I grew up in India till the age of seven before our family moved to the U.S. in 1977. I lived in the U.S. for most of my life with the exception of coming back to India for junior high school. About that time I was getting involved in bad company in Queens. When I went to India not only did I have to relearn Hindi but endure corporal punishment as well. That experience helped me develop a godly fear of authority and taught me to trust God as well.
In 1985 we came back to the U.S. It was in high school that my interest in the Bible started. I used to secretly read it in my room for fear of my parents. All my relatives are Hindus so I had never been introduced to the Bible. The first time my parents found me reading the Bible they were surprised and upset immediately. For me, it was an enlightening experience. The first time I read the book of John, I knew that the Bible was from God. I had no doubt because the words were so convicting and applied beautifully to my life. The teachings were down to earth, compared with Hindu writings which tend towards philosophy and narration primarily. Although my family was not religiously inclined, I always had a desire to know God.
When I went to college in 1988, I was approached by a member of the Church of Christ(not-Mormons) to study the Bible. I started studying with them and was baptized a few months later. Even though I was living away from my parents at college, I did not have the courage to tell them about my conversion until the following summer. Soon, after I told them, my family problems started. At first, my mom considered my conversion as cutting my ties with the Indian community and rejecting their heritage. My dad was concerned that his dreams for me(marriage, career) would be jeopardized by my commitment to God and His Kingdom. At once, he commanded me to come home, but I refused.
That winter my grandmother was very ill in India and my dad asked me to accompany him assuming she was dying. Upon arriving to India we found out that she had recovered from her illness and my dad's options for me. After about a week or so, I asked my dad when we were heading back. He told me that I had two options. Either to go back to Albany, NY and live with them or they would leave me in India. I was shocked. He had tricked me! We went to the village where he was born. That's when I found out how upset he really was about my conversion. In front of all his relatives he told them of my conversion and how displeased he was with me. He said that I became a ëfollower of this Jesus.' I had never seen such deep resentment in him before. Meanwhile, all this time our congregation was very worried about me.
My relatives pressured me to co-operate with my family and leave the faith. They believed that I was jeopardizing my family's happiness and security in America by being divisive. I was repeatedly reminded of how my dad had painstakingly brought our family to the U.S. from India. It sort of reminded me of how God had saved the Israelites from Egyptian slavery to the promise land. Therefore, my purpose for coming to the States was in order to be freed from my bondage to sin through Christ. I was fulfilling my purpose for coming to America by becoming a Christian. I tried to explain that my only intention was to follow God wherever He may lead me. At this time, I must confess that I had gotten depressed and learned to appreciate the power of prayer and God's word. After two weeks we headed back to the states. My dad assumed that I agreed to his options to live with them in Albany. After exiting immigration, I told him that I was going back to the Stony Brook University instead of with him. Since he could not force me to go with him, he started to cry and plead with me. It took all my energy to walk away. I headed out of the airport. I called some of my brothers from the University and they came to pick me up. My dad followed me back to the university so I some brothers opened their dorm rooms for me. What an encouragement God's family had been to me in my time of difficulty! I could not have done it without their encouragement.
I guess by this time my dad was filled with a combination of anger about life, resentment, and concern for me. His initial attempt was to get me dismissed from the University by hindering my financial aid. He met with the school financial counselor and tried to de-register me from school. Thank God that did not work! We are so fortunate to live in a land like the U.S. where we are blessed with freedoms such as these.
I thought everything was all right and returned to my dorms. A few weeks later, I noticed that I started to develop some fever. I went to the doctor and found out that I had been infected with Malaria while I was in India. I was admitted to the hospital and treated. I had reached a fever of almost 107 degrees Fahrenheit which apparently affect me psychologically. As a result of the high fever and the drugs I was given, I started to hallucinate. I could not think clearly and lost touch with reality. The stress of the situation may have had something to do with it as well. The affect of the medication and the stress took me several years to heal from. God stood by my side and strengthened me as always.
For the next five years the problems continued. It was difficult for my parents to let go of me since I was the eldest son. They used every tactic in the book: emotional, psychological, financial. I would receive phone calls all the time where they would plead with me or try to discourage me from my faith. My university advisor learned about all this and called me in for a meeting. He had been told that I was using the school's funds and resources to practice Christianity. I had several meetings with the school advisor who was told I was in a cult. But the proof was not available and my grades were satisfactory.
I hope that I am not frightening anyone by sharing this experience. Never had I thought that Satan would try to use my own family to try to destroy my faith. Although my parents were trying to seek my interests, their concern was misguided since they have no knowledge of God's grace or Word.
On a positive note, a few years ago my mother accompanied me to Church Worship on Sunday. I often have open discussions about God and her need to trust Him. God has blest me with a great family here on Long Island. God has used them repeatedly to help me deal with my struggles.
God has given me the strength not
to give up the faith through His unfailing love. I am grateful that
I had persisted in my walk with Christ as I grow to love Him deeply as
every day goes by. There is nothing worth comparing to the relationship
we have available through Christ.
II Corinthians 1:3-5 sums it up:
[2Cor 1:3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort;
[2Cor 1:4] Who gives us comfort in all our troubles, so that we may be able to give comfort to others who are in trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
[2Cor 1:5] For as we undergo more of the pain which Christ underwent, so through Christ does our comfort become greater.
Feel free to E-mail me: Parveen