At a hillside resort in Aruku, Andhara Pradesh, India, a young man stood before 50 people who had come for fellowship and to learn the importance of knowing the Bible.
The young man, Rajesh, was asked what he thought of his father whom he had not seen for four years as he worked so far away in Singapore.
Rajesh with Pastor Danny at Aruku Retreat
“My father is a hero,” he said as he broke down and cried. “He is a hero to me, my brother and my sister. He sacrificed all for his family. Because of him, I am an Engineering student in a university, my brother is a polytechnic student and my sister is in junior college.”
“My father said to me – “I work under the sun all day, like an animal. I don’t want you to be like me. I don’t want you to suffer.” My father is not like other fathers who only scold, shout, who talk rubbish. When he spoke to me, words of love and meaning came out.”
Rajesh’s father, “Aquila”, is a plumber and has worked in Singapore for many years. In 2009, when Pastor Danny first met him, “Aquila” was attending another church. He grew up in a Christian family.
“Aquila” with Pastor Danny
“Aquila” lived in Toh Guan foreign workers dormitory then. Every Saturday, as Pastor Danny continued to visit the dormitory, he became friends with “Aquila” and some of the Christian workers.
After Pastor Danny finished his Bible studies in Singapore, he returned to India. But when an opportunity to return to Singapore came, he decided to return. He felt that without fellowship, his Christian brothers were fatherless and lacked the shepherd’s love.
“Aquila” and some of his brothers followed Pastor Danny wherever he went to preach. When the Telugu Service started in PPH Brethren Church, “Aquila” started attending and serving.
Pastor Danny started noticing the change in “Aquila”. Previously, “Aquila” was worried about how the people at the dormitory would react, how badly he would be treated if he asked his friends to come out and have fellowship. But “Aquila” was now more active, more passionate about God, more caring towards in his fellow brothers, more concerned about shepherding.
As he continued to share and support his brothers at every Telugu Service, Pastor Danny and his brothers laughingly named him “Aquila”. He was their facilitator, the person they could rely on to look for and take care of a “missing” brother, the one whom they sought for prayers and the one brothers spoke to when they decided to baptize. He would take leave, foregoing overtime pay to help those who needed help.
He has been given the responsibility of taking care of the 15-20 “bachelor fathers” at the Telugu Service who have children in India and who miss their families.
“Aquila” with all his years of experience in Singapore continues to advise the younger workers to avoid drinking and mixing with bad company. He prays all the time. If left alone in a room, “Aquila” will be down on his knees in prayer.
In a world in which children grow up without their fathers, the sacrifices “Aquila” endures to give love and education to his children is exceptional. It is not about a good father fulfilling his fatherly duties. It is about a man so changed inside that he gives unconditional and sacrificial love to his children. A love that he himself have experienced as a child of God.
Story by Danny Modi and Wong Kah Wei