2 Cor 5:17 – I Am A New Creation In Christ Jesus
In today’s world of YouTube, TV, social media, radio, and many other platforms where many proclaim to be preaching the word of God, I encourage you, my dear brothers and sisters, to rely mainly on the written word of God in the bible. It’s wise to get to know the background of a person preaching the Word of God. It’s good to know how he/she got saved and how the ministry began. The background of a preacher often reveals much about the “real” transformation the Lord has brought about in their lives. A life conforming to that of Christ in humility, love, and compassion is evidence of real transformation.
My wife and I, along with our awesome daughter currently live in the very beautiful country of New Zealand. I am Santosh, born to a Hindu family in Bangalore, a city in South India. My wife; Shanthini is from Bangalore too but was born to a Christian family. We met as God would have it and got married in 1991. My wife was a believer (but not a passionate follower of our Lord Jesus Christ). She prayed every day. I used to see her do it but didn’t think much of it. Coming from a Hindu background, it just appeared to be another form of a religious ritual and I considered Christians to be people who worshiped another God just as Hindus worshiped their own gods. I had nothing against people’s personal beliefs, perhaps because I wasn’t serious about my own beliefs. As a Hindu, I was exposed to several hundreds of idols, ceremonies, and rituals. It appeared like there existed a whole different realm of thousands of gods whom you had to please depending on what you wanted to achieve. Sometimes it was health, at other times it was a provision for money and at other times it was a need for a miracle of some sort. I always wondered if there was a God at all. I’ve been to several Hindu temples and participated in innumerable rituals. But this one thing I remember quite vividly. Every time, I stared at those idols; I questioned in my heart….are you for real? I knew it was made of stone or wood. I even knew it was actually handcrafted by a human and sold at a marketplace. I also knew that someone had to pay money and buy the idol and place it in the temple before it became a god. Until that time it was just an idol being sold at the market place and each idol competed with another for more sales. When I looked at these people making living selling gods to people, I wondered…” can a real God be sold?”. If an idol from the marketplace had power, where did it get that power from?
I questioned if the idol heard me when I prayed. Who was I praying to? Just because the idol was physically relocated from the marketplace to a temple or a home, did it now come alive and have supernatural powers? I was confused. Then at one stage, I chose “not” to believe in God. But then fear set in. What if something bad happened? This fear accompanied by the superstitious beliefs of my immediate family and friends crippled me. So I had to hesitantly participate in some of these rituals just so I wouldn’t fear. Somehow, the religious rituals combined with my self-pride gave me the confidence that I was safe from harm. I knew we would all die one day. I didn’t believe there was anything after death. I just didn’t want any trouble here for as long as I lived. I just wanted to be happy, rich, and enjoy life.
I worked in sales for a well-known computer firm whilst my wife worked in a managerial capacity at Hertz Car Rentals. We did fairly well and were living quite a comfortable life. Of course, we wanted to make more, get more luxuries as anybody would aspire for. Then came an opportunity for me to work overseas which I readily took up. My wife sacrificed all her ambitions and her desires so I could have mine. I was too proud and arrogant to even think on those lines then. So we left India in 1996 and lived in Singapore for a while and then moved to Vietnam to manage an IT company. We lived in Vietnam for close to 10 years.
THE DAY I GOT SAVED
My job as an IT executive involved plenty of networking, which was a good excuse for late-night parties, music, nightclubs, and drinking. Life was pretty much summarized in Eat, Drink, and be Merry because we will all die one day. I am sure this sounds familiar to many of you reading this testimony. But then disaster struck.
My company went bust and decided to close down the business. I would be without a job soon. We were in a Non-English speaking country. Getting a job wasn’t going to be easy. We had sold all our assets in India to make the big move to Vietnam. We had nothing back home. My wife had sacrificed her well-paying job for my sake. It had taken me seven years of my life to climb the corporate ladder to where I was. If we went back to India, we would have to start all over again. I felt like a fool for having destroyed not only my wife’s dreams but also mine. I cursed myself with all the bad words in my vocabulary then and sunk into depression. I was truly frustrated and had nothing to say that would give hope or encouragement to me or my wife. I was foolish with my finances with zero wisdom in investing or saving and I had nothing to fall back on. I had run out of ideas and what’s the wise thing to do then? Drink some more of course! How stupid!!
I was still in charge and had responsibilities in the company until such time it wound up operations. One evening I just returned home quietly from the office, sat down with a beer, and was staring at the TV completely lost in thought. I had no answers. Then I noticed a bible on a stool beside the couch. I remembered it was the bible my mother-in-law (a staunch believer in Christ) had gifted to me. I had never considered reading it seriously. I picked it up and started reading a few pages in the New Testament.
I never realized that what I was doing was going to change my life forever. I never realized that this action of mine was going to make a new man out of me. I never realized that the Lord would love someone with a background such as mine and reach out to save me. I was prideful, arrogant, and not by any means the perfect husband my adorable wife deserved. How could God love me?
THE DAMASCUS ROAD EXPERIENCE
I think I managed to read quite a few pages in the New Testament. I was getting tired and it was getting late. I needed some rest and went to sleep. As I lay in bed, I wondered if all that I read was really true. Was Jesus real? Did He really lay down His life for me? Did he really rise from the dead and ascend into a place called Heaven? So is He alive now? Did He see me read the bible? Can He know my thoughts? Is there a hell? Is He really coming back again? Will He be able to help me out of the mess I am in? ……My brain went into overtime. The innumerable questions made me very exhausted and I just drifted off to sleep.
When I woke up in the morning, the entire room was extra-ordinarily BRIGHT. I felt full of LIFE, ALIVE, and full of JOY and PEACE. I didn’t know WHY I was so peaceful and joyful despite the fact that my company was closing down. Just the previous night I was miserable and without hope. I remember walking out of the room and noticing that the whole house was engulfed in a BRIGHT light. The flowers outside were unbelievably colorful, the grass was amazingly green and even our dog looked so much more doggier!! LOL. The world seemed so beautiful. All the Vietnamese people on the streets looked amazing to me. I actually stopped to touch, feel and examine my skin, wondering what material this was made of, and if God really made me? Miraculously, I never touched a cigarette and very quickly gave up drinking. It was no effort on my part. I just didn’t have the desire anymore. I wanted Jesus…FULL STOP!! What an amazing experience and an amazing transformation it was for someone with my background!! It still is so vivid to me.
After all of that experience which seemed to last for a really long time, I went to the office. Still reeling under what had just happened, I whispered to myself, Lord, if this is really you, I want to know you and more importantly, I want help….like RIGHT NOW!! Suffice to say, very soon a job came looking for me. I was DESPERATE to know Him. I mean “really desperate“. I visited several church “buildings” every Sunday. Most of them were speaking Vietnamese and I didn’t understand a word. Moreover, I was too naïve to know a good church from a religious one or even to know the difference between denominations. I really didn’t care. All I wanted was to know Jesus personally and more intimately. I started reading the bible like my life depended on it. I could understand very little, but I didn’t give up. Every day, I asked anyone with a remotely Christian-sounding name if they went to church. Unfortunately, I found none until one day I met a Catholic man from Sri Lanka who was one of my business clients. He listened to my story and directed me to a church in Vietnam. It was a good few months by now. The church was pastored by an American pastor, who is still a very good friend of mine. I was there very early the next Sunday and never stopped attending church since. I was like a dry sponge soaking in every message being preached. I read the bible every day to search for the message I had listened to. I soaked up a lot of teachings online too. In retrospect, some were good and many were not. Very soon, I was actively involved in ministry. I was teaching new Christians and making disciples. I was running home-based small groups, men’s breakfast groups, and teaching at churches. The words in the bible were coming alive to me and I began to compare my daily life, my attitudes, my thoughts, and my actions to the word of God and thus began the war with my flesh. I now realize that it was and is the Holy Spirit gently convicting me of my ungodliness and transforming me little by little to the likeness of Jesus Christ.
If you need to turn to Jesus, do it now friends. Don’t put it off. Life is very short. You do not know when it will come to an abrupt end. And then it will be too late to repent. I haven’t shared so much more of my life here because I don’t want to bore you. And it is probably better to read in a book than on a blog post. Suffice to say, if the Lord can love someone with my background and reach out to save me, I believe nobody is out of His reach. I don’t mind believing that the bible is true and that Jesus is alive and is returning to judge the world soon and die and then find out that the bible was all wrong. I have not lost anything. In fact, I would have lived a great life overcoming sin and with a blessed marriage and a life full of joy and peace. But if I love life eating, drinking, engaging in all sorts of sensual pleasures, and living life to the “fullest” as this world calls it, and die and then find out that the bible was all true. Then, I’ve lost everything. What’s worse? It is too late to do anything about it then.
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his own soul? – Mark 8:36
THE SECOND ENCOUNTER
One other time I came back home from work. After a little rest and family time, I remember walking into my bedroom, shutting the door, and kneeling to pray. Suddenly, I felt the presence of God in the room just as it was before. No, I didn’t see Him physically, but I could sense His presence. My eyes were shut. I was praying. I could not open my eyes and yet I could sense His presence in the room. Something like a movie screen popped up in front of me and I began to relive every sinful moment in my life. I saw myself lying, cheating, stealing, doing bad stuff and I couldn’t bear the guilt. The ugliness of sin became real to me for the first time. Tears began to flow and I began confessing every single one of those acts and asking The Lord to forgive me. Each time I confessed one and sought forgiveness, it disappeared and another sinful act I had committed came up…..more like a slide show. After what seemed like a long time of confessing and seeking forgiveness, the slide show ceased. And then, I felt a warm embrace. I felt comforted. This is something I cannot fully express effectively, but suffice to say…The Lord’s embrace and acceptance make you forget the whole world. But then….the warm embrace and His presence left and I felt a deep darkness approach. It was horrible and brought guilt and condemnation with it. I cried out to the Lord in desperation and His presence cast out the darkness in a moment. I opened my eyes and found myself in the room on my knees. I felt very light like something had lifted off of me.
This in no way means I never did anything wrong thereafter. No, no…not at all. I am far from perfect and am still a major work in progress. But I share the experience with you only to remind myself to pursue holiness and to emphasize the fact that Jesus is real. He is alive. He is Lord. He is the King of kings. He is coming back again. He loves you. He laid down His life for you. If you will call for Him, He will gladly come into your life too.
SERVING THE LORD IN VIETNAM
Thereafter, it was not long before my wife began to attend church with me and then my whole family. I am sure my mother-in-laws prayers for all those years had a lot to do with this. She was a great woman of faith and my Hindu background beliefs did not deter her one bit. She was confident her prayers were heard and would definitely be answered. Praise God! She was right! We eventually became a family on fire for God. We began leading a Bible Study Fellowship at our place. We worshipped, prayed together, studied the Bible together, shared meals, and had an awesome time together. Most people who attended our Fellowship were expatriates from other countries.
My wife and I were invited to preach and teach on several occasions at various gatherings, which we very gladly did with the help of interpreters. God has done some amazing things in our lives since. We continue to do our very best to make committed disciples for Jesus Christ. I view my job as God’s provision for us and I give it my 100% as if serving the Lord. However, we as a family continue to be witnesses unto His grace and love for us and share His love with those who do not know Him.
Friends, if you do not know God or even do not know HOW TO know God, then I pray the Lord will open your eyes and reveal the truth of the gospel message to you. Life without Jesus is not worth it. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what background you have. The fact is that Jesus is real and He loves you. So much so that He laid down His life for you. Your past has nothing to do with it. His love is unconditional. You cant do anything to make Him stop loving you and you can’t do anything to make Him love you more. His love is unchanging. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his own soul”.
I will not make this page too long. But I would like to give God the glory for His amazing miracles in our lives. Perpetually walking in worldly uncertainty, yet full of peace knowing all will be well, that is the secret of walking with Jesus.
Repent of your sins, seek forgiveness, and be added to a local church. Commence your journey as a newborn again child of God. Only in Christ will you find meaning and purpose in life. All resources on this site are for free and to help you grow in faith and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Below are a few links you will find helpful in your walk with the Lord.