Recently my father prepared his testimony where he wrote about how he came to faith in the Lord Jesus and his subsequent spiritual journey. It reads like this:
GIST OF MY SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE
My childhood and young adulthood were under the influence of my godly parents, my beloved siblings and also the church known as “The Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church” (abbreviated TELC) in Tamil Nadu state under the ministry of missionaries from Germany and Sweden, in South India. I am thankful to God for these three influences from whom I learnt innumerable useful things from the Bible. When once I reached the stage of a university student, the teachings I had hitherto acquired seemed to be grossly inadequate for further development.
The next 25 years could be considered as a period of time when I was groping in darkness, but keenly searching after the truth. It was during this period of time I was in various cities in India and the U.S.A in connection with my studies and employment, and wherever I was stationed, I picked up a traditional church at random for my worship; and I never missed a worship on a Sunday. But all these churches had everything desirable except spirituality. They were no better than a decent social club and that was what everyone there seemed to desire also. But looking back I should consider them as helpless sheep without a shepherd. There was only a semblance of devotional worship in all these churches but there was no dearth for innumerable social activities. Not that I had any aversion for such a get-together myself, but I was constantly nagged by the thought, “so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God”, Rom 14:12.
On one Sunday during a Holy Communion service which I still vividly remember, I felt so ashamed of this pretentious and artificial atmosphere, I prayed a passionate prayer within my heart somewhat as follows, “Oh God Almighty (if there really is a God) forgive me for this unconventional prayer. If there be a God of the Bible in reality, this worship service is a total mockery and we should have been annihilated en bloc. I am really terrified to be a party to it, but this is what is taking place in whichever church I attend. I am fervently seeking after You. I am at a total loss to know where I can find You so that I may fall at Your feet and worship You; but if there is no God why should I waste my time here? It is all like drama acting and no one seems to feel any bit embarrassed. If I am out of mind, please heal me.” This was a time when I was employed in an institute of management studies in Calcutta (the former capital city of India when it was under the colonial rule of Great Britain), and the time of this prayer being in early 1970s.
But nothing happened with regard to this prayer, and I myself had forgotten all about it. But one day, about six months after this prayer my attention was drawn to a religious convention which was to be held at the “Thoburn Methodist Church” in Calcutta, which was on the way to my institute. As the vehicle in which I was commuting passed along the campus of this church, I noticed an attractive placard about this three-day convention displayed in front of the entrance of this church. I laughed within myself about the futility of these conventions which I had attended many a time in the past.
On my way back home that evening my institute vehicle unexpectedly came to a halt just by the side of the entrance of this church which made me gaze at the attractive placard once again, passively though. But the bus would not move from this place and this was not a usual stop for anyone to alight. In a city like Calcutta, traffic jams were not uncommon, but what was peculiar was the duration and location of this particular stop. Since we were still not moving, I had an urge to get down and walk into the church out of curiosity. Once or twice I even got up but changed my mind and sat down. The bus was still at halt. No one noticed the unusual delay since everyone was engrossed in chit-chatting with one another. But just five seconds before the bus, a huge vehicle, started, I rushed to get out of the bus. The usually irritable driver noticing my attempt to get down at this unusual stop after such a long delay didn’t show his usual irritation but stopped the bus, smiled and stared at me as if saying, “it took such a long time for you to make up your mind to get down at this unusual stop!” Instead, he kindly said, “watch your step sir; I shall stop till you get down.” Saying thanks to him I quickly alighted from the bus and walked into the church.
It was 6.10 p.m. or so and there was twenty minutes more for the meeting to commence. During this interval, the pianist played marvelously on the piano and I said to myself that at least for this amazing music it was worth attending this meeting. At the end of this meeting, I went to the pianist, complimented him for the music he played and left. At that time, I didn’t understand why the pianist was not too happy to hear my compliments of the piano playing instead of the talk I had heard.
The next day I remembered to tell the driver in advance that I was getting down at this ‘peculiar stop’ to have another chance of hearing the beautiful music of the pianist, not knowing that it was the kind Lord’s way to direct my attention to a crucial message He had kept ready for me. This convention had been arranged under the auspices of the Keswick ministry, an Evangelical ministry in Scotland, and they had arranged a missionary from the U.S.A. at that time as the main speaker. He appeared to be an unassuming sincere man of God and his talk that night, unlike the previous night, completely mesmerized me as it were, since many of the things he spoke on that night were amazingly those which were troubling my own mind for some years. I felt as if God was speaking to me through this speaker, answering a number of questions with which I was intrigued. I returned home highly provoked by what I had heard.
The next day (i.e., the third and the concluding day of the convention) I was careful and anxious to hear this speaker. I forgot all about the music in which I was interested earlier! The concluding session was awesome, as if it was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back!’ It suddenly transpired to me that this was God’s answer to my never-to-be-forgotten historical prayer of my life which I prayed to God six months earlier on a Sunday seated in a traditional church with so much of anguish and agony.
The last day of the convention was over and the crowd of people was slowly dispersing. At that moment, a battle started waging within my mind. One side of the battle was as follows: “The harvest in past, the summer is ended.” What is your response? The other side of the battle was as follows: “Don’t hastily take any decision lest you should regret later on; think calmly: tarry a while; go home first and then calmly take a decision.”
The battle was so intense that I was in fact gasping for breath inwardly. At that moment, there was a sudden flash of thought that came to my mind like this: “Beware, Satan is insinuating in your mind to postpone a crucial decision you intend to take.” The thought continued in me suggesting somewhat as follows (praise be unto God for it); “When God has graciously heard your prayer and responded, it would be dishonest on your part if you postpone it even for a minute.”
At that very moment, God enabled me to respond clearly, deliberately and heartily somewhat like this, “Almighty God, forgive me for this momentary delay. You have answered my prayer without any ambiguity whatsoever. I am deeply grateful to you. I have no hesitation in committing my life totally to You. I have now clearly understood and believe that salvation is only through Your Son, Lord Jesus Christ: I now take refuge in You with repentance for my sins. I come to You through Lord Jesus Christ believing in His atoning blood sacrifice and death on the cross which He died to rescue me from sin, Satan and death. I beseech You to accept me and grant me these blessings. One thing more Lord, help me to stand firm in my faith till the end; in Lord Jesus Christ’s name I pray, Amen.”
It was at this time I understood that (1) What was more urgent and important than being concerned about the pretentious worship in the traditional church was to deal with what was wrong with my own life, (2) The doctrine of salvation which I had hitherto learnt from the traditional churches was a perversion and not the correct version of the biblical requirement and (3) I should choose forthwith an evangelical church for my membership instead of continuing anymore in the traditional church.
I left the venue for my home as an altogether different man. On reaching home, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my wife, and she heard me with astonishment and great interest for which I thanked God. Within a month, she confessed to me that she wanted to commit her life too in the way I did. I taught her clearly and convincingly the Gospel of Christ. The most difficult thing we faced at this juncture was to leave the erstwhile traditional church in order to join the William Carey Memorial Baptist Church. It was a heart-breaking parting. The entire church pleaded with us not to leave.
To cut the story short, we did take the difficult step and went to join the Carey Baptist Church. My wife, my five-year-old daughter Nahomi and I were gladly accepted into the new church. Within a few months of our joining, we asked for baptism. My wife and I were duly baptized in obedience to the command of Lord Jesus Christ in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three years after this landmark spiritual experience, I had to leave Calcutta on transfer to the city of Bangalore (South India) in relation to my secular professional employment.
Soon after I reached the city of Bangalore, I was looking for a biblically sound church. In those days, there were no reformed churches in India, at least to my knowledge. The Baptist Church which I had joined functioned well only for a year or two. The normal functioning came to an end when the Pastor and the pastorate committee did not get along well. So I left that church and joined another one. After a year or two, the pastor started teaching a heretic doctrine, namely that everyone was expected to live a sinless life like Lord Jesus while He lived in this earth. Trusting his assertion, I endeavored to live a life accordingly. I woke up to the perversity of this teaching when everyone in the congregation believed that the pastor had become nearly sinlessly perfect . . . I thought it was dangerous to remain any longer in that church under his leadership and so I left that church and joined another one. This kind of joining and coming out churches went on for nearly eight years. The latest church I was in was no better than any of the earlier churches.
There was no dearth for churches in that metropolitan city, but somehow I did not find one that could cater to my spiritual need. Anyone can imagine how painful it would be to join a church and to leave it especially when the people were innocent and lovable. Hence out of desperation, I started a home Bible study cum prayer fellowship with three men who warmly welcomed the idea and even appreciated my courage to take this step. The fellowship rapidly grew into a large congregation within a few months. This encouraged me to preach the Gospel in some other cities also as an outreach ministry, so much so that at the time I left India after 25 years of this ministry, there were five fellowships in five different cities under the name “Evangelical Bible Assembly” (EBA). Five years before I left India, my wife had slept in the Lord after nearly fifty years of our married life. Though my daughter was persuading me to join her family in New Zealand, I found it painful to part with the church.
But the merciful Lord paved the way in an amazing manner bringing to my notice the existence of a Reformed Baptist Church in the city of Madurai under the overseeing of Pastor Bala of the Sovereign Grace Church, Auckland, New Zealand, who is endowed with the gift of Tamil language both literary and colloquial which suited well for the people of South India. I felt it was a clear guidance of the Lord to entrust this fellowship into the hands of this pastor. I also soon learnt that the Sovereign Grace Church in Auckland was happy to accept this responsibility as one of their many outreach ministries.
With peace of mind, I left India for Auckland, New Zealand. I am now overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to the Lord for the wonderful spiritual growth of the Tamil people in India under the outreach ministry of the Sovereign Grace Church. With a few weeks of my arrival in Auckland, my daughter Nahomi and my son-in-law Philip made available to me a lot of literature (i.e., books, articles, CDs, etc.,) related to Reformed doctrine. Pastor Alfie Orr left with me a copy of the “Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.” It did not take much time for me to understand the quintessence of the Reformed doctrine. Dr. Lloyd Jones “Sermon on the Mount” and his elaborate commentary on the epistle of Romans were helpful in clarifying some of the lingering questions in my mind. Today, I am not only conversant with the doctrine of the Reformed Baptist Church but also live it and am progressing in the path of sanctification trusting and relying on the help of the Holy Spirit in me.