John Gabriel, at the age of 21 in 1963, came to America from his home in Kerala, India. His intentions were to learn a lumbering industry trade and return to India, but God brought a high school student in contact with him which changed his life direction. Gary Buck invited John to church.
For two years a little church in Arcata, California taught and loved John. When he returned to India in 1966 he wrote to Doyle Farnsworth, the pastor at the Arcata Church, asking about starting a church in Kerala like the one in Arcata. Doyle responded, “You must first become a Christian yourself.”
John later related, “I could not sleep real well. I corresponded with my friend, Doyle to find out how to reach Christ.” With prayer for direction and studying Scripture, John accepted Jesus as his Savior. He asked his “dear friend” Kurian to baptize him and then John baptized Kurian and another friend, Moses. John had this “strange” idea that when you became a Christian you should teach others and start a church.
Doyle kept in contact with John, helping him lead the infant congregation. While meeting in Moses’ home the attendance often reached 40 interested friends. Such a humble beginning, but with unexcelled commitment. Lee Turner traveled from Pakistan in 1967 to help teach John about church teachings and responsibilities. Doyle began the first of four teaching trips to India in 1969. John returned to America in 1972 to study at Boise Bible College. Two years later John and Kunjamma were united in marriage.
The Pampady congregation held it first Sunday assembly in their new building in 1983. The following year the Gabriel’s opened Crossroads English School with 32 pre-kindergarten students – 3 and 4-year olds. Visiting preachers from the U.S. began regularly training men for ministry in college level classes. John and Kunjamma climaxed their 4-month American visit by being ordained to the ministry by the Crossroads Church elders in Portland, Oregon.
The Future is Now
Through these 50 years thousands of people have come to Christ, 40 churches have been established in three India states, Crossroads English School has grown to 2,300 students – K-12th grade – and scores of destitute children in Children’s Village have found a safe place since 2003.
All of this began with a 15-year old California boy inviting a young man from India to church. A 2015 highlight was this former teenager, Gary Buck and his wife Judy, being able to see the Lord’s work in India for the first time.
The Future is Now as John has trained the next generation to carry on the Mission of establishing churches, educating youth in a Christian setting (where 98% of their graduates advance to college), and providing a home setting in the Christian Village for destitute children.