In obedience to the divine commission to ‘Go ye and spread the gospel’ the Christians have gone to different countries with the gospel. Americans were the first to reach Bahrain. They started a hospital and center for worshiping God.
Inauguration of the present NEC sanctuary by His Highness The Late Amir Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa- June 3, 1971
In 1943, there were only the Catholic and the Presbyterian churches in Bahrain. Dr. Paul W. Harrison, the author of “Dr. in Arabia” and Dr. W.H. Storm, the author of “Within Arabia” were few of the many God fearing men of that time.
St. Christopher Church
The earliest Christian institutions established in Bahrain were the American Mission Hospital 1906 (National Evangelical Church), St. Christopher Church in 1953 and the Sacred Heart Church.
New face of National Evangelical Church (NEC)- 2006
It is reasonable to assume that there were Christians and churches in Bahrain in as early as the first century. In fact, excavations have shown that Christian settlements did exit sporadically all over Arabia. In Bahrain the Arabian Mission’s first missionaries arrived, bringing with them their medicine, their knowledge, their compassion and faith. 1n 1893 Rev. Samuel Zwemer who was both a Christian minister and medical care giver, began the medical service in Bahrain, which was the humble beginning of the first mission hospital, American Mission Hospital. They were able to build a church to worship and to spread the faith by establishing the Christian testimony. At the time of its renovation His Highness the Late Amir made a personal donation of BD 10,000 and he himself inaugurated the present sanctuary in1971.
Due to the lack of any spiritual fellowships, Bro. Solomon David who reached Bahrain in 1943 joined the American Mission in Manama. On Sundays, he attended the National Evangelical Church in the hospital compounds.
Later Bro. Solomon David met Bro. A.E. Mathew from Kumbanad, again believer, who came to the Lord from a Marthoma background. Bro. Mathew was spiritually zealous and was a good prayer partner and Bible study mate for Bro S. David.
In the following years, Bros. K.A George, T.G Thomas and T.G. George also came to Bahrain and become the best spiritual company to Bro. Solomon David. Then these four brethren who came from the Kerala Brethren Assembly fellowship prayerfully prepared themselves to start a worship meeting. These brothers can be called ‘the Fathers of the Bahrain Brethren Assemblies’, if not, the gulf assemblies.
An early photograph taken with K.A. George, T.G. George, Samuel John, P.A. Ninan and T. Johnson. - In the year 1960.
Date palm fond swayed in the cool breeze, men in their thobes and closely veiled women walked unhurriedly along the souq as the muezzin sang out his call to their worship, the bothers set their mind, soul and body to begin the first worship meeting miles away from their home assemblies. The first worship meeting took place at the residence of Bro. Solomon David. Bro. T.G George gave thanks for the bread and Bro. Solomon David for the wine. They had their first worship after which Bro. Solomon David ministered from the Word. Although it constituted only four members, the satisfaction and spiritual happiness was great. In their heart was joy and peace; there was a great sense of fulfillment, for their long cherished dream had become a reality!
Photograph taken with M. E. Cherian in 1975
The gathering thus started in Bahrain later continued with full co-operation of all those who reached Bahrain the latter years was shifted to the residence of Bro. K.A. George.
Bahrain Brethren assembly in the year 1955
Those responsible of the first gathering for various ministries include Bros. P.E. Joseph, M. T Samuel, T.G George, Ninan, T. Johnson, Solomon David, K.A. George etc. Apart form these brethren the oversight constituted of Bros. V.V. George, T.C Mathew, L. Hart, an Anglo- Indian brother. They prayerfully made the decisions concerning the matters of the assembly.
Bahrain Brethren Assembly in the early years
More photos available click here.
BAHRAIN BRETHREN ASSEMBLY
There wasn’t any special name for this new gathering of brothers. But in the latter years as the strength increased and as fellowship had been shown to Indian ministries, was named ‘Bahrain Brethren Assembly’. The assembly continued in this fashion for many years, but later, it grew in number and multiplied.
Till 1970 the growth of the assembly was very seldom. In the following years brothers like K.A George (Vallya Johny), Samuel John (Koch Johny) and P.J. James (Jimmy) took extra initiative to bring many brothers to this Island. Their compassion and love to the brethren and their needs were much of blessing to the growth of the Bahrain Assemblies. Presently there are five Brethren assemblies in Bahrain.
1. BELIEVERS' BRETHREN ASSEMBLY (MAJLIS).
2. BRETHREN ASSEMBLY, GHAFOOL.
3. MANAMA BRETHREN ASSEMBLY.
4. BELIEVERS' BRETHREN ASSEMBLY, SALMABAD.
5. EBENEZER BRETHREN ASSEMBLY.
BELIEVERS’ BRETHREN ASSEMBLY, MAJLIS.
B.B.A. situated near Manama, the capital of Bahrain, stands very close to the Al Raja School. The Arabic word ‘Majlis’ means ‘a banqueting hall’.
From 1948 to 1971 there was only one gathering in Bahrain. In 1971, a group of brethren from the gathering at Bro. K.A. George’s residence started to gather at the residence of Bro. Kunjumon in Salmaniya, which later on was shifted and continued to gather in Majlis. Bro. T.C. Mathew (Kunjumon) who immigrated to USA went to be with the Lord in an accident.
The name ‘B.B.A. Majlis’ was taken after the assembly gathering started in Majlis. The assembly membership of around 360, including children is a great matter of thanks giving to the Lord.
Worship: The worship meeting falls on Sunday evening 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Prayer meeting: Every Tuesday from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, is a time of praying together in small groups. The prayer matters are collected from the letters received and information gathered from the assembly members. A systematic prayer list will be used for the group prayers. The meeting ends with a 15 minutes devotion time.
Choir practice: Every Tuesday immediately after the prayer meeting the assembly choir will practice two numbers that had to be sung for the gospel meetings due on every first Fridays.
First BBA Choir in action with Samuel John (Kochu Johny), P.J. Antony, Baby Mathew, Herold Fraser, Joy David. - 1978
Bible study: Every Thursday from 7.30 pm to 9.00pm. This is a very special meeting with a time for testimony in the former part and a systematic Bible study in the latter.
Cottage meeting: All second Thursdays are the cottage meetings that take place in the homes of the believers. The whole members are divided into four groups, under four group leaders, and the meeting takes place in four different houses at the same time.
Children’s Bible School: Every Friday from 9.30am to 10.45am. There are 26 classes for the children from age 3 onwards and the strength is around 200. (This is the only ‘Sunday School’ in Bahrain, which is made possible with the wholehearted co-operation of all the Brethren Assemblies).
In the beginning, there weren’t many families in the assembly, whereby the beginning of the Children’s Bible School was delayed until 1976.
The Children’s Bible school was established in the year 1976 at the residence of Bro. K.A George, who currently resides in London. Bro. K.A. George, P.C Abraham and A.T John were the teachers then. Later, it was moved to Bro. A. T. John’s residence and was discontinued after a period of time.
The first Sunday school picnic with Bros. K.A. George, P.C. Abraham, Jacob Mathew (Kunjappan), John George (Baby) -1978
In 1979, the present C.B.S. was started under the auspices of Believers’ Brethren assembly, Majlis at the residence of Bro. P.V.Thomas. Bro. P.J. Thankachan and Sajan Mathew were the teachers. It continued in that fashion for almost two years and moved to Majlis in the year 1981, which still continues by the faithfulness of God and in the year 2006, they could commemorate it’s silver jubilee.
C.B.S had its beginning with only a handful of children and teachers, but God in His faithfulness has blessed this humble ministry with around 200 children, 26 class teachers and 10 substitute teachers.
CBS - LKG & HKG class children with Evg. M.A Joy and class teacher Jijo- 1983
There weren’t many children’s schools when we began this ministry, so we had the privilege of teaching many children from different backgrounds and different church groups. Later on, many of these groups started their own schools for the spiritual growth of the children.
Brothers meeting: Brothers, mainly the youth takes part in this meeting from 11.00am to 1.00 pm.
Sisters meeting: Fridays from 3.00pm to 5.00pm is the sisters’ meeting that falls on the second and the last Fridays of every month.
Gospel meeting: This will take place every first Friday from 7.30 pm to 9.00pm, where the pure gospel is presented followed by solos and song from the assembly choir.
Out reach ministries: Apart from the assembly meetings, there are gospel outreach meetings conducted as small classes at different venues like Mameer, Riffa, Salmabad, Segaya, Muharaq, Isa town and Tubli etc. These meetings are in Malayalam. English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Urdu, etc. The Salmaniya Hospital visit is a very effective hospital ministry. They collect additional fund through voluntary contribution and systematically distribute and monitor the evangelistic work very closely in an effective manner.
Bro. Charles Wigg (Australia) after the baptism service
These classes were times of regeneration for number of people from different walks of life and background. Many were baptized and added to the assembly. The Believers’ Brethren Assembly, Salmabad is the product of the out reach ministry.
Vision for India: The assembly is not only active in the local outreach, but also is a source of encouragement to the Indian gospel missions. The special project V.F.I. plays a significant role by being a source of help to the mission fields of India.
Dr. Sajan Mathew was one among those who separated for the full time ministry. God is using him mightily in and around the United States of America where he currently lives with his family. He serves as the Associate Professor of Moody Bible Institute, Chicago.
The others separated into this glorious mission includes Bro, Thomas Mathew (Thiruvalla), M.G.John (Madampakkam, Madras), Binu Mathew (Kottayam), M.E. Rajappan (Kottayam) and P.K. Jayan (Trichur).
Believers' Brethren Assembly, Majlis.
All these brothers are involved in fruitful ministries for the past many years and the Lord has blessed their ministries.
More photos available click here.
BRETHREN ASSEMBLY, GHAFOOL.
Just before the worship meeting in the year 1958. The table is set at the centre
Ghafool located 5km away from Manama where the hall is constructed by the initiative of Bro. K.A. George. (The construction was also equally supported by Bro. George’s sponsor, Mr. Essa Al Zeera). Thus Ghafool Brethren Assembly is the sole assembly in Bahrain with their own meeting hall. The hall was constructed in 1980. Before that they gathered at the National Evangelical Church.
Worship: Worship meetings are held on every Sundays from 7.00pm to 9.00pm with the latter thirty minutes set apart for the ministry from the Word of God.
Youth Meeting: Every Saturday from 7.30pm to 9.00pm the youths gather together for various types of programs based for the spiritual growth of the young believers.
Thursday meeting: Bible studies, testimony meeting, prayer time, mediation are the highlights of Thursday gatherings.
Morning watch: On Fridays, there is a morning watch when brothers gather for a time of prayer in the early hours of Friday.
Outreach: Hospital visits on Fridays, outreach classes and camp visits on different days of the week at Hidd, Riffa and Zinj are the source of blessing to many to know Christ as their personal Saviour.
Cottage meeting: Cottage meetings are conducted up on request from 7.30pm to 9.00pm of any particular days as convenient to the host.
Sisters meetings: Sisters gather together on first and second Fridays from 3.00pm to 5.00pm at different houses for prayer, testimony and exhortation.
Night Prayer: Every first Thursday from 10.30Pm.
Baalasangam: There is also a Balasangam for the young ones on Thursday evening parallel to the Thursday meeting at the same premises.
Through the above-mentioned meetings and other special gatherings, the spiritual enlightening and enthusiasm of the assembly is worth mentioning.
Ghafool Brethren Assembly
Evangelists: The prime evangelist for Gufool was Bro. M.A. George, Trichur. He was the first evangelist from Bahrain too. Thereafter Bros. V. Mathew (Madras), Paul Thomas( Mallappally), John Nesan (Nedumangad). P.T Thomas (Ranny). Abraham Thomas (Kochi), C.C.Thomas (Elampal) and P.I. Rajan Kutty (Erumely) also surrendered to His call and set apart themselves to the full time ministry.
Manama is the capital city of Bahrain. Most of the expatriates including the brethren who migrated initially were working and staying in and around Manama.
Manama Brethren Assembly - 1983
The believers started gathering in private homes and thereafter for several years at the residence of Bro. K.A. George in Gufool. As it grew the assembly was shifted to the American Mission Hospital Chapel in 1975. God continued to give the increase, which led the brethren to establish two separate assemblies, one in Gufool by the name The Gufool Brethren assembly and the other reaming in the chapel as The Manama Brethren assembly in 1980.
The Manama Brethren assembly moved its base to the National Evangelical Church in 1982 where it continues to function to date.
Worship meeting: Every Sundays from 7.00pm to 9.00pm is the worship timing, which ends in a half hour ministry from the Word of God.
Thursday meeting: The meeting is from 7.45pm to 9.15pm. Bible study, prayer, testimony etc. are the different programmes on Thursdays.
Youth Fellowship: Every Friday from 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
Youth Outreach: Brothers go to different parts of Bahrain in search of new souls. The main areas are Sitra, Riffa, Buri and Hospital visits on Fridays.
Bible Study:At Salmabad on Saturdays from 8.00pm to 9.00pm
At Boori on Tuesdays from 8.00 PM to 9.00 PM
Cottage Meetings, Picnics, Children’s & Teens Specials: As arranged
Prayer Vigil: Monthly as arranged from 8.00pm to 9.30 pm.
Sisters meeting: Monthly on Fridays from 2.45pm to 4.45pm.
BELIEVERS' BRETHREN ASSEMBLY, SALMABAD.
2001 March 9th dawned with the beginning of a new assembly gathering in Bahrain. God in His infinite mercy has enabled a gathering in Salamabad, which is around 15 km away from Manama.
This assembly was the outcome of the outreach ministries of BBA, Majlis and this is the only assembly gathering in this fashion. The gathering has been continuing since then. It started with eight brothers from Hindu and nominal Christian backgrounds, who were saved and baptized in Bahrain.
To be specific, it was started in 1999 April by the dedicated efforts of Bros. Varghese Mathew, Johnson K. Daniel, Paulraj D., Titus D., Binoy. T. Mathew and Lawrence Raj.
The brothers meet on every Fridays for worship from 7.00pm to 9.00pm due to their work, which makes them inconvenient for Sunday Worship.
The Salmabad assembly is the result of continued prayers and tears of many brothers.
Seeing that our labour in the Lord is not in vain, the brothers are contributing their effort by taking Bible classes in many different locations. Many are attending the classes and taking decisions. If the Lord tarries, let’s pray that many who are in Bahrain may come to know the Saviour through these outreach ministries.
Prayer Meeting: Every wednesday at 8.00pm to 9.00pm.
Malayalam: Every saturday at 8.00pm to 9.00pm.
English/Hindi: Every Friday at 8.30pm to 9.15pm.
Tamil: Every Friday at 8.30 pm to 9.15 pm.
Worship Meeting: Every friday at 7.15pm to 9.15pm.
Outreach Ministries: At different places in bahrain.
EBENEZER BRETHREN ASSEMBLY.
The gathering of B.B.A. increased in so much and facilities became inadequate to accommodate the whole strength At the same time a steadily increased outreach work was going on in that more have been added to the assembly. The brethren who were involved in outreach bible studies and follow up brought the matter towards the attention of the oversight and suggested to have a separate gathering where the newly added believers to have have more personal attention and freedom of spiritual exercise coupled with increased fellowship and love.
Get Together- 06 of E.B.A.
Thus, in the presence of Elders and Believers of home assembly (B.B.A.) and of all other three Assemblies in Bahrain, the inaugural gathering of the Ebenezer Brethren Assembly was held on 20th March 2005.
Nearly 70 believers gather for breaking of bread on Sundays and about 100 attends the weekly doctrinal studies on Thursdays. The Assembly precisely focus on prayer, careful teaching of Apostolic doctrines and in evangelistic outreach.
Worship meeting: Every Sundays from 7.30pm to 9.15pm, which ends in a half hour ministry from the Word of God.
Prayer meeting: Every Tuesdays from 8.00pm to 9.15pm at St. Christopher’s cathedral premises.
The believers after the second baptism service with elders of E.B.A. and Evg. Mathew -2007
Chidren's Club: Every Thursdays from 7.00pm to 7.30pm.
Bible Study: Every Thursdays from 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
Choir Practice: Thursdays at 9pm.
Cottage meetings: Every first Thursdays from 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
Outreach ministry: At different locations in Bahrain.
Brothers' Meeting: Every Friday from 3.00pm to 5.00pm.
More photos available click here.
The past is a prologue and the present is a story in progress. The future thus remains an uncharted territory filled with many possibilities.. with souls waiting to be plucked out and assemblies to be enlarged and added.
In the decades of its existence, the Brethren assemblies have been a witness to many changes and as it looks ahead into the future… there is hope for many more blessings to come.
History has demonstrated this to be true and revealed an unassailable fact: The God of our fathers is the same yesterday, today and forever. This alone is our security and confidence and the foundation upon which we will build our future.
Bahrain in the modern age
This land is the land of opportunities. This land is the land of souls. Let’s seek after them as we continue to witness Him. Everyone of us ought to be in the Father's business of soul winning. We are saved to save others. God desires that each of us be active in bringing the lost to Him. After the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus said, "Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Mt 18:14; 1 Tim 2:3-5).
Let us fully involve in the building of the church, even in Bahrain, till He comes to take the church unto Himself.
How important it is to realize at this hour that we have “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all!" (Eph 4:6). Nothing else will help us to keep the unity among us (v3).
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Cor 15: 58)
“A Church that does not evangelize will fossilize!
The world at its worst needs the Church at its best !”