David Manuel: “I am completely overwhelmed”

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Seminary honors servant leader for evangelistic work

By Karla Braun 

“The honor is huge and too heavy for a small man,” said David Manuel, an East Indian minister working with South Abbotsford (BC) MB Church for the last 30 years. MBBS president Lynn Jost concluded the seminary component at the Celebration 2010 binational reporting session by conferring on Manuel an honorary doctorate of Christian ministries. The congregation responded with a standing ovation for the humble pastor.

“For the past 30 years, David, by his calling, work and life, has exemplified the ideals of the Mennonite Brethren,” wrote Dan Nicholson, South Abbotsford pastor, in a letter of recommendation.

In 1980, South Abbotsford invited Manuel, who was studying ancient languages at Prairie Bible Institute, to begin outreach work to East Indians. Trained in theology and eastern languages in India, Manuel had previously worked as a church planter, professor of Christian education, pastor and conference evangelist.

Concerned that Indians in Canada and worldwide not only become converts but followers of Christ, Manuel developed basic discipleship materials and established an annual conference of fellowship and teaching for Indo-Canadians in B.C. and Alberta. At South Abbotsford’s Indo Canadian Christian Fellowship, he prioritized leadership training. When he retired in 2001, Manuel was succeeded by Harinder Sahota, one of his mentees.

Manuel continues to preach and disciple through radio, television and Internet. He has recorded more than 1,100 radio messages in Hindustani. Kalam-e-Zindagi (meaning word of life), his Urdu television show, is broadcast on Velugu Television Network, reaching audiences in the U.S., India and Fiji. Since 2008, it has aired on VisionTV and JoyTV in Canada.

Manuel’s “gentle and loving nature broke down barriers,” said Jost. Many Indian Muslims have responded to his programs “because of the grace of God evident in (Manuel’s) life.”

Receiving the cap and gown from Jost and board president Jack Falk, Manuel said, “I am not the only one receiving (this honour),” indicating family and fellow workers who support his ministry, and thanking South Abbotsford Church for their investment in Indo-Evangelism and Communications. “People did not catch the vision—they were caught by vision,” he said of his evangelistic work.

Manuel likened himself to the pinch of dust Jesus used to heal a blind man in John 9 – a tool in the master’s hand. His “joy prescription” is to “follow the footprints of the Lord.”

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