Rev. E. J. George : The Good Soil that Embraced the Seed

Mathews George
Stories We Live By
Published in
10 min readAug 30, 2023


Illustration by Rev. Abraham Varghese ( Anu Achen)


Matthew 13 presents to us the parable of the sower. The seeds that fell into the good soil bore much fruit. Here are some recollections on a person who was the good soil.

Chapter 1


He turned around in his vestments and read the Gospel. It was the story of Zachaeus and Jesus. Instead of chanting, as clergy usually do, he read it as though he was telling a story to his grandchildren. He was already an elderly, retired clergy by then. His tone was peaceful, non-threatening and endearing. The eight year old me was fascinated by the narrated Bible story, the opening lines of which cannot be forgotten: “Once Jesus was passing through Jericho…”.

A couple of decades later, when I was ordained, I decided to read the Gospel like a story, just the way the elderly clergyman did, simply because I thought people would listen carefully, since the 8-year-old me had.

The name of that clergy man was Rev. E. J. George.

Chapter 2


And as I hear the news of his passing away, I am left with a void. Almost every clergy man who has met him has a story to tell.

It usually goes like this. “E. J. George Achen met me, shook my hands, and held on to my hand asking who all I had at home and enquired everything about me. He took down my birthday and entered it in a diary. Then he shared some of his ministry experiences and told me his latest thoughts on ways to share the gospel. Then he would take my address down. A few weeks later, I received a postcard from him, in which he wrote a story or a quote or some encouragement, along with reminding me to share the gospel with someone.”

A postcard from Rev. EJ George to Rev. George M. Kuruvilla

This would usually take a long time. His conversation never ended quickly. When he met you again, he would enquire about life, family, ministry, the challenges, the possibility, the concerns of the flock entrusted to us — everything… It often had an abrupt ending since people had to go somewhere or the other, and George achen would be still wanting to engage us with meaningful ways to share the gospel.

If you met him on the sand-bed at Maramon Convention, he would continue the same. Under an evening sun that is on its way down for the day, he would hold your hand and enquire everything about you. He would say a word or two that would be tremendously encouraging. He would share ways to speak about the Gospel to another. He would enquire about your mum’s health, because you had told him the last time you met, that she was feeling sick.

Now if you were on your way with someone waiting on the other end of the sandbed, and you saw EJ George achen coming towards you, it was common for many a clergy to take a slightly different route. It wasn’t because they did not love Achen — it was because Achen loved you so much. And love takes time. Love pays attention. Love remembers. Love enquires. Love has all the time in the world for you. And he was a clergy man, which meant that he was supposed to be God’s love in white robes. That, he was — dare I say, one of the last of his kind? As someone stated, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore”.

But pastors like me lacked that kind of love. Or someone you loved more was waiting on the other end of the sand-bed. Or your ride home from Maramon convention was awaiting your arrival while everyone else was seated. Either way, encountering EJ George achen meant an uncertainty regarding one’s ETA (estimated time of arrival), which became complicated when you were travelling to Maramon in a group. So you would simply take another route.

You chose to not walk into love because we have reached that point in life where we do not have time for love. But EJ George Achen, was love in white robes.


Sometimes, he would be talking to someone alongside the thatched Maramon pandal (the tent made out thatched coconut tree leaves at the Maramon convention sand-bed) and you felt safe to walk past him because he was already holding someone’s hand and talking. So you whizz past. But he looks at you and holds your hand, continues the conversation with the other person for a minute more, and then turns to you, all the while without having left his tender grip on your arm.

One of the notes given to a clergy by Rev. E. J. George

Chapter 3


It’s another Maramon Convention, and I bump into E. J. George Achen at the drinking water tap, near the clergy shed.

“Achen ippam evideya?” (Where is Achen serving at the moment?). I tell him that I serve as a youth chaplain in Mumbai.

“So do you have a parsonage?” I tell him about the Diocese’ arrangement: I stay at the Sakinaka Trinity Mar Thoma Church parsonage, although the vicar is Rev. Ashish Thomas George, also the vicar at Vikhroli Mar Thoma parish. It’s a small parish, with a small community, I tell him.

He invites my attention to Luke 12:32, which says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” He looks at me and says, “You should read this verse to them and tell them that the Father will give them the Kingdom. Their church’s name is Trinity, is it not? You should teach them about the trinity, and the love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and ask them to live in love for each other.”

He was ever ready with a verse, an illustration, a story. A true pastor.

And then he would enquire about my father, my mother and my brother, whom he knew well.


He once told me to hang a sign with the verse, “Your brother has come” (Luke 15:27) in our drawing room. When someone from another faith came home, they would get curious and would ask what this meant. Then you could begin a conversation with the parable of the Lost Son, where these words are found. This will enable you to start a conversation about God’s love with someone who does not know it.

Later I found out that he had shared this idea with so many pastors. Some made their own signboards. Some were given one by E.J. George Achen, so that they may begin a conversation about God’s love.

Rev. E. J. George shared this signed board with Rev. Abey Cheriyan eight years ago. It reads, “Your brother has arrived” (Luke 15:27)

Chapter 4


It was my first clergy conference. On the third day, my cousin Merin (Rev. Merin Mathew) and I had got to know that our beloved Kunjumol aunty, who had been suffering from cancer was in a critical stage. Towards the end of the evening, we got t the news that sank our hearts — aunty went to sleep in the heavenly Father’s arms. She had fought hard. She was brave. And always, always graceful. They arranged for a bed for her in the vestry at church so that she could attend the wedding. Her younger daughter, my (cousin) sister Susan’s groom Susheel, a chivalrous man, and his family were willing to suddenly shift the wedding from Hyderabad to Mumbai, on short notice, just for her. In the end, she entered her well-deserved rest.

Our uncle, Babuchan called and said that our (cousin) sisters — their daughters — wanted us to be there for the funeral which would be held the day after. We really wanted to be there too, but the clergy conference was yet to end and how do we get to Mumbai so quick? They arranged for us to fly the very next day. This meant we had to leave the clergy conference there and then. We completed the sessions for the day, had dinner and packed our bags. One of Merin achen’s classmates were heading to town, and we could hop in and get a drop to where we could catch a bus home. So we set out with our bags. As I walked down the stairs, and reach the front of the CEC centre dormitory, I could see Merin achen a few hundred feet away waving for me from the car. His friend, a fellow clergy, who was on the driver’s seat had an expression which seemed to say, “Come along, I need to get home quick.”

That is when I saw E. J. George achen coming towards my side. I thought of avoiding him and whizzed past some clergy men in the hope that he would not see me, since there was no time and my friends were already in the car.

As I dashed past as though I hadn’t seen EJ George achen, he called my name. I couldn’t but stop.

“How are you?” he asked

I quickly explained, in an apologetic tone that my aunt had passed away and I had to leave immediately. My eyes fell on my friends seated in the car some distance away, and I could see that they knew what I knew: this is going to take time.

“Sorry, achen, I have to go, my friends are waiting, I have to reach Trivandrum tonight.”

“What happened to your aunt? Was she unwell?”

“Sorry, Achen,” I shift my bag from one shoulder to the other, and say that I have to leave, adding that she passed away due to cancer.

By now he is holding my hand — that tender hand on my bony palm. And time is ticking away. The Achens in the car including my (cousin) brother, Merin, were my seniors, and I suddenly felt a shiver — they are going to get mad at me now.

“Did she have any children? What about her husband?” He continues to enquire calmly, “How are they?” EJ George Achen being classic EJ George at the wrong time, I thought to myself.

“She has two daughters. One is in Dubai with her family and the other one completed her higher studies in Physio therapy from England and she has been taking care of her mother full time during the last few months. She got married recently. I’m so sorry Achen I have to go, I’m very sorry.” I stopped looking towards the car.

“Oh… What are her daughters names?”

I’m not liking this but I love EJ George achen, yet I really have to get to Trivandrum tonight.

“It’s Bincy and Susan, Achen. Bincy is the elder one and Susan is the younger one,” I blurt out additional information that would hopefully preempt another question. “Sorry, achen I have to leave…”

Achen asked me to wait and he took out his Bible from his shoulder bag (A sanji). I took a quick glance, across the shoulders of the elderly clergy man, and saw the simmering faces of my friends in the car who are now animated, beckoning me to rush.

He took out a piece of paper from his Bible and said, “You must give this to Bincy and Susan. And tell them that I am praying for them.”

“I certainly will Acha. Thank you, Bye,” I ran, entered the car. I fold the piece of paper Achen handed me and placed it safely in my wallet, while I heard my friends commenting on how late I made all of us.


The next day, I was at the home of my sisters. After the services at home, the mortal remains of our aunt would be taken to the Christian cemetery at Sewri, where Malad Appachan, their grandfather, with whom they had deep bond, was also buried. Malad to Sewri in Mumbai traffic is a nightmare. The service at Sewri was to start at twelve. We left at 11.

Merin Achen, Bincy chechi, Susan and I were in the same vehicle on our way. After nearly an hour, I suddenly remember about the piece of paper. I take it out of my wallet, and hand it to them, still unfolded, with a one line introduction — “An elderly achen asked me to give this to you.”

Bincy reads and bursts out crying. She gives it to Susan, who can’t hold back her tears. I was shocked. What was in the paper? Was this a bad idea?

Bincy turns to me and says, “This was the answer I was looking for!” Susan agrees.

They both want to know who this mysterious clergy man is and why he gave this piece of paper to some stranger. I introduce achen and the story of his life.

Now they both want to meet him.

They hand me the paper and I recognise the familiar handwriting that I have seen on the postcards which bore my name as well as much encouragement. It was a poem titled, “He only takes the best”.

The poem shared by Rev. E. J. George. I took a photo of the note knowing that it was an important part of our life- history.

And it was the answer to their questions in the face of their mother’s terminal illness.

And that came as though a divine intervention from a man I had tried to avoid the day before.

Chapter 5


In a whatsapp conversation with my (cousin) sister, Bincy, she mentioned a conversation with EJ George achen that lasted an hour. It felt like a personal retreat, she said.

Chapter 6


On the night of the successful episcopal elections in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, where 3 nominees were elected as bishop candidates, I received a text from my sister, Bincy.

“Georgie, I heard something about EJ George achen and I hope it is not true.”

I hadn’t heard anything yet. So I went to our church’s clergy Whatsapp group and found condolence messages streaming.

“It’s true,” I said, recognising that it was the end of an era, and a beginning of a new one. A world without EJ George Achen.



“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23 NIV)

E. J. George Achen, you will be dearly missed. We will meet you on the day of resurrection. Till then, rest in peace.


Rev. Mathews George | 30 August 2023