Faith and being in the ministry are something of a family culture for Daniel George, as he is a descendant of Syrian Jacobite Christians. Those ancestors trace back to Kerala in southern India, a region that first received the gospel by way of the disciple Thomas. Daniel’s story follows his family’s move to northern India in Chandigarh, Punjab, a city of 1.3 million people inhabited mostly by Sikhs and Hindus with around 1% of the city claiming the Christian faith.
From there Daniel’s own journey would take him to Fort Worth, Texas and eventually to Cartersville, where he’s currently serving First Baptist Church as pastoral intern. Having struck up a friendship with CFBC pastor Jeremy Morton at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth – where Jeremy was working on the dissertation for his Doctorate degree – Daniel wanted some first-hand observation in how American churches work.
Before that, though, Daniel had his life mapped out differently and it sure didn’t include ministry. He’d seen how his father had struggled with money and the uncertainty of being a worship leader, pastor, church planter, and evangelist. Daniel decided it wasn’t for him.
Change of plans
“My father, Wilson George, has written more than 350 Hindi Christian songs,” said Daniel of his family’s faith heritage. “I was baptized at 13 years old and mentored by my parents and grandparents. When I wasn’t in school, I’d travel with my dad wherever his ministry took him.”
With plans of a career in Information Technology, Daniel earned a degree Commerce and Computer Science and then jobs with IBM and Dell International in tech support. He was on his way.
Then, Daniel accompanied his parents on an evangelism trip to provide piano music (he also plays guitar and drums) for worship services. One night his mother stood up in front of the crowd to tell a story even Daniel had never heard.
When she was pregnant with Daniel, Sheila George told the group, the doctors told her at the second-month appointment the baby inside wasn’t growing. He would be born deformed. An abortion was the best option for all, another doctor said. The advice was repeated at the six-month appointment.
From that point, Daniel’s father began to fast and pray from midnight-3 a.m. beside his wife as she lay in bed. Times were hard financially, as Sheila had lost her professor position at the nearby university.
“They didn’t have much money for food, so dad would pray over glasses of water for my mom for the nutrients to be placed in it,” Daniel said. “When I was born I weighed 7.2 pounds, more than my older brother at his birth.
“Right after that trip and hearing that story I went to my supervisor at work and resigned. I had a good job and future, but felt called to something else.”
The groundwork for Daniel and his sister, Shirin, to come to America began with a friendship between their mother and Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson. Dorothy Patterson and Sheela George worked together at women’s conferences, the latter serving as a translator who needed to be proficient in not only English but Texan. Due to their parents’ ministry in India, Daniel and Shirin were awarded full Presidential scholarships to Southwestern.
In July 2010, Daniel was off to America. In July 2014 he was preparing to finish up his Master of Divinity degree that December when he met Jeremy in Southwestern’s computer center. The two struck up a friendship and began discussing the possibility of Daniel becoming a pastoral intern at CFBC. Such agreements aren’t unusual, as international students can extend their visas post-graduation for a year to intern in their field.
Daniel’s goal is to take what he’s learned and plant churches back in India, but also to build and operate a children’s home in India with Shirin, who earned a Master of Christian Education degree at Southwestern with a focus in biblical counseling. The need for it came from an example of self-sacrifice Daniel saw through his parents.
“In my home city there was a children’s home, but it was shut down when it was discovered the host parents were abusing the kids,” he explains. “My parents took in ten children to live with us.”
Mind you, this was a three-bedroom, 500-square-foot home with six people already living in it. Daniel, 22 at the time, remembers the landlord being furious but his father pleading for the sake of the children.
“The neighbors were mad as well. These children were the lowest on the caste system and they weren’t wanted around,” he says. “My father felt they needed a place to stay.”
It’s those examples that have led Daniel’s story to go from India to Texas to Cartersville and soon back home, to familiar surroundings with a renewed focus.