This page describes my search for a living, loving God; a journey that took me from Catholicism to Islam, & finally ended with the discovery of a Saviour and an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I was born a ‘Christian’. In India, where I was born, your religion was officially documented. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to know God and be close to Him. From way back when I was in 5th grade, I remember going to the Catholic mass in the morning before school seeking God, but neither could find him there nor could get any concrete answers to my questions about God.
I grew up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. My father, an Architect, worked for Aramco; an oil company. Aramco’s residential camp was then devoid of all Islamic influences, and my school, Dhahran Academy, inside the U.S. embassy in Dhahran, was also an oasis of western culture. All of my friends were either American, Canadian, European or Australian.
Seeing the attitudes of the Muttawas (the religious police), the arrogance and the hypocrisy of the locals, and experiencing the intrusion of their belief systems into our lives developed a deep-rooted prejudice against Islam within me.
After 9th grade, I went to High School in the US. I developed a lifestyle involving alcohol, drugs and women. Wild parties dominated my weekends.
My father died when I was in 11th grade. My family left Saudi Arabia, I finished High School in the US and went to college in Switzerland. After graduating I was offered a very good job in Saudi Arabia. Though I detested even the thought of going back to Saudi Arabia, I felt this job opportunity was too good to pass. I was not happy there, but I tolerated it initially with the hope of moving to another country later.
Things started going wrong for me when I broke up with my girlfriend who I met in college. I missed everything; I was away from all my friends and in a place I detested. Loneliness aggravated by a sense of isolation that culture created almost drove me mad. I was so desperate for peace of mind that I was willing to try anything.
Sometimes when I could not handle that sinking feeling in the middle of the night, I used to cry out and try to reach out to God the best I knew how. I knew God existed but did not know how to get to Him or even what to do.
This void had led me to the Hindu Gita, Parapsychology, Hypnotism, and even black magic many years before, but none of that helped me handle the bleak darkness I was facing then. I somehow managed to find some comfort by hiding myself in the daily routines of work.
Life went on and things were getting somewhat bearable. I met Anupama (Anu) who I am married to now. I had made new friends and among them, Junaid, my younger brother Joe’s old classmate, and I got along very well.
Junaid is a Muslim, and I met a lot of Muslims through him. I was intrigued by their openness to me and felt ashamed about my prejudices towards them.
The solution to this set me on a course to learn more about Islam; partially to find out what it said about God and what their ‘God’ said that made life in Saudi so rigid and miserable. However, I did not set out to find God in the Quran. I had always identified myself as being a Christian and had no intention of doing something so “uncool” as becoming a Muslim.
However, the Quran started making sense to my intellect right from the beginning. I felt there was a sense of assurance in the Islamic system of prayers. It definitely felt more assuring and concrete than anything I had experienced in Christianity till then.
I remember one evening sitting in my apartment with a Bible on my left, the Quran on the right and a bottle of ‘siddiqi’ (bootleg liquor) in front of me. Everything I knew about Christianity told me it was okay to get wasted off of that stuff, but here was the Quran telling me that this is not good for me. I threw away the bottle because I knew the latter to be the truth.
My new Muslim friends had mentioned how humans have changed and tampered with the word of God in the Bible and how through translations the original message from God was lost. I started suspecting this to be true. The Siddiqi incident was a turning point, by that time the Quran was making more sense to me than what I knew about the Bible.
Also, for the first time, I began to meet Muslims who were true to their beliefs and I could see no guile or hypocrisy in them. I grew to love them as brothers and enjoyed their fellowship thoroughly. Their love and sincerity complimented what I read in the Quran about Allah. This impressed me thoroughly. I also started to experience a sensation of peace while reading the Quran. All this took away the isolation, and instead of the desperation, I felt contentment.
I had to decide now. Although Muslims may claim similarities in their beliefs in Christ and the Bible, they believe that only those who bear witness that there is no god but Allah, that Mohammed is his prophet, obey Allah and his prophet can enter into “paradise”. All others will be sent to Hell. This meant that I had to make a commitment. At that point in my life, I believed that I had found the truth and that God had called me to it.
So I became a Muslim. I did not expect much opposition from my family and got none. I returned to India, got married and was a practicing Muslim.
In 1996 Anu and my sister Preethy had a personal encounter with Jesus at a retreat. I tried to persuade Anu that it was all a deception caused by errors in the translation of the Bible, but she claimed to have personally met Jesus. She said that Jesus had touched her and changed her life completely. She kept on talking about the Holy Spirit. I did not know Him then, so it went totally over my head. When she explained the deliverance session at the retreat, I was convinced that this was black magic. I did all I could to stop her from going to further ‘prayer’ meetings.
By then I had a well-paying job, a good apartment in another city, and was moving up in life. However, I was not very thrilled about this strange desolation and gloom that I had started feeling deep within me.
The contentment I once had when I became a Muslim had turned into frustration, and I was seeing through the people whom I once thought were guileless. Even while praying, I could not reach out to Allah as I thought I should be able to do by now. I reasoned it to be so because of the pork I ate in the pizza I’d had and/or because of the beer I’d been drinking occasionally during several momentary lapses of faith; both strictly prohibited for a Muslim.
Still, this emptiness that God was supposed to fill could no longer be ignored. The peace I had once felt in reading the Quran had somehow dissipated into emptiness and disconsolation. It bothered me that I could not honestly say that I had become a better person after becoming a Muslim, but on the contrary, there were new deeper and darker volatile prejudices that seem to consume me. My outlook towards the world had changed completely.
Things went from bad to worse; my stepfather deserted us for his then 22 year old secretary and all our money, and my step brother, his son, was killed in a motorcycle accident. Though I was getting fed up with a great many things, I still believed that Allah would get me through.
When my mother asked me to attend a Christian retreat in 1997, I initially refused to do so because I considered Christianity corrupt and incorrect, and thought of its followers as idol worshipers. It was only when she consorted to emotional blackmail that I attended just to make her happy; for it was the first time I'd seen her cry through all the years after the death of my father and through all the mess with my stepfather.
My intention partly was to try to open a debate with the preachers to expose the mistakes in the Bible. I had been an avid follower of Ahmed Deedat, the Muslim apologist, and had been in training to become one myself.
The retreat started with me wondering at the foolishness of the deceived Christians there, and even asked Allah to open the eyes of spiritually blind preachers. I was praying as fervently for them as they were praying for me.
When it became known that there was a Muslim attending the retreat who was refusing to believe, Pastor Rajesh of the Joshua Generation (now Cornerstone Church) wanted to speak with me. I told him the reason I refused to believe in what was being preached. He quoted Romans 10:9 from the Bible "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved". Romans 10:9 (NKJV)
I thought to myself, why would I confess Jesus as "Lord" when I did not believe it to be true. This contradicted what the Quran said about who God is and about who Jesus is.
According to Islam, Jesus is a prophet in line with many other prophets; “no more than a mortal whom Allah favoured and made an example to the Israelites” Sura 43:59. The only thing that the Quran agreed with is the virgin birth and him being sinless performed miracles. It denied the only Gospel that saves. Claiming he did not die and rise again, it claims he was taken to heaven alive because God does not have true prophets killed.
What Islam excludes and denies is the very purpose that Jesus came for, which is to die for the sins of the whole world.
But back then at the retreat, I intensely believed that the Quran was God’s answer to all the mistakes made in the interpretations and translations of the Bible, and therefore the only true word of God. According to it, Jesus was neither slain nor crucified, but that Allah made it appear to be so. “… it appeared unto them, and Lo’! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up to himself” – Surat al Nisa. 4:157-158.
I did not want to end up in hell for denying the authenticity of the Quran and denying that Allah was God by assigning Lordship to Jesus.
I asked him if he really believed in all that he preaches, and he said that he did. For reasons unknown to me, I was convinced that he was not lying, but it did not matter because I thought he was misguided and therefore wrong. Then I thought of the emptiness gnawing inside of me, and from the depth of my heart I cried out to God to help me and to show me the truth.
I wanted to believe that God was loving, and from childhood I knew that the God who created me was gentle and fair. I knew He could fix broken cords in my life. I knew He could take away the darkness and the despair, and I knew that He alone could give me true peace that lasts. I do not know how I knew all this, but this was part of the concept I had of who God should be.
Now here in front of me was Pastor Rajesh telling me that God was all that and much more, but all this available to me only through Jesus Christ.
It was too good to be true, except for the Jesus bit.
At the risk of going to hell, I thought to myself, “my creator should be able to understand the intention of my heart, and know that I only want to know Him and serve Him, and be accepted and be loved by Him. So He should be able to understand if I make a mistake now.” So with this in mind, I agreed to take a chance and believe and say that Jesus is Lord.
The rest of the retreat did not go well for me. I felt deeply disturbed and to make things worse, when I asked the Holy Spirit to fill me later during the retreat, all I felt was the urgent need to vomit. I felt nothing apart from that. It was very disappointing.
I thought that by the end of the retreat, God would make himself known to me so that I would know that I’ve made the correct decision by choosing Jesus. The retreat was over and that did not happen, so I decided that I was wrong to think that Jesus was anything more than a prophet like Moses was. I felt condemned for denying Islam and was going to set things right again.
When I got home, I confronted my sister Preethy and Anu, for they were behind all this hoopla behind getting me to attend this retreat. I told them I could not accept their Jesus as Lord. This was just before dinner, we were sitting around the dining table. I remember being very angry when I said that, but Preethy's response blew me away. She said something like “He who was sinless took upon himself your sins”, at least that was all I heard when I felt something powerful go through me. Suddenly, I was gently pushed back into my chair, my arms flung wide open, my eyes shut and I saw a cross in front of me!!!.
She had quoted 2 Corinthians 5:21 which says; For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Those words hit me like thunder and reverberated deep into me. It was as if a veil had lifted from the eyes of my heart and instantly I knew that Jesus had died and risen for me.
My heart melted when I felt the pain he felt, not because of what he suffered, but because of my unbelief in Him and my hard-hearted stubbornness in resisting His hand that was reaching out to me. I could do nothing but surrender to His love. I gave up struggling and just believed in Jesus.
I then felt a hand reach into my heart and tear out something dark and burdensome. I instantly felt the compassion that Abba Father had for me. For the first time in my life I became aware of my heavenly Father’s presence and love through the cross of Jesus. Every cell in my body was convinced that Jesus is indeed God and my risen Lord.
The one who I was trying to reach out to had reached out to me.
I was free. I did not have to wait to see if Allah was merciful enough to overlook my shortcomings and let me into heaven, Jesus paid the price for my sin. I did not have to worry about tipping the scales favourably through adherence to rules and regulations for me to enter Heaven when I die, I had become God’s righteousness through Christ Jesus. In fact, my Jesus is already in heaven preparing a mansion for me. I did not have to depend on any rituals, deeds or sacrifices, Jesus had been there and done that. All I had to do was believe in my Father’s love for me that put Jesus on the cross to save me from my sins.
That evening on December 6, 1997 at 7:15 pm, Jesus became real to me and I gave my life to him. My search for God was finally over, and my walk with him had begun.
It has been more than 22 years. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, have found that every word of God in the Bible is true, and that his faithfulness exceeds and overpowers our unfaithfulness. I have found true peace.
God has been good to me.
As declared in Acts 16:31, my whole household is now saved.
In 1998, the doctor’s report said that we could not have children, but my heavenly Father said otherwise through Isaiah 54:13: “all your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be their peace”. Samuel was born to us in 2001, Daniel in 2003 and Joel in 2005.
In 2003, God set me free from the demonic strongholds which had plagued me even after I got saved. Immediately I experienced freedom in every area of my life. I continue to see his deliverance daily as he takes me from strength to strength.
More than once, through word of knowledge and forewarning, he has saved my life
The list goes on, and too numerous are His wonders I see daily.
In October 2009, I was ordained by The Father’s House Assemblies of God Church Bahrain. I now pastor The Cochin Lampstand Church in Cochin, Kerala, India.
In March 2018, after multiple heart attacks and a stroke, I had to relearn everything on the right side of my body. The doctors had given up on me. As I'm fond of testifying, they tried everything in their books but finally threw away the books. It was only the Lord who gives me life that found it worthwhile to keep me alive because He had some tasks for me.
I'm still struggling with the effects of the stroke, but I believe in a healing God; that our healing is part of what was won for us by Jesus Christ. Since then, besides pastoring God's people, I’ve recorded albums, made a music video, have written a book, and directed a short film in multiple languages to let folks know about Jesus Christ.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. God bless you.
Jesus Christ is Lord