Our Lord Jesus said in Matthew 28: 19 "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".
This verse clearly shows us our responsibility to spread gospel. At the Kirk, we effectively carry out this task in our project areas.
A Chapel 20 km away from the Kirk is situated on a 5 ground plot which was purchased in June 1988 after Rev. David Singh and our evangelist Daniel Soundararajan prayed in that very spot asking God's guidance to show a place. This prayer was answered. On March 26, 1989, a thatched roof chapel cum clinic was dedicated by our then pastor Rev. Leonard Baskar Samuel.
Every second Sunday evening a Holy Communion Service is conducted in this place. The evangelist conducts services on Sundays, the Sunday school (with the help of his wife), cottage prayer meetings and regular visits to members' homes. There are 40 families worshipping in the church and they are very devout. They also give to the Lord generously and cheerfully from the little that they have.
In 2002, a beautiful Church to accommodate about 250 people was built through the Kirk congregation's support. The members came forward spontaneously to contribute generously towards this. St. Andrew's Church, Kosapur was dedicated to God's Glory on 23rd December 2002 by Rev. T. Devaputhiran.
Every week the church conducts Sunday school, Youth Fellowship and Fasting and Prayer. The old church building has now been renovated and is also used as a Tuition centre and Clinic. About 40 children benefit through the coaching. The tuition centre is managed by two part time teachers and our evangelist. Every 2nd Saturday evenings Dr. Magdalene Asirwatham attends to patients who come to the free clinic. Every year during the summer holidays Vacation Bible Schools are conducted and about 100 children attend these programmes.
Thirupalaivanam, one of the most backward areas in Chingleput District was selected by St. Andrew's Church about 35 years ago as a pilot project for our Integrated Rural Development Scheme. Consequently protected drinking water, health care, education and economic support schemes have been made available to the villages in this area. As part of our holistic mission to the person, a young couple were appointed twelve years ago as evangelists here. Their ministry of the Word has borne fruit in about five villages in Thirupalaivanam. In this pilot project area worship services are conducted every Sunday. Children between 5 and 15 attend Bible classes based on the India Bible Literature syllabus. "House Churches" are held in the homes of people on Thursday evenings. Many attend fasting and prayer sessions conducted on Friday mornings.
In the villages of Peralaimabakkam, Vanjiwakkam, Odambakkam and Koolamani, house visiting, personal evangelism and literature evangelism are done in a systematic way. Many families are responding positively to this ministry. They do so at some sacrifice because if they come from certain communities they lose Government benefits and they also incur their family's displeasure. However, with God's help and guidance, we expect strong churches to spring up in these areas.
Balaramapuram Leprosy Colony, Villivakkam is in the border of greater Chennai about 10 kms from the Kirk. In 1978, Mrs. Mary Karkada suggested that this colony required Sunday worship services, education for their children and help with rehabilitation. The leprosy-afflicted people had lived in Balaramapuram for more than 25 years. Mrs Karkada played a pivotal role in getting the land where their huts were situated, registered in their names. Later, Rev. Father Gerard took upon himself the full responsibility of the colony and built terraced houses for the patients and a beautiful chapel for the colony. Our city evangelist conducts the Sunday evening services and the Sunday school at the Day Care centre. About 40 children attend the Sunday school. On every fourth Sunday evenings, Holy Communion services are conducted by the Kirk pastor along with a few members of the Kirk congregation.
About 20 years ago, a group of elders felt the call to begin conducting evangelism in a hutment colony at Swamidasapuram. Starting with cottage prayer meetings every week, it expanded to Sunday school classes for children. An evangelist was put in charge of this ministry. Besides being given the gospel, the children were helped with notebooks and other school expenses. The Christmas play staged by these children every year has become a great favourite among the slum/hutment dwellers.
Sathiavani Muthu Nagar (S.M. Nagar) is a hutment colony adjacent to the Kirk cemetery. Here regular Sunday evening worship is conducted at the cemetery. About 50 people attend and benefit through this evangelistic effort. The city evangelist and our retired cashier conduct the services. The response here is overwhelming.
This unique ministry of our church among the drivers was started in 1999 with five drivers in our Church campus. It started out of the vision and concern of one member, who came late to church and found the car drivers idling outside while their employers and their families worshipped inside the Church. This ministry began with informal meetings, getting to know one another, discussing their problems and difficulties. Following this, they were told about the gospel of Jesus Christ with biblical illustrations and the value of prayer. These meetings always closed with prayer. At present, there are seventeen drivers on roll. Every Sunday at least twelve are present. Their presence is dependent upon their employers' attendance at the Church.
From informal meetings, these have graduated to full fledged Sunday Worship Services in Tamil. They begin with an Opening Prayer, Praise and Worship songs in Tamil, Bible reading, a Message, offertory, sharing of prayer requests, thanksgiving and finally, close with prayer & Benediction. All the drivers are provided with a songbook and a New Testament in Tamil.
The drivers are experiencing spiritual growth and this is reflected in their speech and actions. A couple of them from other faiths have committed their lives to Christ. Other drivers in the city have begun to hear of this Fellowship and have started coming to attend the worship services.
Rev. Peter Miller, a former minister of St. Andrew has said, "We are not just a historic church building. As a congregation, St. Andrew's is deeply committed to the hopes and struggles of the poor". This commitment and awareness of the pain and suffering around St. Andrew's led to the conception and birth of the Healing Ministry, the brain child of Rev. T. Devaputhiran. The Healing Ministry was inaugurated on October 5, 2003 with the encouragement and support of the Secretary and other elders of the Kirk Session. More than 30 doctors from the congregation, who are specialists in various fields like Cardiology, Anaesthesiology, Biochemistry, Pathology, Ultrasonology, Ophthalmology, Dentistry, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Family Medicine, Nephrology, Urology, Pulmonary Medicine and Internal Medicine are members of this ministry.
The Healing Ministry runs a clinic every Sunday in the St. Andrew's Centre for Continuing Education (SACCE) building in the church campus and patients from the local slums and the senior citizens from the Friend in Need Society visit the clinic regularly to avail of the services. Over 1000 patients have received medical aid so far. The members meet every second Sunday of the month to have fellowship with each other. Camps to detect and treat eye ailments, respiratory and dental problems along with general screening for diabetes and hypertension are organized periodically. Besides medical check up, free medicines are distributed and cases which require specialized care are referred to local hospitals. The ministry also runs a clinic in Kosapur and Thirupalaivanam as a part of the village project. A team of doctors visit these villages regularly. The services rendered by this ministry apart from being beneficial to the sick who live nearby, also give great personal satisfaction to the doctors.
The Ministry wishes to place on record the yeoman service rendered by the Late Dr. Kirkpatrick for over 25 years in running the rural clinics in Thirupalaivanam, Balaramapuram and Kosapur. This work was later carried on under the able guidance and expertise of Dr. Selvapandian. Special mention must also be made of the unstinting and untiring efforts of our elder, Mrs. Chandy in visiting sick patients in the hospitals. The Ministry is aided by the generous contribution of the congregation.
The Healing Ministry is planning to organize highly specialized camps for the detection of Osteoporosis, cervical cancer, diabetes, nutritional disorders, cataract etc. We pray that God Almighty will bless this Ministry enabling it to grow and expand, following in the footsteps of the greatest physician of all, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
St. Andrew's Church has a hospital ministry programme benefiting two hospitals in the City - the Govt Mental Hospital at Kilpauk and the T.B hospital at Otteri. The former was started in the 70's at the specific request of the then Superintendent of the hospital. She was a visionary who believed in the social responsibility of citizens for the well-being of weaker members of society. She contacted the then Minister of St. Andrew's Church to help rehabilitate the improved patients. The Minister himself along with a few members of the Women's Fellowship and Youth Fellowship started Weekly visits to the patients. These visits are being faithfully carried out every Sunday by a small group, during which the patients are counselled and prayed for. Story telling and singing are enjoyed the most by all. Christmas is the high point of this Ministry when the Minister and a number of the Congregation members join to celebrate with them. Christmas Carols are sung and festive eats are shared with the patients.
The city evangelist visits the T.B. hospital patients every week, distributes Christian tracts and prays with them. Christmas is celebrated with them also in like fashion by the Minister and members.
"In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." - Matthew 25: 40.
The Friendship Club has been in existence for more than 28 years. This is a getting together of the old and destitute with whom the Church shares a time of friendship. This ministry was originally started by the then Minister of this Church Rev. Murdoch McKenzie, who felt the need for giving love and fellowship to the old and destitute.
There are about 60 regular members and they are all senior citizens above 60 yrs of age, who are weak, undernourished, destitute and homeless. The Friendship club meets on every 1st Tuesday once a month. The members are full of smiles, joy and gratitude. They share a time of singing, Bible reading, a much-looked forward message by the Pastor and prayer. The meeting ends with snacks and coffee.
Most of these people are too weak to commute to the Church on their own and so the Church arranges transport to bring them to the Church and drop them back home on these days. They are given a monthly allowance of Rs.75/- each. Those who are physically unable to come to the Church are visited by our Church members and given fruits and biscuits. During Christmas, a more lavish treat is arranged for them.
Jesus said, "You will always have the poor and the needy with you". We need to open our eyes to those who live lives of deprivation around us and reach out a hand to help and share our material blessings as well as our love with them. The Friendship Club tries to do just that.
The ministry for the needy that goes on in our Church is for people who come asking for alms. Most of them are afflicted with leprosy.
Earlier, they used to stand at the main gate in the hot sun and beg for money. Then around the year 2000, one of the congregation members with the approval of the Kirk Session thoughtfully invited these people to sit under a tree inside the Church campus.
Every Sunday after the morning worship service each of them is given a cup of coffee, Rs.20/- and some free medicines. Some women from our Congregation meet them, talk to them, give them a short message about the redeeming love of Jesus Christ and encourage them with stories and parables from the gospels. The volunteers counsel them and pray with them. They are happy to be treated as part of the family of God. The Church also gives them bed sheets & clothes as a special gift at Christmas time. Congregation members donate to this cause through collection boxes placed in the church.