‘Jesus, did you really die for me?’

1057
Susheela Raghunathan

Susheela Raghunathan(SUSHEELA Raghunathan has done her BA in Political Science and MA in Defence & Strategic Studies. Although her ambition was to appear for the civil services examination and become an IAS officer, the mother of three children is now a happy homemaker and a fiery evangelist who does not miss an opportunity to share the love of her Lord Jesus Christ with all those she comes across. Susheela, who is in her mid-thirties, counts it as a great privilege to be an Ambassador for Christ. She is the Secretary of Christhava Brahmana Seva Samithi, an organization that helps converts from among Brahmins find their identity in Christ, grow in the Word and share the Gospel to their fellowmen. She can be reached at 0-9841296092 or susheelic [at] yahoo [dot] com Editor.)

By SUSHEELA RAGHUNATHAN

I was born as the second child in a Namboodiri family from Kerala. As Hindu Brahmins we were quite religious and traditional in our approach. My mother gave birth to four other children besides me. Astrologers predicted that my father would die if I was born. They also suggested that if my father went overseas he would be able to ward off the evil effect of my birth. As a result, he took leave from his office, a government enterprise, and went abroad. However, when he returned home after sometime, he was placed under suspension because some of his detractors inspired his department to charge him with holding an office of profit while still being in government service. The family fell into bad times and all the misfortune was blamed on my birth.

All this was too much to bear for a sensitive child like me. I was blamed for every bad thing that happened in my family. In desperation, I turned to the deities at home and prayed for recompense to be made to my family. Meanwhile, my father had moved the high court to challenge his suspension order.

I studied in a convent run by Catholic nuns. One verse that was found on the wall of a nearby church compound was this: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’. This verse used to comfort me a lot as I was burdened by the tag of bringing bad luck to my family. Even as a child, I used to go the chapel in my school and chant mantras. Somehow the serenity of the place brought me much peace. When I was nine years old, one of my aunts whom I adored came home. While chatting with her, my mother again raised the issue of how I brought bad luck to the family. That was the proverbial last straw. That day, at the chapel in the school I broke down before the crucifix of Jesus Christ. There was a caption below the crucifix that said ‘I died for you.’ I said, ‘Jesus, did you really die for me?’ ‘Is there anyone who loves me in the world?’ At some point during my tearful prayer, I felt someone tapping me. I turned around and found none but heard a voice tell me ‘I am there for you.’ That was a real experience for me. An inexplicable sense of joy filled my heart and I thought to myself ‘This Jesus, the God of Christians is very nice and kind.’ That day, I added an image of Jesus Christ along with the deities in the pooja room of our home.

Around that time, I received a copy of the New Testament from Gideons International at our school. Fearing reprisal, I wrapped it with an old newspaper sheet, stuck a school label on it to disguise it as a text book before taking it home. Though I didn’t quite understand many of the passages in the Bible, the Book of Psalms appealed to the wronged child in me. I could empathize with most of the situations that the psalmist was in and identified myself with him. I knew the Lord’s Prayer by heart and started saying that along with our regular chants and mantras at home.

While I was in 9th standard, there was a poor Christian boy, Wesley, in our neighborhood who used to study his lessons under the street lamp at night. My father took pity on him and let him come home and study with us. Wesley knew of my love for Jesus Christ and Christians. I used to envy Christians as I found them to be generally a happy lot. One day, Wesley asked me if I had accepted Jesus as my personal Savior? I didn’t know what that meant. When I pestered Wesley to tell me how I could accept Jesus as my Savior, he led me to say the prayer of salvation. No sooner had I finished the prayer than I started speaking in tongues. Later, Wesley told me I had just been anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I accepted Jesus Christ and the Lord revealed to me that He is the Only Way, the Truth and the Light and there are no other gods besides Him. Until then, I had considered myself a cursed being for being blamed for every misfortune.  But now I was a new being; the new infilling of the Holy Spirit gave me a new identity in Christ. Much later, God answered my question about why He allowed so many misfortunes in my life. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, it is said: ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…’

Around the same time, my father lost the court case after 13 years. Although he moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order, there was a lot of strife at home and even the latest misfortune was blamed on my birth. However, this time it didn’t bother me because I was being strengthened in the Lord and His Word. I restarted my prayer of recompense for my father although this time it was in Jesus’ Name that I prayed. I prayed God should win the case for my father and recompense him by giving him salaries of all the years he had lost along with interest. Exactly a year later, my father won the case in the Supreme Court. The court ordered that all my father’s dues be paid to him along with interest and rejoin the company with the promotion he was eligible for. While we were all thrilled at this happy development, only I knew the Lord had fought the case and won it for us. This incident served to increase my faith in Jesus. Slowly, I was confident enough to share the Gospel with my siblings. One day, my father saw me reading ‘Our Daily Bread’. In a fit of rage, he grabbed the booklet from my hands, tore it and burnt it. Not satisfied with that, he beat me up as well for bringing ‘discredit’ to the family by bringing Christian literature home. However, by God’s grace slowly, one by one all my siblings came to the Lord and accepted Jesus as their Savior.

On Aug 14, 1995, I took baptism along with my younger sister. I was in my second year of college. At college, I was boldly sharing the Gospel with my friends. I told anyone who cared to listen that Jesus Christ is the only solution to all problems. Since the burden for souls was increasing in me, I was happily sharing the love of Jesus Christ with everyone I came across. God enabled me to bring many souls to His kingdom. While I was doing my post-graduate studies, an elderly woman from a neighborhood accosted me on the road and asked me if I was going to the church. Afraid she might sneak it to my parents, I reluctantly told her that I was. She immediately asked me if I had also taken water baptism. I told her I had. The woman held my hands with love and jumped up and down on the road. She told me how she had been praying for the salvation of my family for several years. Her prayers, she said, were being answered now. Today, all my family members have come to Jesus Christ. My mother passed away last year at the age of 59. However, she had also accepted Jesus as her Lord before she died. One of my brothers is in the Middle East. Along with his work, he labors in God’s Vineyard trying to win Muslims for Christ. My father is in his seventies. It gives me great joy to see him grow in the Lord.

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