In this series, those involved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
[Ed.: the following is an account from CLCI Chairman, Pastor Jyothi Benjamin, in his own words. The report is lightly edited for clarity.]
After this year’s Easter celebrations, following the jubilant cries of victory over the sin and death that Jesus Christ won for us on the cross, most people were returning to normal life. But for me and my family, life became a personal war.
In the last week of April, I developed my first symptom of COVID-19, the deadly coronavirus which by April had claimed 444,000 lives across India. It started with a dry cough and slight fever. After a few days, I began to feel tightness in my chest. As the time progressed, my temperature started to rise and I was finding that I had to take long, deep breaths. With severe sweating and uncontrollable shaking, I became weak.
My COVID-19 test came back positive. I was scared, confused, and troubled about so many things. It’s entirely new experience for me to learn about “difficulty in taking breath,” a frightening symptom of COVID-19. You feel as if your ribcage is restricted and you have to inhale much deeper than usual. Soon I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and admitted to the ICU. It was very hard and so painful to experience COVID-19 treatment at ICU. I couldn’t eat and swallow, and I couldn’t chew when they took the tubes out of my throat. Everything in me wanted some relief from the intensity, some cool air on my skin.
Health problems aside, COVID-19 had robbed my peace of mind. I have had a successful career, been blessed with a good wife and two wonderful children, and had perfect health. I have been faithful to God. But all of a sudden I went through these deadly sufferings. It reminded me of Job from the Bible. Without any warning I lost my health, and most all the money that I have. But Job said, Job 2:10, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” I firmly believed that God was with me in my suffering because God is compassionate and merciful. I kept praying: “Lord, have mercy on me. Lord, give strength to my body.”
I could feel the deepest ache in my chest like nothing I have ever experienced before. The breath was being squeezed out of me. Since I am a diabetic, and 58 years old, things became very serious. Gradually I started losing hope for my life, but prayed continuously for victory, declaring the power of Jesus to overcome evil.
Many people in the CLC and in the CLCI prayed for me. With those prayers, Jesus did a miracle in my life. I truly believe this moment was the decisive point when my Lord and Savior broke in and won the battle for me. My fever began to go down. The Lord had heard my prayers and seen my tears. After a 45-day stay in the hospital, including eighteen days on a ventilator, by the grace of God, I recovered from COVID-19 and I am gaining my health back.
Dear brothers and Sisters, I wholeheartedly thank you for all your prayers and support. From the day I entered the hospital, I received on my phone, computer, and in the mail box prayers for my speedy recovery. How grateful I am to have such lovely brothers and sisters in the CLC! Because of your prayers, God really kept me as the apple of His eye. I cannot express the gratitude I feel for all of you.
Praise the Lord that I am now able to participate in church activities again. Please keep continue to pray for this unworthy servant. We pray for your wellbeing also. From the bottom of our hearts, we once again say, “THANK YOU!”
Pastor Jyothi Benjamin is the Chairman of the CLCI. His home is in Nidubrolu, Andhra Pradesh State, India.