Sunday, 27 November 2011

Why I Believe


I was born in a Hindu Brahmin family. My mother, Jayanthi, was a pious lady who offered daily prayers to the so-called gods and goddesses. I remember as a little child, I and my sister used to sit beside her early in the Tuesday and Friday mornings, watching her chant the mantras and sing banjans in front of nearly 30 images of gods and goddesses in our kitchen. We had no separate pooja room.

We did not miss a single Hindu festival – these were times of great celebrations. Our balcony, corridor and entrance were filled with light – light from the diyas (candles). New dresses, relatives and friends at home!

We had all that we wanted in life. Both my parents were working in bank. I and my sister went to school. We were good at studies - though not extraordinary. My grandparents took good care of us. We were financially able to look after ourselves in the expensive city of Mumbai. But in spite of having everything and despite persistent prayers, my mother felt something was missing – the divine peace she was longing for. Not one of those several gods and goddesses she worshipped was able to give her that peace – peace that surpasses all understanding.

Things went on. Amidst several health problems that my mother faced, she had learnt to be grateful for what she was. Towards the fall of 1997, my father, Jayaraman, got acquainted with a Christian colleague in his office. She had accepted Christ after being born in a Hindu family. She began sharing her experiences in life and offered a Bible to my dad. He brought home the Bible – the first ever time a book of Christian faith entered my house. And naturally, that triggered a cascade of strong oppositions, particularly from my religious mom. Every time, my father began sharing about the love of Christ that he heard through his colleague, there were explosions and bombardments. Of course! That was an expected reaction.

There was a gradual transformation in my dad’s life. Slowly he realized he had been wrong in what he worshipped all these years. The 33 crore gods and goddesses are but only idols made by human hands. Who on earth has the power to create God who created us? They had no eternal significance and are worshipped only to satisfy the religiously thirsty human heart. My father began to shun away from the poojas. He refused to accept the prasadam that was offered. And he boldly removed the sacred thread that is considered an asset of every Brahmin male. A Brahmin boy gets the privilege of wearing the sacred thread after Upanayanam, a special thread ceremony. And now, that sacred thread is thrown away!

My father began reading Bible every day. Problems, quarrels and fights mounted in our house. All the time, my mother would sit and cry. As a teen age girl, that affected me badly. No peace in the family! And there were reasons why my mother got worried. “I have two girl children. How would they get married? Get converted to anything you want, but after their marriage,” these were her words to her husband.

Her idea of Christianity and Christian people, from her experiences, were no good. She knew them to be people given to alcohol. She knew them to be undisciplined and unclean. And now that her husband is going to be one among that group of people was a fact she could not digest.

I didn’t know whom to side with and who was right – my mom or my dad? Totally confused! Why so much of turmoil in a peaceful family? Little did I realize, God was actually drawing us with bonds of love!

While this kept continuing, my dad started to attend a church nearby, angering my mom even further. And of course, I and my sister were excited at the thought of going to a church, a place that we had never been before.

First time in a church! New place, new people, new songs, new teachings and preaching – still it was so heavenly, so peaceful. I understood nothing that Sunday morning. I understood neither the songs nor what the pastor spoke. I knew not what it meant to give offerings. But, in spite of not understanding or knowing anything, I liked it. I loved being in church, for reasons unknown. Every Sunday, after attending the NCC class in the school in the morning, I got ready and rushed my way to church. My dad and my sister were with me. Three of us went to church and returned back happily, only to listen to my mom’s shouts and cries.

Three of us – I, dad and sister – sat together in the evenings and began to pray to Jesus – the true God. We did not how to pray. Like a babe we spoke to Jesus whatever we knew. We specially began to pray for our mom.

One night, as usual, my mother was crying to God at night. She said one thing, “I don’t know which is true God. I was brought up to believe the idols we prayed to, were true and powerful. And now I hear a totally different thing. Whichever God is true, please reveal yourself to me” and she went to sleep.

How amazing! That night, August 30, 1998, at 3.00 am, she heard the voice of true God. And the voice uttered in her ears, three times, in Tamil, “The Spirit of God has chosen your house” and kept echoing even in the morning.

Next day morning, August 31, she began cooking in the morning, before leaving for work, still perplexed about the voice she heard the previous day. And now, the next miracle follows! She cut the potatoes into two halves and put them for boiling. When she removed them and began peeling one by one, she saw a word written over the skin of the potato “you.” She searched the other half excitedly to find out what’s this. And she found other half of the same potato and there were words written there too. That read, “I love.” Wow! God confirms her “I love you.” Her long-shed tears are being answered. Eager and impatient, she shared that with us. New joy in our family after a long, long time! “Definitely Jesus is confirming that He loves you,” my dad exclaimed.

Next day, still another miracle! In the evening of September 1, 1998, as usual, three of us began to pray. My dad prayed, “Lord, if it is really you who have written those words over the potato, I want a sure confirmation from your scriptures. You must say that those words are not written by ink” and he began to read the Bible. The portion for that day’s reading was 2 Corinthians 3.

How astonishing are the ways God speaks to His people! “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” - 2 Corinthians 3:3.

“Written not with ink,” the very think my dad prayed for. Astonishing indeed! That verse was enough to speak to each one of us. The very same day, as a family, we accepted Jesus as our Saviour and we gave ourselves to serve the living God.

Life took a new turn. Now, we have the peace – peace that surpasses all understanding. Personally, I could see God’s hands in my life. I was in 8th std. I began to shine in studies. My friends were surprised. How come? “This is why you accepted Jesus in your hearts,” was their immediate reaction.

Things were not easy. Our pious relatives and best of friends could not accept this change in our lives. Many rejected us. But Jesus was all sufficient for us. He led us through remarkably. Several miracles followed! Till today, Jesus who held our hands is faithful to us.

Christ is the only way to eternal life. He took the human form and died as a propitiation for our sins. He died on the cross and was raised the third day. He is the only source for true joy, hope and peace.

Christ is not only the God of Christians, He is the God for all mankind. Even Hindu scriptures points out to Christ as Prajapathi, the savior of mankind. Rigveda talks against worshipping of idols. But how many of our Hindu brothers and sisters take time to read their own Vedas?

Being born and brought up in Hindu Brahmin family, today I and my family know Christ is the only way to heaven. He is the one and the only true God. In Christ, we have found true joy and satisfaction, a life worth living, and a real Father who loves us so much more than we could ever love Him. We experienced Him in our hearts and are witnesses to Him. We now know the difference between worshipping the creations and the Creator.

In this 21st century, let us not be carried away by traditions and beliefs handed over to us by our forefathers. Let us not be spiritually blinded, but rather search for true God. Skeptics may argue the validity of Scripture or reason the existence of God, but no one can deny your personal experience with God. When my mom asked true God to reveal Himself to her, He did. You too can ask the one true God to intervene in your lives.

Rev 3: 20, Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Revelation 3:20

­-- Sunitha Justin


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Voice for the Voiceless

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

Do we really care for the poor and needy children around us?

India is home to 400 million children, the largest number in any country in the world. However sadly, one third of the world’s children living in poverty are in India.

Childhood is the time when a person needs nurturing, schooling, time to play and explore the opportunity to grow both emotionally and physically. We all say, children are the future of a nation. Yet they have been neglected a lot in India, which is evident from the existence of infant mortality, child morbidity, child malnutrition, childhood disability, child abuse, child labor, child prostitution, street children, child beggary, child marriage, drug addiction and illiteracy.

What are we going to do? Are we just going to be mere spectators of things happening around us? Or are we going to raise our voice for their justice?

Abandoned children have been a source of misery since times immemorial. In developing countries like India, everywhere we find children who should be in school toiling in hazardous occupations. Children wander about to make their living out of harsh environment. They become subject to all sorts of abuses. Many children are deprived of parental care and are shunned by the society for no fault of theirs.

What these children require is the seamless continuum of care and concern. Let us remember that if today’s children are not protected, tomorrow’s society will be weakened.

Stacia Tauscher once said, “We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” Isn’t it? Most often, when we come across such abandoned children, we sympathize for them. We worry about their future. But have ever taken a single step to help them. Have we been socially responsible enough to help them get rid of their bitter circumstances? Most often not! In fact, we seldom think of them when we reach our homes.

It is not only the responsibility of the government to look after these abandoned children. It is the responsibility of the society and the government to act together and respond to this miserable situation. And as Christians, we cannot be silent to this burning issue. If we fail to do so, we will be doing a grave injustice to our children and would be denying them their basic rights.

After reading this, next time whenever you see a child begging in the streets, selling flowers or fruits by the roadside, singing songs and pleading for money in the moving trains, don’t harden your hearts. Set a trail for others to follow. Do your best to help and protect these vulnerable children. Raise your voice for the little ones. Your small gesture could transform tomorrow’s India.

What you do will impact the lives of more than you will ever know.

- Sunitha Justin

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fullness of food - a sin?

A small thought:

If someone would ask, what is the sin of Sodom, 90% would say homosexuality (with references to Lot).
But look at what God says:
Ezekial 16:49, 50
Look, this was the iniquity of you sister Sodom. She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me, therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

Look at the little things that God looks?

1. Being proud and haughty
2. Fullness of food
3. Abundance of idleness
4. Not strengthening the hand of the poor and needy

How are we? A small thought to reflect upon!

- Sunitha Justin

HELL

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: Luke 16:19-31


There are 3 types of people in this world.
1. Rationalist: These are the people who say there is no God. They do not believe in the existence of God.
2. Ridicule: These are the ones who believe in God, but they feel it silly to speculate about spirits being fried in fiery place. They don’t believe in spirits, hell or heaven.
3. Religion: Their main question is ‘Hey man, you worship God of love. How can such a loving God send you to fire?


Luke 16:19-31 talks of the rich man and Lazarus. It is believed to be a parable by many. But it is not so. It’s apparently a true incident that took place. Parable never uses any name. Eg., the parable of lost coin, lost sheep, lost son and so on..


Here, from this passage, we can know what is hell?
There was a rich man, and another poor man named Lazarus. v 19 says, this poor man ate from the rich man’s table. The dogs licked his sores. On the other hand, the poor man lived a comfortable and luxurious life.
v 22-23: When both of them died, the rich man was buried and he went to hell, but the angels carried the poor man to heaven.


WHAT IS HELL?
1. Hell is real.
Many Christians themselves deny the existence of hell. But Jesus here talks of the true incident that actually took place. Hence, the presence of hell as real as the existence of earth.


2. Hell is a place of agony and pain.
The rich man was tormented in hell, it’s a place of torment.


3. Hell is a place where one can see
The rich man looked at Lazarus sitting on Abraham’s lap.


4. Hell is a place where one can feel.
The Bible says the rich man was in torment. He could feel and experience the pain.


5. Hell is a place of thirst.
v.24: I am in agony in this fire. He thirsted for just a drop of water. He asked Abraham to allow Lazarus to just dip his finger in water and cool his tongue. Perhaps, his whole tongue would have dried to such great extent that he longed just for a touch with water.


6. Hell is a place of remembrance.
v 25: The verse says, “Son, remember that in your life time…….”. Yes, it’s a place of remembrance. You will be reminded of everything that happened when you where on earth.


7. Hell is a place of unanswered prayers.
John 14:14 is an excellent promise verse to the Christians. It says ‘If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. ‘The verse holds well as long as you live on earth.’ But in hell, No matter how much you cry out, your prayers will remain unanswered. The rich man cried out. He wanted a relief from the torment. But his request was denied.


8. Hell is place of separation.
v 26: We see Abraham’s reply in this verse. A great chamber was fixed between them so that none could enter from hell to heaven or from heaven to hell.


9. Hell is a place where we remember our friends and colleagues.
v 27: The rich man remembered his 5 brothers. He thought of their pitiful state if they too come to hell. Only now on earth, we have the opportunity to share the gospel with our friends and colleagues. Later, we will not be given any opportunity.


10. Hell is a place of darkness.
Yes, hell is a place of utter darkness.


11. Hell is a place of no chances.
Once a person enters hell, no further chances will be given. Later, there is no use repenting. That will become our ultimate destiny.


CONCLUSION
We are in the last days. Every prophecy mentioned in Mt. 24 are getting fulfilled now a days. And it is in our hands whether to choose heaven or hell. God leaves the final choice to us. He left Adam to choose between life and death. Similarly the choice today is in our hands. Heaven or hell is not in the hands of God, but it is in our hands. Hell is a place reserved for the devil and his angels according to Mt 25:41. Let us make the right choice and inherit the eternal blessings reserved for us.


- Rev. Justin Enos