If I had to sum up my testimony in a couple of words: I am constantly astounded by how greatly God works in the lives of His children! As I look back at my life I think about specific instances where God worked miraculously in ways only He could work! I started seeing this much more in the latter part of life when I truly made my faith my own.
I was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia while my parents were working there, and soon after I was born, I was sent to India to live with my grandparents. I stayed there for two years until my parents could make arrangements to raise me in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia didn’t take kindly to Indian immigrants, especially Christian ones. Foreigners were not allowed to get citizenship, own property, or practice their faith freely. On top of that, citizens were required to conform to the Saudi way of life, especially the Islamic faith. From honoring prayer times to making sure women wore proper attire and showed no position in public. There was no tolerance to other faiths or cultures, especially Christianity. As soon as The Gulf War started in 1991, we moved as a family to India for a year before receiving our immigration acceptance to come to the States. At 4 years old, I came to Dallas, TX and lived there for the next 23 years. We started going to an Indian Assembly in Dallas and I didn’t have very much contact outside of that community. I was raised very sheltered by my parents without much exposure to other faiths or denominations. I thought that true Christianity was to be an Indian Brethren believer.
I was raised going to Sunday School and not missing any church services. I was taught a lot from the Bible growing up by learning stories, memory verses, and songs. I always thought I was learning all this so I could compete in Sunday School to show that I knew the most. I knew so much about the Bible, but it didn’t mean anything to me. I remember being coerced to accept Christ so that I wouldn’t go to Hell. I didn’t understand what I was accepting, but all I knew was that I didn’t want to go to Hell. It was only by the age of 10 that I remember an evangelist sharing the Gospel message at our assembly. One thing that resonated with me that he mentioned was that “Christ died for my sin so that I could have a relationship with Him!” Something he said struck a cord with me and gave me unrest and joy all at the same time. It was the Holy Spirit working inside me and convicting me that I had sinned against God, I should die for my sin, but God placed His only Son in my place to suffer and die on the cross so that I wouldn’t have to bear it. Not only that, Jesus rose victorious over Satan, sin, and death and all I had to do was accept that gift of salvation He offered to have a relationship with Him and enjoy eternal life with Him forever! I was in tears by the end of the message and immediately committed my life to Christ. I was so full of Joy knowing that my destiny was secured.
From that point on, I knew that I was a believer and that my faith was my own, but I didn’t know what it meant to live for Christ. Up to that point in life I was never tested in my faith. I continued living a sheltered Christian life all the way through high school and university. It was only after I had graduated with my undergrad and started working full time that I started really understanding what it meant to be tested and tried in my faith — I failed miserably. I started hanging out with the wrong people, making the wrong decisions, and getting involved in sin that I never thought I would commit. I had instant regret and remorse but kept on trying to justify my sin by doing “good things” hoping to “balance” everything out in the eyes of God. One thing that I failed to understand was that I would never be able to justify myself in the God’s eyes, the only reason I stand justified is that He looks at me through His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter how much “good” I did, I could not justify my sin. Even the holiest things I could do were like filthy rags in comparison to God’s holiness.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. | Isaiah 64:6
I had a tough time understanding that it was not about what I have done, am doing, or could do but rather what He has already done and continues to do in me! The salvation I received was not something that I worked for, earned, or even slightly deserved. It was a free gift of God that didn’t cost me anything but cost God the Father everything: His only Son! So how could I justify that if it was not my power that saved me, it would be my power that would sanctify me? I wasn’t letting the Holy Spirit take control and work in my life. I was still trying to do things on my own. God was telling me to let go, focus on Him, live to worship Him, grow for Him, and live a life of reckless abandon for Him!
I have seen countless instances where God has worked miraculously in my life. From my education, my career path, failed relationships that didn’t honor Him, my godly wife, and a church family in the middle of nowhere that truly loves like Christ did. Every time God has intervened, I have been truly amazed as to why would He love a sinner like me. I am reminded that His love is beyond comprehension, His grace is beyond understanding, and His faithfulness will never fail me. The following quote by John Bunyan shows a good picture of the depravity of man while simultaneously reminding us how much grace the gospel provides.
“Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings!”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. | Romans 8:35-39