P. J. Thomas, Parackanal
|Rev. P. J. Thomas
(Painamoottil John Thomas)
|Born||April 15, 1914|
|Died||July 24, 1999|
|Education||Master's degree in Comparative Religion|
|Church||Indian Pentecostal Church & Sharon Fellowship Church|
Born to Pastor Painamoottil John and Saramma Ayyapilla as the second oldest among 5 boys and 4 girls. Pastor Thomas's father Ayyapilla Sar (Pastor P. V. John) came from a Hindu Brahmin background, came to know the Lord through a native missionary (Kappiar Upadesi) who taught him John 3:16. He attended Seampore University and earned a Diploma in Theology. He became the principal of the IPC free School. Following his marriage to Aleyamma (Keezhvaipur, Mallappally), he left for Australia for higher studies. He went to England from Australia and to the U.S, where he attended Wheaton College (Illinois) and got a Master's degree in Comparative Religion. He taught at Wheaton for a short time before returning to India in 1952. Before he went back to India, he was instrumental in bringing the then three senior Indian Pentecostal Church pastors, Pastor K.E. Abraham, K.C. Cherian, and P.M. Samuel to the U.S. He also traveled with Pastor K.E. Abraham and interpreted for him across the U.S.
Following his return to India, the late Pastor J. Varghese (Kochusar) Persuaded him to settle down at Tiruvalla and arranged the purchase and move into the present Sharon property in March 1953. The fame of "Sharon" came with two revival meetings and the opening of the Bible College at Sharon compound. On Nov. 30, 1953 missionaries arrived who conducted 30 days of revival and healing ministry, the last week's attendance was over 100,000 a night. These meeting were conducted without any foreign money only from the free will offering of the people who attended. Hundreds turned to the Lord and were baptized. Many were healed of their illnesses. Rev. John E. Douglas and Rev R. W. Schambach who conducted their revival and healing compound at Sharon compound. With the completion of the Sharon Hall, Sharon Bible College was born in 1955 where several pastors have been trained.
Unfortunately the 1950s were a period of unrest within the Indian Pentecostal Church. During the split in Indian Pentecostal Church, the Sharon Hall was often used as a place of mediation, but Pastor Thomas remained neutral. Several independent churches approached Pastor Thomas to help them with building churches and buying burial grounds and to give them a hand in common fellowship. As a result Pastor Thomas decided to remain independent. Although it had a small beginning the church began to grow in leaps and bounds beginning the middle of the 60's He called it a fellowship of churches thus it is called Sharon Fellowship Churches of India, but commonly called as Sharon Church.
- Bergunder, Michael (2008). The South Indian Pentecostal movement in the twentieth century. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 297–298. ISBN 978-0-8028-2734-0.
- Philip, P.S. (1991). North American Malayalee Pentecostal Churches: Beginning and Growth. 9th Pentecostal Conference of North American Keralites - Souvenir. pp. 37–52.
- Hollenweger, Walter J. (1997). Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. p. 2.
- Philip, P.S. (1997). The Four Decades of North American Malayalee Pentecostal Churches. 15th Pentecostal Conference of North American Keralites - Souvenir. pp. 97–114.