Dr. Johnrose Austin Jayalal is in many ways a man at odds with the world around him.
As president of the Indian Medical Association, India’s largest professional council of healthcare personnel, he is tasked with promoting public health and modern medicine in a country heavily influenced by controversial indigenous medical practices. This tension, a challenge before the COVID-19 pandemic, has become a high-stakes uphill battle for all tasked with helping India fight the virus.
But Dr. Jayalal is not a stranger to adversity, and his life as a committed Christian in a nation often hostile to believers has prepared him for this challenge.
“God will not place you in any difficulties which you can’t comprehend. I am the first doctor from my village, my church. and my family, yet today He has led me to attain this highest position in the medical profession. Our God knows everything, and in His time, He will give whatever we need.”
Dr. Jayalal grew up the son of Christian parents in a middle-class home in northern India. His mother, a nurse, prayed for years that her son would become a doctor. Part of a religious minority, no one in their family or their community had ever accomplished this, but she believed God had a unique calling on her son’s life.
“My mother was a village nurse and my inspiration to go into the medical profession. But at that time, selection for medicine was based on the interview system, and I was not selected for medical education. But my mother took extraordinary steps to approach a lawyer and file a writ petition challenging my non-selection. Simultaneously, she prayed.”
His mother’s prayers were answered, and Johnrose eventually earned an MBA, another doctorate, and became a professor of surgery as well as the head of India’s UNESCO Movement for Bioethics. He attended the Haggai Leader Experience in 2018 and credits it with revitalizing his spiritual life and infusing his medical work with Gospel urgency. Installed as president of the Indian Medical Association last December, Dr. Jayalal sees it all as a platform to share the love of Jesus Christ.
“I deeply desire to be a living witness to God and encourage young medical students and doctors to receive Jesus as their personal savior. I aim to be a witness for God in the secular organization I serve.”
That witness was given a new, unexpected platform in the last year as COVID-19 ravaged the country. India is currently one of the most dangerous countries in the world for practicing Christians, and Dr. Jayalal confirms that the government is indeed hostile to believers. But the confusion, fear, and desperation of the pandemic gave Dr. Jayalal and his colleagues the opportunity to share the Gospel in a new way to more people.
“This virus has created a fear and understanding among the public that there is Someone more powerful than all of what we have. When leprosy, cholera, and other pandemics devastated the world, it was Christian doctors and churches who stood against it, showing Christian compassion. And the urgent need of the proclamation of the Gospel to people who are suffering from the virus has allowed us to share the Gospel even in secular institutions.”