George Thankaraj’s Story
by Dale Reeves
Every Friday evening at 7:30 pm, people gather at the home of George and Sophia Thankaraj to pray . . . for their country, for their community, and for their church. As they descend the steps to the dedicated prayer room in the basement, they pass under a beautiful piece of calligraphy imprinted on the wall, “With God All Things Are Possible.” At the Thankaraj home, that is not just a nice saying, it is at the core of what this family truly believes.
If you speak with George for more than fifteen minutes, his surrender to the cause of Jesus Christ becomes very apparent in the words you hear him say. He did not want me to share this story because he does not want to receive any credit, but desires that all glory and honor go to God. And, so it will! George was born in India but grew up in Saudi Arabia at an early age. He went to church as a child because his parents had accepted Christ in their late ’30s, but due to a series of events, George says that he became an atheist during his college years. But at the end of his college days, George had a divine encounter with God and his Word while he fell sick with jaundice. He says, “Today I can never deny God.”
George’s wife Sophia, who is now a dentist, was born and brought up in Kuwait even though her family is from India. She was a refugee in Gulf War I, and feared for her life during the time she was in a refugee camp. She was the oldest sibling in her family and remembers being chased and almost raped at the age of twelve. Sophia’s parents lost their home and belongings, but somehow she and her family made it to India. Sophia accepted Christ when she was in middle school. George and Sophia have two children, Eric, who is sixteen, and Sarah (aka Tinu), who is eight years old.
A Drought of Prayer
When Eric was born, George’s parents visited America for the first time. A few Indian families gathered for Christmas dinner and George’s dad Raj shared a devotional message and encouraged George to begin a prayer meeting with those families at least once a month. George says, “Growing up in southern India, I had been exposed to weekly fasting accompanied by prayers and monthly all-night prayer meetings. But I felt there was a drought when it comes to prayer in the U.S., even though there is no shortage of sermons and worship songs. So George and Sophia began a prayer meeting in their home on Friday evenings. Sophia cooks for whoever shows up, and they have had as few as one person in attendance and as many as 80. They pray for the nations of the world and their leaders; for ministries in the church; and for family, friends, and salvation to come to those who need to accept Christ.
George says, “Our vision is to raise prayer warriors and have them raise prayer cells in their respective neighborhoods. Revival comes from Christians being on their knees, not from governments or other institutions. We pray that the truth of the Scriptures will permeate our lives. And we know that more than our own efforts, it is our prayers that will guide and transform our children.”
God Works in All Things
Several years ago George’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, but God encouraged him to trust completely in him (Proverbs 3:5, 6). While he was in the hospital with his mom in India, God gave him the desire to open a business and he saw a vision of the colors of the Indian flag. When he returned to America, he shared his vision with Sophia, but she said no to opening an Indian restaurant. Instead, as they both continued to pray, God led them to the Minuteman Press franchise whose logo is the same color as the Indian flag. George knew very little about the printing business at the time. It has been six years since George became the owner of Minuteman Press in West Chester, and with no marketing, only word of mouth, God has blessed their business greatly. George and Sophia do not see it as a business, but as a ministry to support other ministries, help struggling businesses, and provide opportunities to share the gospel.
Prior to George traveling to India to be with his mom in the hospital, it had been a very tough year. They had been a part of a church for nine years but due to some questions George had for the leadership of that church, he says, “The pastor asked us to leave.” That same year George had been fired from his job. He had obtained two masters degrees after coming to America but had been fired at the peak of his career. In his words, “2012-2013 was a very pivotal time for us as God took us on an interesting journey that turned out to be great. The firings felt bad at the time, but God made it work out for the good (Romans 8:28). It all served to shift my focus to kingdom work in everything I do. Little did I know that God was preparing me to open a business where I could be a blessing to others.”
Staying Connected to the Church
It was Sophia’s idea to start attending Christ’s Church together, and they have been a part of the body of Christ here for several years. This past year has brought another situation into their lives where they learned to lean on God and the power of prayer once again. Their daughter loves traveling with the family to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This past Memorial Day weekend, George was experiencing swelling in his feet that he thought was just from the Florida heat and all the walking at Disney amusement parks. But when they returned to Mason, he discovered he had gained 32 pounds in a week! He was diagnosed with a heart that was failing and was only functioning at 5% capacity.
At the University of Cincinnati cardio ICU, an MRI showed there was no heart muscle tear and they concluded that the heart failure was due to a virus George had earlier that month. A surgeon wanted to perform a heart transplant but fortunately George’s cardiologist intervened and suggested they try some medication and a drastic change in diet over a period of two to three months. Lots of prayer ensued, and the cardiologist was baffled as George gained complete strength during that time period.
This past summer and fall, George and Sophia have avoided crowds due to his heart infection, so they have logged on to CCLive many months, rather than being able to attend worship services in person. They are grateful that they can continue to be a part of the church online each Sunday. You may have seen George’s posts on Facebook every Sunday afternoon. He shares the notes from the sermon along with screen shots of the worship experience. And George has discovered that some of his non-Christian friends check out his posts and are seeing what is happening at Christ’s Church. George says, “I love that I can share the message on social media for God’s glory and that my dad in India can follow along as well.”
Giving Him Glory
On George’s business card are printed these words from Psalm 20:4, “May He grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed” (NLT). George concludes, “God alone is worthy of receiving all the glory. Showing love and compassion to others is the way to open up the gospel of Jesus Christ to other people who need to hear the message. Our job is to communicate with God and listen to him, to make prayer a priority, and through our actions to bring glory to Christ’s name.”