My Testimony

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My background:
I am a 4th generation Christian, born and raised in South India. My great grandfather was the first Christian convert in my home town who also worked as a home missionary in partnership with the American missionaries. My grandparents were pastors, served God spreading the good news in and around my home town. My dad currently works as a home missionary and a christian leader in my home town. Growing up in a strong Christian based environment where worshiping, preaching and praying daily was a norm, I have always considered myself a Christian and contemptuous that Christians are the only moral people in the world.

Drifted away from God:
A major part of my schooling, elementary to middle school was completed in one of the Christian schools managed by my parents. This gave me a very limited exposure to the real world, or I should say a secular world until I had to leave my well-known world (town/school/family) for my high school education. In Indian culture, education is perceived to be directly proportional to your intellectuality and respect in the society. For this reason, Indian parents try their best to put their children into the best colleges and that was how I ended up in a very good but non-Christian schools & colleges. My high school life had military like routine with a majority of the day spent completely focused on reading course material and aiming to score highest in the exams and this routine slowly changed priorities in my life. In 2002, I moved to USA for higher studies and completed two masters degrees, secured a well-paying job in one of the biggest financial firms in the world and was leading a secure and comfortable life as defined by this world. I faired very well in achieving materialistic things but utterly failed on spiritual side and completely drifted away from God.

Proud and Self-righteous:
Living in USA, many a times I debated with my unbeliever friends to defend Christianity only because I belonged to Christian religion. Had I been born in to a family of different religion, I would have stuck to defending that religion. It never occurred to me or had any intention to lead that person to Jesus and the worst part was many times I used to google the bible topic just to win my point (even though I had no clue or understanding of the topic). During this entire time what I did not realize was that

  • I was more focused on worldly achievements to satisfy my pride
  • my close friends circle only consisted of non-believers and no true Christian friends or fellowship to put me back on Christ track
  • my daily prayers were merely a routine and became sincere or sometimes even desperate only when I wanted my wishes to be granted
  • there was no love from my side in my relationship with God
  • I had never read the bible in its entirety and did not know anything about Jesus.
  • I had my own made up set of moral standards that are not biblical and had turned in to a self-righteous lukewarm Christian
  • I was arrogant, proud and not at all teachable

The irony was that my very own pride and arrogance that drifted me away from Jesus was also a saving grace that did not let me believe in other religions or faith.

Confrontation and realization:
One of my close friends who is an unbeliever commented that I behave like a demon possessed when I debate about Jesus unlike the Christians’ claim of showing love and compassion. At first, I was very offended because my ego was hurt but my loving Jesus gave me an opportunity to open my eyes & mind and think through it.
For the first time I asked myself if I was representing myself as a true Christian, this lead me to many questions; Who is Christ? Why Christ? Is He real? Why one needs Christ?Why should I be a Christian? What defines a true Christian? How and Why should I represent to be one? What is the purpose of my life? What is the importance of this life?
It was an awakening moment for me, looking at oneself in the mirror and realizing how filthy it was all these years.
The very first thing I did was to ask God to forgive me and give me a renewed relationship with Him. I felt renewed and experienced the unexplainable joy. That is when it started all overall again from the basics “In the beginning”. Is this called the born again experience?, possibly. And I remembered the new year’s promise that I got in a church service,
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:7-8.
Now you can see the reason why I named this blog abideinme 🙂

Sanctification:
I started my baby steps growing spiritually and I wanted to know more about God and grow more closer to Him. But there were too many distractions surrounding me. I was trying to balance on two boats (secular and Christian lives) thinking I could handle it. However, God knew that I was not equipped enough to do so and had a completely different plan for me that I never even thought of it in my dreams. He wanted me to leave everything and move to Australia. It was a very tough decision to make but I just obeyed Him joyously. In 2012, He lead me to Australia far away from my unbeliever friends in USA. During this time in Australia, I

  • grew closer to God
  • realized that He is real and the true God
  • realized that Prayer should be the most important part of our lives that one should pray without ceasing
  • understood His love, grace, mercy, purpose, sacrifice and victory on the cross
  • understood the concept of trinity
  • understood that one can know and experience the true God only through a personal relationship with Him and it doesn’t matter if one was born into a Christian or non-Christian family
  • realized that God is Just and available for everyone who seeks Him diligently.
  • could clearly see a change in myself – my view of life changed or I should say corrected
  • read the bible in its entirety (also understood that I need to read it multiple times) and I could relate to every character in the bible that disobeyed or disappointment God and yet how God showed his grace and forgave my sins
  • realized the importance of associating with a good church and being involved in Christian community where I can continuously be nurtured spiritually

This overwhelming joy of knowing the true and loving God put a strong desire in my heart to reach out to unbelievers to share the good news. And of course, this time it was not to satisfy my pride but out of pure love that God has put in my heart. I wanted to equip myself to defend Jesus. I spent days together researching and comparing different faiths, watching numerous video sermons of apologists, good preachers, false preachers and many more. This also planted a desire in my heart to pursue a study in Christian apologetics.
For almost 3 years, I continuously expressed this desire and discussed with my mom who is my pillar stone and witnessed my transformation, but surprisingly enough I never asked Jesus if it was His will. As soon as I asked Him, I was completely astonished the way He lead me to California in January 2017 and to Talbot School of Theology in Biola University, the world’s best college for Christian Apologetics. I am now enrolled part-time in MA in Christian Apologetics program and loving every bit of it.

What can I offer to my dear Jesus who is mighty and yet responds to my heart’s desire who is feeble and unworthy in every aspect of my life?
All I can say “Christ is enough for me and I have given my life to Him”.
He not only made me fall in love with Him but also taught (it is a WIP always) me to love and have empathy for others.

I had the privilege of knowing Jesus Christ as a child, however my pride caused me to drift away from Him. He loved me so much that He choose to humble and transform me.
He continues to change me to be a better Christian and to represent His unconditional love. I had my share of trials during my long transformation period and continue to have trials, but I have learnt that when we trust and make Him in charge of our life and let Him be the lead, we may not like or enjoy when things don’t go as we anticipated or we may even have to endure more suffering or sometimes never ending waiting, but we can be assured that His will is the best and there is no second best.

Jesus gave us this very privileged relationship with Him to be able to call Him father, converse with Him as a loving friend, call upon to Him for anything and everything and He is always there for us. I will obey God not because I expect rewards but because He loves me in spite of all my weaknesses. He loves me not because I am good, but because He is good. I pray that God gives me the wisdom to walk according to His will only.
My desire for the rest of my life here until I join Him in the heaven is that He continues to lead me and use me to do everything to glorify Him.

I love and thank Jesus Christ for loving me first.

Soumya
9/24/2017