order of Campbell Morgan or Graham Scroggie."
Soon Bakht Singh became a household name among
Protestant Christians throughout India. News of his extraordinary
life and ministry flashed across the world through missionary magazines
and newsletters. He was one of the most sought after young evangelists
in India at that time. In one month alone he received more than
400 invitations from all over India. In 1938 he went to Madras and
then on to Kerala and other parts of South India. Tens of thousands
turned to Christ. According to Dave Hunt, author and writer, "The
arrival of Bakht Singh turned the churches of Madras upside down.
. . . Crowds gathered in the open air, as many as 12,000 on one
occasion to hear this man of God. Many seriously ill were healed
when Bakht Singh prayed for them, even deaf and dumb began to hear
Bro. Bakht Singh Establishes
Jehova Shammah in Madras
Whenever the church--the Body of the Lord Jesus
Christ--goes through spiritual decline, the Lord who is the Head
of the church raises up His chosen vessels to bring back spiritual
vitality. Bro. Bakht Singh was such a vessel chosen by God to bring
back the glory of God in the Body of Christ throughout the world.
Even though many turned to Christ through his preaching, they were
not being discipled or built up spiritually by the lukewarm denominational
churches. He fasted and prayed and sought the Lord's mind to do
His will at any cost to remedy the problem. The Lord then led him
and some of his co-workers to spend all night in prayer seeking
His will for the future ministry.
After a time of fasting and prayer the Lord led
him and his coworkers to establish a local church to fulfill the
four-fold purposes of the church on the basis of Acts 2:42. These
principles can be applied in any country in any culture without
compromising the revealed Word of God. The four-fold purposes of
the church are:
1) To show forth Christ's fullness (Eph 1:22-23)
2) To show forth Christ's unity the unity
of all believers (Eph 2:14-19)
3) To show forth His wisdom (Eph 3:9-11)
4) To show forth His glory ( Eph 3:21) and (Acts
2:42)"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles'
doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
The first church was established in Madras, Tamilnadu,
called Jehovah Shammah on July 12, 1941 and the Lord began to multiply
these churches across Andra Pradesh and other parts of India, Pakistan,
Sri Lanka, Australia and other parts of the world, now numbering
into the thousands. Indeed Brother Bakht Singh can be called the
father of the indigenous churches of India and abroad.
The Center of His Ministry
Moves from Madras to Hyderabad
Brother Bakht Singh and some of his coworkers
moved to Elim, Hyderabad on September 25, 1950. In the mid 1950's
the Lord provided new facilities to house the local and extra local
church ministry. He called the new place Hebron. The work of the
Lord grew and multiplied. From the 1950's to the 1970's the local
churches established by Brother Bakht Sing and his coworkers were
the fastest growing local churches in India. These churches grew
both qualitatively and quantitatively trying to show forth the four-fold
purposes of the church.
In the year 1946 Brother Bakht Singh left India
for ministry in Europe, UK, USA and Canada. The Lord used him mightily
in every place, particularly at the Inter Varsity students' missions
conference (now known as Urbana Convention) in Toronto, Canada,
where he was one of the plenary speakers. Among those who attended
the conference was Jim Elliott who was martyred in Ecuador in the
1950's along with four of his fellow American missionaries. In the
1950's Brother Bakht Singh ministered in Australia, various parts
of Asia, Africa and the United States of America. Wherever he went
the Lord used him to spread His fragrance. He was indeed a breath
of fresh air in the midst of lukewarm churches and Christians who
had a form of godliness yet denying the power thereof.
In Australia through his ministry the Lord constrained
some believers to gather together on the basis of Acts 2:42. There
are now several Assemblies, particularly in the Sydney area still
gathering together as a result of Brother Bakht Singh's ministry
there in the 1950's and 60's.
In 1969-70 Dr. Bob Finley of International Students
Inc. invited Brother Bakht Singh to speak at the Indigenous Missions
Institute, which was held in Washington, DC. The main purpose of
the Institute was to give the returning Christian international
students and scholars the vision of the New Testament church based
on the New Testament principles already practiced by Brother Bakht
Singh. During those years he also traveled extensively in various
parts of the United States and Canada ministering in churches of
different denominations. In 1969 and 1970 during his visit to the
United States, he also spent time with us in Syracuse, New York,
and encouraged us to start a local church based on Acts 2:42. In
1970 the Lord constrained us to start International Assembly which
still continues today. In 1974, following his visit to Lausanne
Congress on World Evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland, Brother Bakht
Singh visited various parts of Europe, the United Kingdom, and the
United States. During that visit he advised me to hold a Holy Convocation
in Syracuse, New York. The Lord led us to have the first Holy Convocation
on October 18-22, 1974. The Lord blessed it so richly for the blessing
of all who attended. The Lord enabled us to continue the Convocation
until 1983. Brother Bakht Singh and his senior fellow workers came
year after year for these Holy Convocations. We discontinued the
Holy Convocation for some years and started again from 1993 onwards.
On his way back from the United States Brother
Bakht Singh used to visit the UK and Europe, particularly France
and the Middle East. Brother Bakht Singh shared with Brother E.
Verborne and his fellow workers in France the importance of having
a Holy Convocation to build up the Body of Christ. After much prayer
Brother Verborne and his fellow saints were constrained by the Lord
to start a Holy Convocation in Sarcelles, France in 1977. The Lord
used these Holy Convocations to edify the scattered believers from
various parts of Europe, the Middle East and other places.
Secret of His Spiritual Life
The Lord used Brother Bakht Singh as His chosen
vessel to enrich and enhance the spiritual life of many around the
world. He ministered Christ and the vision of the Church. Many asked
him the secret of his spiritual life, as he was very unique in many
areas of his life. Let me share at least a few.
1) His total dependence upon the living God.
2) He accepted the Bible as the Word of God and
encouraged every believer to have his or her own Bible and to live
in total obedience to the revealed Word of God. His insight into
the Word of God and his photographic memory of the Scriptures are
legendary. According to Robert Finley, President of Christian Aid
Mission, "I have never seen a man who has a greater knowledge
and understanding of the Bible than Bakht Singh. All our Western
preachers and teachers seem to be children before this great man
of God, Bakht Singh of India." During Brother Bakht Singh's
visit to England in 1965 Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, the famed expositor
and Bible teacher and Rev. Keith Samuel, one of the speakers at
Keswick Convention met with Brother Bakht Singh. I was present at
the meeting. They spent several hours with Brother Bakht Singh asking
him questions from the Word of God. Brother Bakht Singh's answers
challenged and surprised these men. Then Martin Lloyd-Jones asked
Brother Bakht Singh how he got such insight into and knowledge of
the Word of God. To that Brother Bakht Singh answered simply by
reading and meditating on the Word of God upon His knees. Most of
his life, until he became sick, he read the Bible upon his knees
and meditated upon it for hours. The Holy Spirit of God revealed
wondrous things out of His Word to him.
3) He sought and did God's will at any cost.
4) He had a passion for God and compassion for
5) He discovered and practiced Biblical worship
and encouraged all the saints both male and female to worship the
Lord in spirit and in truth.
6) He encouraged fellowship among saints by introducing
the love feast.
7) One of his greatest contributions was the
annual Holy Convocations. The first Holy Convocation was held in
Jehovah Shammah in Madras in December 1941, which lasted for 19
days. These Holy Convocations have been one of the hallmarks of
Brother Bakht Singh's work and ministry. Norman Grubb, who was the
International Director of World Evangelization Crusade, had this
to say about his visit to the Holy Convocation in Hyderabad: "To
us Westerners, the most striking part of the whole work with Brother
Bakht Singh are the Holy Convocations held annually at Hyderabad.
. . . Brother Bakht Singh puts on these Holy Convocations yearly
where several thousand people are massed together in close quarters
and all fed by the Lord for a week with no appeals to men. . . .
Here is an Indian proving God."
8) Indigenization of New Testament principles
in the local churches. After visiting Hyderabad in the 1950's, Norman
Grubb noted in his book Once Caught, No Escape, "But in all
my ministry experience I think these churches on their New Testament
foundations are the nearest I have seen to a replica of the early
church and a pattern for the birth and growth of the young churches
in all the countries which we used to talk about as the mission
9) The life of faith. Brother Bakht Singh was
a man of faith. He trusted the Lord for all his needs throughout
his life. The Lord honored his faith and not only provided for his
needs and for the ministry but also used him mightily to challenge
the people of God about the importance of trusting God for their
10) The gospel processions testifying of Christ.
During his gospel campaigns in every place he went, he held gospel
processions going around the city/town turning them upside down
for Christ. But the largest of all the gospel processions was the
one that followed his casket to the cemetery where hundreds of thousands
marched before and after the casket singing and praising God. Even
though he died, his work and ministry follow him.
11) Life of prayer. Brother Bakht Singh was a
man of prayer. He spent hours upon his knees in communion with the
Lord seeking the Lord's mind regarding His will concerning the work
and ministry. Therefore, the Lord also honored him and blessed him
beyond any human understanding. This is one of the reasons why the
Lord has used him so mightily for the edification of His Body and
for the extension of His glorious kingdom both in India and abroad.
Even though he is dead yet he still speaks.
We are richer for having known him and having been taught by him.
The work that the Lord began through His servant and his early coworkers,
such as Brother Fred Flack, Brother Raymond Golsworthy , Brother
John Carter, Brother Dorairaj, Brother Rajamani and several others,
may not only continue, but be multiplied till the day of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Let us rededicate ourselves to carry out his teachings
and his vision so that local churches based on the New Testament
pattern may be raised up all over the world for the edification
of His Body and for His eternal glory.