Never in my life did I think I’d become a Christian. I grew up in a loving Hindu household. Beyond the safety of a roof over my head, the abundant (and delicious) food, the numerous travels up and down the east coast, and all the things a kid could really need (including the occasional Ninja Turtle action figure), they provided me and my brother with unconditional love. I love my family deeply.
As a kid, we didn’t practice the typical daily rituals that many Hindus adhere to, but we said our Sanskrit prayers every night. My parents had handed them down to us from their parents in India. I repeated my prayers faithfully and with intent. I was a proud Hindu. In high school, I didn’t like Christians because they seemed hypocritical. The sentiment in American culture is similar still today.
In college, I became disenchanted with religion altogether. My life wasn’t going the way I expected. Life wasn’t shaping up to be “the good life” that I was promised if I faithfully said my prayers. I thought if I wore my Krishna necklace every day that he would protect me through all circumstances. But I did not feel protected. Disappointments, failures, terrible experiences, and all kinds of bad things happened in my life during this time in college. I came to believe that God didn’t exist. What kind of god would let these things happen?
And so I had no faith. I didn’t pray, I didn’t talk to god. I stopped wearing the necklace. What good had it done? I reached the bottom. I came to despair. One day deep in depression, my only response was to cry out to the gods, or even just a god for help. Nothing happened in that moment. Nothing that day. Nothing that month. Nothing. Or so I thought.
Several years down the line, I looked back and saw my life slowly turn around. I got out of an abusive relationship. I found a degree of study worth pursuing. I graduated. I immediately got a job. Life was looking up. But I fell into another pit when I lost my job unfairly. This time though, I had a sliver of hope that I didn’t have before. I found another job where I felt valued. I entered into a new phase in which I began to search for meaning.
I thought about the practices of Zen. I thought about Buddhism. I thought about Bruce Lee’s philosophies (as I was really into Kung Fu at the time). I thought maybe there’s something in the Hindu scriptures too. I tried to pursue that again. I read many books and scriptures, but nothing really connected with me. On one occasion, a friend invited me to church. I had nothing to lose, and by this time I was curious, so I went. That day, I remember crying during the music before the sermon. The words of the song overwhelmed me. I can’t place it now, but something compelled me to keep going.
At church, over and over I heard about Jesus and his work on the cross. At first, it didn’t make sense. I didn’t understand why he had to die. I didn’t understand what he was accomplishing by doing this. I heard his message about loving your neighbor. I heard about all the miracles he performed. I learned about sin and that we have all done things in our life that require resolution in order to be saved. I still didn’t know what being saved meant. I could recall things in my life that I wasn’t proud of, things that plagued my heart, things that I felt bad about and that could never be forgiven. Things I could never tell anyone about. But I learned that I could tell God about them, and he wouldn’t be angry. In fact, he would forgive them. If only I would believe that he could do it. I wasn’t sure if I could do that. In fact, I wasn’t sure if any of it was real.
I decided to attend a course for people more curious about Christianity. We would have discussions and be able to talk to trained Christian teachers and ask questions in a structured way. The course taught me the reliability of the Christian scriptures. I learned that the New Testament of the Bible and the stories about Jesus were absolutely true. The biggest thing was that Jesus actually died, and actually rose from the dead. This was unbelievable to me! Was it really true? If that was true, then everything else about the Bible had to be true. What Jesus said about being the son of God had to be true. And if that was true, then he really can be trusted to forgive sins. I really could be forgiven for my past. (I later came to realize also that sin had been done against me, and I needed to come to terms with it. Jesus would cleanse me).
The time to believe came near. I knew I had to surrender this life to Christ. But one last thing was holding me back: my family. What would they think? Would they think I had been brainwashed? Would they think I was abandoning them? Would they think that I was disgracing them? Would they think that I was crazy? Most importantly, would they think that I didn’t love them anymore? These questions swirled around my head and I didn’t know what to do.
By this time I had a bible of my own. I read and prayed about this predicament. On one particular Sunday, they played a video of a young Muslim girl who had been watching the sermons online in her home country in the Middle East, talk about her experience of finding Jesus. Afraid of being disowned by her family, she kept her faith in Christ secret. But because of that faith, she was brave and did talk to them. Surprisingly, they didn’t disown her, and eventually the whole family came to Christ. I watched this and thought, What am I afraid of? My parents would never disown me. They love me unconditionally. And so the next Sunday in church I gave my life to Jesus. Two weeks after that I was baptized into the family of Christ.
Nine years have now passed. My parents didn’t disown me. They still love me unconditionally. And they support me in all of my endeavors. I’m now about to finish my seminary education in Christian apologetics and evangelism.
The past nine years have been challenging to say the least. I can’t say that I haven’t had ups and downs. I can’t say that my life somehow became easy, or that my life has settled down. But I can say that it is better because of Christ. I’ve grown up into a more loving, kind, and patient person. I have found a purpose in life. I have been washed clean. I have a new start. I’m happier now than I have ever been. All thanks to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.