It seems that every semester God does something very interesting with the interaction between Beeson students and the international students on campus. This semester we saw two Indian students from Hindu backgrounds place their faith in Jesus. To be sure, there were Christians from many different parts of campus and churches who were pouring into them. It wasn't just Beeson students. But we played a part and it was incredibly rewarding to see what God did. Please read this testimony from a new believer from India and be encouraged. I'm choosing to keep his name off of this for the sake of security.
To begin with I was raised in a Hindu family and followed the typical customs and rituals as a part of tradition but by the time I started college in India my beliefs shaped to be atheistic/agnostic in nature. Looking back at the past 4 months, I’ve come to a realization that God knew I needed Him even before I knew I needed him and am able to appreciate the plan that He had for me all along. I met with some Christian friends early in my semester and was invited to a weekly worship meeting on Thursday nights. On my first night at that worship meeting, I went in with absolutely no knowledge of gospel, of the Lord and what Jesus Christ did for me and the rest of humanity 2000 odd years ago. As the weeks progressed I realized I was encountering a religion not based on certain rules, regulation or rituals but a community that sought and loved their God at each and every moment of their day.
I received my first bible through Omar and kept attending different churches, never for a second imagining that I would ultimately end up becoming a believer. The growth was slow, yet steady and I kept learning more about Jesus through my interactions with both believers and non-believers. The more I learnt, the greater became my thirst for deeper knowledge and understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Christ. Each day I would learn about the Lord’s character, his infinite glory, his unceasing love and his constant presence. By the end of March, I knew that I was finally in a place where I needed to make a serious choice and a life altering decision. Did I believe that I’m loved by the Lord and He’s pursued me by bringing me to Birmingham out of all the places I could have ended up going on exchange across the globe? Did I believe that a life as a follower of Christ was what I was called upon to do on this earth? Did I believe that my prayers which were answered, all the incredible stories I heard of his love and grace were all not just co-incidences falling together but were pointing to ultimate truth of life? Did I believe that a God existed that loved us enough to descend amongst us sinful human, to walk and breathe in the same earth as we do, to face all the sin and temptation that this world offers on each corner and yet lead a sinless life, so that he could die a gruesome death by the hands of the same people he came to redeem. Did I believe that Christ resurrected 3 days later, finally conquering death?
I wasn’t a believer still, but I knew I had to give myself an answer before I could move on to anything else of importance in my life. That began a period of innumerable prayers, deep conversations and a realistic evaluation of what my beliefs had been on life, death, spirituality, religion and how I needed to spend the rest of my time on this earth. There were times where I longed to become a believer, and I sought evidence and miracles and answers, praying for that final wind of conviction to blow over me which would make all the conflict inside me go away. I thought about my friends and family back in India and how they would react to me coming back as a Christian. There were times of great peace and periods of severe doubt and I often wondered if the there was ever going to be a time when I will have my answers. The gravity of my decision was not lost on me. I was afraid, not of taking the decision of following Christ, but of never having enough conviction to take that decision.
Finally on the night of 12 of April as I was sitting and praying to God at an event called ‘Reign’ that happens at Samford, the Lord finally spoke to me. He spoke to me about my past, my present and my future. He did not shirk away from questions that I was constantly asking myself but responded to each of them. He taught me what faith meant and the conviction that I had been looking for finally came and I became a believer realizing that Christ is ‘the’ way to God and thus repenting for my past sins and accepting Christ as my saviour. I learned that at the end of the day it is a matter of faith and it could not be coerced of forced upon someone. I believe that for those who truly seek Him, God would never fail to reveal himself. I experienced his love and grace even before I became a believer. I rejoiced in the beauty of God’s word through bible and even though I am still to read huge portions of it, I am convinced of the good news that gospel brings. I realized that the source of all the pain, disappointment and brokenness in this world is the Lord’s absence. I’m humbled by the fact that there is nothing I could have done on my own to strengthen my faith and that it was God working his way in my heart all along. It wasn’t the promise of eternal life, assurance of salvation or surety of heaven that drove me deeper into Christ. It was the awareness of a God that knew me to my core that had stood by me throughout my time on this earth choosing to reveal himself, not only through his glorious nature, wonderful people and incredible miracles, but also by silent words of comfort when I need it the most.
As I prepare to head back to India, I’m aware of the fact that His work in me has only just began. I hope with the love and strength that only comes through the Lord I’ll be able to travel back and live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. I came across this verse which I would like to share that I feel aptly describes my current status. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12-14 ‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’