Testimonies of my life, how i accepted Jesus, how Jesus Christ used me in people's lives, Nagapattinam experiences, giving the gospel, God's love and unfailing grace for those who call on Him..

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The banana vendor


At Nagapattinam, I used to stay at a Women’s hostel, and used to buy bananas almost everyday from a vendor down my road. One day, when I was passing by, she wasn’t there. The flower seller nearby, said that she was not feeling well, and had fever. I asked her for this lady’s name, adding that ‘I want to pray for her, that’s why’. The lady came back the next day, all fine, and I told her that I was glad to see that she was better.

And just when I was about to leave, she met me and said to me, ‘Why don’t you take me with you to the temple (church) that you go to? I go to all temples, you know.’ I told her that I was leaving but would definitely ask my friends to take you when they go next.

It is amazing how much God uses us if we just make ourselves available for Him.. All it took in her case, was just a smile.

Shalini - a transformation at Nagapattinam!


Shalini… the first time I saw her, I ‘knew’ I needed to stay away from her.. She was too exuberant for me, and.. I saw her bustling around the hostel, seeking attention and gossiping.. loud talk, the works! I felt God put this desire in me to pray for her, and I was doing so for a few days. But after that, I just couldn’t tolerate her, and one fine day, I just stopped praying for her. And I said to God, ‘Lord, I can’t handle her, I don’t feel any love for her in my heart. I’m giving up.’ And right after that, the next day morning when I was watching television, Shalini came right next to me, opened a cupboard adjacent to the television set which was stacked with pictures and figurines of idols and she began to pray fervently and silently. My gosh. Just seeing her, I knew that the Lord had intended it to happen to make me understand what would happen if I did not pray for her.. I asked for forgiveness and began to pray for her. That night, she came to my room and said that she wanted to talk. She spoke about how she was feeling bad that she did a lot of wrong things and spoke rash words, and did not know what she could do about it. We spoke about some other things, and she then asked me, ‘How is it done in your religion?’ I then explained to her, that I was ‘not always christian’. I shared my testimony with her, I also shared about Why Jesus came into this world. We prayed together that night, and she told me that she ‘experienced peace for the first time in ages’. The next day, again we met up at night, and God strongly asked me to ask her if she wanted forgiveness for her sins… I kept resisting it, and then finally when I felt I would just burst if I didn’t, I asked her, if she wanted to. To my complete joy, she answered, “Yes yes.. I do.. I desperately do”. She accepted Jesus into her heart that night. Even in those two- three weeks that I was there after that, I could see a transformation in her.. the amount of idle talk she did was drastically reduced, and all her wasteful activities were replaced by a hunger to know God more and more.. she was just bubbling with enthusiasm.. And a number of her major concerns in her life were answered by the Lord – including a 25,000 rupees loan – without which she would have needed to discontinue her education. She is full of joy in knowing God now, and is on her way to discovering more and more…

The Birthday Gift...

Just before my final semester exams, here at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, I landed up with a bad sprain in my leg, I could hardly walk and I ended up having high fever in the nights, and because of that fever my eyes would hurt everytime I sat down to read, and since in TISS all of us study only in night before the exam – since we have no time otherwise – I would cry to God everynight and ask Him, Oh God, I just want to pass in the exams, Your Word (Bible) says “My grace is sufficient for you” I claim
this verse for my life, Oh God… and I pray that you will somehow make me pass”… Some of the exams miraculously only the few things I had studied came, and everytime I came out of the hall, I would
gratefully thank God that I would pass that paper… in one particular paper, I had to write some few answers and I did not know one answer at all. I prayed that “God.. You have brought me this far.. You have
promised to never leave me nor forsake me… please don’t forsake me”… And I just wrote the question number of this answer that I knew only ten lines about… and that is all I remember.. after I prayed, I
put my pen to the paper and God just kept putting words into my mind and I wrote without interruption… I wrote and wrote… and only after I finished about 5 sides, I turned the pages and read the answer… and was
completely amazed at what I read… it was the perfect answer on patriarchy in society!! I was astounded… and really praised God for his blessing that answer paper and His presence in that exam hall that day..
Then my birthday came. Nitya – my sister – and my Dad called me up and wished me. Nitya called me later and told me that “Dad said that why don’t you organize a surprise party for padma sine it is her birthday?” “So sweet to see Dad so happy that it is my birthday!” we said and I put the phone down after that. Then as I sat down I thought to myself.. “God, If my dad who is my earthly father wants to give me a party as a gift and is so excited about my birthday.. I wonder how excited you must be, Heavenly Father.. and I wonder what gift you would want to give me!” Then chiding myself for my playfulness, I said, “Sorry, God, I really shouldn’t have asked you that.”. I even totally forgot about that completely.
Then at about 12 at lunch suddenly there was a lot of Excitement on campus – “The results are coming!” All of us were surprised - the results were due only next week! But anyways I went to collect my marksheet and I found that I had got ..not just a pass grade, but
pretty good marks. I praised God and was so happy, and one friend asked me what the mark was and I told her “grade point of 4.98”. And Riyu, after about five minutes, some few girls came and said, “Hey, Good
grade, padma” I said thanks.. and after some few minutes another few girls came and said, “Hey padma, 4.98, no? Good ya”… and I then thought to myself, I only shared my grade point with one girl.. how do
these girls know?!?! And sure enough after some time came the answer to my question “Congrats padma, for topping the batch!” “WHAT?!!?! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING!?!?” “Yeah, didn’t you know, you have the highest grade points in the whole batch!”

It was then that I realized… that THIS was my birthday gift from God. And I was SO touched…

AT TSUNAMI AFFECTED NAGAPATTINAM: EXPERIENCES - The Village Keechankuppam...

Keechankuppam itself – the testimony of how the village got saved

I worked on tsunami-affected adolescents – orphaned and semi-orphaned children, at this village called Keechankuppam, in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, South India, that could be perhaps called the worst affected village in the entire country – the death toll was nearly one third of the village and there was extensive material damage as well.

A lot of the families in the area, had understandably lost atleast one or more than one member in the family to the tsunami… and yet, one could see God’s hand in the midst of this horrific destruction…

>> The tsunami had happened in broad daylight – where people could see the water coming in and many of them were able to run to safety. If it had happened in the night, it would have wiped out the entire village itself..

>> Typically on a Sunday, there are about 20-40 boats at the coast, and at that time in the mornings, nearly the whole village would be out there at the coast, buying, selling, bargaining – and the whole coast would be abuzz with activity selling and buying the fresh catches. But that Sunday – on December 26th that the tsunami hit the coast, there were only two-four boats at the coast! And therefore there were so few people there.

>> There was a new bridge being constructed at the village – a giant concrete structure – which is usually something rare for a village.. and when the water hit the village, a lot of people were able to run to this bridge for safety, and because there was broad daylight, they were also able to warn others who were looking for lost loved ones that another wave was coming..

>> There was a famous astrologer in Nagapattinam who told everyone that there is surely going to be a tsunami on the 26th, and if not on the 26th, then surely on the 6th “And if it doesn’t, I’ll change my profession”. We were committing it to prayer, and praise God, there was no tsunami!

>> while I was there, I stayed in a hostel and I went to work at the temporary shelters that the people are living in, at the village and would walk back from work – and all of these areas were affected by the tsunami. About three weeks after I went there, we found news reports coming of bizarre weather conditions, including some waves coming gently but flooding into the coastal villages in Kanyakumari about two feet off the ground, and also about some strong winds in Chennai and storms in Cuddalore– which are all at the coast of Tamil Nadu.. At that time, there was great tension everywhere, and I asked God, ‘Why am I here.. what is going to happen, Lord. Am I going to die here..’ At that time, the Lord spoke to me through the words Psalm 32:6 – ‘Even if the mighty waters rise, they will not touch you, I will be your fortress”… And I knew at that point that God was with me, and I had nothing to fear. Later on, again there was some storm somewhere, and I asked God for a confirmation. At that time, the Lord spoke to me again, clearly through this verse – ‘have no fear of sudden disasters… for the Lord will keep you safe, and prevent your foot from being ensnared’. I praise God that He is always so faithful and his love endures forever!

HOW GOD REVEALED HIMSELF TO ME...


I come from a Hindu family. Ive never really thought much about God – he was just something too high and mighty and out of reach; someone who id quickly mutter something to if I had exams, saying ‘hey god bless me’..without even a second thought… Although most of my experiences of God were of the christian kind, I really didn’t think much of it, coz I thought that this was mainly because I went to a christian school and college, and that if I went to a hindu school etc, it would be me experiencing God the hindu way, for I was having the most common mistaken notion that Hinduism, Christianity and islam were all different paths to the same God.

At one time, I was asking my sister-who converted into a christian three years ago - a bit angrily when just after prayer, when she finished with the words, ‘I ask this in Jesus’s name, amen’ why it was that Christians were so exclusivist, ‘especially when there are people of different religions praying together, why cant you just pray in ‘God’s name’ and then she said that it was important that one declared that it was to Jesus and to not any God.. – “for there are lots of Gods but only one true God who has sent his son Jesus to save us.” At that time, I thought that she was mad, (anyway I was under the impression that she had been thoroughly ‘brainwashed’ by people at her college into converting, and was even priding myself on thinking, ‘aah, how strong I am, to not fall into their trap even though I was in a christian college for three years!’) but I had always seen that she was closer to God than I was and seeing how much she had changed after she had accepted the lord, and had become this TOTALLY different person, I began to become a bit doubtful, and thought, ‘she sure sounds loony, but what if there is even a grain of truth in what she says??’ and then I started to pray to “my creator” instead of a particular name. Fact is that I knew her testimony – but I was not willing to accept her testimony as the basis for my faith, no that was not good enough- I wanted God to tell me himself, and the only way, was to ‘keep seeking’, as nitya quoted from the bible, ‘ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you’..

And it was around this time that God was bringing about a number of miracles in my life… it began with TISS - Tata Institute of Social Sciences - supposedly the best social work college in the whole of South east asia. When I came here- to TISS, I was clueless about my life. I had done a host of things : my bachelors in nutrition, a diploma in web designing, worked as a web designer, a assistant editor, a master in psychology through correspondence.. and just didn’t know where my life was heading.. TISS was 'plan A' and if I didn’t get into TISS, I had no idea what I would be doing, and that is such a scary feeling… you know what I mean??

To make things worse, I landed here two months in advance with no knowledge of social issues, knowing that some of the best brains from all over the country apply. I also didn’t remember much of my undergrad and post grad education, which I was adequately warned about: usually the interviews are stress interviews and they take the life out of you with deep theory based qs, and I wouldn’t stand a chance if I wasn’t thorough!!

I made it through the first level – the GD and the written test - which was an essay on one of the few topics I had prepared well. The second level was the interview, the very next day, where I would mostly be grilled. I still remember, that night before the interview whewn I was sitting with my sister at her paying guest accomodation, laughing with her, holding out two fat books saying, “look at me, how mad I am, sitting now with these two books – one on psychology and one on nutrition and I haven’t even touched this one and I am just one third through the second! … and people spend years trying to learn this and I am trying to do that in a few hours!!” even as I laughed, at that very moment the futility and the bleakness of my life came into my mind and I just burst out into sobs. Nitya heard me out and said, ‘shall we pray?’. I looked at her a little skeptically and asked her, will you be praying in Jesus name? She looked at me like, ‘yes, that is non negotiable, and haven’t we had this conversation before!’.. seeing no other choice, I agreed. And after the prayer she had a word for me, God was putting this verse – John 14:24 for me upon his heart : “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid.” when I heard it, I first couldn’t believe it, I kept asking her, ‘is that a message from GOD? To ME?? Wow. Really?” and my heart when I heard it was filled with……. Peace.. no other way to explain it… never in my life have I soo quickly gone from deep grief to such calm relief.. it was like that which was crushing me was lifting off my heart.

And the next day? I was sitting outside the interview hall with just the slightest hint of uneasiness- and still far far away from knowing my subjects even in slight detail, and everytime I reminded myself God’s message : Peace. I saw people all about me totally tense about to look like they’ll faint from fear any minute, the atmosphere was sooo tense.. and my interview? It lasted 25-30 minutes, and not even ONE QUESTION that they asked was from psychology or nutrition. Every single question was from my CV, what I had done, why I had done it, my future plans, why medical and psychiatric social work and why not something else, and so on. And the entire interview was COMPLETELY relaxed, aaram sey – they actually took pains to make sure I was comfortable, and so on. There were even questions that nitya and I had discussed in another context being asked – so I knew the answers to every single question, Praise God!! By the time I came out, I knew that a miracle had happened in that room. And that began to put the desire to know God more in my heart. But I still wanted God to reveal himself to me and didn’t want to start praying to Jesus or any particular God rightaway.

I started going to my sister's church because I liked the people there, although I was still seeking God desperately…I still remember how everytime at church when they put us the lyrics of the next song on the OHP, my eyes would quickly skim the song lyrics and only if it didn’t say ‘Jesus’ or ‘cross’ etc. I would sing it. I remember one time when I was just weeping away pained with desire to know my creator but not knowing what path to follow… Hinduism or islam or Christianity?? This was around the time that a friend, Ruby – a born again believer, told me, Padma, ‘since you are praying to your creator already, why don’t you ask your creator to reveal himself to you?’ that was soooo-the-next-step!! I was struck by the sensibility of that, and started to pray to my creator and asked Him/Her/It for a revelation to me… and there were several occasions after that when my prayers were answered by ‘my creator’ and there were words for me from different believers… and on one particular Sunday when there were baptisms happening in church, I was standing there and watching it, and thinking to myself, ‘padma, what is stopping you from accepting Jesus? Almost all of the times your life was touched, its been a christian experience…and then I said, My creator, I promise to accept Jesus christ as my personal saviour if you’ll give me one sign, just one sign that what I am doing is a step in the right direction… just one sign, my creator…’ and then after a while it was time for people from the church to come up and share any words they got, and one guy got up and shared, “this is a message for someone in the church: God wants you to know that He IS your creator and he is still waiting for you. He says that he IS your creator.” I was just stunned. The fact that these words came from someone who worshipped Jesus Christ...was an answer to my question...