A witness to the strangers
Seema Thomas shares with us glimpses of the lifestyle of Sijumon Abraham and
family, who have made it their mission to give Jesus to strangers
Pope Paul VI once said, ‘modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses’. One such witness who has stood out distinctly for young people in Singapore has been Sijumon Abraham and his family.
Be it journeying with young people personally or even opening his house for youth gatherings, he has been the driving force for the mission in Singapore. Sijumon serves as the animator for Jesus Youth Singapore and lives with his wife and five lovely and energetic young kids. Following is an excerpt of a candid conversation with Sujimon and Sindhu about their family, ministry and mission life:
Tell us about your first encounter and initial experience with Jesus Youth
Sijumon: I was a Sunday Catholic and never missed a Sunday mass. But attending Holy Mass for me was like watching a drama. I never had an encounter with Jesus. But I always prayed for getting things done mainly through the intercession of Mother Mary by attending Saturday novenas.
While I was doing my Masters’ final year project, I had a chance to attend a Jesus Youth night vigil prayer at CST Chapel, Bangalore. During the homily, the priest asked “Do you love Jesus?” That question struck me and I repeatedly asked myself the same question. This question encouraged me to attend the next night vigil with eagerness. During the praise and worship session (which I always hated and mocked when people prayed loudly) I saw young people raising their hands and praising God without any hesitation, while I stood there with folded hands watching what the others were doing. Moments later, I had a deep urge to praise God in a loud voice and by raising my hands. That same night during a praying over session, a brother told me to “Surrender your financial worries to God”. This surprised me as I did have some financial struggles at that time; but what surprised me more was how people could hear God’s message. The very next day there was an answer to the financial problem that I had! Praise God! Since then, I continued my spiritual journey, seeking the Lord and growing close to Him.
What dreams did you both have about your family when you got married?
We didn’t have big dreams but only one wish, to live together with all the kids that God would bless us with wherever we may be! We do not plan anything in our life. Rather, we trust fully in the Lord as He has a better plan for us and we are ready to do His will wherever we go.
Tell us more about your family?
Sijumon: My wife Sindhu and I both come from big families. Both of us know well the benefits of a big family, and we have found our joy multiplying when we come together as a family. Also, our kids are learning how to share everything and how to adjust their lives to live peacefully. This is a life lesson for them to trust fully in God.
Having a big family in Singapore is a super luxury in the words of most Singaporeans. When people hear that I have five kids, they are really surprised and ask us “How do you manage that?” We only have one answer which is similar to Psalms 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God”. We thank God for all the things we have today. God will make a way for our tomorrow!
How does a normal day look like in your household?
Sijumon: Our day starts with personal prayer. The time and prayer varies from age to age as the elder ones have their own personal prayer format and the younger ones will pray the Holy Rosary. Kids go to school early in the morning and I go to work while my wife does shift work. Our routines change based on my wife’s shift; if she has a night shift we change our family prayer time to evening around 6pm before she leaves for work.
Sindhu: During my personal prayer time, I offer my family, especially kids, for them to have a Christ experience in their lives. Family prayer is another place where we all spend time together and appreciate each other’s good deeds. I also ensure that my kids do their personal prayer every morning and make a short prayer before leaving for school. Sijumon brings all our kids to church everyday as some days I have shift work and am unable to attend the Holy Mass. Also, I read the bible for 30 mins daily without failure and I encourage my family members to do the same. This way I ensure the word of God touches my family members’ heart and changes their way of life including myself.
How do you manage to balance work, family and ministry in your life?
Sijumon: We are not career oriented but we are family oriented. As a result, we focus more on family time instead of spending overtime at work. Because of this we have less promotions and increments but we are blessed with what we need for our daily life.
What are your personal interests or hobbies?
Sijumon: I like to do acrylic paintings, photography and videography. But more than that my real passion is to seek the kingdom of God and help young people experience the real love of Jesus.
How do you spend time together as a couple in the midst of a busy day?
We try to spend some alone time before we go to sleep. It is very important for couples. Some days we have more time to talk and laugh with each other but some days are really tiring and so we may get less time.
How do you ensure each child gets enough individual attention and also time to spend together?
We usually check each child’s daily activities and help them. We try to spend more time when we see one of them sad or silent. Family prayer time is the time we spend together. Our family prayer time is usually 30 minutes, but before we start we have a casual talk about our day and any concerns and may take longer time to complete the whole session. We also try to eat our breakfast, lunch and dinner together and during weekends, we get more time to spend with each other.
How do you integrate family and mission? How do you emphasize that mission is important?
Sijumon: I strongly believe that mission is something that should come from the heart and not because of compulsion. Our intention is to give them basic catechism and a love for Jesus. One way we prepare them is by learning the Word of God. Each member of the family will take a separate Bible verse for the day and memorize it. The members will then share the word of God they have learnt during the evening family prayer time.
Sindhu: There was a point of time where we had to select the second language for my kids; we chose Mandarin Chinese instead of our known languages like Hindi or Tamil. We received a lot of discouragement from many but we pressed on. The reason why we chose this language was for them to be able to mingle more with Chinese nationals so they will be able to share the good news with them. We got this conviction from the Lord which helps us to persevere. The kids speak Mandarin quite well now.
Do you have any personal mission?
Sijumon: My personal mission is to meet strangers and share the love of Jesus. I have tried different ways to accomplish this.
- When I get calls from insurance agents, I don’t disconnect the call; rather I make an appointment with them to hear them personally. During the meeting, I share my testimony and try to inspire them to take a few steps to experience the same love of God.
- I attend Holy Mass daily in the evening after my work. After the Mass I spend some time in adoration and then go to a nearby crowded place to meet and talk to strangers.
- I share my car with strangers on my way to the office and back. I find this a great way of sharing about Jesus to strangers. I’ve been doing this since 2017 till the country locked down because of the covid-19 situation. I’ve managed to talk to thousands of people using this platform and I thank God for helping me with the grace to reach out in this manner.
How can we encourage kids to share the love of Jesus? What changes did you see in them after such experiences?
We personally look for opportunities to join any mission activities and try to involve our kids in them too. We encouraged our 12-year-old son to go for a two-day mission experience trip to Indonesia to help poor people. We were surprised that during the trip, he shared a testimony to some school children about how the Holy Spirit helped him find the directions to our home when he lost his way. This experience reminded him to depend on God always and listen to the Holy Spirit every moment of his life. His sharing to the kids was not because we forced him to share, he did it on his own. He realized how the Holy Spirit had helped him and was inspired to share it. Sharing reinforced his experience and made him more confident of himself with the Holy Spirit. Praise God!
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