Seventeen years ago today, Charles Ratnamuktan Alban Hoole, known affectionately by many as Charles/ Muktan, met face to face with His Saviour Lord Jesus Christ.
Life of Charles Hoole
Charles/Muktan was born on the 18th of March 1951. He was the second son of Rev. Richard Hoole and Jeevamany Somasundaram of the Anglican Church in Ceylon. He was educated at St. John’s College in Jaffna, where he became notorious for his towering sixers as a young cricketer. Charles completed his B.A (Hons), and M.A at the University of Hull in Yorkshire, UK, after which he moved to the Department of Religious Studies in McMaster University in Canada for his M.A and Ph.D.
Marriage to Jaqui
Charles met his wife Jacqueline Patricia Guiver during his time at the University of Hull Christian Union (CU) in the late 1970s, where Jaqui was serving as the Overseas Representative. Charles later became a Theological Students’ Rep in the CU where he brought along many overseas friends to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Jaqui remembers him as a “great friend from the start, and a blessing to work with…. he gave so much help and encouragement, a real helpmeet.” They worked together at the Christian Union at Hull until they went separate ways to pursue God’s calling in their lives: Charles moving to Nigeria as a theological teacher, and Jaqui to Pakistan to prepare for her mission work in Afghanistan. They kept in touch, and met up whenever they were both in England. Their friendship continued to grow. Just when they realised they loved each other, they had to part again as Charles was leaving for the United States for higher education and Jaqui to Afghanistan. Charles and Jaqui kept in touch over those many years through mail passed through a friend in Finland, who made sure the letters would get to Afghanistan. When the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan causing a bloodbath in the late 1980s, God used that closed door to providentially direct Jaqui away from the war-zone. She moved back home to the UK in 1989. Within a span of three months, the couple prayerfully decided to get married, after which Jaqui moved to Canada where Charles was completing his Ph.D.
After 12 years of wonderful friendship, their love for each other was firmer than ever and continued to grow. Charles was so sure of God’s choice for him that he loved Jaqui completely throughout the changes they had to make as they started their lives together. “He was a fantastic husband and a real gift of God to me,” Jaqui recalls. Amidst the arrival of their children Thayawu and Anbu, and the rigorous work of a Ph.D, “he prepared our home, cooked, everything. I never wanted for anything: he was there, doing everything… even now as I write, it just amazes me, all that he did. From the very outset, he was the perfect husband - a wife couldn’t ask for more.”
A Quiver Full of Arrows
God blessed Charles and Jaqui with four children: Thayawu and Anbu were born in North America, Sama in the United Kingdom, and Mahilyesan in Sri Lanka. Charles uniquely loved each of his children. He prioritized time with them in his hectic schedule, planning wonderful holidays all around Sri Lanka and abroad. Although they were so young -- Thayawu (13), Anbu (11), Sama (9), and Mahil (2) -- when Charles passed away, so much of him continues to be seen in each of his children: “Nothing is done half-heartedly. There’s real passion, and desire to give themselves totally, every ounce of their being.”
God continues His covenant faithfulness in the lives of Charles and Jaqui’s children: Thayawu graduated from Wrexham Glyndŵr University in Wales with a degree in Health and now serves in a Care Home. After studying Medicine at Christ College in the University of Cambridge, Anbu now works in a mission hospital in Pakistan. Sama started and owns a personal training business after finishing his undergraduate education in Creative Writing and Journalism at the University of Chester. Mahilyesan recently returned from a gap year in Sri Lanka and plans to commence his education at Imperial College in London, where he will be reading Chemistry with French.
Labours of Love
Charles Hoole’s life was characterised by love for God and His people. He was amazed by the God of the Bible: His steadfast loving kindness ( חֶסֶד , hesed), and faithfulness (אֶמֶת , emeth), both of which Charles epitomised in his lifestyle and relationships, in his family and with his students. God graciously used Charles/Muktan to open people’s eyes to the God He is, His Word, and how God speaks through His word, revealing Himself - which Jaqui now recalls as foundational and pivotal in her own life 17 years on.
God graciously shaped and sharpened Charles’ many strengths and weaknesses for the work of His kingdom. During his lifetime, Charles used his gift of teaching faithfully for the glory of God. He began teaching at high schools in Nigeria, and then on to courses on South Asian Religions at McMaster University in Canada and Trinity College in Bristol, UK. Moving back to wartime Sri Lanka in the mid 1990s, he taught Religion, Church History, and Christian Ethics at Colombo Theological Seminary (CTS), where he also served as the academic dean. Charles’ heart of hospitality was intertwined with his spirit as a teacher. He would often invite his students into his home for meals and treat them like a part of his family.
Muktan also authored a number of books during his lifetime and contributed to academic journals, the list of which could be viewed here.
During his time at CTS, God laid it upon Charles’ heart to start a Theological College in North-Eastern Sri Lanka, having seen the difficulties Tamil students from Northern Sri Lanka faced in the nation’s capital. Against all odds and doubts, God providentially worked all the funding and logistics required to start Baldaeus Theological College (BTC), thus confirming the desire of Charles’ heart (Psalm 37:4).
It was clear that Muktan embraced and built his vision for BTC on the Great Commision of Jesus Christ, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20), and on Ephesians 4:11-16, particularly on verses 12,13: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Throughout Muktan’s years of teaching, at CTS and subsequently at BTC, he has had lasting impact on the lives of so many dignitaries, pastors, and lay people all through Sri Lanka. It was obvious that he was loved by many - hundreds of people travelled several hours from all over Sri Lanka to attend the funeral the day after his passing.
Charles Ratnamuktan Alban was a much loved and widely respected Bible teacher and expositor who brought people face to face with the Living God, the Alpha and Omega, and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Charles is undeniably a giant in the Great Commision tradition - a sinner saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ - used mightily for the expansion and glory of His empire in the South Asian island nation Sri Lanka. Most importantly, Charles was a loving husband and father, wonderful brother, a gentle and magnanimous uncle, and simply முத்தன் அண்ணா to many.
Ordinary Man, Extraordinary God
In many respects, Charles was an Oak of righteousness. But he was also short-lived, a man with weaknesses like all of us: a blade of grass. "A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." The impact Charles' life and ministry has had on the Sri Lankan church is owing to his commitment to understand and explain the Word of God. In life and in death, he proclaimed the excellencies of the extraordinary God who uses ordinary men.
A Liturgy for the Anniversary of Charles' Loss*Seventeen years on, O Christ, redeem this day.
Let that which broke upon us in a past year, now be seen as the beginning of our remaking into Christ-followers more sympathetic, more compassionate, and more conscious of our frailty and of our daily dependence on you; as ones more invested in the hope of the resurrection of the body and the return of the King, than ever before.
Let this loss-hollowed day arrive in years to come as the kindling of a fire in our bones, spurring us to seek in this short life that which is eternal. Let this past wound, and the memory of it, push us to be present with you in ways we were not before.
Do not waste our greatest sorrows, O God, but use them to teach us to live in your presence - fully alive to pain and joy and sorrow and hope - in the places where our shattering and your shaping meet.
Acknowledgements: This online memorial was complied with content provided by Jaqui Hoole, without whose love and sacrificial support Charles' ministry would not have been possible (Proverbs 31:10-12). Mariyahl Hoole provided the editorial work. Affly, MJH.
An Invitation: Charles/Muktan Hoole touched many lives during his time with us. We invite you to share your memories and comments here to add to his online memorial.
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