“He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom…and to each people in their own language.” Esther 1:22
Did you know that there are more than 140 different languages spoken in Houston? One of those languages, Telugu, is important to the people of Our Redeemer Telugu Church, pastored by Vijay Gurrala. Our Redeemer meets at Pilgrim Lutheran Church on Chimney Rock Road in Houston.
I had an opportunity to sit with Vijay and his wife, Mary, and learn a bit more about their mission and ministry to those who speak this language. It was an interesting and enlightening experience.
Vijay and Mary came to the United States from India. Their marriage was arranged, yet they liked each other very much. Vijay’s family had roots in the Lutheran faith. His grandfather was a Lutheran supervisor and his father was a chaplain after serving in the Royal Air Force. Mary’s family was Catholic, but she received her nursing education through Lutheran means.
They came to Chicago to seek better opportunities for them and their family. After 10 years they relocated to Houston and had the opportunity to meet other Telugu speaking Christians. They started a bible study in their home, and as it grew, they moved the bible study to another facility, meeting once a month. That mission still continues, as approximately 120 families worship together, have fellowship and support each other.
After seminary training, Vijay served his vicarage at Epiphany Lutheran Church under the auspices of Jon Salminen, and began to witness to the Indian community, which has around 450,000 people in the Houston area. About one third of those speak the Telugu language. He took a call from LINC Houston in 2007 to begin a Lutheran Telugu church.
Vijay also served as a campus pastor at University of Houston, through LINC, and welcomed the opportunity to plant the seeds, and witness to young people. He had the opportunity to baptize a few students using the fountain on campus.
Vijay is very grateful to be called as a servant of God and mentions that “what can I give for God for the greatest things He has given me? As the prophet says, Can I give my first born; can I give a thousand rams, a barrel of oil? No, nothing. As He promised in his word, walk humbly before the Lord, and serve Him.” Vijay takes great privilege and honor in serving Him, bringing people from darkness to light, to tell the good news of the Gospel to those who do not know.
Vijay’s vision is to open a new church in the Woodlands area as there are many Hindu temples in the Houston area. He says that they are open to hearing about Jesus, so this is a great opportunity.
As one of the 150+ missionaries working in the Texas District, bringing the Good News to 9000 new people each week, we ask God to continue to bless them and keep them in His grace!
By: Lanny Moore
Texas Partners in Mission