The other night, Desert Road South received an email from an Indian woman named Priya (Name changed). I felt my heart being tugged as I read her story and her subsequent questions. I asked if I could share some of our conversation, as I felt that it could be a big help to many people going through similar things, and she said ‘Absolutely!’
So. Here is my first conversation with Priya.
Let me start by introducing myself. I am Priya. In January 2015, I came to the United States of America from India to do Masters at Illinois State University. Coming to this new land was never the plan I wanted for myself but my parents were adamant about giving me “international exposure.” And then I landed here, where I knew no one. There was turmoil in my head, in my heart. I was restless. I was lonely. I was agitated. I was angry at myself for being a coward, for being ugly, for being such a loser. I was fuming with anger and the resentment was building up inside me against my parents because they had made plans for MY life.
I wanted to be amazing at something, wanted to be an inspiration, change someone’s life but I was here, and all I could be was be average.
I think it’s here that I must mention that back home, I was an Atheist whereas my parents are devout Hindus. I was always intrigued by Christianity in general but I was always very careful about not letting Jesus into my heart.
Illinois State University has this program where every international student is made to stay with an American Family for a few days who’d help them absorb the cultural shock better. I was placed at the Proctor’s place. The Proctors are devout Christians. Mrs. Proctor saw that I was struggling and she suggested that I come to the church with the family just for some mental peace. I felt good but now that I think about it, I was still fighting hard to be closed to His Word.
And then I remember one day, I asked Mrs. Proctor for a Bible because nothing else seemed to help when I was falling apart in every possible way and I had often heard people say that you could find all the answers in the Word. Soon I started going to the church every Sunday and eventually started my Bible study sessions with Mrs. Proctor.
Amidst the loneliness, the emptiness, my worthlessness, my sins, my addictions, I found HIM. The other day at the church, everyone was asked to share something. When it was my turn to speak, I cried. Cried till I told everyone how bad I wanted to be His child. There was a desperation in my voice. And suddenly it all made sense to me. It was all his plan. I could have gone to anyone else’s place but I went to Proctors. I could have been in India and gotten so busy with my life back home that I would have never known about who Jesus really was and how merciful He was. Had I not struggled so much personally, I would have never been able to realize the true feeling of “Salvation”. Almost immediately, the anger inside me started subsiding. Over the next sessions of Bible study, I started being gentle towards my family and more importantly, towards myself. I am changing. People are noticing. I have a long way to go but I feel confident about His plans.
Thank you so much for reaching out to us! Your honesty and openness is something I praise God for, because you have encouraged me by showing your devotion to Him, even through very tough times. Your testimony is very awesome and thank you for sharing it!
Sometime back, I came across the video where Ethan encouraged people to ask questions. I had been thinking about it for really long, but I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go about it until yesterday when I stumbled upon this amazing verse again, Proverbs 11:14 “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” So with so much build up, here are a few of them.
Is my faith an outcome of selfishness? Is it because I was desperate to fit in, tired of being lonely, only to be loved that I went looking for Him?
No, your faith is not an outcome of selfishness. Your faith is the response to being called and loved by God! We love because He first loved us (1 John 4). One of my favorite verses, Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It’s not the good things or the bad things we have done that bring us to God, but it’s WHO GOD IS that He chases after us and loves us. I believe that God has known whom He would call from the very beginning (Romans 8:29). Nothing we do draws us to Him, but it is He that draws us to Himself.
A lot of my Indians friends, my own kind, have renounced me for my choice and a few of those who still are around have tried to discourage me by saying “Be aware of Evangelists. They sense your fear and convert you. They look for weak people like you.” This angers me so much but somedays I can’t help but question myself that what if this is just phase? Am I wrong for having second thoughts?
No, you are not wrong for having second thoughts. I would wager that every Christian in history has had doubts, especially when the persecution comes. In Matthew 10:34, Luke 12:53, and Mark 13:12, Jesus speaks of the division He will cause, even among families. We should not expect the world to accept Him and love Him as we do, for He is not of the kingdom of the world, but the kingdom of God. We should not be surprised when even close friends and family members turn against us, as Jesus said they would. Instead, we should unite ourselves to the Body of Christ, the Church, our spiritual family. They will encourage us and point us back to the Lord.
I have already mentioned that my parents are devout in their own religion, and I have tried dropping subtle hints that I really really wish to be a Christian but somehow they have become scared and have started looking for grooms for me to marry. This has terrified me. How can I afford to spend my life with someone who wouldn’t be able to help me grow in my faith? How would I spend my entire life being something I am not? How would I ever be at peace knowing it SO well that even when I had that one golden chance to be saved, I rejected Him?
That is a very tough place to be in. Since I am not an expert on Indian culture, I cannot make an informed suggestion. However, I always HIGHLY encourage Christians to date and marry other Christians. There are numerous accounts in the Bible of a non-believing husband or wife pulling their spouse away from the Lord. Try your best to find a faithful Christian husband so that he can point you closer to the Lord as you do the same for him.
My parents have provided for me. Over the days I realized that all they have been trying to do is make sure I live a comfortable life with the money never being a problem since they have faced financial issues in their life. All they are trying to do is be good parents according to the “Indian Norms”. Though I do not feel bitter toward them, I can’t help but be angry at them. But this is what I read the other day, (Proverbs 20:20) “If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.” What a disgrace I have been!
This is another very tough one. I think it IS possible to love and honor and respect your parents while maintaining your Christian beliefs. We most definitely are called to honor our parents, and I encourage you to continue doing so! I would point out, though, that the New Testament emphasis on family is on our spiritual families over our biological ones. Jesus says ‘my mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’ (Luke 8:21) Paul refers to Timothy as his son (1 Timothy 1:2). I think we can learn to respect our biological family while still putting a higher emphasis on the spiritual one, the Church. I know this isn’t easy and cannot be a fun thing to do. I am blessed to have Christian parents, so I don’t personally know what this is like. What I am NOT saying is to abandon and disrespect your parents. But know that they are now different from you, and God’s will for you probably differs from your parents’ will for you. Pray that they would come to know Jesus and join your spiritual family.
Having been ridiculed by people around me, I am afraid to tell others about my faith. Do you think God will be sad because his “chosen one” is being a coward?
No, sharing your faith is hard for everyone! No one does it immediately or easily. Just like anything, it takes practice and failure. Take comfort knowing that when we testify who Christ is, it is not us speaking and changing hearts, but the Spirit speaking through us. Praise God!
I have been sexually assaulted at least six different times. At the age of 17, this one boy I was in “love” with, made me believe that I could only prove my “love” if I would do things he wanted me to do . I didn’t want to, I resisted but I succumbed to the pressure and gave in eventually. And then one day he asked me if I would let him take my virginity , that is I when I realized that he wasn’t the one , because doesn’t “True love wait”? I have been guilty ever since, I have never let anyone get close to me. Have shut myself down to love. But this question has always bothered me, do you think I am sexually immoral? Would I be labeled as impure?
Absolutely not. Don’t let any Christian tell you that you are impure or dirty because of your past. 1 Corinthians 6 talks about how we have been washed and cleaned and sanctified (made holy) through the blood of Jesus. Nothing could stain us again! No shame can cover us and no guilt can stick to us! I have many struggles and mistakes in my past, but Lamentations 3 tells us that God’s mercy is new every day. It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday, because His mercy is new today! Hallelujah! I once saw this painting of Jesus hanging on the cross, completely naked. It was a jarring image, but one more accurate than most depictions of the crucifixion we see. The point was to highlight that when Jesus went to the cross, He not only took our sins, but our shame and nakedness too. He took that sexual shame and impurity and destroyed it on the cross, along with all our other sin and brokenness. So your shame, impurity, and immorality is as dead as dust.
I am a Porn Addict too. Proverbs 28:9 says, “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” I am trying, I really am. But there are somedays I give in to temptations. Can he see that I am trying? Or would he say that I am not trying hard enough?
Again, it is not a matter of ‘trying harder’ or doing ‘better’ in order to please God. He loves us unconditionally. I have struggled with porn for many years, and beating myself up has never helped at all. If anything, it has made it worse. There is certainly a place for growing in purity, but it does not come from a place of trying harder, but from a place of grace. From knowing that we are loved and forgiven, not simply trying harder. Earlier today I was thinking of John 8, where there is a woman caught in adultery. At the end, Jesus says ‘go and sin no more.’ He is not telling her that ‘she had better stop or else she’s in trouble!’ He’s telling her that she is now free from sin. She is free to choose life over death. She is free to say no to temptation, only with God’s help. The paradox we have to try to figure out is that we are made new, clean, and sinless by being united to Christ. But we still live in a fallen world, with our fleshly bodies and their sinful desires. It takes time to come to desire the things of the Spirit more than the things of the flesh (Romans 8:5), and only by drawing closer to Jesus will we see our sin start to fall away from us. It is not by trying to strangle our sins to death, but by casting our vision completely on Jesus.