05 Oct How I Got Mentored by the Late Prof H Enoch?
“Do you want to meet Jesus, Gandhi, Nehru, Lincoln and Luther?” asked the Hindi Professor in my college class. We all shouted back, “Yes”. After a pause, he said, “Go to the library.” I went to the library and that started my lifelong habit of reading. I met many great men and women through books and learned many things. I read many biographies, but most of the time, I just read and forgot it.
It was during this habit building time that I read about “Historical Mentoring” from Dr. J Robert Clinton through his book, The Mentor Handbook, which introduced me to a new way of learning from biographies. Robert Clinton defines “Mentoring as a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.” Since mentoring is relational, it is most effective if we have a living mentor. However much of the time, it is difficult to find the right mentor, or if we do find a great mentor, they aren’t available to mentor us.
In these kinds of situations, historical mentoring can help us. Historical mentoring is a process in which we read and study in depth the biographies or autobiographies of a deceased person to get examples of skills, attitudes, insights, habits, vision and values, to empower and apply in our lives. The Bible also commands us to “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Heb 13:7) This idea intrigued me, and I decided to experiment with it.
As an EU student’s compulsory reading, I had read Prof H Enoch’s Following the Master, so I decided to read the book again, applying this strategy of being mentored. Normally, biographies are read just once, but in historical mentoring, you slowly read the biographies
many times to learn from that person. So, I read the book two or three times. Then I made a timeline and noted key things that happened in his life.
Born on 23 July 1905 and at the age of 7 accepted Christ
1923: Joined BA in Madras Christian College. Lost interest in Jesus and lost faith by studying evolution.
1927: Reinstated in faith
1928: Got a job in Collectrate but didn’t last long. Decided to take the job of a teacher so that he could share the gospel
1930: Completed MA and secured 1st rank, lost the faith again but continued “Christian Ministry.” joined as Junior Lecturer in Presidency College
1931: Joined Vizag Medical College as Biology lecturer. Worked with SCM and lived among fisherman.
1941: Marriage with Shirin. Waited for three years for this marriage.
1949: Moved to Madras Presidency college
1951: Started the Madras Intercollegiate Evangelical Union and started a magazine called Evangelical Student.
1952: Became the Head of Zoology Department
1954: Started UESI
1956-57: Visited UK and other countries, which gave the opportunity to study Evolution in depth
1957: Became the President of UESI. He deliberately didn’t want to take any official position in UESI.
1960: Retired from Presidency college.
1960: Joined the Madras Christian College as the Head of the Department.
1964: Joined the Creation Research Society.
1964: Retired from MCC, wrote the book, Evolution or Creation.
1965 Visited European countries
1964: Age 59 Ministry with UESI and Jehovah Shamma Church.
1988: Age 83 April 3 Went to be with the Lord.
I noted the spiritual growth and experiences in his life.
1931: July-Dec Crisis of faith,Brokenness
Filling of the Holy Spirit
Experienced deeper love of God
Realizations: Confirmation about God
God is love, filled with God’s love
Decided to love God only
Had a new faith to Trust God for
all things Food, Shelter and clothes
Got the boldness and ability to
Share the gospel with everyone
God’s word is true
Indwelling presence of Christ
Face to face experience with God
Experienced the rest as assured in Heb. 4:11
After few years: Spoke in tongues once
Fasted and prayed every Sunday and prayed before taking Zoology classes in college.
His Life Purpose:
At Age 26 decided to focus on three things
– 1. Share the Gospel,
2. Pray for the sick,
3. Live according to the Sermon on the Mount. He decided to be a missionary as well as a missionary teacher.
»» To live with the poor and practise the Sermon on the Mount
»» To those who take the clothes give them your tunic as well
»» Give to those who ask
»» Pray for those who speak bad about you
»» Share with others
»» Associate with the poor
»» His Faith life and trusting God for all needs
»» He gave a major portion of his salary to help the evangelists, widows, beggars and poor
»» “As long as I have something to eat, you’ll never go hungry” told the UESI staff
»» This benevolence has sometimes led to poverty and financial crisis. In those times, he prayed like this: “Lord, this stomach is yours, if you want me to live, give food to it and otherwise I am not worried.”
»» Finding God’s will for his life
»» “On many occasions, I felt that I should go for full time Christian work, and so be able to do more for the Lord. I thought for example, of the leprosy work and wondered if I should do it. But gradually, I discovered that this thought was my own desire and not a definite call from the Lord.”
»» “Now I can see that God was able to use me more in my profession than as a full time work. As a professor, God was able to use me
later in the writing of Evolution or Creation and in the forming of UESI. God might have blessed me if I had left my job, but that would
have been my way and not His.”
»» “Wherever God places people, they should be faithful to Him one hundred percent and not be carried away by mere appeals for
labourers. If they are interested in evangelistic work, they should do this wherever they are. The best and the most useful place for a man to be in is in the centre of God’s perfect will for him. That place is where God has put you, unless He has definitely and clearly called you to a different ministry.”
»» “Even Jesus came to do God’s will, and not to evangelize, or to do leprosy work or missionary work, however great and noble these
may be.” Some Key Insights from His Life
»» When we abide in Him we will bear fruit without much trouble.
»» When we practice God’s will, God will use those incidents for His glory. So each incident in our life, whether small or big, has a place.
Either we fulfill God’s will or we break it.
»» Man is the product of heredity, environment and training: the triangle of life. The base represents heredity, one side is the environment and the other stands for training. This corresponds to the distinction between what we are (heredity), what we have
(environment), and what we do (training).
»» If your heredity is good, suitable training and environment will improve you. But if a man is a dullard, no amount of training
and excellent environment can make him anything better than a presentable dullard. He remains a dullard, because of his heredity.
This puts a premium on what we are and not on what we have or do. However good the environment and training, this will not be
sufficient to transform humanity without a change in the base.
»» As man consists of body, soul and spirit, so just improving the environment or giving right training wouldn’t improve a person. His spirit should be born again and thus should have a new background. This is the ultimate change.
»» Started UESI
»» Wrote Evolution or Creation
»» Always defended the Bible
»» He lived a Saintly life
»» After all this, I decided to put into practice some of these things in my life.
Truly, I was blessed walking with this man of God and being mentored by him, who influenced some of my thinking and gave me new values to follow.
- Select a biography
- Select bigger biographies, which give more details about the person.
- Select the biography based on your need or calling. For example, if you are a Bible teacher, search for a biography of a Bible teacher like John Stott or Martyn Loyd Johns
- Read the book – Read it slowly and many times; read it analytically, devotionally and for application.
- Make a timeline noting the key developments and events.
- What are some of their spiritual experiences?
- What are some of their habits?
- What are some of their mistakes?
- What are some of their insights from the person’s life that can be learned?
- What are some of the major contributions of his/her life?
- An action plan for your life to put into practice what you have learned.
- We all need mentors for fruitful lives.
- There is no excuse to say “I don’t have anyone to mentor me.” Pick up one biography and get mentored. In this New Year, decide from whom you want to be mentored.
Shibu K. Mathew edits Ethne magazine and blogs at Christianlife.in. For any help regarding historical mentoring he can be contacted through, firstname.lastname@example.org