GALVESTON, Texas ?Imagine coming to America alone with only $8 in your pocket and no knowledge of the English language or American culture. Raju Samuel, director of Mission Galveston/Texas City and Associate Pastor of West End Baptist Church, went through this experience in 1972. Today, Samuel has reaped the rewards for being a faithful servant of Christ. On April 10, he received the 24th Annual Rabbi Henry Cohen Humanitarian Award. The award, presented by the Temple B’Nai Israel, is given each year to a noted humanitarian.
Rabbi Henry Cohen, who led the temple from 1888 to 1952, was said by President Woodrow Wilson to have been “the nation’s greatest humanitarian.” Cohen was born in London, England on April 7, 1863. He came to Galveston in 1888 and served the Temple B’nai Israel and the citizens of Galveston until his death in 1952. He was known for his dedication to humanity and is considered Galveston’s most beloved citizen of all time. The award was designed to honor the memory of Rabbi Cohen’s life and career as well as honor those who have taken on the same humanitarian role.
At the age of 22, Samuel immigrated to the U.S. from a small village called Kerala State in India. Samuel says, “I was brought up in a very disciplined Christian family. My dad was a deacon in our local church and also an evangelist in our community. At the age of ten, at one of my dad’s revivals, I accepted Christ as my personal Savior.”
After high school, Samuel got the opportunity to come to the United States. On Dec. 4, 1972, he arrived in Houston, Texas. “When I arrived in the United States, I didn’t know how to speak English, nor did I know any of the American customs,” said Samuel. “The second week after I arrived in Galveston, I started school at Galveston Community College. It was a dramatic experience. I realized that I was in the land of freedom.”
Samuel finished his education in respiratory therapy and started a job at the University of Texas Medical branch. And in 1980, he started at Amoco Oil Company as a supervisor, but God had bigger plans for him. “On the evening of August 16, 1982, God called my dad home. By his deathbed I repented of all my sins and rededicated my life to Christ and for his ministry,” said Samuel.
Samuel was ordained as a minister of the gospel in July 2000. In 1998 he was commissioned as a Mission Corps Volunteer and works with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Now retired, Samuel continues working in ministry as a chaplain for the Galveston County Juvenile Center and is involved in his role as director of Mission Galveston.
Samuel founded Mission Galveston after retirement. The mission supplies food, clothing and spiritual guidance to homeless and needy families. He later expanded the effort with Mission Texas City. Among his other humanitarian accomplishments, Samuel recently returned from India where he started an orphanage that will open on May 1, 2003. Samuel also travels to the Ukraine each summer to help more than 300 orphans.
Along with a ministry dedicated to the homeless, orphaned and needy families, Samuel dedicates his time to hanging out on the beach at the annual Kappa Beach Party where he ministers to African-American students who come to Galveston Beach for week-long partying. Samuel said, “During this time, we dedicate ourselves to beach ministry. We pass out cold bottled water and tracts to these partygoers. We passed out 900 bottles of water within 45 minutes this year. We call this ‘Living Water Ministry.'”
Joe Brooks, personal friend of Samuel says, “I have known and worked with Raju for several years. His dedication to the less fortunate and to orphan children is a true calling by God. He is a dedicated servant of the Lord and represents the best of Mission Service Corps missionaries. I am appreciative of the Galveston Rotary Club for nominating him and the Temple B’nai Israel for recognizing my friend and fellow servant by giving him the Rabbi Henry Cohen Humanitarian Award. This award only partially recognizes Raju for his earthly efforts to others. His eternal reward will be beyond explanation.”
Raju Samuel attributes all of his accomplishments and this particular honor to the Lord who blessed him. He has been married to his wife, Jain, for 25 years and has two children, Lisa and Jacob. Just this year, Jain took an early retirement to join her husband in ministry. Samuel says, “We don’t make any decisions without consulting with our Father in heaven. He has been so good to my family and me. The blessings are indescribable. Like Joshua said, ‘Me and my family?we will serve the Lord.'”