Rev. Jai Mahtani

In 1960, Rev. Mahtani was born on the island of Singapore in Southeast Asia. His parents, Murlidhar and Dhanwanti, had a Hindu upbringing in India and they moved to Singapore in the 1950s.

As a boy, Rev. Mahtani remembers collecting butterflies and leaves as a hobby. He also was a Boy Scout and enjoyed hiking, camping, and adventure. Now he enjoys nature, enjoys walking the beach or any rolling waters. He is always inspired with fresh sermon topics when he is taking a walk.

While he was growing up, Rev. Mahtani lived in several different locations on the island of Singapore. He received his education through the public schools in Singapore. He also attended the University of Singapore, but he did not complete his BA there. Instead, he studied under missionary Rev. den Hartog in preparation for his seminary training in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1983-1986. While Rev. Mahtani was in Houston, he completed a Doctor of Ministry in Missions from 1996-1998.

During his teenage years, Rev. Mahtani was converted. As a result, the pressures he experienced from his parents and friends were great. His parents were upset that he was a Christian, that he would not go with them to worship in the temple, and that he would not help with the family business on Sunday. His friends mocked him for his faith. Before his conversion, he was often with bad company, so they especially scorned him after he was converted.

At his conversion, when he was sixteen or seventeen, the Lord was leading Rev. Mahtani to the ministry. He wrote a letter to his dad explaining that he knew God was calling him into the ministry. All his past plans to either help in the family business or to study to be a lawyer were no longer to be. His upbringing in a Hindu home prepared him in many ways to be mission minded; to look at those in heathendom with compassion and patience.

When Rev. Mahtani’s parents learned of his desire to enter seminary, his dad especially was against the idea, but his mother was obliging. They encouraged Rev. Mahtani to complete high school, go through National Service (2½ years mandatory service in the army) and then enter college.

Concerning his years in seminary, Rev. Mahtani exclaims, “Those good old days, I wish I could repeat them again!” He remembers going to Prof. Hoeksema to tell him that he would not preach the Heidelberg Catechism but only the Scriptures for practice preaching. Prof. Hoeksema gave him a paper to read and warned him that if he did not preach the Heidelberg Catechism, he would fail seminary. Rev. Mahtani was so upset, he drove to Dewey and Dena Engelsma’s home and told them he was packing up to return to Singapore. Dewey invited Rev. Mahtani to play pool in their basement to vent his frustration. He then took Rev. Mahtani aside and explained to him why he should persevere. After that incident, Rev. Mahtani learned to love Prof. Hoeksema. In fact, Rev. Mahtani feels he owes it to Prof. Hoeksema that Heidelberg Catechism preaching has become so precious to him. Rev. Mahtani thinks it is Heidelberg Catechism preaching that unites the Protestant Reformed Churches more than anything else.

Twenty years ago, on June 25, 1983, Rev. Mahtani married Esther. The Lord has blessed them with a blessed marriage although they are from two different cultures: he is Indian, and she is Chinese. The Lord has blessed them with six boys and two girls.

After graduating from seminary in 1986, Rev. Mahtani returned to Singapore where he was ordained as pastor of Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church. He served Covenant ERCS until 1993 when the Lord called him to return to the United States and become the pastor of Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Houston, Texas. In 1998, when his work at Trinity had finished, the Lord called him to his present work as Eastern Home Missionary now working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

As he labors in Pittsburgh, Rev. Mahtani has the privilege of teaching five catechism classes with children and young people from several different backgrounds. In the last couple of years, an African American family with eight children joined the group. They come from a Baptist background and catechism instruction is a new thing for them. It has been very rewarding for Rev. Mahtani to see the development in love and zeal that the children and young people evidence for catechism instruction.

As a missionary, the most rewarding thing for Rev. Mahtani to see is the saints of God not only loving the truths of God’s Word and teaching them to their own children, but also living their lives and testifying to all men of their faith, inviting others to the preaching and welcoming strangers to church.

Regarding our view of missions, Rev. Mahtani remembers already when he was in seminary the accusation hurled by outsiders that the Protestant Reformed Churches are not mission-minded, but all they preach about is election. Rev. Mahtani also remembers that in their living room in Singapore he entertained guests from all over the world: New Zealand, Australia, Japan, United States of America, Canada, and many others who would falsely accuse the Protestant Reformed Churches. After listening to their accusations, he would ask: “How do you know?” Well, it was all hearsay. Then he would go on to tell them of his experiences in seminary, his attending Southwest Protestant Reformed Church and then Grandville Protestant Reformed Church, and how the preaching was warm, personal, inspirational, doctrinal, and faithful to the text. He would then hand out tapes or tracts reminding them that while the Protestant Reformed Churches are not perfect, those accusations were evil and false.

For young men who are considering the ministry of the Word to be their calling, Rev. Mahtani has this advice: “Avoid the extremes in advice you hear: 1) Never enter (the) ministry because it is the worst, the hardest (calling); or 2) Everyone should consider the ministry. The former is true in a sense, but the Lord Who calls also gives many blessings and joys unspeakable; and latter, well, God gives all of us a calling, whether it be in the ministry, or in a secular calling, or at home. I do advise men who believe God is calling them to the ministry to realize that while preaching must be (the) central love of their lives, there are many realities they must face: love for people, patience to labor with Christ’s sheep, and wisdom to deal with colleagues and those supervising their labors—those are sometimes the hard things in the ministry.”

When asked about the changes he would like to see in the thinking, attitudes, and behavior of the young people, Rev. Mahtani said, “I think we have a good group of young people. There are many pressures in the world to be enjoying rock music, drama, and I think we parents and elders need to engage the younger with Biblical perspectives and not short answers of right or wrong so the young people will grow up with stronger convictions in those areas—realizing it is not a matter of do’s (and) don’ts but a matter of love for God and love for holiness, for truth, for wonder of His grace in Christ.”

Rev. Mahtani hasn’t had the opportunity to get to know our young people very well. He must say that if he would judge them by those who have visited Houston or Pittsburgh, he would have to give them high marks! No, our young people are not perfect. There are always going to be complaints about them being worldly, having bad mouths, or other things, but Rev. Mahtani is encouraged that our young people do seem to have a sense of who God is and who they are.