Bakht Singh Visited the Assembly

M. Irons

Bakht Singh Bakht Singh was one of India's foremost evangelists, preachers and planters of indigenous churches along the lines of New Testament simplicity throughout the 20th century. It is said that in India alone more than 10,000 local churches came into being through Bakht Singh's ministry. He began traveling and speaking worldwide in 1946. Olivet House (later renamed Westmoreland Chapel) was one of his stops.

G. V. Matthai was always in charge of Bakht Singh's West Coast speaking schedule during his yearly visits to the Indian churches in the Southern California. We met G. V. and his wife Mariamma after Bakht Singh's last visit to Westmoreland in 1969. George invited us to a Bakht Singh meeting in the Matthai's home with local Indian believers. I'll never forget helping to make real Indian curry to feed a crowd in Mariamma's little kitchen. Spicy? Oh, yes!

In the early 1990's, after we left the Geftakys ministry, Steve and I got together again with the Matthai's. G. V. had attended Biola when George was there, and they knew each other fairly well. We wanted to find out what the Matthai's thought about George.

As it turned out, they were not big fans. They recounted a very significant and telling event that happened in the early 1970's a couple of years after Bakht Singh's last visit to Westmoreland Chapel.

How Bakht Singh First Visited the Assembly

Bakht Singh was arriving in Orange County and was scheduled to speak at one of the Indian groups that night. George was still in touch with G. V. at the time. He volunteered to pick up Bakht Singh at the airport and bring him to the Indian meeting. The folks were gathered, but it began to get late and Bakht Singh hadn't arrived. G. V. called George, inquiring where Bakht Singh was - there were a lot of people gathered waiting to hear him speak. Instead of taking him to the meeting, George had taken him to his own house! He said that Bakht Singh was resting and would not be attending the meeting.

But the truth was that George had brought him to a Fullerton Assembly meeting! We all were given the impression that our group was such a wonderful work of God that Bakht Singh wanted to visit. In actuality, he had no such intention and had basically been kidnapped! He had not been acquainted with George Geftakys's growing ministry, but apparently acquiesced to the situation in accordance with one of his chief principles, "Do not make your own plan," especially after observing such a lively group where God seemed to be at work. George knew that a visit from the great and godly Bakht Sing would boost the credibility of his ministry in the eyes of many.

If only we could have known how George had schemed and deceived to manage that visit....

Bakht Singh visited the Fullerton Assembly again in 1974 when special meetings were scheduled for him at the Pacific Christian College facility. I seem to recall that it was at these meetings that he encouraged us to begin all-nights of prayer, and to sing and pray standing during the first hour of Sunday worship. The event was called a "Holy Convocation", like the Wabanna Atlantic states conference that Bakht Singh helped convene that year, and which the Geftakys's, the Mathias's and Sister Harrison attended. Bakht Singh visited the Tuscola Assembly and the Chicago Assembly, and visited Fullerton again in 1977 at the Women's Assistance League.

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