Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Stephen David's Testimony

The following is Stephen David's Testimony. Incredible, yes it is.


He Transformed My Life

It is written in the Holy Bible, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3). I gladly take this privilege to testify of the goodness and the greatness of God in my life. The following message is a brief testimony of my life and most importantly, of His grace upon me.

Life before Christ

Family Background
I was born in the year 1976, on September 30th, in a lower class family. We lived in an inner-city slum for years. Half of my life was spent there and I remember the difficult times our family went through. My papa was a bus driver and poured his whole life for the upbringing of our family. My mom was a housewife and she too sacrificed her life for the service of her children and husband. My parents begat three sons and one daughter, also adopted two cousins. I am the youngest and of course, the most pampered son.

Religious Upbringing
Our family was not quite religious and I do not know what it is to grow in a godly family. Our religious background was basically Roman Catholicism; however, my family believed in polytheism and therefore all of us were idolaters. I still remember how as a child I used to go with my family to various religious places of different religions. We worshipped anything or anyone the crowd followed.

My elder brother, in his teens, happened to become a devotee of one of the admired gods of India, ‘Shirdi Sai Baba.’ Not only did he lead others to become the followers of Baba, in the year 1990, he also won me over to become Baba’s follower. I became an ardent worshipper of Baba and followed various rituals. To me all religions were various roads to God and I did not mind accepting anything that seemed to be appealing. Like many others, I did not care to examine my beliefs or practices as long as something good resulted according to what I had desired.

Secular Education
I suppose there is not much to speak about my academics. I was not a bright student and with much difficulty studied up to class 10th. I became too mischievous when I was in the 9th class and caused problems in the school. After coming to the 10th, I started to bunk classes, watch filthy movies and loaf around. Because of my misconduct, my Principal almost decided to terminate me from the school. Due to my family’s pleading, he relented and gave me another chance to continue my studies. Nonetheless, I continued to live a rebellious life.

In the year 1991, I worked hard for a while and finished my matriculation. I do not take the credit of passing the exam because I cheated. Moreover, I was having an affair with a girl at that time. Over the time of my entrance into the college, though I was unfit to take subjects relating to medicine, because my girl friend chose to do Bi.P.C, I too opted the same. Sadly, I could not finish my college while my girl friend went through and eventually became a physiotherapist.

During my college years, my family was under dire financial struggles. My father went to United Arab Emirates to earn a lot of money to support my family, but regretfully he was deceived by the agent. He suffered terribly in the desert and lost his health. With a hope that our father is going to send surplus amount of money, my family went ahead and got my sister married. After her marriage, our hopes were shattered and our family went into debts and faced severe accusations and insults from the creditors.

My father went to the extent of selling his kidney in UAE to help us in our desperate condition but the doctors had to reject his plea because he had acquired diabetes. Removing his kidney would inevitably cost his life. Here in India, not knowing what to do, my mother and brother virtually decided to commit suicide, after giving poison to the rest of the family members. Thankfully, by the grace of Jesus Christ, things did not happen as they desired. Eventually, it took almost eight painful years to come out of our debts.

During those pathetic circumstances, I stopped going to college and started to work as a waiter in a pub where there was a kind of cabaret act. I almost lost interest in studies by then and was caught up in a mood to earn money and enjoy life. If asked today about my secular academic studies, I must honestly admit that I am not a well-educated person, having only a tenth class certificate, that too passed in first class by cheating in the exam.

Indulgence in Wickedness and Evil Habits
Encircled by the poverty in my family, I supposed money to be the answer for life. I resolved to earn as much money as I could, be it through good or evil ways, to live a carefree and pleasurable life. Through lying and by producing fake educational certificates I secured work in a secular organization. There I began to misappropriate money. Once caught without sufficient proof, I was transferred to the main branch under disciplinary action. However, that would not restrain a person who had already committed himself to acquire riches by any and all means.

My only aim was to become an affluent person through whatever means. I was pursuing various illegal ways to reach my goal. In 1995, one person, whom I suppose to be a maoist, had observed my radical life and offered me money to commit a murder. Without taking time, I immediately consented to do anything for money. However, we both had a conflict later and the plan to murder failed. I thank God for not letting that happen.

In my wild passion to obtain money and pleasure, I began to sink lower and lower in behavior and morality. I got addicted to smoking and loved to drink. Once I got drunk to such an extent that I almost behaved like an animal and fell unconscious on the road. My friends carried me to my house and I slept like a dead man for more than normal hours. Due to smoking, even today if I run fast for a little distance, I struggle to breathe normally for at least half an hour. I was earning a lot of money in an improper way and lived a hedonistic life. There were times I ended up in a police station twice and in a court case on a petty issue. I was lured into pornography and lost the basic moral senses of humanity. My heart was wretched, my speech abusive and my lifestyle horrible.

Encountering Jesus Christ
In living a wicked life, my heart became terribly restless and I started to question myself about where I was heading. I was told about Jesus Christ but I was reluctant to either hear or believe. To me, money and pleasure was the answer for life. Believe me, my family was scared of my lifestyle and some of them, who already believed in Christ, started praying for me.

There came a time when I was preparing to commit a crime along with my friends. During that process, on June 26th 1996, something happened to me that changed the rest of my life. A heavy conviction came on my heart when I woke up in the morning and my mind was bombarded with questions about my life and future. There was nothing auspicious or miraculous encounter to think about God. On that day I happened to go to the temple of Sai Baba, along with my relatives, and stood before the idol as the devotees were coming in one by one to worship. To me all gods were one and I found nothing wrong in differing religious practices.

However, on that day a powerful conviction gripped my heart and my sins emerged before me. I could clearly sense my evil heart. The Holy Bible actually condemns idolatry and it was obvious to me that it is sin to worship idols. The thoughts about Jesus were becoming more real to me. It may sound strange to hear, there in the Baba’s temple, I knelt with a repentant heart and gave my life to Christ Jesus and became His follower. Oh, I was born-again!

Life after Christ
When I became a Christian, my life drastically changed. Jesus transformed a horrible beast like me. I came to know that there is only one God and none other and salvation is only in Jesus’ name (Isaiah 45:22; Acts 4:12). When I shared this with my friends they mocked at me and abandoned me for taking a decision to follow Christ. I wasn’t disturbed much because the love of God was all-sufficient for me. I learned during that time, “People may love me thinking that I am good but God loves me knowing that I am bad.”

After being saved by Jesus Christ, I was passionate to know God more and more. I knew nothing about God and the Holy Bible except the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only thing I knew was that Jesus loves me, laid His life for me on the Cross and rose on the third day and that He was the only Savior and hope for the perishing world. The Lord made a way for me to join in a Bible college. I wasn’t good at speaking English and I struggled a lot to learn there. During my theological studies, initially, I could not preach well in English due to language barrier.

Thankfully, God gave me the grace to become a diligent reader of the Holy Bible. For the first time in my life I started to spend long hours in reading the books in the library. Finally, after three years, I completed my graduation in theology upgrade my theological education. Currently, the Lord has blessed me with preaching, teaching and writing ministry.

I must also mention that there were ups and downs in my Christian life. There were times I turned my back on the Lord and grieved His heart. Nevertheless, God chased me in His love and persevered patiently with me. He is constantly working in my life and now I cannot imagine my life without Jesus. The joy that I have in Him now is nothing compared to what I was pursuing in the world before coming to Christ. I am eternally grateful to know that the Lord Jesus Christ alone is the answer for life.

Final Words

Once in a hopeless condition, our family is now a mighty witness of Jesus Christ. My elder brother, C. Nelson David (a former devotee of Sai Baba), was the first person in our family to believe in Christ. Today he is an outstanding servant of God and a lecturer in a bible college. My papa trusted Jesus in his latter days and went to be with the Lord in the year 2003. My sister, Vinolia, is also in the Lord’s work. My mom has an evangelistic heart and passionately shares about Jesus with many women. My girl friend, Chaitanya Devi, trusted Christ in 1997 and we both got married in 1998 and are blessed with a wonderful son, C. Jason David.

Dear reader, if I was not saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, I would have become either a smuggler or a criminal. Jesus is the One who is able to save and change sinful lives. You may not be as worse as I was but the Holy Bible says that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); and the finished work on the Cross for the atonement of our sins, our sins are forgiven, our lives are transformed and we have eternal life.

My life is a testimony of what God can do through a man who can do nothing by himself. Yes, He can bring the best out of the worst. The following Scripture is something I ought not to forget in my life: “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one my boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Glory be to God!

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