I was born and raised a Hindu. My mother was a very devout Hindu woman and her faith instilled in us a strong belief in God. I grew up, earnestly believing in the gods that my religion offered and never found a reason to look beyond my religion.
In September of ’91, I started out on my 4-year engineering graduate course in the Regional Engineering College(now known as NIT), Calicut, India, full of confidence and with hopes of a bright and successful future. The college was located far from where my parents lived and so I stayed in the college ladies’ hostel.
A few months into the first year of the course, my life began taking a different direction. For no reason that I could figure, I started having difficulty recalling what I studied. When I appeared for tests and university exams, my mind simply blanked out. This repeated over and over again and with increasing frequency. Confidence in my own ability began to drain. In my evaluation of self, I was a great kid. I obeyed my parents in every way, had always done well academically, and had a strong belief in God. I had a very self-righteous attitude and could not understand why this would happen to me. Soon teachers began to notice and when they stood me up in class with questions, my mind continued to blank out and I was repeatedly humiliated before my classmates. This wounded me deeply and my heart became a mess. I tried all I could to prove myself otherwise before my teachers and my classmates. I cried out to the gods I believed in. My mother went from temple to temple, offering up prayers for me. Nothing worked. Pride kept me from sharing my struggle with anyone in college. My plans to quit the course simply did not materialize.
By the end of the fifth semester, my situation had worsened. I could not concentrate enough to read through a whole page. I feared I may end up in a mental asylum. Now, we had a 15-day study break to prepare for the university exams. All around me girls studied and discussed, but I sat staring at the same page morning to evening. Those nights, I slept with my lights on because I was so prone to fear. Just about anything could shake me up. I was completely alone in my distress. No one seemed to understand me, not even my parents. I did not want to continue to live the way I was. Suicide was not an option because the Hindu scriptural studies had instilled in me the thought that suicide is sin, and that I had no right to take my life.
One night, with only three days remaining of the study leave, I locked my door, sat on my bed in the single room of the ladies hostel and cried out loud not knowing to whom, “I know I can do nothing to improve my situation. My hands are out of reach of anything that I can grab, to help myself. There is so much bitterness, envy, and hatred in my heart. I know it is wrong. I don’t want it, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” I wept myself to sleep that night.
Morning came and I sat at the table with my text book. After a while, I realized I had covered so many pages. I hadn’t even noticed until then. For the first time in one and a half years, I was able to concentrate on what I read. I was simply sitting in front of the book, and trying to read, and it was working! When I suddenly noticed the change, I also noticed that the heaviness within me had lifted. I was feeling light and normal after so long. At this instance, I became aware of the image of a man, somewhere within me, not seeing with my physical eyes, but I could sense the presence of this man within me. He was dressed in a long robe. He carried a stick in his hand, one of its ends bent. I later came to know this is called the shepherd’s staff. As I was seeing the form, I was convinced in my spirit that this man was Jesus Christ! Also, I heard a voice repeat itself within me, “Get away devil, get away devil, He is with me.”
I was convinced that the man I saw was Jesus Christ and that the “He” in the voice referred to Jesus Christ. The voice that repeated within me did not appeal to my intellect. I had never heard about the devil or believed in one. But this was happening inside me, involuntarily, without any thinking on my part.
Each time I paused from my reading, I sensed the image of Jesus and the voice repeated “Get away devil, get away devil, He is with me.” Slowly, but surely, with the effect of being hit by a lightning bolt, the reality and the magnitude of the moment sunk in. I had always thought that I believed in God! But my belief was so misplaced and limited. I had known God as a distant supreme power, whom I called out to in distress. But here was one I had never known, a REAL god. For the first time in the 19 years of my life, I knew that God was real, as real as you are hearing me now. He was with me, the real, Living, God!! The truth was too blaring to shake away. I was seeing Him. He had caused my inner being to utter words that did not appeal to my brain.
I had had nothing to do with Jesus all my life. I had always been satisfied with my religion and my beliefs. Now, at this moment, I realized the three most important things I needed to know:
- God is real, living
- This Living God is none other than Jesus Christ
- When I did not know Him, he loved me enough to come in search of me and rescue me from deep darkness, when I had nothing to do with him
My hurts were healed. All the negative pictures I had in my mind about the future were erased. All the negative attitudes were replaced by a strong sense of security. All the pain and the anguish were gone. Hope replaced hopelessness. All I knew at the time was that Jesus Christ was responsible for my change.
The tangible presence of God continued with me for many more days. I experienced the Lord carrying me in His arms. I just knew I could trust Him to see me through every moment of my life. It blows my mind away when I consider that the creator of the universe chose to visit me in that tiny corner room of the ladies hostel in India. What is man that Almighty God is mindful of him?
When college closed for vacation, I went home, completely different from the person my folks at home had last seen. I was, beyond anyone’s doubt, a new creature. One of our new neighbors went to a Pentecostal church nearby to worship. I accepted their invitation to go with them to church. There the gospel of Jesus Christ was delivered to me. I had seen the crucifix before but not even a thought had crossed my mind as to why the god of the christians hung from a cross! For the first time, I heard what the cross of Jesus Christ meant to me. I heard that he died in my place. I heard about his resurrection. Of course, I knew that He was alive! He was with me! There, I accepted Jesus Christ as My Lord and Savior, and invited Him into my heart. This was June 3, 1994. I entered into the covenant relationship with my Savior that day. I became a child of the Living God. John 1:12-13: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. A few months later, when the pastor of the church I had been to visited my home, my mom and sister received the Lord Jesus as their personal savior.
I never failed any exam after Jesus Christ came into my life. By the end of the four years, God enabled me to clear all the papers. Months after the encounter, a retreat was held in the campus of the same college. The Lord gave me opportunity to testify what he had done in my life in the presence of many of my classmates. My shame had been rolled away.
Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.
In November 1995, I witnessed the Lord through water baptism. As I came up out of the water, the pastor who baptized me spoke over me saying that the Lord would stand me up as his witness before peoples of different nations. Today, as you hear me, I believe that that word is being fulfilled. Day after day, he causes me to stand awestruck in his presence. There is no greater joy than that.
While the world and its religions have many gods to offer, Jesus Christ is the only one you will come across, who died, nailed to a cross; not because He was weak, but that we may live. He rose from the dead and He lives. And because He lives, we can live. Along with multitudes of others, I am his witness. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.