Faith Beyond Identity


A few days back, when i was busy cooking, I heard someone calling from outside the front door. I was a little irritated because the person had reached the main door of our house by already entering through the iron gate without even bothering to ask for any permission. When I came to the door I saw a smartly dressed, handsome-looking man, probably in his late forties, standing there with a pleasant smile.

My immediate thought was how to get rid of this person, as I was sure that he had come to ask for a contribution to something, or to donate to a cause.  He was carrying some booklets in a folder in his left hand, while a long cloth bag was hanging from his right shoulder. "Yes what is it?" I asked hurriedly.

Before I could say another word, he started talking in rapid English, which was a bit difficult for me to understand. He explained, "This is a kind of service, you could say we seek a donation, but I am not going to ask for any money. I would simply like you to donate some of your time to hear what I have to say". I was confused and at the same time concerned about the food that I had left cooking on the gas stove. I said impatiently, "Please, just tell me what is it you want to say, I really have no time to spare now, please understand".

The sympathetic manner in which I spoke to the man was even surprising to me because I normally tend to be rather abrupt with people who come to my door for marketing purposes with some lame excuse. I thought to myself, maybe I wanted to control my temper and behave in a more polite way, or perhaps I just wanted to extend the conversation because I liked his good looks and pleasant manners! Then I was more confused about what this man wanted to say. Perplexed, I looked into his eyes. Then he started, "I am from the Church.  I am here to spread the word of truth."

So NOW, I got the point. This was not new to me. I had seen and came across people like him throughout my life, as far back as I could remember. My mother used to get very upset and annoyed by people who went door to door on missionary services. She would not even allow us to talk to them, as she feared that they might "convert" us to Christianity. She would mercilessly chase them away despite their polite manners and kind words.

As a young girl, I did not like my mother's attitude towards those people. At some point in my youth, I started developing an interest in everything that related to Christians and Jesus. I believed Christians were more forward thinking and led a modern life compared to 'us' Hindus. I started liking Jesus simply for how he looked in images I saw of him.

As I grew up, I made new friends, some of whom were Christians.  As I had more chance to look closer into their lives, I became more fascinated by their religious beliefs and their church-going habits. I wanted to experience my perception of such pleasant church visits and hence started going to prayer meetings held on Sundays at various venues as well as to churches, without even knowing the difference between Catholics and Protestants. For me, all of them were Christians who believed in Christ, and I was happily enjoying myself in the midst of them, listening to the sermons and the preaching.

I even had an experience of a session of hypnosis in a prayer meeting, conducted by evangelists visiting from abroad. When the pastor called upon people to come forward to be relieved of all their sorrows, I went forward, while my Christian friend, not moving from his seat, watched me going towards the people on the podium.

A lady put her hand on my head and the next moment, I could faintly remember falling on the floor and lying down there for few minutes before I got up and made my way back to my place next to my friend.

I kept all my church and prayer meeting visits as secret as I could from my family, as I thought for sure they would panic, if they came to know about it.  But eventually it happened.  When my mother became aware of my interest towards the Christian faith, she made a big issue out of it and warned me not to continue with it. For me, it all seemed an unnecessary fear and I explained to my mother that I was not doing anything wrong, and tried my best to assure her that I would never allow myself to be converted into a Christian, and I really meant it.

And it happened once in a prayer meeting on Sunday that, after the services, when I went to have a few words with the pastor, he asked me with a pious smile, "So, when are you going to take your Baptism?" I smiled at him too, thinking for a moment and said, "I am not yet ready for that Pastor. Let me think and decide." Without trying to persuade me any further, he said, "All right, as you wish."

Although I liked and loved Christ very much, I had a somewhat rebellious mindset, feeling why should I have to become an "official" Christian to love and follow Jesus? Nevertheless, I increased my Bible reading and prayer activities to a regular basis, which was giving more worries to my mother and siblings. They were becoming concerned by the thought that I was moving away from the family and our "culture".

Watching me becoming more involved, they imagined that I had already been converted. Meanwhile I was trying to convince myself about the idea of baptism, but I could not come to a clear decision. I still had the question in my mind, "Would not Christ accept and love me, even if I don't convert?"  I spent a lot of time thinking.  I didn't want to hurt my loving mother, and didn't want to agonise my family any more.

Hence, I began to slowly reduce my "activities" which had worried them a lot. I decided not to 'convert'.  I stopped going to prayer meetings. I remained a Christian by liking Christ. I liked it that way. I thought, "Who should decide if I am a Christian or not?"  I didn't need anyone's permission to believe in Jesus. And those ideas are continuing in my mind till today.

So, I looked at the man on my doorstep now and I told him, "Please understand sir, I have no time to talk to you now, moreover, by identity I am a Hindu, yet I LOVE JESUS. I do it within my limitations as a Hindu. Don't try to persuade me. Let me go on with my work now, please". With an obvious disappointment on his face, he nodded quietly, and turned towards the gate.

For a second, I thought, I should not be so blunt to a believer who came to my doorstep to talk about the Lord. So said, "Excuse me Sir, if I agree to listen to you, would you try to finish it quickly? He turned back with a surprised expression and smile on his face and said, "Yes, of course!"

He started and finished whatever he had to convey in a very short time. In my mind, I appreciated him for his dedication and not wasting a mere opportunity to do something for his faith.

He took out some pamphlets from the folder he held in his hand and offered them to me. I took them while I had a thought in my mind. I did not waste time in informing him that I had something to tell him too. This time, he looked at me questioningly and said, "Yes madam, what is it?"

I told him briefly about my past experiences and ideas. He listened to me very attentively. He nodded thoughtfully. I could guess he was in deep thought. After few moments, he said, "Madam, your experiences are really interesting and meditative. I think I have to share this with my fellow believers, thanks for showing me an entirely different perspective of evaluating one's faith, May God Bless you".

He drank a glass of water I offered him, and turned to walk away. I stood there watching him leave, when he turned and said with a bright smile, "Keep your faith".