Journey from Sikh to Catholic to Christ
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Testimonies are usually short and sweet, but mine might be as ‘big’ as I am…it’ll go on perhaps for two hours! Don’t worry; I am just kidding: I’ll finish it in 10-15 minutes!
My name is Inder Mohan Singh. I had a foot-and-a-half long beard, had long hair and tied a turban till about 1996. I was born into a Sikh family of very devout and religious people, made up mostly of physicians and Army officers.
I was the youngest, fattest and most spoiled of four children, three male and a female! My two older brothers and eldest sister had not studied in private schools (called public schools in India!) but my father, a retired Army officer who had spent 42 months in Italy and Egypt during the Second World War, was determined that I be educated in an English-medium school. St. Xavier’s School, a Roman Catholic Jesuit institution in Delhi, had just opened and was accepting students. I was one of those admitted there the very first month, in January 1960, more than 48 years ago!
We used to be taken to the Sikh temple regularly and we read the Sikh scriptures off and on (a copy of which was kept ritualistically ‘adorned’ at our home)! However, in that Roman Catholic School run by the formidable Jesuits, I was introduced to the Person of JESUS CHRIST in the fourth grade, and I still recollect a black-and-white picture of OUR LORD and Savior, a crown of thorns pierced into His head, and congealed droplets of blood ALL over HIS FACE!!
In the eighth grade, Gideon’s pocket-sized Bibles were distributed to all of us after morning assembly in school. I read a few chapters, but that was not a big deal for me….seemed to be just a story, a fairy tale! We continued to learn in more depth about JESUS from a book titled ‘The Savior’ during our Moral Science class periods in the ninth and tenth grades in School.
In 1968, when I was in the tenth grade, my father fell very ill and was hospitalized. He had 16 units of blood transfusion. I was desperate, so I read the Gideon’s Bible. (Strangely, but providentially, I used to keep it always in my pocket!!) I ‘prayed’ to JESUS to save my father. JESUS HEARD MY PRAYER, saved my father and we brought him home healed. However, like most tenth graders would react, I think, I forgot the Savior after that!! There was no long-term gratitude in my heart for JESUS! I went the wayward ways of adolescence, teenage and youth, though that Gideon’s Bible still remained in my pocket at all times.
I joined College, earned my Bachelor’s, Master’s and Law Degrees, experimented with liquor and similar intoxicants. I did everything that was considered ‘WRONG’, and what many people during that phase of life usually do; but I did go regularly to the Sikh temple, and even completed certain 40-day prayers, visits and rituals. However, there was no peace in the heart as it was just mechanical, without any personal relationship with any deity, any ‘god’!
Many years later, while traveling by train en route to Bangalore (many here might be familiar with G. T. Express), and with the Gideon’s Bible still habitually in my pocket, my life was literally ‘jolted’ because my compartment, and a few others, derailed near Nagpur. I was unhurt, without even a scratch!! Suddenly, I heard a voice that said ‘Be a man’ (that, by the way, was the motto of St. Xavier’s School at that time…esto vir). This was not an audible voice, but one that emanated from my heart and soul! We carried on to Bangalore where, at the train station, I met somebody who turned out to be my sixth grade class teacher’s youngest brother from Agra. I did not mend my ways in Bangalore, either, and continued to be my usual self for the week that I was there. This man from Agra was a Roman Catholic; he got a job in Delhi and we kept in touch, and talked about Jesus off and on!
My heart was still unreformed. I had not ‘become a man’ even though the ‘voice’ after that derailment had asked me to do so!! I was still very lukewarm in my search, in my behavior and in my attitude toward God and man! But Yeshua had by then decided that He had had enough patience with me! He persisted, pursued….and chased me in many ways, but I did not respond; on March 17, 1978 (just a few days more than 30 years ago), there was the first, and only, tornado in Delhi. There was quite a bit of devastation just about half-a-mile from where I lived in North Delhi.
That was the day of reckoning for me: that was the day I believe that the GOOD LORD JESUS CHRIST stamped me with his ‘seal’! I told my Catholic friend Ivan Smith that I wanted to go to Church with him; in April 1978, I began going with him to the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Connaught Place, New Delhi. That tornado had scared the living daylights out of me!! I had begun ‘becoming a man’, albeit out of a sense of terror!! I began going to Church not only for the Sunday Mass, but EVERY DAY!!
However, that Cathedral is smack (no pun intended!!) opposite one of the Sikhs’ most important shrines in Delhi (Bangla Sahib Gurdwara). My parents got wind of my going to church. My father was a prominent doctor at that time in North Delhi, and his patients reported on me entering the church when they visited that Sikh temple. My whole family took up arms against me!! How could a devout Sikh’s son ‘go to church’? My brothers were hastily summoned from their jobs. They tried to dissuade me from going to church. I refused, and did not relent….in the end, I was willing to give them only the ‘concession’ that I would go to church after sunset, when it would be dark, so that my relatives, friends and father’s patients would have minimal chances of seeing me ‘go to church’!!
The Church Assistant Parish Priest used to guide me, and I participated in the weekly Charismatic Prayer Meetings. However, the Parish Priest declined to baptize me for 13 years; I had to make do with the ‘baptism of desire’. This Parish Priest was of the old school, so to speak, and wanted to be completely, rather overly, convinced that I really wanted to be baptized into the Catholic Church. I was in virtual limbo, but the GOOD LORD heard my prayers and, after thirteen years without holy communion, that parish priest was transferred by the new Archbishop. The new Parish Priest, who is now the Archbishop (Vincent Concessao) of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, called us for instructions only a very few times. He was convinced about our sincerity because we successfully answered his queries about the Bible and the basic tenets of the Roman Catholic Church.
Long story short, we were baptized 17 years ago, on Easter Sunday in 1991. We began going to Church even more regularly, took Holy Communion and followed all the traditions of the Catholic Church very ‘religiously’ (no pun intended!!) in India till 1999 when we moved to the U. S. A. Here, too, we carried on attending Mass weekly and, sometimes, daily. But that unnamed and indescribable thirst and hunger in our hearts remained unsatisfied…because all that we were following and doing were mostly traditional rituals, attending ‘obligatory’ Sunday Mass, praying the rosary, chaplets and doing ‘novenas’ and so on.
There was apparently not much of a fellowship, Bible study or any personal relationship with Yeshua!! We hungered for fellowship that is regular and anointed. During Christmas 2006, we attended a dinner on Christmas night at a friend’s place. Her uncle, Mr. David Raj (www.jaimasihki.com, www.masihtube.com ) had come from Baltimore that morning. We were with him and his family that night for 3-4 hours, and shared a meal with them. He and his family came over a couple of days later to our home: said a few prayers, and sang a few hymns together. He returned to Baltimore, and from there in Feb. 2007, he introduced us by phone to a lady who too had given up Sikhism, and had accepted the LORD JESUS about 5 years ago. Our contact with them was ONLY telephonic.
However, the GOOD LORD YESHUA planned it in such a way that this former Sikh lady and her husband came to visit us, without ever having even seen our faces, in Aug. 2007. The Lord JESUS CHRIST sent ‘physical’ strangers, who stayed with us for about just two nights, but sowed the seed of moving from tradition to a real relationship with our Heavenly Father!! We decided that after their departure, we would go to different churches on Sundays to see which one we liked the most! In the meantime, my better half called up Pastor Philip Pala whom we had met twice or thrice before.
He and his wife Susie had spoken to us about Jesus, but we had stubbornly refused to budge from the Catholic tradition. Pastor Pala had met our son 5-6 years before at the K & G Men’s store in Natick (now in Westwood). Pastor Pala had tried to convince our son to join him in his Church, and move towards a personal relationship with Jesus. Our son, on the other hand, had tried to bring Pastor Pala into the Insurance and Financial Services business….but each failed in his attempt at that time!!
As many of us realize, sooner or later, that the Lord has His ‘plans’; and as the hymn goes, everything happens ‘IN HIS TIME!! It was meant to be that unknown, unseen, ‘unmet’ people were to come from Baltimore, pray with us and lead and guide us gently and lovingly out of the grip of tradition and habit into the liberating personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS!!! It was meant to be that instead of going from one church to another every Sunday to ‘choose’ the one that ‘appealed’ the most to us, my wife was ‘led’ to call up Pastor Pala who helped steer us towards the proper path! Our Heavenly Father works ‘behind the scenes’ and, as Paul Harvey would say, this is the rest of the story!
We are now doing our best to get past the baby steps of learning to walk with Jesus. The Holy Bible is our source of strength and faith. We are becoming very regular in attending Bible Study sessions, prayer meetings and services. There is an inexplicable yearning in our hearts to meet with fellow believers for prayers, praise and worship!! The routine of attending Sunday Mass has been broken by the dynamic ministries that have taken us under their wings, and that are teaching us to fly high “on eagle’s wings” in our flight towards the one true LORD and Savior JESUS CHRIST Who, by HIS obedient Sacrifice on the cross, opened the PORTALS OF HEAVEN for ALL of us on earth. He died for the redemption of the whole world, not just for a select few!!
The ‘flight’ to true contentment, patience, faith and fellowship is long and turbulent; and we, too, ‘have miles to go before we sleep, and have many promises to keep’!! It is not that problems, suffering and irritations disappear the moment you become a Christian; however, the indwelling and in-filling of the Holy Spirit helps us to tackle these head-on, with confidence and fortitude. When even theSon of God, the spotless Lamb of God, had to carry the load and suffer (and all because of our past, present and future sins), who are we mere mortals to complain of this problem, or that pain in the neck (or elsewhere!!)? Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, ready to mediate for us if we ask, seek or knock in His Name; but it is WE who have to do the asking, seeking and knocking…..with the utmost confidence that whatever is good for us will be done.
When we think, speak and act at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, our path will NOT be hindered by insurmountable obstacles: instead, it WILL be strewn with all that the Heavenly Father decides is good for us. We must learn to abandon ourselves to His guidance for He ALWAYS knows better than we do what is good for us now, and in the days and years to come!! His plans are far-sighted while ours demand instant gratification, and this is why we must be aware, and BEWARE, of the wicked wiles and wayward ways of the ‘creature that is always prowling around, like a lion, trying to devour us’. I think I am becoming poetic, but the bitter truth is that satan never sleeps, and spiritual warfare is perpetual as long as we are here on this earth!!
If we are steadfast in our FAITH, the ULTIMATE VICTORY will DEFINITELY be ours because the Holy Bible says, “If GOD be for us, who can be against us?” and also that “NO weapon formed against us can prosper!”
Amen! And PRAISE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!! Please pray that we can be a blessing for all whom we meet and that we become instruments in bringing all the lost sheep to the GOOD SHEPHERD LORD JESUS CHRIST’S fold!!
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