During my childhood, I always had the fear of death. I used to think about what happens to us after we die and where do we go after death. Whenever, I used to get such fearful thoughts, I would be troubled. I didn’t know the answer to my questions. I didn’t even know, who would be able to answer my questions … until I found the answer in the Bible. Since our childhood we saw how our paternal grandmother (86 years old) led a very prayerful and pious life. My paternal grandfather died when my father was just five years old. When there was no hope and support for my grandmother at that time, Sister Philip - a follower of Jesus shared the love of Jesus with her. Sister Philip was working in the state Health department at that time. She enabled my grandmother to complete her education and her medical training. After training, Sister Philip got her a job in the Health Department. By experiencing the love of Jesus through Sister Philip, my grandmother came to put her trust in the Lord Jesus Christ when she was just twenty-one years old and a widow with two small children. Despite opposition from the members of her family and close relatives, she stood firm in her faith and became a prayerful woman.
FAMILY & CHILDHOOD
My name is J.S. I was born in an orthodox Hindu Kshatriya family at Bangalore, India in 1968. My father, the late S.R, was a mining engineer. My mother is a homemaker. We are three children to our parents. I am the eldest, my sister who is younger works in a school. My brother, who is the youngest runs a business. I did my Masters in Chemistry and work as a Quality Control Executive in a Multi- National Company based in Hyderabad since 1991.
Since our childhood we were brought up in a traditional Hindu orthodox atmosphere. We used to visit the shrines of various Hindu gods and goddesses located in different parts of the country as my father was posted to different places in India. Every day we used to perform puja to the Hindu gods and goddesses, celebrated major Hindu festivals which included Ganesh chaturthi Diwali , Dassera ,
Sankranthi , and Holi . My father grew up under the Christian influence of my grandmother since his childhood. He believed in the Lord Jesus Christ when he was fourteen years old. He started reading the Bible and lived according to it. While my father was pursuing engineering, he met with a ghastly road accident. But by the grace of God and through the prayers of the Church, he recovered. After completing his engineering, he secured a job in the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) as a mining engineer. He retired from service in the year 2000 and he passed away in 2006 due to a severe heart attack. Though my father was never a practicing Hindu himself, he never objected my mother following Hinduism.
In India, women, especially from the upper caste live very orthodox lives. At an early age, they learn the Hindu scriptures and are taught to perform the daily rituals of performing puja and offer prayers to the family deities. On special occasions like a full-moon day or a new moon day, they offer special pujas and prayers. My mother was no exception. In every Hindu household, there is a separate room called the puja room. This room is generally located on the north-eastern side of the house, as prescribed in the Vasthu sastra . The idols of various Hindu gods and goddesses are kept in this room. My mother used to wake up early in the morning and after a shower, clean the idols of Venkateswara and Ganapathi and perform the daily rituals of puja and offer prayers. After the puja is performed, the favorite food of the gods is first offered to the idols and later offered to those gathered for the puja as prasadam .
During festivals, the house would be given a fresh coat of paint, and decorated with flowers and a festoon of fresh mango leaves . All the idols would be cleaned and decorated with flowers, ornaments and silk clothes. We would get a new set of clothes. Mother would make a lot of sweets. Sweets are an important part of our festivals. The Laddu- a round-shaped sweet, is a favorite of the gods. So, it is made and offered first to the gods and later as prasadam to the family members. This kind of celebration went on for a period of ten years (i.e. from 1967 to 1977). Only after performing these daily rituals, would mother start her daily routine work in the house.
Image: a festoon of green mango leaves tied to the doorway
Occasionally my mother used to go to church along with my grandmother, though she didn’t read or understand the Bible at that time. But, after ten years of marriage, my mother believed in Jesus Christ through the believing life of my grandmother and my father. After my mother found her new faith in Christ, she stopped observing the Hindu rituals completely. Then, as a family we all started going to church. My mother grew firm in her faith and started attending church regularly. She was very prayerful. She used to read the Bible and meditate on it.
DELIVERED FROM FEAR OF DEATH
In 1977, my father was posted to Kirandul- a small town in the state of Madhya Pradesh which is in central India. This area is surrounded by a thick forest and is rich in mineral ores. There were many families living in the township. One of the families which became very close to us was that of uncle Paul. He was a colleague of my father. He and his wife were very strong believers in Jesus Christ. They used to visit us very often and tell us many wonderful stories from the Bible. We, children used to enjoy these stories. I still recall the stories of David and Goliath, about Noah and the great Flood, about God and His Creation, about Jonah and how he came to live in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights and many other stories.
Every week, a fun camp would be organized for all the families living in the township. There were many fun-filled activities which included singing, dancing, acting, painting, movies, parties, games and lots of fun. We used to dislike the visits of Uncle Paul and his wife during these camps, as we could not enjoy ourselves. But slowly the Bible stories and songs became more interesting and fun than these camps, so we kept ourselves away from these camps.
One day, Paul aunty told us the story of the rich fool. (Bible ref: Luke chapter 12: verses 13-21). At the end of the story, she asked me the question that I feared most: - “What happens to us after we die ?” Like most of us, I was afraid of death. And I was afraid to even think about death leave alone think about what happens to us after we die. But I tried to cover-up my fear and said, “Nobody knows where we go after death.” But, Paul aunty with a smile said that she would go to heaven because she believed in Jesus Christ and that there is only one way to go to heaven and that is through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. She took out her Bible and showed me the words of Jesus marked in red in the Gospel of John, Chapter 14 and verse 6 which says, “Jesus answered, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”” She showed me another reference in John chapter 3 verse 5: “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.””
Then I started thinking, one day we all have to die, so, if I could go to heaven simply by believing in Jesus, then what’s the problem? That night (in October 1981 when I was studying in seventh Grade, I believed in Lord Jesus Christ and invited Him to be my Lord and Savior. I realized that no god, except Jesus died for me in order to deliver me from a life of wicked deeds and disobedience and also from a permanent separation from God i.e, everlasting death. I could experience the sinless, innocent blood of Jesus cleansing me from all the wrong deeds that I ever did. For the first time in my life, I was at peace with myself and at peace with God because of what Jesus did for me on the Cross. Above everything, I was delivered from the fear of death. And now I can say like Paul aunty , that, I too would go to heaven after I die. I even got baptized to demonstrate to everyone that I am a follower of Jesus.
DRIFTED AWAY FROM JESUS
For several years after believing in Jesus, I enjoyed reading the Bible, meditated on it and tried to live according to it. I started praying and had a great time with Christian friends who helped me to grow in my relationship with Lord Jesus Christ. My joy knew no bounds. But as it is written in 1 Peter chapter 5 and verse 8, “Satan is a roaring lion”, who would try to pull us away from God. My mother wanted me to marry a Hindu girl according to Hindu customs and traditions as we couldn’t find a Christian girl from our caste. Contrary to what is written in the Bible, I married a Hindu girl belonging to the same caste as ours.
After marriage, I stopped reading the Bible and stopped going to church. Instead I was going to movies, parties and to temples with my wife and her family members in order to please them. Once again, I was following all the old Hindu practices in order to please my parents-in-law (as they were Hindus). I drifted apart completely in my relationship with Jesus Christ, who had given me a new life and cleansed all my sins.
A BOLT FROM THE BLUE
For seven years after marriage (i.e. from 1996 to 2003), we lived at Hospet- a small town in the southern state of Karnataka. I was working in a company which does Lab Testing work. One Sunday morning as soon as I came home from shopping, I saw my wife lying on the bed and crying. She was unable to say anything. Her left leg had no sensation and no movement. I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do. Immediately, I took her to a hospital where Physicians examined her and conducted a number of medical tests on her. She was diagnosed to be suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythrometricis. She was given medical aid for several years, but there was no improvement whatsoever. It was the most depressing moment of my life. I didn’t know what to do. I was confused. My eyes were filled with tears, my whole body became cold. Slowly I knelt down and prayed to God to help me in this hour of need. I realized that I had to blame no one but myself for what I was facing. According to Isaiah 38:17 , I realized that due to my mistake of being away from God, I was facing this problem. Later I understood that it was all part of God’s plan to enable me to return to Him. In order to provide the best medical care to my wife, I applied for a long leave of absence from work and moved to Hyderabad to get her treated at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences.
Soon after my leave period got expired, my employers asked me to report for duty at Hospet-my original place of posting. As my wife was undergoing medical treatment in Hyderabad, I couldn’t leave her alone and report for work at Hospet. The only option left for me was to quit my job and take care of my ailing wife. So after much praying and knowing God’s will, based on God’s promise as written in Isaiah Chapter 43 and verses 1 & 2 , I quit my job and started searching for a new one in Hyderabad. After attending a few interviews, I found a new job, but with less pay. As I was desperately in need of a job, I accepted the job. After some days, very unexpectedly and to my great surprise, I received a letter from my previous employer, stating that, I was transferred to Hyderabad from Hospet (the Company considered my request for transfer to Hyderabad) with three month salary paid. Oh! I couldn’t believe this, for it was a miracle. I started crying with joy and was praising and thanking God. I quit the new job and reported back to the old one at Hyderabad!
Through prayer and by God’s grace my wife recovered from her illness and she too came to believe in Lord Jesus Christ in December 2003 and declared that she is a follower of Jesus by taking baptism. I thank and praise God, for blessing me and my family.
I thank God for this opportunity to share my life story.
1 Kshatriya - the ruling and warrior caste, the second of the four Hindu castes
2 Puja - worship of an image of any deity
3 Ganesh Chaturthi – the god with the elephant head, son of Siva and Parvati; mainly celebrated as the remover of obstacles
4 Diwali - the festival of lights is celebrated in honor of Goddess Laxmi or known as the goddess of wealth. Houses are given a fresh coat of paint and decorated with colored bulbs and lighted with wick lamps.
5 Dasara – also called Durga-Puja; the major autumn festival at which Sakti in one of her forms is worshiped.
6 Sankranthi – also called Pongal is a harvest festival where the different elements of nature like soil, water, the sun are worshiped for yielding a good harvest..
7 Holi - is a festival of colors; people joyously celebrate the advent of spring by throwing colored water and powders on each other
8 Caste- one of the four Hindu castes-Brahmin, Vaishya, Kshatriya, Shudra
9 Vasthu Sastra- "science of construction", "architecture" - is a traditional Hindu system of design based on directional alignments.
10 Venkateswara- Venkateshwara means the Lord who destroys the sins of the people.
11 Ganapathi- another name for Ganesha
12 Prasadam- the food is first offered to the Lord and what is eaten is His prasada
13 Mango leaves- tying green mango leaves to the doorway signify a good crop and general well-being.
14 Baptism- A religious sacrament marked by the symbolic immersion of the body into water and resulting in admission of the recipient into the community of Christians.
15 Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.
16 But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “ Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.