In 1962 God called a young college student, Thomas Mathews aged 19 for his mission. God miraculously saved his life from drowning. He was a 'rebel' but his mother's prayer was pursuing him. After this crisis experience he committed his life to serve the Lord in 'the hardest mission field' of north India. In April 1963 the Lord directed his steps to Udaipur, a small unknown town in those days. He began his life's work in a room rented at 15 Rupees per month, without an organization, a sponsor or any promise of support from anyone. He spent his early years in partial starvation, persecution, beatings and a lot of similar hardships. He baptized his first convert, a Rajasthani young man in October 1964. That was the beginning of Udaipur church, which was destined to be another 'Antioch' in north India. He married a dedicated seminary student Mary in June 1966, who shared the same vision.
Dr. Thomas Mathews and Mrs. Mary Mathews
In January 1981 God led Br. Mathews and a handful of his young Rajasthani co-workers to 'launch out into the deep'. They saw a vision of a particular geographical area touching Gujarat and Maharashtra states. After receiving this Macedonian call, they set out without any invitation or a contact. They reached a people group after several days of travel. Those people were waiting for the team, as they also had a vision of five people visiting them from Rajasthan.
Those simple believers had no idea of where Rajasthan was. When they saw the team, they were stirred up that the vision was true. That was the beginning of Native Missionary Movement. Then the Lord gave a promise to Pastor Mathews in December 1980 was Rev. 3:8, Behold, I have set an open door before you and no man can shut it. Pastor Mathews and his co-workers felt the need for a Bible training centre for equipping native leaders and pastors to better serve the churches in North India. So in 1982 the missionaries selected five potential leaders from the believers and began Filadelfia Bible Institute to train them. Bro. Thampy Mathew was inspired by God in a wonderful way to challenge and encourage Pastor Mathews, when they met 'by chance' (but by God's providence!) in Muscat. This faith partnership grew in strength and Filadelfia Bible Institute also grew gradually. Several other friends later extended their helping hand.
Rev. Thampy Mathew
Filadelfia Bible College is a faith venture. At an earlier stage the classes were conducted in rented houses. Later God miraculously provided sufficient funds through believers to purchase a property near the picturesque lake Fateh Sagar. A chapel was constructed for classes and for church services. The ground floor was dedicated in February 1985. By 1991 second and third floors were constructed and the students' strength increased to 110. By this time the Institute was upgraded as Filadelfia Bible College. Even students from neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Burma began to join the college.
Thirty one years after the inception, Filadelfia Bible College today has trained more than 1400 students who were benefitted from the programmes provided on its campus in Udaipur. The College is providing two year Diploma programme in English as well as Hindi and three-year degree programs in English, and giving students a variety of opportunities for practical know-how in real missionary situations. In 1992, the Accreditation Commission of the Asia Theological Association granted accreditation for our programmes. Then in 2004 the programmes were reaccredited. Apart from BTh and DipTh, the institution began to offer Master of Divinity program from July 2004. In 2008, the college started an M.A. in International Development in partnership with William Carey International University, California.