Chuck Smith was a ‘spiritual father to millions,’ says K.P. Yohannan

That inclues thousands of missionaries and pastors in India

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

CARROLLTON, TX (ANS) On hearing of the passing earlier today (Thursday, October 3, 2013), of Pastor Chuck Smith, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, and the father of the Southern California “Jesus People Revival”, K.P. Yohannan, International Director of Gospel for Asia, has issued a statement to the ASSIST News Service about his dear friend.


K.P. Yohannan

Yohannan said, “I have known Pastor Chuck Smith for 31 years. In my journey to serve the Lord, he is without any doubt one of the very few individuals I know who was truly a servant of God. He became a spiritual father to millions, and it’s almost hard to believe in flesh somebody lived out such godliness, based on the life of Paul and instructions from the Scripture about being a servant of God or a leader in God’s work.

“For me personally, a huge part of my thinking about leadership and the church came from the influence of Pastor Chuck Smith and the journey with him over these three decades. Pray for God’s grace for the family and the leaders of the church at this time.”

It was during a visit to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa back in 2008 to speak at a “Meet the Missionaries” event, that K.P. Yohannan gave Chuck Smith a huge surprise. As Smith was sitting quietly close to the front of the church, Yohannan told him that his teaching was now reaching out to millions in India, and that his verse-by-verse teachings have been translated into Hindi and are helping to train thousands of his Indian missionaries and pastors.

After he had spoken, Yohannan invited Smith onto the platform where the Indian-born mission’s leader, presented him with a package of audio CDs of his teachings in the Hindi language.


Dan Wooding interviewing Chuck Smith
and K.P. Yohannan

After the event, at which K.P. was the main speaker, the two of them met back stage and agreed to talk to me about this historic moment in missions in India. And what made this even more special was that were just a few yards from where the “Big Tent” was pitched all those years ago that saw thousands of hippies give their lives to Christ during the great Southern California “Jesus People Revival,” that transformed so many lives in heralded in the modern-day worship music movement.

I began by asking K.P. Yohannan at the time, how many people speak Hindi in his country and he replied, “It’s about six-hundred-million people,” adding with a smile, “That’s quite a lot of people.”

I then asked him how this presentation came about.

“We realized that one of the greatest crises we have when revival breaks out and millions of people turn to Christ and then, when there’s not enough teaching of God’s Word, usually they end up in all kind of extreme cults which happen in many nations,” said K.P. Yohannan. “So we felt compelled to give to pastors something they can actually listen to and then be able to teach their congregations.

“I have to say that God’s very special hand has been upon Pastor Chuck Smith because of His walk with the Lord and knowledge of the Lord. What he teaches is not just words, it is life, and it is very powerful.

“So we want at least a hundred-thousand pastors to get a set of these CDs and we’ll be providing them eventually with a CD player so they can listen to a section of the Scripture, they can study it, and they teach it the next Sunday. So that way the Word of God will become the means for people to grow in their faith. So, for us, this is one of the most exciting things we have been involved in and, after one year of hard work, we have got it done.


Chuck Smith at the pulpit

“This project is Pastor Chuck Smith teaching through the Bible; Genesis to Revelation; chapter by chapter; line by line.”

Chuck Smith, who by now was close to tears, then reacted by saying, “I’m absolutely overawed. It just touches my heart to realize that the Word of God which, of course, is so important for any lasting work to be done, the people have to be grounded in the Word.

“It isn’t just receiving Christ; it’s growing in Christ and that growth comes through the knowledge of the Word of God. So to realize the fruit of this will be in creating a lasting work for the Kingdom, thrills and blesses me.”

I wondered if Smith had any idea this translation of his teachings had been taking place and he replied, “I really wasn’t aware that this was going on, but I’m so pleased.”

Both men then paid tribute to their Godly mothers and the influence that they had on their respective lives.

K.P. Yohannan said, “Growing up in India, we had six boys in my family and I’m the youngest. My mother prayed and fasted for three-and-a-half-years, every Friday, that at least one of her sons would become a missionary. I didn’t know this was going on, but this was her devout walk with the Lord, and her prayers were answered when God called me, so I’m so grateful for her life and now she’s with the Lord.”

Chuck Smith then responded by saying, “Well, in reality just before I was born, my sister, for all practical purposes, died as far as they could tell. She had stopped breathing; her eyes had rolled back and so my mother had taken her up to the church and the pastor said, ‘Get your eyes off your little girl, and get your eyes on Jesus.’ There and then, my mother made a vow to the Lord in which she said, ‘If you give me my little girl back, I will give my life to serve you.’ Well, that happened.

“Two months later, when I was born, the doctors informed my mother that she had a little boy and she said, ‘Lord, I will fulfill my vow to you through my son.’ So she started me, when I was very young, and she taught me how to read out of the large print Bible that we had. My bedtime stories were always Bible stories and so I grew up just surrounded by the Word and knowing the Word and being taught it.

“She didn’t tell me of her vow, much like K.P’s mother, until when she was dying and she was in our home and then she told me the commitment that she’d made of my life to the Lord when I was born. She didn’t want to influence my decision; she wanted it to be the Lord that influenced me so it was just a mother who prayed that changed my life.”


Outside the Big Tent where the
hippie revival took place

I then reminded Chuck Smith that we were standing close to where the “Big Tent” had been pitched and where so many hippies found Christ.

“Well actually those hippies are now grandparents, you know,” he laughed. “So many of them are in the ministry and we’ve watched them grow up, but with the growing up, we have seen the Gospel continuing to just expand further and further. So the excitement of seeing the long-haired, bare-footed kids, is no longer there, but to realize that they have grown up and are doing a work that is reaching the world is just an exciting thing.”

I pointed out to K.P. Yohannan that possibly some bare footed kids in India where now going to be blessed with these teaching CDs.

He nodded and then I asked him what he would like to say to Chuck Smith, and he replied, “Well, somebody once asked me who were the people that have influenced me the most in my life and I tell them, my mother and then I say, Pastor Chuck Smith and the missionary George Verwer [founder of Operation Mobilization, for which K.P. once worked],” he said.

He then turned to Chuck Smith and said, “I do not know anybody on earth that I can say publicly and privately that I can follow and walk in your footsteps, but you, Pastor Chuck. This is not because of the largeness of the work, or the missionaries that have gone out around the world from Calvary Chapel. Yes, that is all wonderful, but it is just your quiet, godly, and devout walk with the Lord that has touched me and changed me and influenced me for us to start the church movement and I love you so much for that.”

Then Chuck Smith told me, his face covered with his famous smile, “It is just so exciting what the Lord can do when we stay out of the way and let Him work.”

So, although Pastor Chuck Smith has now left this earth for his heavenly home, his ministry continues around the world, and especially in India, the world largest democracy. What an amazing legacy he has left behind.

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