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M. T. Joseph (Manon Thomas Joseph) was an Anchel Master (Post Master) who left his lucrative government job and his home town, to go to a far away unknown village in rural Karnataka, India, with the sole purpose of spreading the Gospel. He is one of the Co-founders of the Hoskote Mission Medical Center, at Hoskote, Bangalore Rural District, Karnataka.
M.T. Joseph was born on 21 October, 1910, in Manon House, Nedumprayer, Maramon, Kerala, one 1 km away from the Maramon Convention site. His parents, Manon Thomachen and Rachel, were villagers of limited education. They were members of the Maramon Mar Thoma Parish. Joseph had 5 brothers and a sister.
In the British Army.
After his high school graduation, Joseph got a job in the British Army in Pune. He was a civilian clerk. During the training period, while doing his sentry guard duty with a rifle in his hand, a thought went through his mind, “Here I am serving His majesty the King of England as one of his loyal soldiers. How great it would be to serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords”. So he resigned from the Army and went back to Kerala to find a suitable way to serve the Lord.
Most Rev. Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church, who hails from Maramon, remembers his Anchal Master, “My memory goes to the office where he (Joseph) worked at the Maramon Junction. He was the ‘Anchal Master’ of the village. ‘Anchal Master’ means ‘the present status of Postmaster’ and the postal service was limited in Travancore, Cochin State only as Anchal Service. For outside the state the postal department was there and near by there was a post office. When I go over there to buy cards, covers and stamps I saw him as a caring and loving officer. He will countcards, stamps and covers twice before he hands it over to the client and so also the money he has received and was very diligent to put it in the collection box. In the evening he closes the accounts without fail and goes back home with full satisfaction as he has done the days work”.
Decision to join missinary work.
Very Rev. P.J. Thomas, Parumoottil, Annaprampal (11 Oct.1904 - 7 Mar.1990) was the Vicar of Maramon Mar Thoma Parish. At this time Joseph was Anchal Master at Maramon. Achen’s zeal for missionary work challenged Joseph. They both worked together in all Parish activities. From Maramon, Achen was transferred to Kottayam Jerusalem Mar Thoma Church, and from there he went to Ankola for full time Missionary work. Joseph who was a co-worker of Achen wanted to follow his example in missionary work and prayed to God to open a way for him as well.
Pennamma was the daughter of Mammen Mammen of Manakkalayil, (Pulikkakuzhiyil branch of the Ezhumali Kudumbam) Kumbanad and Mariamma (D/o Pullad Pazhampallil Padijattunkara Chacko) Mammen was a social worker. He was one of the members of the delegation that met the Diwan of Travancore to get permission for the establishment of the Salem Mar Thoma Church and cemetery in Kumbanad. Both Mr. and Mrs. Mammen were God fearing and dedicated Christians. The training and discipline that Pennamma received from her devoted parents in childhood laid a firm foundation for her future Missionary Work.
Pennamma did her primary education at a local school in Kumbanad after which she attended St. John’s School, Eraviperoor, S.V. School, Pullad and Malayalam School, Vennikulam. She did a Teacher’s Training Course (TTC) from Peringara School near Tiruvalla. After that, she taught in many schools including Arrangatu School, Pullad, Perumbara School near Charal Mount; Kanjeettukara and Nedumbrayar. She was very active in her home parish activities. She had the privilege to be trained by the CMS Missionary, Miss Kellaway of Vanitha Mandiram. Miss Kellaway was from Australia and served the Vanitha Madiram for nearly twenty years till 1946. Pennamma was greatly influenced through the life and testimony of Miss Kellaway.
She got an earnest desire to go for missionary work in Karnataka. Her parents were very happy with her desire for mission work, but they did not agree to send her unmarried, to an unknown land as it was not the custom among Central Travancore Syrians Christians. Her desire was fulfilled after her marriage to M.T. Joseph, who had the call to go to Karnataka during the Maramon Convention of 1947. Obedience to the heavenly call, made it easy for her to resign from her teacher’s job, with a permanent income, and go toward an uncertain future.
The Hoskote team.
Joseph and Pennamma wished to go for missionary work and thei prayers were answered when Mr. A.C. Zachariah returned in 1947 to his home town Kurianoor, near Maramon. Zachariah was praying to God to provide a teammate for the proposed work at Hoskote. God was working, in his own way and time, with M.T. Joseph, Manon House, Maramon preparing him for the work to which he had called him. One day, Zachariah and Joseph met in the Anchal Office in Maramon, not by chance, but by God’s plan. Zachariah told Joseph of his plans for the future and also of the problem he was facing finding a co-worker to go with him to Hoskote. Joseph responded immediately by expressing his desire to join the team without any hesitation and without any bargain with God. Both Joseph and his wife resigned their Government jobs. Thus the pioneering team for Hoskote Mission was formed. 
The Josephs had a daughter, Molly, aged 2. The Zachariah’s eldest daughter, Mary, was in middle school, their second daughter, Mercy (9) was in Standard 5 and their youngest daughter, Sally, was in Standard 2. Thus a team of 2 families, four adults and four children (all girls) constituted the pioneering evangelistic team that started the Hoskote work.
Departure to Karnataka.
The Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association met the team and was convinced that the team was inspired and moved by God’s guidance in the matter. A meeting of the team with the top leaders of the Association was arranged at the St. Thomas M.T. Church Kuriannoor.
The then General Secretary of the Association, Very Rev. V.P. Mammen, and others gave to the team necessary instructions, guidelines, exhortations and spent time in prayer with them. Arrangements were made for the team to visit certain Mar Thoma Parishes to inform people of the new mission field and to enlist their prayer support. Knowing the team was to work along ashram lines, the churches that they visited gave contributions which met the needs for their clothing and journey.
The Bangalore Parish and its Vicar, Rev. M.G. Chandy, were requested by the General Secretary to render all possible help for the starting of the work. A house was rented by the team in the town at a monthly rent of Rs. 6 as the temporary dwelling place of the two families.
Resigning their secure jobs and bidding farewell to their dear ones, especially their parents of old age and turning their backs to everything they considered dear and near hitherto, depended on God and God alone for all their future needs. The two families left Kerala on 26 June, 1947. They were sent with a prayer and blessing of Abraham Mar Thoma Thirumeni. The families reached Hoskote on 27 June, 1947. The two families stayed in a rented house, adjusting to the limited conveniences available and slowly adjusted themselves with their new surroundings.
Having felt the need for some formal training, Joseph desired to go to South India Bible Institute, Kolar for a short course as Zachariah had done. The Bible institute with its deep interest in the new mission field, granted admission to Joseph as a special student for one year. This short training greatly helped him get better equipped for the ministry.
As there was no church or worship place the Kerala missionaries would meet at the ‘House of Praise’ for worship on Sunday along with Miss. Bagshaw and the children of the orphanage. Joseph and family shifted to a different part of the town when another convenient house was obtained for rent. This helped the team get acquainted with many more people. When their children were admitted to local Kannada medium schools more bridges were built between the workers and the local people.
The early days of Ashram life was real tough. There was no permanent income or salary. They had to live on faith and faith alone. The Lord, who provided Elijah with food through ravens, was faithful to them as well.Once it so happened that when Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan visited the Ashram without notice, there was no rice in the Ashram to prepare for him his favorite ‘Kanji and Cheera Thoran’. But at that very time, God sent a believer from a village with rice, which was prepared and served.
Christa Sakshya Sangha.
The new missionaries assumed the name Christa Sakshya Sangha and adopted the ashram way of life, sharing responsibilities as well as financial contributions received from friends and well wishers.
In the beginning, their witnessing consisted of distributing gospel tracts and scripture portions, making individual contacts, visiting homes, teaching children stories and hymns and befriending people wherever they met them. In the meanwhile, the study of Kannada was zealously followed and very soon they learned the local language Kannada to read, write and speak. They were to pass the language test in Kannada both reading & writing as prerequisite for the called ministry. As they became more and more proficient in the language they began to reach out to more of the hundreds of surrounding villages, holding open air meetings in villages and markets, conducting Sunday school classes and other meetings for adults, literacy classes for youths, a night school to coach school going children etc.
First Fruits of the Mission.
Even though the missionaries earned the love and respect of many people in the town and surrounding villages through their life and testimony, people were very hesitant to join the new faith. The first one who joined the fellowship of the Church through baptism was a young man from Hoskote who received the Christian name Mathai. Narasimha and his wife, Rethnamma, were residents of the Gonakanahally village. Rethnamma came into contact with the ladies team at Jedigenahally and became a Christian and accepted the Christian name Saramma. Later Narasimha was also baptized and received the name Abraham. Abraham died in August, 2006. Saramma still lives in Gonakanahally.
Acquiring the Property at Hoskote.
The Missionaries as well as the friends of the Mission earnestly prayed to God to provide a base for the Mission in town. God heard their prayers and funds were provided to purchase 9 acres (36,000 m2) of agricultural land at an elevated portion of the town. Thus the land, where the present Headquarters of the Mission is situated, was bought in 1951-52 for a price less than Rs. 5000. The next prayer was the construction of two quarters for the two missionary families. God heard their prayers and made it possible to construct two houses with concrete roofing. Thus the two families shifted their residences from rented houses in the town to their own houses in the Mission Compound.
A.C.Zacharia was ordained a Kassessa (priest) on September 29, 1949 and continued to work at the mission field. In 1961, Rev. A.C. Zachariah was transferred to the Bombay parish.
Mr. And Mrs. Joseph continued their services with the Hoskote mission and made Hoskote town their permanent home. Pennamma continued the work at the Mission Hospital till 1984, when she too retired from the mission work. Even after their retirement, Joseph and Pennamma associated themselves with the mission activities giving their valuable counsels and esteemed fellowship to those who followed them in their mission work. Pennamma was called to her heavenly abode in 1986 and according to her desire was buried at Gonakanahally along with her village friends whom she loved and served. Joseph Sir survived her for a few more years and was promoted to glory in February, 1995, at the old age of 85, and was buried with his wife at the Gonakanahally cemetery.
Beginning of the Medical Centre.
Later the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association assumed direct management of the Hoskote Mission and renamed it Hoskote Mission and Medical Centre. Rev. E.J. George was appointed as the Missionary incharge of the Mission and Dr. (Mrs.) Sophy George as its Medical Superintendent. They arrived at the field in June, 1965. At a function presided over by Most Rev. Juhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the Health Minister of Karnataka inaugurated the Medical Centre on 11 July, 1965.
Growth of the ministry.
As the Evangelistic Mission assumed the responsibility of the Mission, evangelists were appointed to the field. K.M. Samuel (later Rev. Dr. K.M. Samuel), T.M. Koshy, T.A. Kurian (later Rev. T.A. Kurian), K.V. Mathews and V.J. Joseph were the evangelists who served the Mission during this period. Of course, M.T. Joseph continued as senior member of the evangelistic team until his retirement. The missionaries, evangelists and the medical personnel worked as one team, without any departmental division both in the hospital and in villages. Evangelists witnessed to and prayed with patients and the medical staff endeavored to exalt Christ in all their services. Often the whole group went to the villages conducting clinics and preaching the gospel. The people around got the impression that the Mission people were interested in the total development of the village folks.
Life of Joseph at Hoskote.
Fearless and fruitful living.
“As I was with Moses, I will be with thee.” There were many things that were scary to the people living in and around the Ashram compound. Joseph had a rod (wooden stick) like the rod of Moses, to protect him and others. Danger came in the form of cobras which were fed and nurtured by the locals as deities. The cobras used to roam freely in and around the ashram. At one occasion, it knocked the door and entered the house. Scorpions were also present, lurking in the thick undergrowth and dry leaves. Ghosts were also feared. The local postmortem building outside the ashram was a very scary sight. There was a tamarind tree in which the ghosts supposedly lived. There were also possessed people who would come to the gates of the ashram and shout “Yesu Raja, don’t trouble us”. When the two missionary families moved in to that place; the people knew they served an Almighty God; mighty to save; mighty to keep them safe.
Farming and gardening.
The land was equally divided to inspire competition. Fruit and the flower plants would be planted. Flowers such as jasmine and roses were in plenty. The barren land would give a hundred percent yield. As mentioned in the book of Acts 2:44, “And all that believed were together; and had all things common.” Any visitor to the ashram would be given curry leaves, drumsticks, fruits and flowers, all grown in the ashram by Joseph and Zachariah Achen.
On their arrival in Hoskote, the Josephs studied Kannada fluently so that they could convey the gospel to all the villagers without the help of translators. Joseph was a very good reader; there were many good books in his collection, in different languages; Malayalam, English, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu.
Fond of lyrics and songs.
His favorite song was “Yeshu en adisthaanam aashayavanilathrre. Aashwasaththin poornhatha, Yesuvil kanden njaanum” (Jesus is my foundation, my hope is in Him. In Jesus I have experienced the perfect consolation). The bhajanas held by the village folks, after harvest; were very inspiring and relaxing.
The few principles he taught others in life were to value life and treat human beings with great respect. “Remember labourers are also human beings with thirst and hunger. Thus do not waste food or water, which are precious resources. Do not waste land, time, talent or money; but work hard with both hands and make your living. Not to fear anything or to be ashamed of anything but sin.”
Friendly homes of the Ashram.
The ‘House of Praise’, Miss Bagshaw and all her children always opened their doors to the Ashram people. C.T. Abraham’s house in Bangalore was always open for the missionaries. Mrs. C.T. Abraham was the Nursing Superintendent of Bowring Hospital; whether she was present at home or not, special instructions were given to the servants; “anyone coming from Hoskote are to be served lunch with some special dish and treated with extra care.”
Friends of the Ashram.
Dr. Miss Thomas (Mazhukkeetethu House, Kurianoor), of Bangalore CSI Hospital, was a great supporter of the Mission. Dr. Thomas was the Josephs’ family doctor. Pennamma Joseph had all three deliveries and hysterectomy in CSI Hospital, Bangalore. Dr. Thomas was a strict person but her love and zeal for the Lord accommodated the needs of the people at the Ashram.
Visitors of the Ashram.
Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Valiya Metropolitan became Episcopa (Bishop) in 1953. He had served as Vicar of the Mar Thoma Parish Bangalore, and gave his complete support to the work of the mission workers. He happened to be Joseph’s classmate in Kozhencherry School, although Joseph was older by a few years. Dr. Alexander became Diocesan Bishop was the most loved and awaited visitor of the ashram.
Hoskote Ashram and Mission was always brimming with visitors. Visitors to the Ashram included staff, families and students from World Gospel Mission, South India Bible Seminary, ETCM Hospital, CMC Vellore, Rev. and Mrs. M.A. Thomas from Ecumenical Centre, Every Home Crusade staff and members, OM staff, members of Jalahalli prayer group; ITI (Indian Telephone Industries) staff, HAL (Hindustan Aeronautical Limited) staff, and countless number of theological students who came for internship/field work, achens, evangelists, youth and child evangelism workers.
Joseph showed others how to face life in a more excellent way. When he was faced with hardships of the Ashram life, he would confidently say the commission is from above and no one can thwart the call and purpose of God. He never grumbled, or murmured, he was never greedy, but always cheerful and content!
He was asked to vacate his home and ashram campus, which he had dearly cared for and nurtured; to go away, without even providing him shade to rest his head. When he was asked to retire in 1970 without notice at the age of 60 (at the time, clergy retirement was 65 years), all four of his children were still in school; he had no complaints. The Suvieshesha Sanghom (Evangelistic Association) did not have any pension scheme; as he was one of the very few evangelists of the Church in those days. He was asked to retire to an unknown future, with zero income, no bank balance, and no house. Joseph cheerfully confronted all the odds, rented a house in the town and continued his honorary services to the Sanghom and the Mission Field.
God enabled him to construct a house of his own in 1970 by selling his property in Maramon, Kerala. In June 1971, he moved into his newly constructed house, opposite the present Mission Medical Center which is at the new Tamme Gowda Extension.
Daily devotional life.
Joseph would wake up at 4a.m. for prayers. He would remember all the loved ones by name and intercede for them. By 5:30a.m.water had to be collected and stored in tanks for the day’s requirements as the water supply would cease by 7a.m, after which he would water the plants. He would visit and do honorary services for the Mission like supervision of construction of mission buildings which kept him busy till late evening.
Children of Mr. & Mrs. M.T. Joseph.
They had a son Thomas Joseph (Jay) married Nalini and three daughters. Molamma (Rachel) married P. Frederich, Grace married Thampy (John Joseph Nalloor) and . Kunjumole (Annie) married Aby (K.P. Paulose)
Demise of Mrs. Joseph.
Mariamma was a great moral support for her husband in the mission work. She could bring many to Christ through her dedicated life and intense work in the villages and hospital. The zeal and enthusiasm for the work of the Gospel was extra ordinary, which no one could diminish, she never wanted leave or break in service. forced retirement put her spirits down. At the age of seventy-one she was fully fit to continue her active ministry. Mariamma became sick at the age of 73. At 5.30am on 19 June, 1986, she went to be with her lord, in perfect peace and preparation in her home in Hoskote. According to her wish she was buried in the Gonakkanahally village.
When Joseph heard the call of God to go to Karnataka in the Maramon Convention in 1947, there were not many people willing to go for Gospel work especially outside Travancore. According to worldly standards it was not at all a promising or a challenging field for an educated person. But the day he was called to his eternal home, was a special day for the Mar Thoma Church. On that day the centenary celebrations of the Maramon Convention and dedication of one hundred evangelists were to be held at Maramon Convention Pandal. Canterbury Archbishop, Most. Rev George Carey was the chief guest for the meeting. Joseph was aware of the dedication of hundred evangelists. It was definitely a fulfilment of his heart’s desire and prayer. On the morning of 18 February, 1995, at 5:40a.m., he died at the Mission Hospital at Hoskote. The very same morning, at the beginning of the centenary meeting of the Maramon Convention, Joseph’s Home call was announced by the General Secretary of the Evangelistic Association. Then Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma conducted the dedication ceremony of one hundred newly trained evangelists. When God calls ‘one’ home, He sends ‘one hundred’ in his place. “God honours those who honour Him”
Gonakkanahally, final resting place of the Joseph’s.
It is a common desire of all Christians to be near their dear ones and relatives at the final stage of their life. Syrian Christians consider it a blessing to be buried in their family burial vaults with their loved ones, in their home parishes. But the Josephs never had that desire. They never wished to go back to Maramon, their native place. They wanted to be with the Christian Believers of the Hoskote Mission who were their own. The tombs in the Gonakkanahally village stand as a challenge to other Christian workers.
“My earliest memories go back to two separate areas of contact. The first one as a quite committed and loving Sunday School Teacher. The stories in the Bible of Old Testament and New Testament were told in a very impressive way, so that the Bible Characters were living reality to the children of different age groups. When he speaks about the story of David and Goliath he impresses the child with courage of the boy as years passes by the story’s thrust changes and the same story been told but presented with impressive emphasis. So the application of the story content can never be the same and monotonous. He was committed to the Lord and to the Church that made him to leave a comfortable job which he had at the door step and to go to Hoskote, an unknown land for him and his family”. 
- Most rev.Alexander Mar Thoma. (1998). Daiva Kripayude Thanalil. Christava Sahitya Samithi, Tiruvalla,
- Rev. George alexander, et al. (1995) Maramon Convention Sathapdhi valum – ’95. Mar Thoma evangelistic Association, Tiruvalla.
- ↑ Most Rev. Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan.Daiva Kripayude Thanalil. Page 99-100.
- ↑ Maramon Convention satapdhi valum-’95. Page 234-235
- ↑ Most Rev.Joseph Mar Thoma Metroplolitan who was a student of Joseph in the Maramon Sunday School.