Vol. 8, No. 4 | AUGUST, 2011 | Rs.10/-
2 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w AUGUST 2011
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Vol. 8, No. 4
The purpose of the news magazine is to report newsworthy religious events and activities within the local community, nationwide and around the world, to increase the awareness and activism of believers regarding the moral issues of today, to provide thought-provoking commentary, and to provide an effective advertising vehicle for Christian ministries and organizations, events and businesses that want to reach the Christian community. - Editor The Team Founding Editor: Robin Sam Editor & Publisher: Elsy Robin Editorial Advisor: P I Samuel Production: S Saravanan Guest Columnists: Mathew Victor (Chennai), Kishore Victor (Chennai), Joyce Braganza (Mumbai), Sandeep Daniel (Bangalore), Mathews George (US), Don Davis (Israel), Agnes Amos (US), Edith Sheryl (Canada), Mark Jackson (UK)
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How God’s Spirit is moving all over the land From the editor’s desk EVERY Christian serious about contributing his mite to the Kingdom growth in India should set out on a missions trip at least once a year. There’s nothing like getting out of your comfort zone and braving the rigors involved in a missions trip. For one, it gives you a first hand knowledge of the difficulties our missionaries face in their areas of operation. Secondly, God enables you to have a glimpse of how His Spirit is moving among the people groups of this country. Thirdly, it lets you know what Jesus meant when He said “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” in John 10:16. God is moving in a mighty way across the world. Every day, thanks to the information explosion the Gospel is preached to millions of people through television, Internet and the printed word. Also you cannot forget the hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers of the Lord who brave rain and shine to get the Good News across to people through personal evangelism. A few months ago, we decided to find out how God’s Spirit is moving across our nation. However, we scheduled it only for this edition. What better a time than August to talk about freedom? To coincide with India’s Independence Day, we decided to take a sampling of the reached segment and talk about a few men and women who found real freedom in Christ. Rather than throw reams of data on global status of evangelical Christianity, we thought we will talk about real people who faced real challenges and problems before and after they encountered the real God. This edition of The Christian Messenger is about people who were touched by the love of Christ. An alternate headline for the cover we had in mind was ‘Acts Unlimited!’ As they say, the Acts of the Apostles does not end at the 28th chapter. It is happening now, here and all over the world. Halleluiah! One of the reasons why God, the Father has exalted His Son, Jesus Christ and given Him the Name which is above every name is that every knee should bow at the Name of Jesus (Philippians 2:11). A scintillating prophecy concerning Jesus Christ is mentioned in Isaiah 45:23. It will come true when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall take an oath in His Name. The preceding verse of the prophecy is clinching in its finality. Isaiah 45:22 says ‘Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.’ That look-no-further statement from God should have sealed the case in favor of Jesus Christ long ago. However, it was not to be. Soul harvesting is an exacting process. God, in His divine wisdom, chose us mere humans to do the job for Him. While we pat each others on the back for our success in evangelism efforts, we need to remember there are people groups that are yet to hear the Gospel even once. There are men and women in this country to whom the name Jesus Christ does not mean anything simply because they have not heard it yet. Did you know India has the highest number of unreached people groups in the world? Of the 2,549 people groups in our nation as many as 2,237 are unreached, according to the Joshua Project. Think about it! If Romans 10:14 challenges you, you need to decide between going to the missions field yourself or sending someone there. What will be your choice today? AUGUST 2011 w THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER 3
E encourage you to use these points in your daily prayer as a family, prayer group or an individual. We would be glad if you take copies of these prayer points and share them with other believers in your church, prayer group or workplace. If you have a specific prayer point that you would like us to pray for along with our readers, you can email it to us at email@example.com Blessings, Editor. 4 Pray for your family today. Thank God for the wonderful way in which He cared for you and protected you last month. Ask Him to cover you and your family in the blood of the Lamb this new month. 4 Let’s intercede for our country today. May every one of its peoples have an opportunity to hear the Gospel, read the Bible in their own language and come to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 Pray for all leaders and those in authority. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, we are asked to pray for ‘kings and all who are in authority.’ 4 According to a report in The Times of India, at least 6 gay and lesbian clubs have come up in Chennai for the first time in colleges and universities. That they don’t have the approval of the institutions does not deter them. Pray that evangelical groups working among students are able to reach out to them. 4 Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik’s attack that killed 92 people in a youth camp near Oslo last month has exposed the dark side of fringe groups that claim to be Christian. Pray that the media and policymakers rightly identify these cult and fringe groups. 4 Pray that churches will come forward and support the anticorruption front formed by Anna Hazare. The Bible makes a case against giving or accepting bribes and corruption. India was ranked 87th out of 178 countries in corruption index for 2010. 4 According to Ruchira Gupta, who works against sex trafficking, the sex industry in India has grown
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by 17 times in the past 15 years. She claims there are three million prostituted women and girls. Pray for Christian groups that work among sex workers. 4 Dengue fever is said to be on the rise in Chennai which reports 34 percent of the total number of cases in Tamil Nadu. This year the Chennai Corporation has reported 221 cases till July 14 against 648 cases from across the state this year. Pray for those who are infected and pray for His protection for your family. 4 One in 12 persons worldwide is living with either chronic hepatitis B or C, and a majority of those infected are unaware they are suffering from the liver ailment. Hepatitis kills more than one million people every year. Pray for God’s protection for you and your family. 4 Long and frequent power cuts seem to be the order of the day this summer in Indian cities. Last month, large parts of New Delhi reeled under power cuts of up 15 hours on a day. While Tamil Nadu contemplated 5 hour power cuts in a day, it dropped the idea later. Pray that the governments are able to tide over power crisis. 4 Ponda, a municipal council in north Goa, has seen a 30 percent rise in suicide death cases in the first half of 2011 as compared to corresponding period in 2010. A total of 27 suicides have been reported so far this year. Pray that missions working in Goa would be able to focus on Ponda which lies about 29 km south-east of Panaji. 4 According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology based in Pune, the highest maximum temperatures in the Indian subcontinent will increase by three to four degrees by the end of this century, even if all human activities affecting the environment stop immediately. Pray for a good monsoon this year (Zechariah 10:1; Deut 11:14). 4 An English daily newspaper has launched a campaign to protest against drinking age limit of 25 in Maharashtra. Secular media wants it to be 21 or even 18. Pray for agencies
that work among alcoholics and drug addicts today. 4 Crimes against women in India are on the rise. Uttar Pradesh, especially, seems to be a dangerous place to be in for women as reports indicate. Maharashtra is no better, however. Pray for all the protection of all women in your household, workplace and neighborhood. 4 Pray for Israel today. In June, the country completed a five day nationwide training exercise in response to a bio/chemical/nuke attack from Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. Most Israelis have their bomb shelters ready (many are in the homes), the government has delivered gas/chemical masks to its citizens, and people are storing extra food, water, candles, matches etc. 4 Pray that China will kick out Communist ideologies and embrace democracy. Recently, it was reported that 80-million strong Communist Party is getting ready for yet another long-haul with an ideological makeover to avert a Soviet Union-style collapse. 4 Pray for Afghanistan today. While as many as 10,000 US troops will leave that country by the end of the year, pray that Islamic militant groups do not capture power again there. Pray for Christians who are a minority in that country. 4 Pray for Nepal today. An NGO in the country, is contemplating giving shelter to battered gays. Blue Diamond Society will shortly offer shelter to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. Pray this does not lead to permeation of wickedness there. 4 Pray for people who are caught in the grip of cult groups. May God open the eyes of those people who live under the deception of cult teachings. 4 Let us pray for our church leaders today. Pray for your pastor’s own walk of faith – his prayer life, for his faith, that he would grow spiritually and in his love for God. 4 Pray for those families that are affected by Endosulfan, a toxic insecticide that has caused deaths and widespread health problems. Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God (Revelation 19:1).
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For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25-34).
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AUGUST 2011 w THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER 5
HEARD ON TWITTER
Rick Warren ...pastor, author
You cannot obey 56 commands in the New Testament until you John Piper BELONG to to a local church (not ...pastor, author Jesus on two sources of error. “You are wrong because you know neither just attend).Membership matters. Affirm this today! “It is God who the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) The Lord is never at a loss for how to respond blamelessly and gives me strength & guides me in the redemptively to our almost infinitely varied evasions. right way” Psalm 18:32. Memories that hinder faith, forget. Memories that help, recall. That’s how Blessing comes from anointing. Anointing from humility. Humility I handle Eph. 2:12 and Phil. 3:13. from character. Character from trials, Chadwick Samuel Ray Comfort criticism & faithfulness.
We may not have access to celebrities, presidents, or kings; but through Christ we have direct access .. .. to Almighty God. We must pray often. Pray big. Pray for revival…and then put legs to our prayers. Do u leap 4 joy when persecuted? U r told 2. See LK6:22-24. I do this it makes me LOL. Try it. Leap 4 joy..u may grab some when u leap 4 it.
...Christian speaker, author
A diamond mined from earth looks like beach glass, needs to be cut for brilliance and the fire. So just ride through your season of pruning The church that speaks up on issues of social justice is convinced that nothing but the Gospel can dispel social darkness. If your life were to be measured by your greatest activity and enjoyment. What would that be? 6 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w AUGUST 2011
Apart from Jesus you can do nothing. Does that mean that everything I do without Him amounts to nothing? I believe so. Forgiveness is giving the person you forgave yet another opportunity to hurt you. Darkness is the absence of Light but are you not called to Light this dark world? Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
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SING UNTO THE LORD A NEW SONG: Kulbant Singh and Kaldeep Kaur accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior after Kaldeep received divine healing on her deathbed. Photo by Robin Sam BY ROBIN SAM
AROOQ Shahzad (name changed) was in Dehradun when I called him on July 24. He was assisting a missionary in a few prayer meetings. He had just then decided to take a nap when the phone rang. Despite fatigue and lack of adequate sleep, he happily agreed to speak to me about what made him a believer of Jesus Christ. The Kashmiri Muslim had heard of Jesus Christ from his own people, but whatever they said about him had a tailpiece. ‘He’s only a prophet. We Muslims should not consider him to be God. That’s what the Qur’an says,’ he was told by fellow Muslims. He believed what he was taught. However, all that changed when God’s love touched him one day. He knew Jesus Christ was God. There was not a shred of doubt about that. That, he said, had been established in his mind for good. 8 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w AUGUST 2011
When he could not contain the love of Jesus in him any more, he started testifying about him. He did not want to be a closet Christian for any reason whatsoever. News about Farooq Shahzad’s conversion spread in that tiny Kashmiri village. Thereafter, it didn’t take much time for the militants in the valley to come knocking at his door. They took him out and asked him if what they heard about him was true. When Farooq nodded, he was warned to forsake his faith in Jesus or face the consequences. Despite repeated warnings from the militants when Farooq stood his ground, his house was burned by the militants and his father killed. Farooq had to flee the valley to save his life. However, all the tribulations he has faced for his faith has not deterred Farooq. The young man, who has a post-graduate degree in Islamic studies, can counter the arguments of any Muslim
concerning Jesus Christ, salvation, heaven and eternity. Although there are no reliable data available, mission groups working among Muslims say a wind of change is sweeping across the community. Today, Muslims across India are discovering that Jesus (or Isa) is more than a prophet. Muslims consider Jesus to be a Messenger of God and the Masih (Messiah) who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (bani isra'il) with a new scripture, the Injil or Gospel. The holy book of the Muslims mentions Jesus 25 times, more often, by name than Muhammad. The virgin birth of Jesus is described as a miraculous event that occurred by the decree of God in the Qur’an. However, according to the Qur’an Jesus was not crucified. He was instead raised up by God to heaven. That’s why Muslims do not consider that Jesus shed His blood as Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
remission of sins for the entire world. Although, Muslims do not agree with Christians on this account they also believe that Jesus will return to earth close to the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat Masih ad-Dajjal (‘the false messiah’, otherwise known as the Antichrist). Vivienne Stacey, who was a missionary in the Muslim world for over 50 years until her death in 2010, addresses this discrepancy in a 1987 article entitled ‘Responding Biblically to Muslims and Islam’: ‘Behold my servant shall prosper’. In Isaiah 52:13, the prophet is speaking of the suffering servant of God – Jesus the Messiah. His song is about the servant’s suffering and God’s vindication of him. As the writer of the Hebrews says, Jesus was ‘crowned with glory and honor through the suffering of Jesus’ (Hebrews 2:9). The Quran portrays Jesus as the servant of God (Abdullah) and in order to preserve the honor of this prophet Jesus (Isa), denies the fact of a shameful death by crucifixion. The Quran does not deny that Jesus was willing to die or that the Jews intended to kill him, but that in order that God’s prophet be successful and victorious, he was delivered from the shame and defeat of the cross by being taken up alive into heaven. The Quranic view of Jesus is like that of a photograph out of focus.’
IN SEARCH OF TRUTH: Peter Akbar came to the faith from Islam. He now works among Muslims witnessing Jesus Christ to them. Many Muslims who have embraced Christianity agree that that is the case. Although outreach efforts among the Muslim community are bearing fruit, not many Muslims come out in the open to proclaim their faith because of fear of reprisal.
Peter Akbar, a Muslim convert to Christianity, for instance continues to be hounded by warnings and dire threats. He changed his email ID and deleted his account in a social networking website after getting numerous threat messages. However, that has not deterred him from the mission of his life. He says his burden is to reach out to his people with the message of love that Jesus Christ propounded. Like Muslims, Sikhs are considered hard to reach. Many mission agencies say in private conversation that despite years of work among the Sikh community in Punjab and Haryana not much has changed on the ground. However, a silent revolution seems to be under way among the Sikhs if one goes by testimonies of new converts to Christianity. 70-year-old Kulbant Singh’s family has been living in Jammu for at least two or three generations. However, they still have their roots in Punjab, their home state. When Kulbant Singh’s wife Kaldeep Kaur was diagnosed with breast cancer FROM SUN GOD TO GOD, THE SON: Raghunathan R and his wife some time ago, his family was Susheela accept that it was through grace they were saved. Both of them shattered. The family which has became followers of Christ from Hindu background. Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
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COVER STORY business interests in transport and milk distribution spent a fortune in providing the best treatment available to Kaldeep. Thanks to a Christian neighbor, the family experienced divine healing of God and believed in the power of Jesus Christ. Today, Kulbant Singh, his wife and their children have renounced their faith in Sikhism and have become followers of Jesus Christ. True to his calling, he has removed idols and pictures of Sikh gurus and all insignia related to Sikhism from his home. When he went to Punjab recently, Kulbant Singh knocked at the doors of almost every relative in his hometown to tell them about his new life in Christ. For years, Christianity has been considered the religion of the lowcaste people in south India. Although it is also called as a ‘foreign religion’, the description that it is the faith of low-caste people has gained ground over the years. All that could be changing now. Raghunathan R was a dyed-in-the-wool Brahmin until 1998. Although his transformation began a few years before that, he publicly proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ and accepted Him as his savior 13 years ago. Raghunathan’s quest for truth began with a misplaced concern for a colleague years ago. At his office, he noticed there was a girl who was avoiding poojas and Hindu religious functions although she went by a Hindu name. One day, he confronted Susheela and came to know she was a secret Christian follower. Raghunathan tried every trick up his sleeve to get her to quit her faith in Jesus. However, instead of succeeding in getting her back into the fold, he started growing in the faith. Eventually, he married her and they now run a ministry among Brahmins. There are those among Brahmins who believe that there is a prophecy about a Jesus-like figure in the Purusha hymn in the 10th book of the Rig Veda. Prajapati in Sanskrit means ‘Lord of created beings’. Those who swear by this theory point to the depiction of Prajapati in the Rig Veda to support their claim that it is a prophetic revelation about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The depiction of Prajapati as ‘one who wears a crown of thorns’, ‘who will
There are those among Brahmins who believe that there is a prophecy about a Jesus-like figure in the Purusha hymn in the 10th book of the Rig Veda. Prajapati in Sanskrit means ‘Lord of created beings’. Those who swear by this theory point to the depiction of Prajapati in the Rig Veda to support their claim that it is a prophetic revelation about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The depiction of Prajapati as ‘one who wears a crown of thorns’, ‘who will be bound to a tree’, and ‘whose bones should not be broken’ makes them affirm that Prajapati is indeed Jesus Christ.
except through me’ (John 14:6). ‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). So why is Jesus the only way to heaven? Because Jesus said He was the only way. “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Just because someone says he is the only way, he doesn’t become that. That’s why we need to look at Jesus’ miracles as a proof that He was right about who He said He was. Jesus walked on water, calmed a storm with a command, raised people from the dead, and rose from the dead Himself. It is the fact of His incredible deeds. Jesus Christ made extraordinary claims and performed extraordinary deeds. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that what Jesus said was true - especially since He claimed to be God (John 8:24,58; 10:30-33; 5:18). As Matthew J Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry says, “No one else has done what Jesus has done. No one else has risen from the dead, calmed storms, raised others from the dead, and fulfilled numerous prophecies, etc. Though some may have claimed to be able to do one or two of these things, none have done all the things Christ has done as well as claim divinity. Since Christ has done all of these things and since He claims to be God in flesh, then it is only logical to believe what He has said... that He is the only way.” (With additional reporting from Janet Joyce in Mumbai and Delhi and P L Bardhan in Jammu.)
be bound to a tree’, and ‘whose bones should not be broken’ makes them affirm that Prajapati is indeed Jesus Christ. Whether the church supports that view or not, it sure seems to be at a loss when it comes to handling Brahmin converts to Christianity, according to Raghunathan. Their ministry, Christhava Brahmana Seva Samithi, addresses the problems faced by Brahmin converts such as the stigma that comes with the change of faith and finding marriage partners for new converts. Although every community has its own unique set of problems, the Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that quest for truth is universal. All they also may obtain the religious communities and people groups are looking for answers to salvation that is in Christ Jesus these fundamental questions: Why with eternal glory am I here on earth? Where did I come (2 Timothy 2:10). from? Where am I going? What am I worth? Do I have any intrinsic value? How shall we escape if we Do I serve a purpose? It’s important neglect such a great salvation? It that they get the right answers. The was declared at first by the Lord, Bible provides the answers. Jesus and it was attested to us by those said: ‘I am the way, and the truth, and who heard (Hebrews 2:3). the life. No one comes to the Father
10 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w AUGUST 2011
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SHERYL Manoharan | STRAIGHT TALK
What do you do when you are ‘angry’ with God?
NGRY … mad, painfully upset, venting in prayer … just angry … with God … Have you ever had those moments, even those days? I have – and as I turned to Scripture, I found people in the Bible did too. Take Job for instance – his wealth is destroyed, his children are dead and his health is under attack. From chapter 3 onwards — until God arrives to answer him — Job rails against God, knowing that his words are impetuous (Job 6:3). He complains in the bitterness of his soul (Job 7:11) and demands answers from God. Prophet Jeremiah turned the tables on God. In Jeremiah 20:7, he tells God: “O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived. You overpowered me and prevailed.” Until the end of the chapter, he pours out his complaints on an emotional rollercoaster, going
from anger to weariness to praise, then revenge and faith and back again to misery. After years of faithfully proclaiming God’s message, Jeremiah is ready to give up. Noami blamed God: “Call me Marah, because Almighty God has made my life bitter” (Ruth 1:20). So I’m thinking: it’s OK to voice my anger to God. I can be real with God, just like the Psalmists did in Psalms 10 and 35. I can tell Him how disappointing it is when He’s slow to act, but He knows that I don’t love Him less. He’s not gonna strike me dead, like He didn’t Job or Jeremiah. And just then, I stop: Yes, He’s my Maker, the one who created me with feelings – He can certainly handle the heat. But then is my anger simply about what happened — or didn’t happen — to me? Is our anger at God about what we expect God to do or give or say to us?
Job couldn’t understand his circumstances and wanted answers. Jeremiah thought his ministry would be successful by the standards of the world, though there is no indication that God had promised that. What if it is the control freak in us that wants to make sense of every situation, instead of being content to know the One who knows? What if it is about expecting God to answer us in exactly the way we want Him to? So even though we know that His ways are not our ways, we want what we want of God – sometimes, that leaves us angry. And since most of us have probably not been through what Job or Jeremiah went through, the anger is neither well directed nor helpful. So as the apostle Paul admonishes in Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger, do not sin.” The writer lives, works and worships the Lord in Canada.
The Lord will indeed give what is good: Psalm 85:12
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TRUE LIFE STORY PETER AKBAR
‘Jesus’ words are true, still alive and working!’
THIRTY-year-old Peter Akbar has have three elder sisters and two done Master of Divinity in brothers. Our family was very Theological Studies and Master of religious and particular in following Theology in Christian Apologetics. the traditions and beliefs of Islam. He is currently doing Doctor of My father was an engine driver who Theology in Apologetics. Since was then working for South Central 2005, he has been living in Mumbai Railways. While my father was an along with his wife Susan. He quit his active member of a mosque in our job with a multinational company to neighborhood my mother was a do the Lord’s work. He is the founder teacher of Koran. My parents, who of ‘Winning Muslims for Christ were passionate about its traditions, Ministry’. He travels around training rituals, beliefs and teachings, and equipping churches to witness to brought us up in the same reverence Muslims. Although there are 200 and faith of Islam. million Muslims in India, he feels Our family’s tryst with the Living there are not enough ministries that God Jesus Christ started one day work among them. He holds two- and when my eldest brother Musthafa three-day seminars through which he was walking down the road. He helps believers share the Gospel to suddenly heard a voice calling him Muslims. He can be reached at by his name: firstname.lastname@example.org “Musthafa, Musthafa, look at Me. “I was found by those who did not I am the Lord your God.” Although seek Me; I became manifest to those he looked around, he could not find who did not ask for Me.” Romans anyone. Strangely, the voice came a 10:20. second time. At that instance, was born as the sixth child to my Musthafa recognized that it was parents Mohammed Khaja coming from above. However, he Mohinuddin and Navanbee. I was unsure of whose voice it was. 12 THE CHRISTIAN MESSENGER w AUGUST 2011
While he stood there on the road brooding about it, he was surrounded by a power that seemed to him like some electric power. It led him to a tent meeting where a man was preaching about Jesus Christ. As soon as he stepped inside the tent, the voice came again: “The One who spoke to you on the way is the same One this man is preaching about.” Musthafa realized that the voice that spoke to him was of Jesus Christ. Right there, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He was convicted of his sins. For the next seven days, he continued to see the power of Jesus Christ manifest around him. Musthafa was now a changed man. He quit reading the Quran and going to the mosque to offer namaz. Soon enough, my parents found out about his faith in Jesus. Naturally, our family was upset about Musthafa’s new faith. Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The Quran says He is one of the many prophets. As Muslims we also did not believe in Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which is central to the Christian faith. Muslims believe that Allah took Jesus up into the heavens just before crucifixion. While Christians and Jews believe that it was Jesus Christ who was crucified, Muslims believe that Jews crucified someone else whose face was changed by Allah into the likeness of Jesus. Angry arguments and heated discussions were the order of the day when our family confronted Musthafa about his faith in Jesus. However, my parents noticed that whenever he prayed in the Name of Jesus healings were taking place. People who were blind and lame and afflicted with cancerous tumors were healed when he prayed for them in the Name of Jesus. One day, one of my aunts came home. She was suffering from constant flow of blood. As this had become chronic, she was very weak and tired. She came to my mother expecting her to consult a good doctor. However, my mother asked Musthafa to pray for her. He laid his hands on her and began to pray when suddenly she fell down on the floor and a voice within her screamed out saying ‘“I will not leave her, I will not leave her!’ To cut a long story short, the evil spirit in my aunt was chased out by Musthafa in Jesus’ Name. She was also miraculously healed of her blood flow problem. She found new strength in her body. There was no pain or flow of blood now. She was full of joy and we could see a great glow of happiness on her face. Later, I started reasoning within myself about this incident. Why did the evil spirit leave when the Name of Jesus was invoked? What is there in Jesus Christ that even evil spirits obey to His Name? Why not the name of Mohammed? What power or authority does the Name of Jesus have? I then decided to read the Bible to know more about Jesus. As I was reading, I came across Mark 16:1618 where in the 17th verse Jesus Christ said, “These signs will accompany those who have believed; in My Name they will cast out demons...” That verse almost knocked me down. It opened my spiritual eyes. I knew those words were spoken by Jesus Christ approximately 2,000 years ago. However what amazed me Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
was that the Word of Jesus is true and still alive and working! I realized there is life in His words. According to the Scripture, when my brother commanded the evil spirit to leave in the Name of Jesus, it simply left. In Islam, I was taught that even if Jesus was given the Gospel, it was only for that time and for those people. If that was true, how come the words of Jesus Christ are working now? Through that incident, I understood that the words of Jesus Christ are not just for that time and for those people but for all the people for all generations till the end. I told myself: “If this Word of Jesus Christ has proved itself to be true, then all the words of Jesus Christ in the Bible, whatever He said about Himself and who He is, must be true.” As I continued reading the Bible, every doubt and misconception I had about Jesus Christ started clearing. Every unanswered question I had about Jesus was answered. I realized all that the Muslim theologians had taught me till that time about Jesus and Christianity was wrong. For the first time ever, I was introduced to God as a loving Father through the words of Jesus Christ. Here was a God to whom I could go closer and speak to personally. For the first time ever, the emptiness that was in my spirit was filled with God’s love and His presence. I understood the plan and purpose of God that was manifest through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to take away the sins of the world. I also understood the judgment that awaits the world as we read in the words of Jesus Christ mentioned in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” I understood that salvation is a free gift to all humankind through Jesus Christ from God, which no man can achieve by any good works. On December 24 in 1998, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and took baptism. Since then the call of God and the strong passionate urge in me to preach His Gospel and His Word of Truth to the
dying world has been burning like fire in my heart. Soon, I joined my brother Musthafa in preaching the Gospel. The news of our conversion spread all over the town. It was embarrassing for my parents who were devout Muslims. But as days passed, all my family members accepted the Gospel and came to Jesus Christ miraculously as the Lord opened their hearts. My mother confronted God saying “If what my sons are preaching is the Truth, I want to know about it.” As she prayed she saw Jesus Christ in a vision. His body was wounded and blood was flowing from his body. By the power of His grace, my mother accepted Jesus as her Savior. As she was afraid of our father, she continued to be a secret believer. A few days later, my father who was driving a train stopped it and got down from the engine cabin to check on something. When he climbed back into the train, he felt something bite him on his leg. That day, he came home with a swollen leg. The doctor diagnosed it elephantiasis and said it was incurable. Although he was distraught about this, we took the opportunity to share about Jesus Christ and how He is capable of healing him. He said if Jesus healed him, he would accept Him as Lord and Savior. We gave him a bottle of oil prayerfully and told him that the oil represented the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for the redemption of the whole world. He applied it in faith and after two days all the peels fell off from his leg. Praise God for he was healed too! Our father was amazed at this miracle and he accepted Jesus Christ and took baptism. Likewise, everyone in our families, my sisters, their husbands and their children came to Jesus. My second brother Mehboob who was quite critical of our faith who was also touched by the love of Jesus. Musthafa and Mehbooba are pastors now. Musthafa lives in Kazipet in Andhra Pradesh where, he pastors a church. We have been excommunicated by Muslims. All our relatives and friends forsake us because of our faith. There have been death threats to us. However, we have not looked back. Our sufferings in Christ pale before the love of our Lord.
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TRUE LIFE STORY AMIR CHAND
‘We prayed to Jesus, and in 5 days we were healed!’ TILL he was 23, Amir Chand had no idea who Jesus Christ was. Although he was born in a devout Muslim family that prided itself in abiding by the tenets of Islam zealously, strangely he had not even come across Jesus Christ as a prophet as mentioned in the Qur’an. Christianity, he thought, was just another religion. Amir and his wife Seema, who had married young, faced the most turbulent time of their life when their eldest son passed away in a road accident in Jammu. However, they found consolation in the loving presence of Lord Jesus Christ whom they accepted as their Lord and Savior in 1998. Today, Amir Chand pastors a church and works among Muslims besides the Mahasa, Bhagat and Rajput people groups.
ROM 1995 onwards, our family was rocked by various misfortunes. The death of our son in a road accident where he was killed on the spot was more than we could handle. We felt as if the world had come to a grinding halt. We saw no sense or purpose to live on after his death. However, we had other children who had to be looked after. Before we could recover from the shock and grief over our son’s death, we were afflicted by to various illnesses one after the other. My wife and our children were all afflicted by sores, boils. They had terrible aches and pains all over the body. Although we were poor, we spent all that we had on our treatment. We visited various hospitals and consulted several doctors but no one was able to diagnose the cause for our illness. At one point, when we gave up hope of ever recovering from our illnesses, one of our neighbors who knew what we were going through came home. Mr. Rajan was a devout Christian. He chatted with us for some time and said ‘Why don’t you come to the church and pray?’ We did not have a problem with that as long as we were healed. My wife Seema had a boil on her head. When it burst open, the doctors said an adult’s index finger could go inside her head through the gaping hole. The wound was that deep. We
w a n t e d deliverance from our illnesses. If by going to church, we would get that why not try it out was our reasoning. My wife and I went to the church without telling our parents about it. The pastor of the church spoke to us and assured us that Jesus would heal us if only we prayed to him in faith. We believed his words and prayed. Within five days, our condition improved. Seema’s wound healed, the chronic pain in my stomach was gone. And my c h i l d r e n ’s s o r e s a n d b o i l s disappeared without a trace. If this was not a miracle, what was? We had been living with these illnesses for three years. And now five days after casting our lot with Jesus, we were healed! We started reading the Bible and understood from it that Jesus Christ is the Living God mentioned in it. Although Jesus Christ is mentioned as a prophet in the Qur’an, I did not so much as know Him by His name earlier. Now, we knew the power of Jesus Christ. He was our healer! If He could heal us whom the doctors had written off, He must be God Himself. There are things beyond the comprehension of any man. There are things only a divine and supreme power can comprehend, control and create. We committed ourselves to living for this God the rest of our lives. However, our faith journey after that was not a bed of roses. My wife and daughter suffered a lot for their faith. Satanic forces played havoc in our lives, yet nothing could shake our faith in Jesus. We had visibly seen the power of Jesus and realized He was the only Way, the Truth and the Life. In place of sickness and curse, there was healing and peace at home. We continued as secret believers for
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some time. We slipped out to the church on Sunday mornings without any of our Muslim relatives knowing about it. After five months, Seema and I took baptism at the church. When our parents and relatives came to know about this, all hell broke loose. Our parents were terribly upset with us. Initially, they tried to cajole us into forsaking our God. When they realized it was impossible they severed all ties with us. Soon, we felt the need to proclaim the Gospel to people like me who continue to live in spiritual darkness. We started our ministry in Jammu and rented out a house for Sunday meetings. By God’s grace, we are able to reach out to Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs living in that area. Perhaps, you are wondering if we have been blessed financially after coming to Christ. Let me put it this way. I ply an autorickshaw to make a living. We share our testimony and witness Jesus to others whenever we get an opportunity to do so. We are happy as a family. We may be earning less but there is no sickness or problems at home now. God meets all our needs miraculously. We have the joy that only God can give. Will you please uphold us in your prayers? Our fellowship is growing and we need to find places to worship in three areas. Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
Enrollment of Leaders (Value Based Leadership) For future India Governance In accordance with the vision received by Abraham Sekhar, NAIL is in the process of enrolling (Value Based leadership) Leaders for the following departments / ministries.
Law / Political Science, Industries, Science & Technology, Urban / Rural Development, Social Service / Human Rights, Media, Communications & Entertainment, Environmental Development, Religion & Culture, Education, Commerce & Finance, Security & Internal Affairs, External & Foreign Affairs. Educated, experienced and aspiring leaders who are convinced with a call to enter into the departments for future India Governance and who are willing to commit their lives to serve India and its multi faceted communities without aiming for selfish gain and profit are welcome to send their Bio-data, Profile to National President. The vision is to believe and move towards God’s Kingdom Rule in India very soon. People’s Party of India (S) is registered with ECI and has already moved ahead by fielding candidates in Panchayat, Corporation, Assembly and Lok Sabha Elections in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Chattishgarh, Punjab, West Bengal and Jharkhand. Very soon candidates will be fielded in the remining states too. Those who are waiting and praying for God’s Kingdom rule in this Nation are requested and advised to contact National President by email or post at the earliest. State level & District Level council meetings will be held soon to pursue future development of the vision and move forward. In His Kingdom, Abraham Sekhar – National President
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com 001, Ground Floor, Bethel Manor, Plot No. 2, Upper Govind Nagar, Near Municipal Garden, Malad (East), Mumbai 400 097. Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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TRUE LIFE STORY SUSHEELA RAGHUNATHAN
‘Jesus, did you really die for me?’ (SUSHEELA Raghunathan has done her BA in Political Science and MA in Defence & Strategic Studies. Although her ambition was to appear for the civil services examination and become an IAS officer, the mother of three children is now a happy homemaker and a fiery evangelist who does not miss an opportunity to share the love of her Lord Jesus Christ with all those she comes across. Susheela, who is in her midthirties, counts it as a great privilege to be an Ambassador for Christ. She is the Secretary of Christhava Brahmana Seva Samithi, an organization that helps converts from among Brahmins find their identity in Christ, grow in the Word and share the Gospel to their fellowmen. She can be reached at 0-9841296092 or email@example.com)
When I was nine years old, one of my aunts whom I adored came home. While chatting with her, my mother again raised the issue of how I brought bad luck to the family. That was the proverbial last straw. That day, at the chapel in the school I broke down before the crucifix of Jesus Christ. There was a caption below the crucifix that said ‘I died for you.’ I said, ‘Jesus, did you really die for me?’ ‘Is there anyone who loves me in the world?’
was born as the second child in a Namboodiri family from Kerala. As Hindu Brahmins we were quite religious and traditional in our approach. My mother gave birth to four other children besides me. Astrologers predicted that my father would die if I was born. They also suggested that if my father went overseas he would be able to ward off the evil effect of my birth. As a result, he took leave from his office, a government enterprise, and went abroad. However, when he returned home after sometime, he was placed under suspension because some of his detractors inspired his department to charge him with holding an office of profit while still being in government service. The family fell into bad times and all the misfortune was blamed on my birth. All this was too much to bear for a sensitive child like me. I was blamed for every bad thing that happened in my family. In desperation, I turned to the deities at home and prayed for recompense to be made to my family. Meanwhile, my father had moved the high court to challenge his suspension order. I studied in a convent run by Catholic nuns. One verse that was found on the wall of a nearby church compound was this: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’. This verse
used to comfort me a lot as I was burdened by the tag of bringing bad luck to my family. Even as a child, I used to go the chapel in my school and chant mantras. Somehow the serenity of the place brought me much peace. When I was nine years old, one of my aunts whom I adored came home. While chatting with her, my mother again raised the issue of how I brought bad luck to the family. That was the proverbial last straw. That day, at the chapel in the school I broke down before the crucifix of Jesus Christ. There was a caption below the crucifix that said ‘I died for you.’ I said, ‘Jesus, did you really die
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for me?’ ‘Is there anyone who loves me in the world?’ At some point during my tearful prayer, I felt someone tapping me. I turned around and found none but heard a voice tell me ‘I am there for you.’ That was a real experience for me. An inexplicable sense of joy filled my heart and I thought to myself ‘This Jesus, the God of Christians, is very nice and kind.’ That day, I added an image of Jesus Christ along with the deities in the pooja room of our home. Around that time, I received a copy of the New Testament from Gideons International at our school. Fearing reprisal, I wrapped it with an old newspaper sheet and stuck a school label on it to disguise it as a text book before taking it home. Though I didn’t quite understand many of the passages in the Bible, the Book of Psalms appealed to the wronged child in me. I could empathize with most of the situations that the psalmist was in and identified myself with him. I knew the Lord’s Prayer by heart and started saying that along with our regular chants and mantras at home. While I was in 9th standard, there was a poor Christian boy, Wesley, in our neighborhood who used to read his lessons under the street lamp at night. My father took pity on him and let him come home and study with us. Wesley knew of my love for Jesus Christ and Christians. I used to envy Christians as I found them to be generally a happy lot. One day, Wesley asked me if I had accepted Jesus as my personal Savior? I didn’t know what that meant. When I pestered Wesley to tell me how I could accept Jesus as my Savior, he led me to say the prayer of salvation. No sooner had I finished the prayer than I started speaking in tongues. Later, Wesley told me I had just been anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I accepted Jesus Christ and the Lord revealed to me that He is the Only Way, the Truth and the Light and there are no other gods besides Him. Until then, I had considered myself a cursed being for being blamed for every misfortune. But now I was a new being; the new infilling of the Holy Spirit gave me a Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
new identity in Christ. Much later, God answered my question about why He allowed so many misfortunes in my life. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, it is said: ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…’ Around the same time, my father lost the court case after 13 years. Although he moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order, there was a lot of strife at home and even the latest misfortune was blamed on my birth. However, this time it didn’t bother me because I was being strengthened in the Lord and His Word. I restarted my prayer of recompense for my father although this time it was in Jesus’ Name that I prayed. I prayed that God should win the case for my father and recompense him by giving him salaries of all the years he had lost along with interest. Exactly a year later, my father won the case in the Supreme Court. The court ordered that all my father’s dues be paid to him along with interest and rejoin the company with the promotion he was eligible for. While we were all thrilled at this happy
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development, only I knew the Lord had fought the case and won it for us. This incident served to increase my faith in Jesus. Slowly, I was confident enough to share the Gospel with my siblings. One day, my father saw me reading ‘Our Daily Bread’. In a fit of rage, he grabbed the booklet from my hands, tore it and burnt it. Not satisfied with that, he beat me up as well for bringing ‘discredit’ to the family by bringing Christian literature home. However, by God’s grace slowly, one by one all my siblings came to the Lord and accepted Jesus as their Savior. On Aug 14, 1995, I took baptism along with my younger sister. I was in my second year of college. At college, I was boldly sharing the Gospel with my friends. I told anyone who cared to listen that Jesus Christ is the only solution to all problems. Since the burden for souls was increasing in me, I was happily sharing the love of Jesus Christ with everyone I came across. God enabled me to bring many souls to His kingdom. While I was doing my post-graduate studies, an elderly woman from a neighborhood
accosted me on the road and asked me if I was going to the church. Afraid she might sneak it to my parents, I reluctantly told her that I was. She immediately asked me if I had also taken water baptism. I told her I had. The woman held my hands with love and jumped up and down on the road. She told me how she had been praying for the salvation of my family for several years. Her prayers, she said, were being answered now. Today, all my family members have come to Jesus Christ. My mother passed away last year at the age of 59. However, she had also accepted Jesus as her Lord before she died. One of my brothers is in the Middle East. Along with his work, he labors in God’s Vineyard trying to win Muslims for Christ. My father is in his seventies. It gives me great joy to see him grow in the Lord.
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).
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TRUE LIFE STORY RAGHUNATHAN R
‘We believed Jesus was the God of low-caste people’ (RAGHUNATHAN R was born in an orthodox Tamil Iyer family. He moved around in his agraharam (a Brahmin quarters in a village), chanting slokas, participating in bhajans and happily getting involved in temple activities. He heard his first Gospel message when he was a 14year-old boy but the preaching offended him because the preacher had given a call to all ‘sinners to repent’. ‘Who is he to call me a sinner,’ Raghunathan was indignant. Years later, Raghu understood what it means to be a sinner and accepted Jesus as his Savior. Today, he is the founder-trustee of Christhava Brahmana Seva Samithi, an organization that helps converts from among Brahmins find their identity in Christ, grow in the Word and share the Gospel to their fellowmen. He can be reached at 0-9841296091 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
was born as the second child to my parents. I have an elder brother and a younger sister. While I was 10, I wore the sacred thread (poonal). In a Brahmin’s life, wearing the consecrated thread denotes the second birth in his life. I believed nobody is a Brahmin just because he is born in a Brahmin family. Only the twija (twice born) symbolizes one’s rebirth. Years later, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and took baptism by water, I was able to relate the bornagain experience with twija. I must admit, however, that I did not know any of that when I was young. I hadn’t so much as heard the Gospel until I was in my 9th standard. A group of Pentecostal believers led by a preacher came to our town and did a roadside preaching. However, I remember being put off by the words of the preacher. He had called nonbelievers as ‘sinners’. How could he call me a sinner, I fumed. Till several years later I held the wrong notion that the church was a place where they train people to convert others to their faith. I had some Catholic and Christian friends but no one had ever shared about Jesus with me. At home, I was quite a religious nut. I said my slokas in the day, did all the rituals that were expected of a
Brahmin and performed poojas with great reverence. Deep inside me, however, there was a gnawing feeling that I was not quite alright. I was short-tempered and angrily confronted people for the slightest mistake. Although gazing at beautiful girls would be considered normal behavior in an adolescent, I used to feel it as a sin. However hard I tried, I simply couldn’t get them out of my system. It was as if the poojas and rituals were quite powerless in making me a better person. After my post-graduation in computers, I came to Chennai for work. Around that time, there were a few setbacks in my family. The peace and tranquility of our home was shattered by some unsavory instances. I felt unloved at home and outside. That was also the time when one of my close friends met with an accident. I prayed to all gods at home to save his life. The prayers turned out to be futile as he passed away. I was disillusioned and started questioning the existence of god. Slowly, I stopped doing poojas at home and kept myself away from temple-related activities. In 1997 when I was working at a boiler manufacturing company I met Susheela. We were colleagues. While I was a systems administrator, she worked in the MD’s office. There was something about Susheela. Although she had a Hindu name and came from a Namboodiri family in Kerala, I noticed she was making herself scarce at poojas conducted at
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our office. She was dishing out one reason after the other whenever she was invited to join the poojas. One day, I confronted her and asked her why she was skipping poojas. Although she was evasive initially, she told me she was a Christian and hence could not attend poojas. I was shocked out of my wits. How could someone like Susheela born in a high-caste family (the Namboodiris are considered to be the equivalent of Brahmins in Tamil Nadu) accept Jesus, the god of low-caste people, I wondered. However hard I tried, I just could not accept it as a fact. Eventually, I took pity on her as I thought she was brainwashed by Christians. I took it upon myself to tell her how Hinduism was superior to Christianity. The more I tried convincing Susheela about the need to return to her original faith, the stronger her arguments became. She talked to me about Jesus, church, prayer cells etc. I became curious to know what was happening in a church. To dig dirt about pastors and churches, I decided to visit a church the following Sunday. I went to NLAG Church in Saidapet, Chennai. Pastor D Mohan was the preacher on that Sunday. He was humorous and that put me at ease. In his message, he shared his testimony, about how a preacher came to his village one day and prayed with tears for them. I gathered from his message how Pastor Mohan, who was a nominal Christian until then, was so moved by the preacher’s message that he accepted Jesus and committed himself to work for God. I don’t remember any Biblical verse he used in his sermon, but I sensed an all-pervasive peace spreading in my heart. I went to the church the next Sunday and the next Sunday. And before I knew, I had visited the church on 5 consecutive Sundays. An elderly woman who gathered I was a Hindu by noticing the vermilion on my forehead approached me and gave me a copy of New Testament. Although I put it away somewhere, after a month I picked it up again and started reading it. I started with the Gospel according to Matthew and I was touched by Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. I understood why I was doing some of the things that I hated doing when I came across this verse in Romans 7:14-17: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” Although I thought it was hard teaching, I was convicted of my sins. For the first time in my life, I realized that the Bible speaks clearly to anyone who wants to listen to God. Peace that I had never experienced before descended on me whenever I spent time reading the Bible. Since I didn’t how to pray to God like a Christian, I urged Susheela to write down the Lord’s prayer for me. I gave myself to Jesus when I was convicted of my sins through 1 John 1:8 & 9: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
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My mother who had noticed how I stopped doing poojas at home also found out that I was reading the Bible and mumbling prayers in my room. One day, she came into my room and fell at my feet. Weeping, she asked me to forsake Jesus for the sake of family honor. However, I grew in the Lord and took baptism on Nov 29, 1998. Although I was trying to get Susheela back into Hinduism, I now realized Jesus is the True and Living God. I approached their family one day and asked for her hand in marriage. They agreed and our marriage was solemnized according to Hindu customs. They came to know that I was a believer only later. After marriage we were running our own computer business which God flourished for almost a decade. When the Lord called us for His work, we submitted to His call in 2008. We are blessed with three children. By God’s grace we started Christhava Brahmana Seva Samithi (CBSS) to minister among Brahmins in 2008. I think the church is illequipped to tackle the problems
faced by Brahmin converts. One of the main problems faced by Brahmin converts is the stigma in their community. Finding a marriage partner for them is also a problem because they are all secret believers. Our association gives them moral support and guides them in navigating their problems. Also, Brahmin converts have a lot of misconceptions about their new faith. We help them tackle the conflict between their old culture and their new identity in Christ.
For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation (Isaiah 12:2).
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TRUE LIFE STORY MANJEET SINGH
‘Jesus? What can the ‘poor fellow’ do for us?’ (Manjeet Singh’s (name changed) vision is to raise God-fearing, servant-hearted leaders from each of the communities that his ministry works with. He runs house church fellowships and discipleship training centers in Delhi focusing on the Sikh community and the slums. Currently, his work is spread across 9 slums in Delhi. His ministry also lends support to church planting ministries in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar besides Delhi.) got into business when I was 15. My family took pride in the fact that I was a very religious person. Going for prayers and participating in all religious activities was an integral part of my life. I had great faith in my religion and had a passion to convert every Indian to Sikhism. However, I had to leave my parents and go to Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) because I fell in love with a girl outside my community and married her against the wishes of my parents. In Kanpur, I got into the business of manufacturing garments. Although it did well for some time we hit a rough patch. To save the business I started selling the gold we had. When that couldn’t save my business, I did not know which way to turn. The more I turned to naam jap (prayer), the worse my problems became. In desperation I turned to every place where people said god’s power was manifest. I went to temples and bowed my head before every idol I found there. I consulted astrologers, tried black magic but things went from bad to worse. Things reached a stage where we had nothing to eat at home. One day, I was returning back home when the thought of killing myself came to me. I wanted to throw myself in front of some speeding truck on the highway and be done with my life. As I got ready to leap before a speeding vehicle, something flashed in my mind. At that point, I thought of my wife who was waiting for me at home with our 6-month-old daughter hoping I would bring something to eat. Although I had nothing to give them to eat, I returned home that night. Later that night, I confided in my wife of how I was contemplating suicide. I told her she could leave for
My wife and I decided enough was enough. We got on the bed along with our daughter and set the bed on fire. The fire spread to all corners of the bed and was about to engulf us. We closed our eyes. her home with our child. She refused the offer and said we could all die together. My wife believed in Jesus and used to pray to Him. That was fine with me as long as she didn’t interfere in my beliefs. However, seeing our plight she thought perhaps there’s no one who can help us. I considered Jesus to be one among the many gods around. Although I studied in a convent, I had no idea why Jesus was nailed to the cross. We woke up the next day dreading the visit of our landlord. We had not paid the rent for four months and we knew he would yell at us and ask us to vacate the house. My wife and I decided enough was enough. We got on the bed along with our daughter and set the bed on fire. The fire spread to all corners of the bed and was about to engulf us. As we closed our eyes and resigned ourselves to fate, my wife felt as if someone was pushing her. She opened her eyes and looked at me. I had shut my eyes shut dreading the ferocity of the fire. She felt the push a second time and thought it was me. When she ignored it, someone pulled her out of the bed. Even as she was being pulled out of the bed she caught me and our child along. We were out of the bed now and saw the bed completely gutted in fire. We had got out of the bed in the nick of time.
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Bewildered, I asked her why she pulled us out of the fire. She said someone had saved us from the fire. She said it was none other than Jesus. Immediately I ran out of the room, got some water and doused the fire. After a while, my wife came to me and asked me to try Jesus. ‘You have tried everything under the sun but nothing has worked in our favor. Can you give a chance to Jesus? Just one chance,’ she asked me. I visualized Jesus lying helpless on the cross and asked her: ‘What can the poor fellow do for us?’ However, against my wishes I agreed to give Jesus a chance. The following Sunday, we went to a church nearby. They sang and prayed and after sometime someone the people called as pastor came and preached. As the pastor preached, God moved my heart. I responded to the message and said: ‘Yes, I will give my heart to Jesus and He will be my God.’ We came back home after the church service. Nothing had changed yet. I witnessed no miracle in my situation. Yet, there was this peace and joy in my heart that I could not explain. I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to help me. Within a week, I got a job. The following week my wife landed a job too. We found an elderly woman in our neighborhood who was willing to babysit our child while we were away at work. Although we were not earning big salaries, what we got was enough to make both ends meet. I started believing in Jesus as days passed. I grew in the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Slowly, I realized that it was Jesus who saved us from death that day. I understood that Jesus had saved me from eternal death as well through His sacrifice on the cross. After a few months, we left Kanpur for Delhi where I started a business of industrial lubricants and chemicals trading. The business did well and we started getting regular orders. At a prayer meeting in our home, the pastor laid his hands on me and prophesied that I would get out of business to do the Lord’s work. I was shocked. After the meeting, I went up to the pastor and told him the prophecy was not for me but Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
someone else. I told him I was doing really well in the business and I was helping various pastors and supporting missions work. Perhaps he was wrong and laid his hands on me by mistake? The pastor insisted that God was calling me to His work. I was to wind up my business and get into fulltime ministry, he said. I didn’t heed God’s calling and within 3 months we started facing problems in our business. We had orders for products that were out of stock. And there were no orders for those products that were stocked in the godown. It was as if someone had locked us out of the business. Finally, we had to close down the business. Later, I joined a company and kept looking for better opportunities. Within a few months, I got a better offer from a bigger company. However, after three months the company closed down due to some conflict of interest among the directors. I was jobless again. At that point, my wife who is more spiritual than I am, asked me how many more companies I planned to close before I surrendered to the will of God. Although you may have laughed at my wife’s sense of humor, that day she said it in all seriousness. I heeded her advice and surrendered to the will of God. Since I did not know what God wanted me to do, I spent 40 days in fasting, praying, worshiping and reading the Word of God. When God made His plan for my ministry clear, I joined an organization to learn about missions, did a Bachelors degree in Theology. Since, 2005, I work independently in Delhi. We started a house church among the Sikh people. Many Sikhs will not go to a church although they want to be Christians because of repercussions from their community. Now, the ministry has spread to other states as well. My parents and my siblings are still against me for following Jesus. They have snapped all ties with us. This still hurts me. When I see so many people (both Sikhs and nonSikhs) accepting Christ at our meetings I am reminded of my parents and siblings who have not known the love of Jesus yet. Since I know the future of those people who do not accept Jesus, I am pained all the more. However, in faith I am waiting for the day when my family will come to Jesus. Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TRUE LIFE STORY SHAILA CHAVAN
‘Faith life is not a bed of roses, but there’s no turning back’ (SHAILA Chavan (42) works as a nurse in a hospital in Mumbai. Although she was born in a Hindu family, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and took baptism in 1999 when the Lord healed her from a sickness that was tormenting her for three years.)
FTER the birth of my youngest daughter, I had bouts of severe vomiting and loose motion continually for 3 years. I became weaker every day. Around that time, a friend took me to a prayer meeting. Every time I attended the prayer service I got healed and felt energetic but this healing was temporary and soon things would become as bad as before. Though I was attending prayer meetings, I was also holding on to my Hindu poojas and rituals at home. One day, I became very ill and was admitted to the Sion Hospital in Mumbai. I was hospitalized for 15 days for a bone marrow treatment. During this time, my hemoglobin count had dropped considerably. Doctors who were treating me had said there was hardly any chance for my survival. Every day I saw three to four deaths around me at the hospital. I thought my time was up too and I would soon die. My daughters were very small then and I did not want to die. I prayed desperately to Jesus Christ for healing. So I prayed to Jesus and said, “If You are truly the Living God, then please don’t let me die, let me live.” That was a simple prayer but that did a mighty wonder. When I was transferred from Sion Hospital to the Hinduja Hospital for advanced treatment, my hemoglobin level had miraculously risen to become normal. Since all other tests were normal I was discharged. That incident and my youngest daughter’s miraculous healing brought about the turning point in my life. I realized that Jesus Christ alone is the True Living God to whom all things are possible. Although I had become a believer, my mother used to worship a Hindu goddess called Santoshi. She was also possessed by an evil spirit.
Whenever she was possessed, she would say that she wanted to set the ‘wet tree on fire’. By that phrase, she was alluding to our bodies. This continued for some time. Eventually, my sister-in-law and elder sister died mysteriously by setting themselves on fire. Those days, we had so much of turmoil within us that we had to take 20 to 30 ml dosage injections every night to sleep at night. When things became unbearable, I would tell my mother that I would poison her and end my life too. Whenever she was possessed, she would say that she wanted to set the ‘wet tree on fire’. By that phrase, she was alluding to our bodies. This continued for some time. Eventually, my sister-in-law and elder sister died mysteriously by setting themselves on fire. Those days, we had so much of turmoil within us that we had to take 20 to 30 ml dosage injections every night to sleep at night. When things became unbearable, I would tell my mother that I would poison her and end my life too. I now praise God for His protection that foiled my evil plans. After we were baptized, the evil
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TRUE LIFE STORY SHAILA CHAVAN spirit attacked my mother again and demanded to know why my mother had left her. Our pastors came and prayed over her and the evil spirit immediately left her. On doctors’ advice to recuperate from my illness, for a while I went to Pune and lived with my aunt. When they heard me praying, they discovered that I had become a Christian. They began to mock at me calling me ‘Halleluia’. The Bible says in Acts 16:31 thus: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, you and your household will be saved!” I thank God for His faithfulness. Today, my aunt and her daughter are on fire for the Lord. They accepted Jesus as their Savior and took water baptism 3 years ago. There have been several instances in my life when I experienced the miraculous hand of God providing for my needs. Let me quote one instance. One day, our pastor visited us and inquired about us. I laughed and said although we were doing alright, we had no money to buy kerosene to cook. He prayed for a miracle and left. Sometime later, a neighbor knocked at the door and offered me some money to buy 15 liters of kerosene. Before leaving, he said I could keep half of it for my needs. However, my life has not always been smooth sailing. I’ve had my share of grief and disappointments, but I cannot forget God’s love for me. I have witnessed God’s power at work in people’s lives around me. One day, I came across a boy called Vikas Singh at the hospital where I work as a nurse. Since was in coma he was put on ventilator support. I felt the need to share God’s Word with his mother. Although she did not pay much attention to the Gospel and went about doing her own things, the boy recovered miraculously. My church and I had prayed relentlessly for the boy’s recovery. The doctors said although he had passed the danger zone, he would be an invalid throughout his life. He would be unable to speak or walk. Thankfully, by now the mother had started believing that Jesus works miracles so she brought him to our church one day during healing service and the boy was instantly healed.
Life with Jesus is not a bed of roses. There is opposition and ridicule. A few years ago, immediately after my baptism, I approached my boss for a loan. He knew about my new-found faith in Jesus. When I asked him if he would lend me some money for my children’s school fees, he replied sarcastically: ‘Why don’t you ask your church for money? Don’t they give money to convert you to their faith?’ He, like so many other people, had this mistaken notion that the church provides for the believers’ needs. However, it is not the church that provides but God! My boss then made an offer to me. He said he would pay my children’s entire school fees if I left Christianity. Having experienced the power and love of the True, Living God, it was not possible for me to turn back from Him and return to my old ways. I had found the One God who promised to be with me and help me and I knew He who promised will
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do it! I declined the offer and God took care of my children’s needs. Now I love to share my experience with others by distributing tracts, talking to people, inviting them for prayer meetings, praying for the sick and visiting hospitals. We have joined a Bible study group in our church to become strong in the Lord. We know there is no turning back. Jesus Christ loved me first and now I love Him, too. I just want to tell people who are reading my testimony that no matter what troubles you face in life after accepting the Lord Jesus Christ, please don’t give up. If you continue to trust in Jesus Christ, He will help you overcome!
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen (Acts 28:28).
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TRUE LIFE STORY IMMANUEL KHAN
‘I accepted that Jesus died for my sins’ (AT 17, Immanuel Khan was thrown out of his home by his father because he had flunked in his Higher Secondary examinations. Driven by desperation, he decided to commit suicide. God in His matchless wisdom had found a path where Immanuel could walk and be His child. Today, Immanuel Khan is a fulltime evangelist serving the Lord and sharing his testimony with Muslims all over India.) was born and raised as the youngest child in a Sunni Muslim family. I believed in the tenets of Islam. I considered myself to be someone who could live and die for his religion. I was quite popular in my neighborhood as I was an outgoing guy who loved to spend time at discotheques, watching films and partying with friends. I lived life according to my own rules. I didn’t give two hoots to anyone who tried to advise me. I was quite happy with the way life was going and wanted to have fun to the hilt. All that had to change when my HSC examination results came. While my family had great hopes on me, the mark sheet said I had failed. Everyone in the family was upset about this. My father was very angry and threw me out of the house. I lived on the streets and slept on railway platforms. I was depressed, lonely and often hungry. Even then, I used to seek out a mosque in the vicinity and cry out to Allah. My prayer went like this: ‘Allah, I am so lonely. Nobody loves me. Please tell me what I should do.’ My prayers were not answered. I told myself there was no God. Driven by depression, I wanted to commit suicide. I pondered about how to end my life and decided on consuming poison to kill myself. I bought some poison and consumed it. Nothing happened. I tried again, yet nothing happened. I consumed poison for 7 days and yet it had no effect on me. Then, I thought I could kill myself if I lay on the railway track. Not wanting to attract any unwanted attention, I chose midnight as the best time to put this plan to effect. After midnight, I went to the railway station and was waiting for a
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One day, I heard the pastor preach about Jesus Christ. He said Jesus is the Son of God. Now, that was not I was taught in Islam. According to the Qur’an, Allah does not have children and Jesus is just a prophet. I was confused. To clear my doubts, I decided to read the Bible and the Qur’an simultaneously. I wanted to know what the Qur’an says about Jesus Christ. To my surprise, even the Quran said Jesus was born of a virgin by the act of God’s will. scheduled train to come by when a stranger came towards me and asked me what I was doing. I told him I just came by for a stroll. He asked me if I would sit and chat with him for a while. We chatted till 2 am and then he left. I waited for another train to come but after some time I came to know that the train scheduled to arrive at the station had developed some snag and was rescheduled. After that incident, I aborted my plan to kill myself. I continued to be depressed as I had no money and nothing to eat. A friend who came to know of my plight asked me to accompany him to a Sunday prayer service. He said the church pastor and leaders would pray for me. I decided some prayers would help me and bring a turnaround in my situation. He said if I went to the meetings regularly all my problems would be solved. I thought that was a good deal. So on Aug 24, 2006 I attended a Christian prayer service for the first time in my life. I felt a new-found joy fill my heart. I was happy to be there and hence continued going there week after week. One day, I heard the pastor preach about Jesus Christ. He said Jesus is the Son of God. Now, that was not I was taught in Islam.
According to the Qur’an, Allah does not have children and Jesus is just a prophet. I was confused. To clear my doubts, I decided to read the Bible and the Qur’an simultaneously. I wanted to know what the Qur’an says about Jesus Christ. To my surprise, even the Quran said Jesus was born of a virgin by the act of God’s will. The Qur’an states that God sent the message through the angel Jibrail (Arabic for Gabriel) to Mary that God had honored Mary among the women of all nations. When this news was given to Mary, she asked the angel how she can conceive and have a baby when no man had touched her? The reply of the angel to Mary was, “Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” This is found in Sura 3:47 of Qur’an. Even while I was comparing these two religious books, I was also praying to God to show me the right way. I realized that both Qur’an and Bible talk great things about Jesus Christ and this simplified my decision. I accepted the truth that Jesus Christ is the Savior and He died for my sins. On May 1, 2007 I was baptized. After receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit I realized that I was open to persecution because of my faith in Jesus. Every day was a challenge to me. There reached a point where I could not attend the church openly, so I left the church but continued praying. Finally, on Dec 25 the same year I returned to my church. A month later, I got a job. I worked for 10 months at that office. However, I was not happy working there because I was not able to attend Sunday service. I fasted and prayed and asked God to give me a job which gave me an income and did not forbid me from attending the church and spending time in His presence. The Lord, in His divine wisdom, answered my prayers and chose me for full-time ministry. I surrendered my life to my Lord Jesus Christ. I now spend hours in prayer and reading the Bible, the Word of God. He continues to lead me and provide for me.
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TRUE LIFE STORY KULBANT SINGH
‘I want all Sikhs to know Jesus is the real God’ (TILL he turned 68, Kulbant Singh considered Christianity to be a ‘foreign religion’. In his view, Christianity came to India from the outside. He thought the work of Christians was nothing more than propaganda. Although he knew what a church was and who a pastor was, he had heard nothing about Jesus Christ. All that changed some time ago when his wife Kaldeep Kaur was diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors said she was in her last stage of the cancer. The wealthy family was shattered. When Kulbant Singh thought his wife’s life was all but over, the love of Jesus Christ came calling through a Christian neighbor. Today, Kulbant’s entire Sikh family is in the Lord.) Y wife Kaldeep Kaur was diagnosed with breast cancer a year and a half ago. We went to several hospitals and spent a huge amount on her treatment. She was bedridden and the movement of her limbs became very limited. Doctors treating her said it is impossible for her to live any longer. They said since she was in the last stage of cancer, it would be a miracle if she lived for two weeks. That was in February. We got her discharged from the hospital and came back to our home in Jammu. There was a sense of doom and despair in the family. But we tried to appear as though we were in good spirits just for the sake of Kaldeep. She was on her deathbed and we wanted her last days to be pleasant and painless. One day, a neighbor Shrimathi Somadevi visited our home. We knew Somadevi as a Christian. She tried to infuse hope in us by telling us about the power of prayer. She said Jesus Christ can heal Kaldeep. Until that time, we had not heard of that name. Of course, we knew Christians and thought they were a bunch of people following a foreign religion. So, who’s this Jesus we asked her. Somadevi patiently told us about Jesus and said my wife Kaldeep Kaur will be healed if we all prayed to Jesus. We thought we had nothing to lose by praying to Jesus. We had prayed to our gurus, spent a fortune on her treatment and practically given up hope. So, if there is a way
out for us, why not try it out, we reasoned among ourselves. The next day was a Sunday. We accompanied Somadevi to her church and attended the service. The pastors Joginder and Parveen told us about Jesus Christ and His power. At our request, the pastors prayed for my wife. Miraculously, within a few weeks she regained her limbs’ movement. She started eating and regained strength to sit up on her bed. Slowly, she was healed. It was amazing. The doctors’ prediction had proved to be false. Jesus Christ had healed my wife! It didn’t take us much time after that to remove all idols from our house. My wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. After this miracle, God started working in the life of our oldest son. He was an alcoholic who was wasting his life away. However, through the power of the Lord he quit drinking. God has done great things in our lives and cleansed our sins. Nobody who had seen the condition of my wife earlier and who know of her healing can deny that Jesus Christ is God. Although we were financially
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well-off, we had debts. We supply milk and also have a bus transportation business. However, there was no financial blessing. Now, there is peace in the family. We are able to see for ourselves that our income has increased. Most of our own people from the Sikh community are happy for us although some neighbors and villagers snigger at us behind our back for accepting Jesus. Who can rein in a loose tongue? We do not worry about people who talk ill of us. The church has taught us to pray even for those who oppress and persecute us. Now, even as we are growing in the Lord I share my testimony wherever I go. Recently, I went to Punjab where many of our relatives are under the yoke of sin. I witnessed about Jesus to a few of them in our ancestral village. Oh, how I wish they know and accept Jesus Christ. It is my burden that Sikhs will come to Christ in the coming days. They must know who the real God is. Please pray for our spiritual growth and our brethren in Punjab and Jammu. Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
TRUE LIFE STORY C PETER DHANDAPANI
‘I told my mom Jesus made me a new man’ PETER Dhandapani is a name most people who have had access to management trainings and workshops in the early ’90s may be familiar with. Dhandapani, as he is known in corporate circles, earned his spurs as a process trainer working with the Murugappa group, the Amalgamations group, ICSA, World Vision and a host of other corporate companies before he started working as a management trainer on his own. Since 2005, he has been working among the churches influencing Christian leaders and Christians in marketplace. He is the founder of Kingdom Marketplace Ministry, which helps people fulfill God’s calling in life and at work. He can be contacted at 0-97907 34008 or kingdommarketplaceministry@gma il.com was born in Vasudevanallur, a small town in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, to a wealthy landlord. My dad who was a wholesale cloth merchant was known for his philanthropic ways. He generously donated large sums of money to temple rituals and festivals in his time. However, misfortune struck him when he accumulated debts and his business started deteriorating. When things really got tough, he started selling his lands to stave off falling into penury. When poojas and homams failed to yield any result, he consulted astrologers who told him that he was a victim of witchcraft. Ever since, he questioned the existence of the gods that he had been serving and wondered if there was a God who is all-powerful and had the power to break the yoke of black magic. A few days before he died, he called me to his bedside and told me not to worship the idols that he had vainly worshiped and served all his life. I must have been 14 at that time. After his death, we sold our belongings in our hometown and migrated to Madurai. However, misfortune continued to torment our family. In Madurai, I enrolled for BA English Literature at Thiagarajar College. Those were the swinging eighties and I was a hippie and a happy-go-lucky man with long hair,
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imposing sideburns and moustache roaming the town with my friends in my bellbottom pants. My waywardness soon led me to take to smoking and drinking. I was watching up to three films a day. All this resulted in a slide in my studies and arrears piled up. Although I wanted to kick all my vices, I was unable to do it. I sensed two powers fighting within me. And almost always, the libertarian in me won over the voice of conscience. To get out of the rut, I started being religious like my dad. When my rituals and poojas failed to deliver me from bad habits, I fancied myself as an atheist. The level of disillusionment in me was so high that I even contemplated ending my life. One day during a free time in my college, I asked friends around me ‘Who is the real God?’ Though this startled some of them, most of them dismissed it with laughter. However, one classmate approached me after class and told me he had the answer. To find out about it, I had to accompany him to the Medical College campus in Madurai. The youth who accosted me is Mr. Rajkumar. He is now a professor at the English Department in the American College in Madurai. At the medical college, he introduced me to
a group of medicos who shared their life story with me. There was an alcoholic, a drug addict and a womanizer among them who told me how each one of them was set free from the negative and oppressive influence of their bad habits. Eager to be set free from my vices, I asked them what must I do to be liberated like them. All of them in unison said: ‘Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.’ Immediately, I knelt down on the ground with those young men, prayed with them and let Jesus Christ into my life. In the evening on the same day, the young men took me to a local church nearby. There, I saw people (among whom were some of my new friends) talking and praying in strange languages. Although I couldn’t make sense of what they said, I knew one word – Sthothiram (Praise). I kept saying that word in all earnest and in about 10 minutes I felt light in my body. Tears flowed down my cheeks like torrents. A vision of all the sins in my life went before me as if a movie was being displayed on a giant screen. I sensed great peace descending on me. At the same time, I felt as if I was hit by a 5,000 watt power line from above. Immediately, I started speaking in a tongue I hadn’t known earlier. The anointing of God on me was so
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TRUE LIFE STORY C PETER DHANDAPANI powerful that for the next 3 days, wherever I went I was speaking in the tongue. It didn’t take much time thereafter for my lifestyle to change. The next day, I cut my hippie hair, retailored my bellbottom pants and kissed smoking and drinking goodbye. While I continued as a closet believer, my mother noticed the change in me. One day she confronted me and wanted to know what I have been up to lately. Fearing repercussions, I ducked her question. However, when she persisted I told her Jesus had made me a new being. My mother’s question stunned me. She asked me: ‘Will Jesus heal me from asthma?’ I told her Jesus is God. Since He is all-powerful, He can heal her. She joined me for the evening prayers that day at the church. That day’s message was from Genesis 12: 1-3. Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” I don’t know what the message meant to my mother but I guess she was able to relate that verse to our own life’s experience in moving out of our hometown into a new city losing all the riches and the lands we had. At the time of intercessory prayer, my mother wept and prayed along with other people in the church. Miraculously, she was healed too. I still remember how she leaped up and down in joy after the church service. When we reached home later, my elder brother was waiting outside the house with a big club in his hand. He had come to know of our trip to the church and was ready to thrash us if we stepped inside. When I tried to explain things to
him, he hit me with the club on my left hand. To this day, I have a mark from that wound on my hand. Soon, my mother and I were out on the streets. If my brother thought this would make us forsake Jesus, he was mistaken. Our faith in God grew manifold when the kind-hearted medicos accommodated us in their own hostel for a few days. Later, with the help of the local church we moved into a house. God opened doors for me that I never knew existed. I took over as the Head Master of a school. In the evenings, I was also giving tuitions to a restaurateur’s children. Later, by God’s grace, I did a course in management studies at the Madurai School of Social Work. My first job was at Madura Coats. In 1992 I married Jayanthi, who is now the Head of a Department at the Madras School of Social Work. We have a daughter who is in her first year of college.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (Romans 6:22).
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How to relate to our Muslim neighbors BY VIVIENNE STACEY 1. Reaching out beyond our own community (Read Matthew 5.43-48) The Pharisees had taken the OT commandment ‘love your neighbor’ and twisted it to mean that we should love only the people of our own community, and that we should hate our enemies. Jesus teaches here that love is not to be limited to our own community. Q. If we are really honest with ourselves, what feelings do we have to our Muslim neighbours? - Fear, suspicion? Do we despise them or respect them? Are we friendly toward them or cool? What are the main reasons why we find it hard to relate to our Muslim neighbours? Is it prejudice in us or in them? Is it the political situation in the country? Is it something in our society? 2. ‘The Golden Rule” (Read Matthew 7 :12) Q. How would you like your Muslim neighbours to treat you as an individual, and your community? How should this affect the way you treat them? Does it make any difference if the Muslim community is the majority and the Christians area majority in your country or the Christians are a majority and the Muslims a minority? 3. Showing Love in Action (Read Luke 10:25-37) When Jesus was asked by a lawyer ‘who is my neighbor?’ He answered by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was therefore saying that my neighbor is anyone I meet, anyone I come in contact with, especially if that person is in any kind of need. Q. What does this say to me about who are my neighbors? What does this say about what it means to love my neighbors in practice? Am I prepared to love my neighbors like this? What does the parable say about our prejudices? Jesus deliberately chose as an example people from two communities who had strong feelings against each other. 4. Praying for our Muslim Neighbors (Read 1 Timothy 2.1-6) Notice the special relevance of this Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
passage to prayer for the Muslim world: the Muslim heartily agrees that ‘there is one God’ - but the Gospel goes on to say ‘there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.’ Q. What is the connection between praying for rulers and for peace (v. 2) and God’s desire that everyone should be saved and come to know the truth (v. 4)? Read Romans 10:1-2 Q. If this is how Paul prayed for his follow-countrymen, can we pray in the same way for our neighbors - and particularly for our Muslim neighbors? How well does Paul’s description of the Jews' devotion to God apply to the devotion of Muslims that you know? Find out as much as you can about the Muslim Community in your city and country, e.g., How many
Muslims are there in your city, and in your country? What countries do they come from? What kind of work do they do? Where do they live? Where do they worship and meet? How can you develop the natural contacts you already have with your Muslim neighbors, friends or colleagues at work etc? Is there any way in which you can go one stage further in your friendship with any Muslims you know? Are there any ways in which you can work more closely with Muslims? . (Vivienne Stacey (1928-2010) was the Principal and overseer United Bible Training Centre (UBTC) in Gujranwala from 1957 to 1982, working as a missionary with the Bible and Medical Missionary Fellowship (now Interserve).
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MATHEWS George | LOST & FOUND
Faith lessons that ‘doubting’ Thomas teaches us
OR centuries, Thomas, the disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, has been represented as the patron and forerunner of all skeptics and doubters and grumblers and fault-finders. That, I think, is quite unfortunate. I want to clear this image of Thomas for two reasons. The first is I personally feel that history has been cruel to him. Now, look at Peter. He denied the Lord, yet came back stronger than before and history has been ever since kind to him. John, the disciple identified as the closest to Jesus, ran away from him when he ought to have stood beside Him and braved the arrest. Despite this act of betrayal, God in His infinite wisdom chose to reveal what will happen in the coming days to him. All that Thomas asked was something most of us can identify with. He wanted proof of the resurrection. Is there anything wrong with that? God has made each one of us with thinking and a reasoning mind and he wants us to use them for authentication and evidencing. See all the other disciples saw Jesus before they believed. Unfortunately, Thomas missed that meeting because he was out and about. Also please remember the Bible does not indicate that Jesus was hard on Thomas for that. I also want to acquit Thomas for a reason more personal to me. He took a boat ride somewhere around AD 54 and came to my country – India. And because of that trip he made, we have faith in India tracing back its origin to 2000 years ago. I thank God for that legacy I carry in me. But we have to admit that Thomas cast a dark shadow over the apostles’ joy of resurrection. The others tried to remove the dangers of the shadow of disbelief. Peter came and explained his seeing of the Lord. And Andrew came. Then John came. The disciples from Emmaus also came, but it was all in vain. Thomas was obstinate. He had laid down his condition, and he was not about to back down.
“I have to see the tupos (nail marks) in his hands and put my fingers where his nails were.” The word tupos refers to the mark of a stroke or a blow. In other words, he said he wanted to see the actual marks left behind from the actual nails used to penetrate Jesus’ actual hands. Personally, I don’t really know if this was lack of faith on Thomas side, or an insightful display of conviction. Perhaps, there was something deep down in him that wanted to touch the Lord, wanted to authenticate his passion and suffering, something in him that wanted to feel his wounds. This is just me talking. I am also sure that even amidst this sea of doubts there was this simmering expectation in Thomas, born from the heart that became the first and only confessor of our Lord as “My Lord and My God.” Let me also give a new twist to this statement. I believe this statement was an honest reflection of who we are. It reflects the down-to-earth struggle of every believer that makes us ask “Where are you Lord in flesh and blood?” Struggle that makes us say “I want to see you and feel you before I believe.” There was no doubt that Thomas’ doubt was conceived in sorrow and born in painful hesitation. He had lost his Master to this horrible tragedy. If you remember, at one time Thomas wanted to go and die with Jesus; he wanted to identify Jesus even to the point of death. All that Thomas is saying is this: ‘I want to see and feel the wounds of my master.’ He does not say ‘I want to gaze into his eyes or I want to talk to him or I want him to perform a miracle before me’ or anything like that. Thomas, to me, did not really want a proof of Jesus’ appearance but wanted an authentication of Jesus’ suffering and the resurrected body that suffered for his behalf and the whole world’s behalf. He is simply saying: ‘I want to feel and touch the messiah who suffered on my behalf and share the fellowship of his suffering.’
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‘I will not believe unless I see his nail marks and put my fingers were the nail was.’ What in the world are you saying here, Thomas? You want to put your fingers where the nail was? Even 2000 years ago in that culture it was a taboo to do that. Yet, Jesus was not harsh on Thomas. He asked Thomas to come close to him and feel his wound. What Jesus in essence said is something like this: ‘Believe that I have endured the cross for your sins and the sins of the world. Believe that the grave could not hold me and I have risen again. Believe that these wounds are real and by these wounds you have been real.’ Let us imagine if Jesus had no wounds to show Thomas, just the resurrected Christ without any marks or wounds. What would have that done to Thomas’ faith and our faith? Then all becomes ‘maya’. Do we want to believe in a God who just gave us an impression of his suffering? Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our real wounds and our real pains, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith. So paradoxically Thomas’ doubt comes to our advantage here. It helps to purify all false concepts of God and brings us closer to the actual wounds of our Savior, wounds he endured for you and me. Unfortunately, many of us do not want to gaze upon the wounds of Jesus nor feel it. We want to skip that part of it and go directly into the dancing and singing on the golden streets of faith. When we do that then our theology fails to understand sufferings. When the world saw the wounds of Jesus, they saw the apparent failure of the Lord. However, the very same wounds became signs of a victorious love through Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Lord. These wounds that Christ received for our sake help us to understand who God is. May the Lord’s wounds also help us repeat along with Thomas, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Website: www.christianmessenger.in | Email: email@example.com
MARK Jackson | MARK HIS WORDS
Reality Check: Are you practising counterfeit Christianity? Jesus said “follow me”. Matthew know the Word of God for lack of 4:19. study. Instead, they try to ape someone who is rich, famous, HESE days, it seems the vast successful and on TV! Gullible majority of believers would believers swallow everything that is like to hear messages that dished out to them from so-called tickle their ears and demand nothing Christian TV channels. from them in confronting personal I have met one such pastor who is a sin. carbon copy of Benny Hinn with all All through the Bible we see God the singing and baloney he comes up dealings with sinful man. Man’s with. If you expect such preachers to response to God demands either a tell the church about confronting sin, positive or negative action. living a holy and righteous life, then I So many in the church claim to guess you are in the wrong place. have their own personal revelations The Word of God is under attack from God’s Word or claim to have and so many cannot discern. What directly heard from the Lord about grieves me is if they cannot discern what must be done in their own lives the false from the truth how are they and those of the congregation. going to identify and stay away from However, we see their prophecies the anti-Christ when he appears? don’t come true. Yet, people blindly We are living in an age of follow them. devaluation. Today we have so many Then there are those who want to people calling evil ‘good’ and vice have their own personal ministry. versa (Isaiah 5:20). We are living in They want to be pastors with their an age of wealth and materialism. own flocks but since they do not want There are millions of people who to come under any authority they call lack and are hurting because of our themselves ‘Apostles.’ personal sin and greed. Though I live in the UK, I have So, what is the church doing? A made several trips to India in the last good part of the church is interested few years. I have come across some in your wallet. They will preach pseudo pastors there. I know of one nothing but the prosperity gospel. particular man in India who routinely Day in and day out we hear lines like sends emails to several ministers ‘Give me your tithes and you will be across the US and the UK stating how blessed’, ‘You are God’s special poor he is and how big his need is – child’, ‘He loves you’ and ‘Give to the need, of course, is to run his my ministry and the Lord will give orphanage. Although I have not you a hundredfold’. found any real orphans at his Do I think getting people out of ‘orphanage’, I know he owns much this deception is easy? No! Trying to land. Jesus warns us that there will be get people out of these churches is many false prophets emerging in the one of the hardest things to do as they end times. like to heap to themselves teachers Counterfeit Christians come in all who make nice and easy sermons that shapes and sizes. I once talked to a make them feel good. church whose members shared with Today we no longer have the me how their pastor was hard on confession of faith, but the them. Although he preaches much he confession of faiths, such as the does not do accordingly (Romans following: 2:21). These are people that do not a) Christian Unity – Jesus is the show Christian love in their own (I) in man, the self, reveal yourself to lives and ministries. yourself and say, I am the Christ. What appals me is the teaching b) Christian Science – Jesus is these counterfeit preachers come up the divine idea of God but Jesus is not with! God. Many preachers these days do not c) Jehovah Witness – Jesus is a hear from the Lord. They do not created being.
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d) Modernism – Jesus was a man so good His followers took Him to be a God. e) Theosophy – Christ is less an external saviour than a living presence in the human spirit, and in time all men would become Christ. The list goes on and on. Dear reader, are you part of a church that dishes out falsities and denies the sovereignty of Jesus Christ? During Jesus’ time on the earth, several people went to Him with several needs. From their response to Christ, we see the following things: a) Rich young ruler – sold his soul for his possessions b) Herod the king – sold his soul for his popularity c) Pontius Pilate – sold his sold for political power d) Felix the governor – sold his soul for pleasure My dear friend, have you sold your soul for anything? What kind of Christianity do you practise? Is yours the counterfeit Christianity or True Faith? What is truth? Jesus said I am the Truth. Truth is a person. The person is Jesus Christ and He is Lord. The writer is the founder of Hebron Bible College based in UK. You can email your comments about t h i s a r t i c l e t o email@example.com
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INTERVIEW JIM SANJAY
‘My film addresses reasons behind failure of marriages’
I M S a n j a y, a C h r i s t i a n businessman based in Chennai, received Jesus Christ into his heart when he was 23. Life ever since has been a rollercoaster ride for him. A few years ago, he helped a filmmaker complete his film by agreeing to be the producer when the team ran into financial problems that threatened to stop production. That film was ‘Vetha’, a critically acclaimed Tamil film. The film was later dubbed into other languages and did a reasonable sale in the DVD circuit. His second full-fledged film venture is ‘Anbirkku Alavillai’ (Love knows no bounds). He has roped in Bollywood comedian Johny Lever besides a talented bunch of young actors for the film. The Christian Messenger spoke to Jim Sanjay recently. Excerpts from the interview: Congratulations on successfully making your second Christian film. What is it all about? It is a love story of a husband and wife. It takes up premarital counseling in the beginning and then takes us on a journey of a married couple and addresses the issues we face in today’s world. It actually defines the true meaning of love. In most marriages, love seems to fade away with time. The film attempts to address some of the reasons behind that. Infidelity, frequent fights and arguments and lack of family time snuff out love from most marriages. What is the message you set out to convey through the film? The purpose of the film is to promote counseling and therapy for families be it in the areas of premarital counseling, family counseling, or lessons on better parenting. AA is a film shot on a budget of Rs.75 lakh. As a filmmaker, how do you plan to get your film marketed and get your money back? The minimum budget required for a low-budget movie in India is Rupees two crores. That we wrapped up this film in two languages within 75 lakh is indeed a miracle. As for getting the money back, we want to have theatrical releases in Chennai.
However, we do not have enough How has the church taken to the support from people yet. We may film? release its English version in the US. I have not heard any negative Most of the dubbing work is over and remarks from the church leaders yet. is done by American and British However, they are scared to break the dubbing artistes. culture that condemns cinema. At least that’s what most several church You have woven in duets and around-the-tree dances so typical leaders have told me. of run-of-the-mill films. Was there Do you plan to dub the film into any pressure on you to make the film as cinematic as possible to other languages and market them in other territories? appeal to the youth? There is a great possibility that this We didn’t make this film for ourselves. We made it for the people. movie will be available in cinemas in This is what people like. However, Hindi, English, Telugu, Malayalam, we have taken all efforts to keep this Bengali, Nepali, Oriya, Farsi and movie clean by steering clear of Arabic besides Tamil of course. vulgarity and foul language. On a personal level, what have you learned from the making of the W h a t w e re s o m e o f t h e challenges that you faced while film? To understand and forgive making the film? religious minds who fervently The biggest challenge was funds. Flow of funds was not always easy. appose any new idea in ministry. We completed the movie in two There is immense talent that is phases instead of wrapping it up in a v a i l a b l e i n t h e C h r i s t i a n one. This two-phase adjustment community.However, nobody has stretched the budget by at least 12 the courage to invest money in Christian projects. Do you know one percent more. of the actresses gave her life to Jesus What is the response of the last week as she experienced the same miracle in her family that was people who have seen the film? Thankfully, people liked it. I Take the helmet of salvation, and would say at least 99 percent of the the sword of the Spirit, people who watched it said it is clean which is the word of God family film. (Ephesians 6:17).
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