“What Can You Do, O Man?” Micah 6…
Missionary to America Vijay Gurrala
People sometimes ask, “When did you decide to become a pastor?” My answer is always the same: “This morning, when I woke up.” The truth is, I never had a dream or vision to call me into public ministry; it is the best way I have found for me to serve the Lord. If you asked if I had a divine revelation at some point, sorry – that wasn’t the case. That is not true for everyone. Take the missionary to America Vijay Gurrala.
Rev. Gurrala grew up as a Christian in a small village in India, Guntur. He is a member of the fourth generation of Christian Gurralas, his great grandfather, Enoch, having been evangelized by German missionaries in the 19th century.
The missionaries had impressed Enoch Gurrala through the sacrifices they were making to show his village the love of Jesus. European and American missionaries came thousands of miles to many small villages; they walked from village to village, state to state, many times in monsoon rains. The missionaries spent their lives learning the local language and customs, as signs of respect. The sacrifices of the missionaries improved the lives of the local people. They invested years starting schools to lift poor rural farmers out of poverty. Many of those European and American missionaries never returned to their homelands, their graves in the new land marked by simple crosses. As did their Lord, they sacrificed themselves to share Christ’s love.
I can tell you by personal experience, no great mission was ever accomplished without some great sacrifice.
With the education he received, Vijay Gurrala’s grandfather was trained to be a pastor, and later a mission supervisor over churches in ten villages.
His father benefitted from the education in Christian schools and rose to be a government worker. Still, he sacrificed his weekends to go to areas where the gospel had not been known. In his later years Vijay’s father would come to America, and choose to minister in prisons. There are many other things his father could have done.
What about Vijay? Because of the sacrifices of the European missionaries he received a good education. He became a computer engineer, earning a Masters in Computer Science. The Gurrala family was brought to Houston by Amaco. He was making a very good living. The Gurralas were comfortable; they worshipped at Epiphany Lutheran Church, where Vijay started Bible study groups.
A layman, he started a Christian Telugu fellowship that met monthly to pray and sing hymns, socialize and share Indian food. In time, thirty percent of the group became composed of new Christians. Another fifteen percent were Hindu spouses and children. All were welcomed; all were loved.
One day, flying home from a business trip, he was studying his Bible, Micah 6, where the Lord demands His people listen to Him and respond in significant ways to His incredible love. Then the question – what is required of YOU now , (verse 8) “What can you do, O man?” What sacrifice will you make? Vijay Guralla’s spirit was shaken. He knew what he had to do, what the Lord was asking of him. From now on he would set aside his comfortable life, become a student, begin a four year program leading to ordination as an ordained pastor. He did not have to do this, but he knew he was being called to a different life.
After graduation, Vijay Guralla became the first ordained missionary for LINC Houston, the Lutheran Inner City Network. Working with LINC Rev. Guralla leads Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (Telugu), based at Pilgrim Lutheran Church. Three times a month the worship service is in English, then, on the third Sunday – the day after the Telugu Cultural Group meets – the worship service is in Telugu. The missionary also started several home Bible study groups around Houston, one fifty miles away, as seeds for new Telugu churches.
The European missionaries who went to Guntur could not have dreamed that a descendent of Enoch Guralla would be brought to Houston Texas to be a missionary to America. Well, maybe they did – if they heard what the prophet Micah heard. If they believed what the earliest missionaries believed – that the good news was to travel all the way from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.