Singh - Faithful Servant of God
who never sought recognition or status for what he
believed the Lord was calling him to do, Bakht Singh
launched an indigenous church-planting movement in
India that eventually saw more than 10,000 local
churches planted throughout India, Pakistan and
offshore Sri Lanka. The movement also spread to
Australia and even to the United States.
was born on June 6, 1903, of well-to-do parents,
Jawahar Mal Chabra and Lakshmi Bai, in the northern
sector of Punjab that later became part of Pakistan.
His parents were followers of the Sikh religion
which is dominant in the Punjab region.
graduating from the government college in Lahore
(now in Pakistan), he went as a foreign student to
England in 1926 and enrolled in the King’s College
in London to study mechanical engineering. While
there he quit practicing his Sikh religion, but
still kept the Sikh custom of not cutting his hair
1929 Singh went to Canada and studied agricultural
engineering at the University of Manitoba in
Winnipeg. Local residents John and Edith Hayward
befriended him and invited him to live with them.
Devout Christians, they ended every supper by
reading the Bible.
religious upbringing had taught him to oppose
Christianity, and he once had torn a Bible apart
with his bare hands. This time, however, when the
Haywards gave him a New Testament, he took it to his
room and read it. It was reading the New Testament
that brought him to personal faith in the Lord Jesus
returned to India in 1933 to preach the gospel and
was met in Bombay by his mother and father. “We
are the only ones who know you are a Christian,”
they said. “Please keep it a secret and you can
read your Bible and go to church as much as you
I live without breathing?” Singh replied. “I
have given my whole life to Christ who died for me.
I cannot follow Him secretly.” “If you cannot
keep the matter secret, then you cannot come
home,” his parents replied, and left him.
began speaking as a fiery itinerant preacher and
revivalist throughout India, that then included
Pakistan, and gained a large following. He at first
worked as an Anglican evangelist, and then later
role in the 1937 revival that swept the Martinbur
United Presbyterian Church inaugurated one of the
most notable movements in the history of the church
in the Indian subcontinent,” stated Dr. Jonathan
Bonk in Biographical Dictionary of Christian
Missions published by Simon & Schuster Macmillan
early years of his ministry were marked by mighty
miracles and wonders, including physical healings
and great revivals.
eventually realized that the new wine required new
wineskins. He obtained his vision for starting
thoroughly contextualized local assemblies patterned
on New Testament principles after spending a night
in prayer on a mountaintop in 1941.
held his first “Holy Convocation,” based on
Leviticus 23, in Madras in 1941. After this
convocations were held annually in Madras and
Hyderabad in the South, and in Ahmadabad and
Kalimpong in the North.
one in Hyderabad was always the largest, drawing up
to 25,000 participants. They would eat and sleep in
huge tents, and meet under a large thatch pandal for
hours-long prayer, praise and teaching meetings that
began at dawn and ended late at night.
for the meetings were not recruited. The care and
feeding of guests was handled by volunteers.
Expenses for the meetings were given by voluntary
offerings; no appeals were issued.
Singh's messages were basically outlines of
Scripture verses, "line upon line, precept upon
precept" (Isaiah 28:10). Persons wanting to
know how to do the work of the Lord would go to
Hebron, his headquarters in Hyderabad. There they
were taught the Scriptures daily and participated in
daily chores and street preaching and witnessing.
They would stay until they thought they had learned
what they needed to know, and then leave to do God's
work, returning when they wanted to.
contracted Parkinson's disease and was totally
bedridden for the last ten years. One Indian couple
dedicated themselves to caring for him round the
services were held on Friday, September 22, in
Hyderabad. According to David Burder, Christian Aid
field staff member in Delhi, some 250,000 people
attended and, holding their Bibles high, followed
the van carrying the mortal remains to the common
people’s cemetery. Altogether, from Monday through
Friday, over 600,000 people paid their respects to
the departed spiritual leader. One police officer
remarked, “This is the first time I have seen so
large a procession so peaceful in all my service so
public services could not be held at the soccer
stadium as originally planned because of opposition
from the RSS, a nationalistic Hindu youth society, a
member of the Andhra Pradesh State Legislature, who
was also a member of the BJP, the pro-Hindu National
Peoples’ Party now in power, came, knelt before
the casket and stayed through the entire service. No
foreigner was visible so as not to lend credence to
the false rumor that Christianity is a foreign