Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Gnanaprahasam was born and brought up in a Christian family in the village called Karkalathoor, Sivagangai District, Tamil Nadu. His parents come from a poor background: his father was blind and his mother was a farm worker.
When Samuel was 7 years old, a local Pastor from the Church of South India came to visit the village.
“He showed great kindness and compassion towards me and my family, and arranged for me and my brother to be admitted into the American Mission Boarding School in Thiruvandanai.”
Thus, the inspiration of his father, and the kindness of his sponsors laid the foundation for Samuel’s ambition and determination in life to help other poor and orphaned children.
At 10years old Samuel knew he wanted to be a Pastor and when the Warden at school asked him what he wanted to do with is life, Samuel said he wanted to be a Pastor. The warden laughed and kicked him, saying “poor boy, you know nothing about what it means to be a Pastor and yet you want to be one!?” Samuel kept this calling in his heart and at 19 reaffirmed his determination to become a Pastor when he applied to the Hinudstan Bible Institute. Again he was sponsored and completed his studies in 1981 with a distinction.
Samuel started his ordained ministry as a Pastor at the Highwavy’s Estate in 1986 which was also the year he married Sugantha. Many parishioners were ‘coolie’ workers on the local tea estate working in very hot conditions for the equivalent of 70p per day. Samuel and Sugantha noticed that a lot of children were not in school because their parents could not afford to pay school fees or for uniforms and bus fares. They decided then to support five orphan children initially, providing for their education, uniform, medicine and travel costs – and so the circle was closed and Rhema Ministries was conceived.
All these experiences have inspired Archbishop Samuel to serve poor and marginalised people. He says,
“I ardently acknowledge that I am not called to be successful but faithful.”
Richard has been a Christian since he was a teenager. He read Theology at Exeter College, Oxford and then went on to Theological College at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He was ordained in 2000 and served his curacy at St Andrew’s, Dibden Purlieu. He was appointed Chaplain of Charterhouse School in 2003 and served as Senior Chaplain from 2007. At the beginning of 2011 he joined the staff of Holy Trinity Claygate as Associate Vicar and has now started a church partnership as the vicar of St Mary’s in East Molesey. Richard established the Rhema Partnership in 2002 as a result of his relationships with Christians in India.