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Life stories > Karma Versus Grace

Karma Vs Grace (Telugu)
Karma Vs Grace (Bengali)
Karma Vs Grace (Hindi)

"Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me" (Psalm 66:16).

I was born in a Hindu higher caste, Kshatriya (the warrior and the upper middle class involved in the government) family in the Southern part of present Bangladesh in 1952. But, I was born again in 1973.  This is my story which I want to share with you.

My family was very Orthodox and from my boyhood I was strictly instructed to keep my family tradition and social status. While I was in the elementary school, I was instructed by my grandfather to follow my daily religious duty.  Since then, I began to read the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita and all other Hindu Scriptures under the mentorship of my grandfather. I came to know that man's salvation depends upon KARMA (cause and effect, deed or action).  Salvation is to be earned by doing good works.  As nobody can do perfect works in his/her one birth, eventually everybody has to go through Samsara (the binding cycle of births).  It's like being given a penalty. Ultimately one day human souls will be merged into Brahma (god the creator) which they call MOKSHA (salvation).  In the process of cyclic rebirth there is no guarantee of becoming human flesh every time. There is a possibility of becoming birds or many different kinds of animals.  It depends upon one's Karma.  A fear grew up in my mind that in this process of cyclic rebirth I might become some kind of animal in my next birth.  I had a question in my heart: after how many reincarnations would I be saved? I asked my grandfather and other Hindu scholars but nobody could give me a satisfactory answer.  I began to ask myself the question: even prisoners know about their time of imprisonment.  But, the number of times I would have to go through cyclic rebirth was quite uncertain to me.  Almost every year I used to visit the famous Hindu shrines in different parts of India with my grandparents.  Wherever I went, I talked to many Hindu Scholars about the cyclic rebirth and about the assurance of time for salvation (moksha).  I had no problem going through cyclic rebirth, but I wanted to have assurance that somehow after how many times of rebirth my soul would be merged into Brahma (god the creator).

Until today, the Caste system is strictly practiced in my family. I grew up within this system.  Day by day I used to see the practice in my family that the lower caste people in my own Hindu society could not enter into the inner court of our house. They had their separate meeting place and they were treated as untouchable. It made me sad. But I had no way to protest against this. I came to know from my grandfather that I was destined to be born in a higher caste and the whole system was divinely instituted. I began to question in my mind that if Brahman was the creator of all human beings, then what kind of creator was he that he made this kind of discrimination. Though I was born in a higher caste family next to the Brahmin (the priestly class), it was hard for me to adjust to this cruel system. I used to have good conversations with my grandfather about different religions and their world views. One day I asked him about Christianity.  But, he gave me a strange definition that I will never forget. According to him the Christians are more unclean people because they eat both pork and beef. His definition was mainly based on dietary restrictions. Christianity is a foreign religion of untouchable people. They are even considered more untouchable than the lower-caste Hindu people.

In the year 1971, during our liberation war, I went to India with my family as a refugee. We were at the refugee camp. Day after day I use to see the Christians from different charity organizations serving the destitute people in the refugee camp. I was very much impressed by their dedication, their love for the people. I befriended some of them. One day one of the members of the Christian Medical team told me that because they were saved by the grace of God that's why they were doing good works. They were doing good works not to earn salvation. Their God is the God of love and His love was manifested in the person of Jesus. The man further added that Jesus said, "love your neighbor as you love yourself," and this teaching of Jesus had led them to serve all mankind, no matter what caste or religion. This idea changed my total understanding about God and His personality. It was the first time I heard about Jesus.

After we were liberated, in January 1972, we all came back to my country. We lost much of our property and many Bangladeshis lost their lives. It was a great genocide. One day I was wandering on the road in my hometown. Suddenly I came across a name plate and on that name plate it was written, "World Missionary Evangelism." With great curiosity I went inside and finally I was able to meet with the director of the organization. The man hugged me and his word was very attractive to me, "God loves you and I love you." I had a nice conversation with him and during our conversation sometimes we had arguments. But the man was so patient with me and tried his best to answer my questions. I had several sessions with him and finally he shared with me about Jesus. He gave me a copy of the New Testament and suggested to read it very carefully. With great interest I began to read the New Testament. I had to hide the New Testament under my pillow and even during the dead of night I used to read it. It was a quite small size book to me compared to all the sacred books of my Hindu religion. Within two months I could finish it, but I was advised to read the whole book at least ten times. 

One day I was reading the book of Romans and it was Romans 6:23 that spoke to my heart. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." From this particular verse I came to know that the eternal life is a free gift. For that, it was not necessary for me to do any hard work. Simply, I had to receive it. It was the turning point of my life. As a Hindu, to me eternal life was to merge into Brahman and I had to earn it through cyclic rebirth which is a long process which entails waiting many years. The Bengali Bible answered my question: "Today is the day of Salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). I was looking for that answer. I read again the gospel of John and I came to the conclusion that the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ was absolutely perfect and Jesus paid the penalty of my sin through His atoning death on the cross. Soon I discovered that I was a sinner and my good works could not wash me clean. I myself could not pay the penalty of my sin. Doing good works could not give me any certainty. I repented for my sin and surrendered myself to Jesus. 

It was July 20, 1973 when I received Jesus as my Lord and savior. I got real joy and peace in my heart because Jesus gave me a full guarantee of eternal life. My fear was gone. After one month I began to share this new experience with my family members. At first they thought that I was crazy. I was so overwhelmed with God's grace. But as I shared about Jesus and challenged them with all His promises, they discovered that I had become a Christian. Soon I was summoned by my father, but I boldly answered all of his questions. He warned me the cost of becoming a Christian, but I was ready for that. I was the eldest among my brothers and sisters. For the next few months I had to go through persecution-even sometimes physical torture-and finally my father disowned me and kicked me out of the house. It was the hardest part of my life. No Christian dared to give me shelter. I was even denied baptism many times by the pastor of the Baptist Church in my hometown because he was scared of my father, who held great influence in our town.

Finally I was able to be baptized and openly declare my faith in Jesus. Almost five years I continuously received all kinds of threats from my family members. Throughout these years I had to go through hardship which I was not used to. Many times my life was in danger. But, my Lord Jesus protected me every time, making me lie down in green pastures. I received His genuine calling in my life to share His Good news with my own people what He had done in my life. After eight years my father came to me and we were reconciled. Since then I have been allowed to go to my father's house to visit my Mom, brothers and sisters. But during every visit I did not receive good treatment. My mother even could not hug me because to them I was an outcast. To this day my whole family is in darkness. They are trying their best to do good Karma without having any guarantee of their day of salvation.

I was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ not by my good works. For the last thirty years I have been sharing this story with others who don't know about this saving Grace of God and I will continue to do that until the end of my life. It is my prayer for those who are trying their best to achieve salvation through their good KARMA that they will know about this saving GRACE OF GOD.

May God open their heart and bring them from the darkness to the light.

B.C. S.

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