11 Jun The R-1 Project
Why R-1? We have two pastors who have planted churches in PennDel, but without an R-1 visa and our support they will not be able to stay.
Pastor Saji Varghese has sacrificed to plant a church in Pittsburgh. Because he is here on a student visa, he is unable to be paid for his ministry. He is living on faith!
Pastor Mathew James has an incredible testimony of salvation and healing from radioactive exposure. As he plants his church in Philly, he also shared the challenge of having to go back to India and leave his church if he does not get his R-1.
After meeting them, I was baffled as to how to help them, but then our friends in the New York District introduced us to leaders that are helping pastors in New York City walk through this. We now have a plan to help Pastor Saji, Pastor Mathew and future R-1 pastors.
Pastor Saji completed his education in theological studies and became an evangelist. Later he finished his Master’s Degree in Social Analysis from Serampore University and became a Bible seminary teacher in India. It was in India that he first served as a pastor and church planter.
In 2009, he came to the United States in pursuit of his doctorate degree. Four years later, he successfully completed his Doctorate in Christian Ministry from International Theological Seminary, California.
Pastor Saji is fluent in Malayalam and Hindi. Pastor Saji has ministered throughout 23 of the states of India, and his ministry goes beyond his Malayalam speaking people to reaching out to help Indians as a whole. In Pittsburgh there are people from all parts of India, and he has people in his congregation that speak both languages. Pastor Varghese is married to Girija Chandravathy and they have three wonderful children named Alby, Aida, and Anugraha. If approved for R-1 status, Pastor Saji would like to remain in the United States serving as a pastor/church planter with PennDel.
PRAISE REPORT: We are so happy to report that Saji’s R-1 has just been approved! We are now raising monthly support to help him for the two-year commitment required.
Pastor Mathew had a life changing experience while working in Bahrain at a refinery; a radioactive accident occurred that took the life of three of his co-workers and left him barely alive. Pentecostal sisters came to his room and told him that even though he was exposed to radiation that was thousands of times more powerful than the radiation used in medical therapy, God could save him. It was there in that hospital that Mathew called out to God and was both saved and healed!
Pastor Mathew has since earned a Master of Divinity from Bethel Bible College in South India and was conferred a Doctor of Divinity by the International Christian University in Chesapeake, Virgina. He is currently continuing his education at Faith Theological Seminary in Baltimore.
Today, Pastor Mathew is the pastor of Harvest International Church, a community of believers that were in need of a pastor who understands their culture and communicates in their language. He is serving in the Philadelphia area due to the presence of a large number of Indians in the city. Pastor Mathew married his wife, Blessy, and they were told that because of the radiation exposure, they could not have a child, but God gave them another miracle… they have a wonderful daughter, Keren!
We Need Your Help!
Please pray for favor.
There are interviews that need to happen and paperwork that needs to be reviewed. The process can take many months in a system that is facing many challenges.
Please give to the PennDel R-1 Fund.
With this fund we will be able to help pay the application and attorney fees for the R-1 visas for each pastor and his family. With this fund, we will be able to help with short gaps that the congregations may have in paying their pastor for the two year commitment required by law.
Imagine what would happen if our churches would stand with Pastor Saji and Pastor Mathew and the many pastors and churches that will be empowered by the R-1 Fund. Imagine the stories that would be told for generations to come!