Rev. Abel Neelakandan was born and brought up in a staunch orthodox Hindu family. During his youth, he tried to find peace through his ancestral religion of Hinduism, but he failed. In 1976, he heard the Gospel through one of the Every Community for Christ team members and accepted Christ as his personal Savior. Bishop M. Ezra Sargunam, president of the Evangelical Church of India and OMS missionary Dr. Elmer Kilbourne baptized Abel that same year.
One day, when Abel was reading the Bible, the Lord spoke to him through Jeremiah 1:4,5 “…Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came out of the womb, I sanctified you and I ordained you as a prophet unto the nations.” He immediately obeyed God’s call and surrendered his life to God’s service.
As one of the first Telugu converts, he joined our ECC team in that area. OMS missionary, Dr. Graham Houghton, was serving as the director for the team, as well as serving as the principal of Madras Theological Seminary & College (MTSC). After two years of ministry, Abel began classes at MTSC to receive his bachelor of theology degree.
He was appointed as the ECC Telugu team leader in 1979. He and his team baptized thousands of people and planted hundreds of churches in Chennai and in Andhra Pradesh.
In September 2015, Rev. Neelakandan was elected as a bishop of ECI South Andhra diocese. Currently, the South Andhra diocese has around 600 churches. Pray that the Lord will continue to use Bishop Abel Neelakandan to strengthen the churches under his care.
—Story courtesy of The Evangelical Church of India