After almost one year of imposed travel and other personal restrictions, Hopegivers Founder Bishop M.A. Thomas returned to the United States on Tuesday, January 30. Though the travel permission he received from India 's High Court only allows for a short visit during a prescribed window of dates, Hopegivers supporters and other friends of the humanitarian outreach were ecstatic with the return.
"We've been waiting for a long time now. We are overjoyed and praise God for this reunion." said Bishop Thomas.
Bishop Thomas, along with his son Dr. Samuel Thomas, left for India last February and both had their movements closely followed throughout 2006. Dr. Sam, who has also been subject to stringent personal restrictions, has his next travel permission hearing scheduled for sometime in mid-February.
Throughout 2006, both Thomas's were branded outlaws and forced to work underground for a period of time. Dr. Sam spent 47 days in jail for allegedly "causing communal disharmony." Various anti-Christian elements also waged an intense campaign of systematic slander, lawsuits and intimidation against Emmanuel Ministries, the chief recipient of Hopegivers support in India.
"2006 was a year of great difficulty. But we serve a God who answers prayer and this is a great start to 2007," said Executive Director Michael Glenn.
Despite the restrictions placed on the Thomas's and other key staff in 2006, and the ensuing fallout that occurred, the work has continued moving forward. All Hopegivers-supported Hope Homes, schools, churches, students and field workers are fully operational and continuing to faithfully minister to India's poor and downtrodden with food, medicine, education, clothes, blankets and other aid.
"I very much look forward to fellowshipping with my friends and family once again. I have missed you all greatly and I know this will be a wonderful time of healing and revival. As it says in Isaiah, 'those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength and mount up on wings of eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.' Please continue to pray that Dr. Sam will get the same permission and be allowed to return to the USA very soon as well," said Bishop Thomas.