In this series, those involved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
[Editor: The following is a report from Pastor Jyothi Benjamin, in his own words, about the passing of his father, V.S. Benjamin, longtime chairman of the Church of the Lutheran Confession in India (CLCI). The report is lightly edited for clarity.]
In India, millions are searching for God through false religions and not finding Him! Religion without personal encounter with the true Word of God will not save the soul and it will not bring peace. God used the life and ministry of Rev. V.S. Benjamin, the chairman of the CLCI, to impact the lives of thousands in the South India. “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me . . . has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)
Rev. V.S. Benjamin (born on July 01, 1930) was the founder of the CLCI. He was a native of Mannava village in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh State, South India. Rev. Benjamin was baptized and confirmed by a Lutheran pastor at Mannava village. Rev. Benjamin’s parents were school teachers in Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church mission school, so pastor Benjamin grew up with the Lutheran faith. At that time school teachers’ salaries were very low, so his childhood was spent in conditions of severe poverty.
Pastor Benjamin had his primary education in the Lutheran School at Mannava, followed by secondary education at the government high school at Doppalapudi. Pastor Benjamin was very adept in his studies. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from Andhra Christian College at Guntur. He also completed his teacher training course at Guntur, as well as theological training at Rajahmundry Lutheran seminary. After completion of his training he became pastor and headmaster at Mannava Lutheran Church and Mission School.
On June 9, 1956, Rev. V.S. was married to Mary Benjamin, who was a teacher at Phirangipuram Lutheran School. They were blessed with six children: sons Raju, Jyothi, and Nireekshana; and daughters Ammaji, Ujvala, and Prajwala. Pastor Benjamin had fourteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
V.S. Benjamin served as a pastor in the AELC (Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church) for twenty years. Due to doctrinal differences, Rev. Benjamin left the AELC in 1975 and worked independently with his own established Lutheran congregations at Nidubrolu, along with his school duties. Rev. Benjamin took voluntary retirement from his teaching job and worked fulltime to establish his own independent Lutheran churches at various villages in Andhra Pradesh State. Since 1975, Rev. V.S. Benjamin worked very hard, founding many new congregations in Andhra and Telangana States (1975 – 1981). Traveling thousands of miles as an evangelist, he spread the Word of God to tribal people in hundreds of rural villages. Through his efforts many thousands of souls received Jesus as their Savior.
Since Pastor Benjamin was raised in the true Lutheran faith, he was constantly searching for a true Lutheran helping hand for the spiritual feeding of his churches. The Lord answered his prayers when, in 1981, he came into contact with the Church of the Lutheran Confession.
In that year John Rohrbach, a member of Zion, Ipswich, South Dakota, came to India on a 4-H project and fell sick. Rev. V.S. Benjamin heard about him, visited him at the hospital and brought him home until he got well. Rev. Benjamin told him about his wish to partner with a truly Lutheran church body. When Brother John communicated this to the CLC Board of Missions, there was joy aplenty, which then led to action!
In 1983, a visitation team consisting of John Rohrbach and Pastors David Schierenbeck and David Koenig came to Nidubrolu to visit Pastor and Mrs. Benjamin. Lengthy discussion led to the conclusion that doctrinal agreement existed, and with much joy Pastor Benjamin started the Church of the Lutheran Confession of India (CLCI), and registered it. Soon thereafter he started an orphanage in Nidubrolu, supported by the CLC Board of Missions under Project Kinship. Through the years Rev. Benjamin served as a father to hundreds of orphaned children. In addition, he founded a seminary to train pastors for the many congregations of the CLCI.
Rev. V.S. Benjamin was a man who had a purpose, a dedication in life. His life was a mix of terrific self-discipline and dedication with faith and trust in Jesus. He was very humble, had the power of tenderness, and had the strength of love. He never relaxed till his death in witnessing for Christ and in evangelizing the people.
At the age of 92 Pastor V.S. Benjamin went to be with the Lord. Even though the cause of Rev. V.S. Benjamin’s death is listed as heart failure, here people won’t say that “Daddy” died of heart failure, because it is far more accurate to say he had at long last given all his heart away to the CLCI. Surely Rev. Benjamin made a profound impact on many thousands of CLCI people’s lives, and did indeed accomplish something beautiful for God here in South India. Rev. Benjamin’s contribution to the CLCI is literally immeasurable.
In his prayers, Pastor Benjamin always remembered the people of the CLCI, and especially the families of the CLC USA, and prayed for their welfare. He was very thankful to the people of the CLC and for their wonderful support and prayers. We ask you to remember the family of V.S. Benjamin and the people of the CLCI in your daily prayers.