How’s this for a job description: “Bite the head off a chicken and drink its blood”? That’s what Hindu priest Ayyappen Panayil did every day as part of his temple duties in Ponkunnon, India. It was perhaps not the healthiest dietary practice, and after 16 years of performing his daily chicken blood-drinking ritual, Ayyappen found himself suffering from a mysterious illness. Doctors diagnosed him with cancer and gave him only one month to live.
Ayyappen drowned his misery in alcohol. His condition only worsened, and he ended up in a hospital.
It was there that a visiting Christian heard about Ayyappen and his tragic story. So he stopped in Ayyappen’s room and asked if he could pray for him. Ayyappen reluctantly agreed, but when the praying stranger further invited him to his church, Ayyappen replied,
“I don’t need your God; I am a Hindu priest!”
He later yielded to that request, too, realizing that his many Hindu gods had proven to be powerless.
The prayers of the believers at that church prevailed. Within three weeks of attending there, Ayyappen found himself completely healed of cancer. Amazed and grateful, he gave his life to Jesus. He then went back to his temple job and started telling Hindus what Jesus had done for him.
Word spread that a Hindu priest had been miraculously healed and converted to Christ. People started coming from everywhere requesting Ayyappen’s prayers in Jesus’ name. God healed many, and they also gave their lives to Christ. Ayyappen soon found himself unemployed at the Hindu temple, but fully employed by the Head of the Church!
More miracles followed. God used Ayyappen to free a demon-possessed woman, then to heal another who was paralyzed. A farmer asked him to pray for rain during a drought and it rained!
That was about eight years ago. Ayyappen has since been pastoring a church, and he was adopted as a Heaven’s Family-sponsored national missionary last May. He has started two other house churches in nearby villages. People continue to call him from all over to pray for the sick, and God uses him mightily in a healing ministry.
Ayyappen’s ministry has been limited, however, by one thing—the number of hours of daylight. Many of the homes Ayyappen visits have no electricity, and traveling by foot after dark is dangerous. Through gifts to Heaven’s Family’s Lanterns Fund, however, Ayyappen now owns a simple gas-powered lantern, and he has been able to preach to many more people. He is very thankful for this gift—and those who hear the gospel and are healed also appreciate the “light” that Ayyappen has received!