A Friend in India
Through my window I can see the words "William Carey Block" on a recently constructed wing of this Indian High School. Later this year, if completed, a multi-purpose auditorium at Hebron International Christian School is to be named after Graham Staines and his two precious sons, Phillip and Timothy. Few people know that Graham Staines was very instrumental in translating the New Testament into the Ho language (a tribal group spread across the Orissa/Bihar border).
Like Carey, Graham was indeed a multi-purpose Christ-centered missionary, of the highest calibre. He never boasted about his work. His competence in Bible translation work and his deep concern to provide the believers with God's Word cost him dearly. But what a wonderful legacy he has left those Ho speaking tribal believers. I only saw him get upset once, and that was when the Bible Society considered using the word Singbonga for God. A word recommended by a Roman Catholic priest, Singbonga, in Ho, is the name of the chief evil spirit. Graham won that battle and the correct word has been used.
He was effectively involved in a wide range of ministries, including literacy, translation work, leprosy work, training disciples, church planting and social development work. He was resolute and reliable and a very valuable board member at Hebron International Christian School. "How painful it is to the Lord when one of his people dies!"
"I will not die; instead, I will live and proclaim what the Lord has done."
He made time for anyone and everyone, especially his three lovely, devoted children. He was full of life and always ready with a good story. Humorous and serious. Good to be with. Jesus was his master and friend. He was great at "the task of making others His friends also" (2 Cor 5:18).
By the way, Phillip's dorm parents at Hebron told me that he was often praying, with tears, for the unsaved boys in his class. Graham had spoken to the whole school just six weeks before he died. That message will not be forgotten. I knew Graham before he married Gladys. It is to her credit, and his, that marriage wonderfully enhanced their ministries. They never slowed down. They never got diverted. It was always "all systems go." They lived simply. They travelled by road and train in the non A/C compartments, regardless of the weather. He neither sought fame nor fortune. He was sensitive and highly intelligent. Discerning and deliberate. Sympathetic and full of empathy. A tall 6 foot 2 inches, but always ready to kneel in prayer with the neediest and lowliest of society. Loved by all and, we hope, never to be forgotten.
What a crown of glory on such a wonderful action-packed, fruitful lifeto be martyred. His wife and daughter will have a tough time walking in his steps...but they will!