By Tom Campisi
In 2006, Jinu Thomas was living the American dream. He was 30-years old, happily married, and had a good job.
He had already come a long way. Jinu grew up in Calcutta, India, where his father—a pastor and an accountant—told him that God had a special plan for him. Jinu attended his father’s church, but struggled with unbelief, especially when he saw the extreme poverty all around him. He immigrated to the United States at 17 and took a job as a dishwasher in a nursing home.
“I didn’t call myself an atheist, but I didn’t want to follow my dad’s God,” Jinu said.
In the United States, however, he felt lonely, forgotten, and nearly hopeless as he washed those dishes and searched for meaning. But things began to change as the prodigal young man began to think about his father’s sermons.
“I started remembering the stories of young people in the Bible like David, Joshua, and others, and said, ‘If God can bring their dreams to life, I know that He can bring my dreams to life,’ ” recalled Jinu. “I gave my life to the Lord and cried out to Him, ‘Give me the power to dream.’ ”
He continued to wash dishes for the next two years, “but God was preparing me for a dream He would give me 13 years later.”
After putting himself through college and graduate school, Jinu settled into corporate life at Johnson and Johnson. The company even paid for businesses courses at the prestigious Wharton School in Philadelphia. Then the tugging began.
“I had a good career, a beautiful wife, and things seemed to be, by American standards, really comfortable—except for a holy unrest that had risen in my heart,” he said.
He wondered: “Am I here on earth to fulfill a purpose?” “Does God have a specific plan in my life?” “Was I created with a unique calling?”
He meditated on David’s words in Psalm 139: “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
“That meant that I was created with intention by my Creator and He had a plan for me,” Jinu said.
His wife Ann also kept telling him that God had a purpose and a special plan. In February of 2006, in the midst of a five-day period of fasting and prayer for a new vision in his life, he heard these words: “Create a meeting place where belief and unbelief collide in a perfect collision.”
“This is where Collyde was born and where the journey began,” Jinu said.
Over the next four years, the vision for Collyde became to take root, but not without trials and tribulations in the rocky ministry soil of New Jersey. But Jinu prayed and persevered and the first Collyde Summit was held in November of 2010.
Today, Jinu says, the Collyde Summit is known as “a gathering of leaders, pastors and passionate believers in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area, who love Jesus and are convicted to become world changers.”
Sometimes, he marvels about how the Lord has guided his steps, from India, to dishwashing, to leading a major conference that is impacting thousands of people. His journey can be summed up in the words on a plaque hanging on the wall of the Collyde office: “All the strands of life are woven together by an unseen hand into a tapestry of unimagined beauty.”
A few years after founding Collyde, a greater test of faith would emerge when Jinu and Ann Thomas went for a routine ultrasound for their first child in spring of 2013.
“We did not see it coming,” Jinu said. “Our 20-week-old baby boy, Joshua Luke, was diagnosed that day with hypoplastic left heart syndrome; the left ventricle was missing.”
A physician, Ann Thomas immediately knew the severity of the diagnosis. The baby would essentially be born with half a heart.
“That day our hearts broke into a million pieces,” Jinu said. “Where do we go when our hearts are broken into a million pieces?”
That night, he sat alone in a dark room and cried out to God, remembering the words of Jesus in John 16:33, “In this world you will have many trials and sorrows but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Nearly four years later, after several open heart surgeries for Joshua Luke, his father has hope and finds comfort from a great C.S. Lewis quote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speak in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.”
“Pain, sufferings and life’s uncertainties all have a strange way of allowing us to hear God’s voice more clearly. This has been really true in my life over the last four years,” Jinu said.
“Stories of greatness are often woven with strands of heartache, loss, and suffering. God will use the hardships to build character, the challenges to create dependence, the obstacles to ignite faith and the suffering to establish identity.”
During Joshua Luke’s third heart surgery in the fall of 2016, things appeared to go from bad to worse.
“He’s doing OK now, but we almost lost him,” Jinu said. “His heart was bleeding and his lungs were filling up with fluids. We did so many things medically, but nothing was making a difference. We were at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for three months.”
On December 2, 2016, Jinu Thomas, via Facebook, asked everyone he knew and the Collyde community to pray and fast for Joshua Luke.
“Thousands of people were praying,” Jinu Thomas said. “People in India were praying. Farmers in Rwanda—whom we support through Collyde—were praying. People in Australia.”
Within hours, Joshua Luke began to recover. Two days later, the family drove him home to Bridgewater, New Jersey. On the way, however, a grateful father began to weep.
“I was crying for 90 minutes straight because I know what happened. I know that Jesus stepped into that room, and I know that He touched Joshua,” he said.
“Today, our son is like a normal toddler. Every morning, when we look at Joshua Luke we are reminded that God is fully in control, and because we identify ourselves as belonging to Him, as Christ followers, we can be assured that we too will overcome because we are hidden in Him. Joshua Luke’s Story is our ‘overcome Story.’ ”
In his travels as a Collyde ambassador, Jinu often shares his “overcome story,” as he seeks to instill courage and faith in others to likewise pray and never give up.
In September, Collyde 2017 was a special one for Jinu and his team. The theme was “I AM—which was based on the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus.
The two-day event featured Elevation Worship and speakers Mark Batterson, Ann Voskamp, John Gray, Jenni Catron, Carey Nieuwhof Ron Walborn, David Schroeder, and others.
“Collyde Summit 2017 was about Jesus,” he said. “It was about worshiping Jesus, not just for what He has done, but for who He is.”
For information on the next Collyde event, visit www.collydesummit.com.