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A letter from Paul Matheney in the Philippines

May 2012  (#2)

Dear Friends in Christ,

I bear sad news.  At the beginning of March, Daniel Samuel, a student in our Doctor of Missiology program, died.  His passing will be a great loss to us in many ways.  He was a very special person and a missionary deeply committed to Christ. 

Daniel Carey Samuel was only 45 years old when he died.  He was the son of Dr. Samraj Samuel and Sundra Samuel.  His parents were among the first medical missionaries to Irula tribes in southern India.  His father was a medical doctor and his mother was a professor of psychology at a prominent women’s college in India.  They left their successful careers in order to become missionaries.  Similarly Daniel sacrificed a career in business for his ministry.  This is true for several members of this family.  He often repeated in his letters and sermons this quote from J. Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Daniel grew up in a family held together by love and affection.  Anyone who spent time with him knew how deeply he loved his wife, Salvy, and his beautiful daughter, Asha Charisse.  His contagious affection for people extended far beyond his family.  I believe I never ever saw him without a smile.  Daniel gave all he had to his ministry; this made him very poor.  Yet he always greeted others with gifts, which he chose especially in order to enrich their lives. 

Daniel loved India and its rich culture, especially its food.  I and his other friends often met with him at an Indian restaurant, where we discussed mission studies and the potential for the growth of Christianity throughout Asia.  There is hardly a country in Asia where Daniel did not visit and preach.  His vision included all of Asia.  He participated in evangelism events and programs in China, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and other lands.  His life was one of intense activity for the Lord.  He hoped, as he wrote in his letters, to “give the millions of Asia the gospel in way that they understood the message of the cross, using their own scriptures for the Glory of our Triune God.”  He loved the Philippines, making it his home.  He married a Filipina and took part in its struggle to be Christian in an environment dominated by poverty and corruption.

Daniel grew up in Colmbatore in southern India.  There he earned his B.A. and M.A. in psychology, following in his mother’s footsteps.  Yet to follow his passion, inspired by his father, he accepted his vocation to become a teacher and a missionary.  He was committed to becoming a teacher of the gospel and an advocate for all that would help others develop their ministries.  The emphasis here is on “all.” To accomplish this he obtained his M.Div. studying at Union Theological Seminary (UTS) and Asia Seminary.  Soon afterward he entered the Doctor of Missiology program of Philippine Christian University (PCU) and was almost finished with this work when he died.  I had been his professor at UTS and at PCU.  His work, devotion to his ministry, and his energy were remarkable.  I would even say unmatched.  Like his father, who was a medical doctor and a church planter, Daniel was a master multitasker.  He was fascinated by Christian apologetics and driven by the desire to establish and strengthen churches.  His skills included music, resource management, church leadership and teaching.  He shared them freely.

Daniel loved the works of Leslie Newbigin, Andrew Walls, Vinay Samuel (of course), Lamin Sanneh, and a long list of Asian and British evangelical scholars.  He read constantly and debated and talked with just about everyone.  He wanted to know as much as he could.  He believed that knowledge, especially that of Christ, would set people free and enrich their lives.  He believed that it would transform Asia.  He wrote often, “Do you think it is easy for God to use a broken man like me to fulfill this great vision for His glory?” and then ask for your prayers that God would make him into a fire that would transform Asia. 

Daniel is now gone and with God.  Yet his vision for Asia is not.  Perhaps his life and our prayers are just the beginning of a new Asia.  

In Christ,

Paul Matheny


The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 203

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