Sunday Snapshots and Snippets
Varsity Volleyballers

Living Martyr

Last evening, as our small group talked about the horrific persecution of Christians across the world, I was reminded of one of the most remarkable Christian men I have ever met.  Dr. Cecil, who I met in southern India 5 years ago, is truly a modern-day martyr of the faith.  I have no idea if Dr. Cecil is still alive on this earth or if he has passed through Heaven's gates by now, but I do know he will live forever in my memory.  Originally posted on October 23, 2008, this post is one I never want to lose about a man I shall never forget.



Of all the amazing and incredible people that I met while in India, none impacted my life like this gentleman.  Meet Rev. D. Cecilraj, or Dr. Cecil as we called him, an extraordinary Christian doctor and courageous man of faith!



Dr. Cecil was the administrator of all 5 medical camps.  He accomplished an astounding feat in India...efficiently and orderly moving the crowds of people through the clinic without incident.  His strong, authoritative demeanor commands attention and respect, yet he always tempers it with a huge smile.

And that smile is contagious!  Dr. Cecil lives his joy in Christ!  It radiates from him to everyone who is blessed to be in his presence.  And I was one who was immensely blessed by him!

Dr. Cecil won me over the very first day of medical camp.  I was hanging around outside the church, playing with the children.  Midway through the afternoon, Dr. Cecil sought me out and, as I was dancing and singing with the crowd, he joined in and started dancing with me!  That broke down all the cultural barriers (women in India are not to initiate social contact with men) and I knew he would be an instant friend.  Dr. Cecil and I are both 51, and we shared that we are not "old" like other 50ish people we know!  Dr. Cecil speaks excellent English, which also endeared him to our team.  He's just one of those people that are fun to be around.

Dr. Cecil also was a great help explaining some puzzling experiences we had.  Loving the beautiful ankle bracelets the Indian women wear, I bought one.  Well, actually two...I thought I was buying just one, but I found after I had paid that they are only sold in pairs.  (That should have been my first clue!  Duh!!!) Only wanting one, I sold the other one to James, a fellow on my team, to give as a gift.  That afternoon I wore my gorgeous gold ankle bracelet to the medical camp.  Immediately I noticed the women and girls pointing at my feet and laughing, babbling in Tamil.  One brave young girl finally asked me where my other ankle bracelet was, and when I tried to explain that I only had one, she broke out in hysterical laughter as she relayed what I had said to the women nearby, who also began laughing.  So I asked Dr. Cecil what the deal was.  Apparently I had done a big should either wear two or none, never just one!  Dr. Cecil presented it in his booming, no-nonsense way with a big grin on his face.  "How many legs did God give you?...Two legs, two anklets!!!"  And that was that, enough said.  Bless his heart, James happened to have the other ankle bracelet in his pocket and gave it to me to put on.  One of the women snatched it from me, quickly put it around my other ankle, and the crowd cheered!  I was complete!  And Dr. Cecil laughed the loudest!

One morning as Vanessa and I were walking around Parassala, we came across these palm mats filled with strange circles drying in the sun.  After looking them over, we figured they must be some sort of fruit drying, like a fruit roll-up of sorts.  So we shared this photo with Dr. Cecil that afternoon to solve the mystery.  Again, he started laughing and laughing!  What was so funny?!  COW DUNG!  That's what it was...thin patties of cow dung drying, to be used for fuel. When we told him we thought it was fruit, he got so tickled and hooted and howled.  Kooky American women!

Dr. Cecil jokingly examined Pastor Jim at the end of a camp.  Always the jokester (after telling Jim in all seriousness that he was too big!), he even wrote out a prescription for ice cream for Jim to take home to Debbie.


All of these things made us all love Dr. Cecil.  But the most riveting thing about him for me was the testimony he shared with me.  The last day of camp, he sat down on a bench beside me and pulled up his two pant legs, revealing some horrible scarring.  When I asked him what had happened, his bright smile faded and tears filled his eyes.

In 1989, when he was 32, he had been walking home from a church he was pastoring at the time when he suddenly found himself surrounded by 50 or so young angry Indian men wielding swords, knives, and wooden clubs.  They began beating him all over his body, slashing swords across his shins as well.  I was horrified and told him I knew he had to have been praying desperately during the ordeal.  He told me that he kept saying "Praise the Lord!" louder and louder, over and over, which made the group of Hindu men angrier and angrier.  Finally they left him for dead, a village girl found him, and he spent 51 days in the hospital recovering from his wounds.  

Now, one would think that after that, Dr. Cecil would quietly go about his faith, but no!  He proclaims Jesus loudly and proudly, sharing with everyone he meets.  He says he has no fear, and I believe him.  The man LIVES his JOY every day of his life!  He is the representation of what living in Christ fear, only freedom and joy.  

That's why I (and our entire team!) love Dr. Cecil.  We, as Americans, have never had to fear true persecution for our faith.  This man has survived a close brush with death because of his faith, and yet he never backs down.  What an inspiration!  We may never be privileged to cross paths again with Dr. Cecil on this earth, but we will surely see him in heaven...with a HUGE SMILE on his precious face!  May God bless and protect you, Dr. Cecil, until we meet again!


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