Category Archives: Indian

The Indian National Anthem – Pointing to Jesus?

Today India celebrates its Independence Day. 70 years ago on August 15th 1947, India was formally released from British domination.  India has always been deeply religious, and its National Anthem reflects this. Here is the romanized version of the Indian National Anthem, that is sung in Bengali

Janagaṇamana-adhināẏaka jaẏa hē
Bhāratabhāgyabidhātā!
Pañjāba Sindhu Gujarāta Marāṭhā
Drābiṛa Utkala Baṅga
Bindhya Himācala Yamunā Gaṅgā
Ucchalajaladhitaraṅga
Taba śubha nāmē jāgē,
Taba śubha āśiṣa māgē,
Gāhē taba jaẏagāthā.
Janagaṇamaṅgaladāẏaka jaẏa hē
Bhāratabhāgyabidhātā!
Jaẏa hē, jaẏa hē, jaẏa hē,
jaẏa jaẏa jaẏa jaẏa hē.

The following link is a very powerful rendition, sung by many famous Indian singers. The Indian National Anthem is actually a prayer, which can be translated in this way:

You are the ruler of the minds of all people,
Dispenser of India’s destiny.
Your name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat and Maratha,
Of the Dravida, Utkala and Bengal;
It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
mingles in the music of Yamuna and Ganga and is
chanted by the waves of the Indian Ocean.
They pray for Your blessings and sing Your praise.
The saving of all people waits in Your hand,
You dispenser of India’s destiny.
Victory, victory, victory to You.

Jesus is the God who is described in this prayer, although the poet Nobel prize winner Rabindranath Tagore did not realize it. Below, I have broken down this translation along with corresponding verses in the Bible ascribing these attributes to Jesus.

Indian National Anthem

The Bible

You are the ruler of the minds of all people
  • His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation … He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth (Daniel 4:34-35)
  • The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will (Proverbs 21:1).
You are the … Dispenser of India’s destiny
  • Jesus alone holds the scroll containing the destinies of the nations in the palm of His hand, and opens it. No one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it .. [but] .. the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll. .. Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Rev 5:4-9)
Your name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat and Maratha,Of the Dravida, Utkala and Bengal;
  • And He made … every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, … that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. (Acts 17:26-27).
  • God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Acts 2:9-11)
[Your Name] echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas, mingles in the music of Yamuna and Ganga and ischanted by the waves of the Indian Ocean.They … sing Your praise.
  • The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).
The saving of all people waits in Your hand
  • Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
  • And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Victory, Victory, Victory to You!
  • Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him (Rev 1:7)
  • Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah [Jesus], the Root of David, has conquered (Rev. 5:5).

The National Anthem reminds me of a passage in Acts 17:23. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. There is an urgency, because the Bible says:The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:30). May God reveal Himself in truth and glory to all the people of this great nation.

Baby, Oh Baby! Lost & Found at the Cross

Here is the transcript of my life story.

“It’s a girl!”

So began my life in a hospital located right beside a lake where unwanted baby girls were drowned, near Bangalore, India. Fortunately for me, in a country where over 50 million baby girls are missing through gendercide, my birth mother chose life! I can only imagine the horror of life as an orphan if left abandoned after birth. I was then adopted at 10 months old, just six months after my severely traumatized six year old brother. He had seen his birth-mother take her life by setting herself on fire, and suffered from severe RAD and PTSD. We were given love, family, encouragement and a future in the US with our new “forever family”, and more importantly, the hope of an eternity with Jesus.

My adoptive parents felt God’s call to adopt, as it stands as a testimony reflecting the heart of the gospel, where God adopts each one of us who repents and accepts His free gift of forgiveness through His Beloved Son Jesus’ death on the cross. Just as Christians become a part of God’s forever family, my brother and I would become a part of their “forever family”. However, my family and I faced much rejection from other Indian families and friends because orphans are deemed less valuable than their biological peers with bad “karma”.  Adoption is discouraged in Indian society.

During the teen years, my world started spinning around me as life overwhelmed me. I struggled with the primary trauma of losing my birth-mother, and the secondary trauma of living under my older brother’s severe suffering. Everyone around me seemed to have easy, perfect lives. I had many deep questions but no answers. Why would God allow me to be abandoned? Who was I? Where did I belong? What were my roots? Why couldn’t I meet my birth family?

I was angry at Jesus and at my adoptive parents, and began rebelling. Meanwhile, God in His grace miraculously touched and transformed my older brother’s life. He had suffered for eleven years, and our family had struggled much along with him. God’s touch on His life was awesome and complete. But I didn’t care. I was angry. My brother had been my ally in suffering, yet now he had left me behind. I felt like I was living a nightmare and was lost and alone. During my high school years, I didn’t even feel alive. I was functioning on the outside but was broken, hurting and alone on the inside. I didn’t know what to do and I collapsed. My brother’s engagement was the tipping point when I was done for it seemed like life wasn’t worth it as anyway, everyone I loved were going to abandon me.

My parents persisted day and night, pleading and interceding on my behalf. My Mom and Dad can tell you how many sleepless nights they spent on her knees. They had decided that I was their daughter and so they let me know that they weren’t giving up without a fight.

And as always God truly does work in mysterious ways. As of October of 2016, I rededicated and surrendered my life to Christ, and have been continually learning to love, learn and grow in him. I have learnt that I have a long way to go, but He is a God who specializes in loving us through our messes.

All of us have sinned and rebelled and fallen short of God’s glory – we are ALL spiritual orphans. God took it upon Himself to pay the price to redeem us adopting us sinful and broken as we were into His family, giving us a brand new identity as His daughters, making us co-heirs with Jesus. I hope each one of you here has believed and been adopted into His family today! If not please talk to me. With this incredible gift that we have received, He calls us to give back!

Now, If I were to ask a room of you the question, “Are you pro-life”, I am sure that most of you would raise your hand- but the numbers significantly dropped when discussing adoption or foster care. I have come to realize that being pro-life as defined by God’s standards to support the life that is created from conception to life’s final breath, and adoption plays a huge role in being pro-life.

John Piper, a well-renowned pastor and theologian states that, “Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.”

In fact in the book of Ephesians 1:4-6, it states: He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

There is no way around it. Adoption is the heart of the gospel to help love children like me in hard places become a human reflection of God’s love. Throughout scripture, God has called people to care for orphans.

So how did this translate to our own lives today?

I would really encourage each one of you to develop a culture of orphan care and adoption in your own families, but specifically adoption as it gives a child a forever home. It is one of the hardest things that you and your family might be apart of and do, but can also make an eternal difference to a child like me, who would have otherwise had no hope in both this life and in eternity.

For starters, I would encourage you to come and help in a conference  which helps give refreshment and rest to those people who have adopted and fostered children. The parents are usually on the frontlines of the battle fighting for their children with often no rest- this is a time to rejuvenate them and help them feel the love of Christ. Maybe you can sponsor a family to go, pray for them, provide them with childcare or bless them with a gift card, bag, vacation, cash, etc. Over 1500 parents attend from all around country and there is a need for over 600 volunteers to be Christ’s hands and feet to them. Or find an adoptive or foster family in your school,  church, neighborhood, co-op, or at your extracurricular activity center and encourage them with kind words, meals, housekeeping, organizing, gifting them a date night, etc. Lean towards and embrace these families not away from them because you perceive them as different. Let God show you how to care – it’s critical, it’s needed. My family would not be standing but for God using the few who loved us enough to care. And maybe, just maybe, God will then ask you to step into the world of one lost precious child whom you can call your own!

Its still a painfully hard journey and Satan tempts me to slip back into my brokenness and loss. I have a long road of healing ahead and I can come through victorious only with Jesus’ help. So, please pray for me that I will find my identity and hope in Christ alone!

As 1 John 3:1 states: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

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Oceans Apart My Bride!

What is on the mind of a young man who has just graduated from college and started working full-time? Definitely anything but marriage! Yet, here I am engaged to be married to a bride who is 10,000 miles away! God has a strange sense of humor!

The summer after my graduation, my family and I were planning a three-week vacation to India. Before leaving, my parents had joked with me about finding me a girl in India, and I had firmly said “NO”. The idea was unthinkable because I had lived most of my life in the US, and hardly had a connection to India. This trip was to be a fun vacation exploring Bangalore the home town of my parents, and visiting friends.

Near the end of an enjoyable stay in India, a family friend invited me to share my life story in her church small group. This was just two days before our family was returning back to the US. After I spoke, another young lady named Shirley also shared about her experiences during a summer internship she had returned from in Germany. She was excited about how God had been leading her, and mentioned that she had been accepted into the PhD program there. This did not seem particularly extraordinary because many people go abroad from India to study. However, soon after that, her mother also shared their family’s story, talking about their struggle after her husband had suffered a stroke 13 years prior, which had left him semi-paralyzed. This made me look at Shirley’s story in a whole new light. She was different to most young people I had met thus far. I was amazed at this family’s faith and trust in the Lord Jesus despite their extremely tough circumstances. I believe it was their sufferings that refined their faithI have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10). Incidentally, my parents were impressed too and nudged me, saying that this was the kind of girl they would like me to find as my future wife!

We ran into each other during dinner and we had a short conversation, along with a few other young people there. Shirley intrigued me that evening. I really wanted to get to know her more. She was not on social media at that time, so I gave her my number just before the evening ended. Though our family needed to leave India the following Sunday, we stayed in touch by texting. After I returned to the US,  I started communicating more purposefully with my parents’ permission and blessing. Fast-forward to a month later – after innumerable conversations, a lot of prayer, and our parents’ guidance, I asked Shirley to marry me. By now I had come to know that she was beautiful inside and out, refined through the furnace of suffering and sorrow by God. This may seem unusual to many. But as the Bible says, I had an intimate relationship with God as my Father, when I put my trust in Jesus.  So you are … a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:7). I had really prayed and asked God to lead me, and was confident that I could trust my Heavenly Father, to give only what was best for me. The Bible promises: And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it”, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left (Isaiah 30:21). So when I proposed to Shirley, I trusted that God would lead me through her response on whether He wanted me to marry her or not. To my delight, Shirley accepted! We went back to India on a very short trip where I formally got her Dad’s permission and proposed to her on one knee with all our family around us! We had a wonderful formal engagement on October 31, 2015 with many family and friends as our witnesses, celebrating the commitment we were making to each other before God.

It’s been a whole year of patiently waiting and living continents apart. Thanks to Skype and WhatsApp, our love has continued to blossom and grow. I long for the day when my beloved bride will arrive here in the US for our wedding, and our future life together.

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Marriage – Love or Arranged – For Better, For Worse

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Choosing whom or what we worship is THE most important decision any human being makes. Jesus demands that choice of us. The second most important decision is choosing a life partner. Over the past few years, Peter and I have had a chance to talk to several young people about marriage and finding a life partner. The world we live in is messed up and broken and divorce appears rampant. Young people often seem afraid and confused and appear to assume that finding a spouse is a 50-50 hit or miss. How can anyone be sure? “Unless the Lord builds a home, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1 We don’t need to worry if we need to get to know a person by dating them for long periods or if we meet them just once before we marry if Jesus is in the midst of the equation. Ultimately, life is not a sprint but a marathon. No one controls life anyway. Those who struggle much in the first 10 – 15 years may still have the most wonderful overall marriage while those who appear totally compatible and in love at the start might struggle in the long run. What Peter and I have found is that when we have Jesus looking out for us, though life may not be easy, it is ultimately a 100% hit because He gives the needed grace and Romans 8:28 is true!

Here’s our story! “I rather reluctantly packed my bags in June 1991 to make our first trip back to India since our emigration to the US a couple of years prior. I was still in the midst of doing my Masters in Computer Engineering at the University of Missouri – Rolla. I was not really interested in meeting anyone in India as I had my “list” of desires for my future spouse and returning to India was definitely not one of them! At that time, I only had a “Green Card” which God had miraculously gifted me allowing me to arrive in the US with my family just the day before my 21st birthday. Our family had waited for over 7 years for the immigration papers and I would not be allowed to travel with them after 21 – yet, I squeaked through! But now, if my spouse was in India, I would not be able to sponsor him as I was far from being a US citizen which meant either I give up my chance of living here in the US where almost all my family lived or I would have to return and wait a 3 year separation while I get my US citizenship. I was definitely not interested in going down that path!

But God had other ideas. The day before we were to leave, a friend from church at the university prayed with me and advised me to surrender all my desires to the Lord Jesus, to yield completely to His will and to see Him work! As I prayed that day, I realized that God was the loving Father who desired only the very best for my eternal future and if I profess to be a Christian, I must trust Him and live out my faith. I had to trust in promises like Romans 8:28 “God causes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” So, I surrendered and told God that I would trust in His best even if it meant change. I then threw out my list of desires for a future spouse and life and my main desire now was for a man who loved Jesus more than I did – who would lead me towards a closer relationship with God. I also asked God if possible, that my husband should be equally or more educated than me. I also did ask God if possible that the first proposal be the one as I disliked meeting unknown people! Of course, I strongly felt dowry ( a rampant evil in India) was wrong and totally out of the question. So, Mom and I, accompanied by my little cousins Neetha and Priya, went to spend two months in Bangalore – Dad would follow for 3 weeks.

At the end of May 1991, our Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was suddenly assassinated. When we arrived in the beginning of June, India was still in mourning. Unknown to me, God was using even political events to change my life! Peter had just completed 3 years of his Ph.D in Physics at TIFR in Bombay. He had eagerly looked forward to a vacation with his uncles’ families in Malaysia that summer. His passport however had been sent for renewal but had not come back as the Indian Government had shut down due to the assassination. So, now he was forced to change course and came to visit his parents in Bangalore instead.

My cousin’s Grandma on their dad’s side Mrs. Ida Mony also came to spend time with them. She was a gentle, sweet lady with a beautiful smile. She wanted to visit a known family in Bangalore as they had been family friends of hers in Malaysia. She also suggested that their son Peter was visiting Bangalore and asked if she could take a letter with my information to them to prayerfully see how God would lead. My Mom and Grandparents thought it was a good idea. Ida Aunty came back with the news that though the son was not seriously considering marriage he was willing to consider and see if it was God’s will, so they would like to meet the next day.

Peter’s parents came on June 28, 1991 to meet my family and to talk to me. I still remember his Mom praying at the start of the meeting that if it was NOT God’s will, that He would block our human efforts which was exactly how we felt. They had also lived in Bangalore most of their lives with similar family, faith and community background to ours. They asked me about my life in the US and about my faith walk. They liked me a lot, we liked them too. They wanted their son, Peter to meet me the very next day! Peter was the first guy I was being introduced to in Bangalore, he was brought up with a strong faith and relationship with Jesus, he had a similar upbringing to mine, he was working on his Ph.D and his family was against dowry! We looked forward to meeting him.

Peter, his parents and sister’s family came over the next evening to a down pour of Bangalore monsoon rains. Thatha’s home was a very old, high ceiling, tiled roof building which would leak when it rained heavily. It was amusing the way drops started falling inside as we all sat and talked! Showers of blessings? The atmosphere was comfortable despite the rain.

Peter and I went to Thatha’s front office room to have a private talk. We asked each other the most important questions about our faith walk. Peter being the academician, of course had his list of points in his head that he asked me, while I just talked! But in just ONE hour, we both were convinced that as we and our families had prayerfully approached this, God had clearly led us to commit ourselves to marriage. His family left soon after. That night, his Mom called my Mom and said that they were very happy that we had agreed on getting married! Dad was on the flight from the US that night and we surprised him he next morning with the good news of his future son-in-law! He met them that week as plans were made for our formal betrothal ceremony and to discuss the details.

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Interestingly, God had led me to commit my life to a man who strongly felt that he was called at that time to live his faith in India. Because I had already worked this out with the Lord, I was able to accept it more easily. Peter’s family were not wealthy, he was still studying and on a student’s stipend and he had warned me that the beginning of our life would be really hard – again, God had already worked on my heart and it did not matter to me. He was also a more thoughtful, often absent minded academician. We had a lot of details to work out but as we both were still studying, we would get engaged and wait a year to be married the following June. It was a huge step to commit to an unknown man who I had just met for an hour to whom I would be leaving family, friends, life as I knew it and move 10,000 miles to a new city in India to live in hardship. My confidence only came in the grace of God who we trusted completely, who knew everything and who had led us thus far.

We had a beautiful engagement ceremony where before God with our pastor, parents, family and friends (about 200 people), where we committed to wait for each other. It was a time of much rejoicing and fun. Peter shared his testimony which I heard for the first time. We both also sang the meaningful song below together.

Jesus stand among us, At the beginning of our lives
Be the sweet agreement, At the meeting of our eyes
O Jesus! We love you, So we gather here
Join our hearts in unity, And take away our fears
So to you we gather, Out of many different lands
Christ the love between us, At the joining of our hands

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With that we committed to a life of faithfulness to each other. Peter left for Bombay soon after and I returned to the US at the end of July. We worked hard and waited patiently a whole year. As both of us were poor students on scholarships, we had very little money to even call each other with each minute to call across the world costing over $2.00! But God graciously provided for us. As both of us were in universities, this being the pre-Internet days, we were one of the few who had free chat access across the world. This may seem trivial in today’s digital age, but it was very rare and fancy in the early 1990’s. I had friends who had run up $1000 phone bills calling fiancés back in India. We chatted everyday for hours totally free!

Satan of course was definitely not happy with all the goings on – a sure thing in a believer’s life. He began stirring up trouble in the form of Peter’s closest uncle who did not even live in India but began questioning whether the way the whole process had happened was in line with God’s will. He even wanted Peter to break off the engagement and start over. Sadly, this suddenly created a lot of confusion and attitude change in some in his family. Where there had been such joy, now there was doubt and confusion. But Peter stood strong. The decision had been made prayerfully, with full approval and blessing from his parents who had met me the day before we agreed, so, irrespective of external opposition, he was sure we were in the midst of God’s will.

Though outwardly there was a lot of fun and happiness at our wedding in June 1992 as we were surrounded by over a 1000 family and friends, deep down I was very sad at the shadows that had been cast and the lack of approval I was receiving from his family. We realized that real life had begun! Marriage we have learned is definitely the Divine Refiner’s fire where He takes two sinful, broken people who rub each other the wrong way and place them in a “Covenant” relationship with each other and Him. He uses marriage to sand down the rough edges and impress Jesus’ image on our lives.

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Peter and I have had innumerable issues to work through and we probably will until the day we die. But, we are 100% committed to each other until death do us part. Our wedding vows had included the words “As led by God, I, ………. take you …….., to be my lawfully wedded spouse…………….till death us do part, according to God’s Holy law and in the confidence of the enabling grace of God alone, I give you my pledge.” Looking back we realize the enormity of the truth of those words and how much we have needed “the enabling grace of God alone”. There have been many, many times when we have walked through very deep difficulties or have found each other lacking or failing and unable to fulfill human desires and needs – when it would have been easier to give up on our marriage emotionally, spiritually or physically. At times, we have failed and even done some of that temporarily. But we thank God that He has held us and continues to hold us and remind us of the covenant of our marriage.”

We look back over the 20 years of marriage and think we could not have chosen better what we needed and we thank God, He did! Life together with all it’s painful difficulties has drawn us as individuals into a deeper and more intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus. We are trying to choose to give thanks to the Lord in everything. We also realize how important it is to pray as we navigate life’s choppy waters. Happily ever afters do exist only if we are willing to fall on the mercy of the future grace of God!

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Thursday June 27, 2013: Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

We hear over and over again of marriages of precious friends breaking down with saddened hearts. We know that it is ONLY the grace of God that we both stand firm in this marriage covenant! Trials for 21 years has made our marriage extremely hard. God used His Word to remind us that it is in the brokenness of our lives, His grace is poured out and His love perfected. We stand today deeply loving each other in a marriage filled with God’s love, romance and commitment unlike what it was 21 years ago! We humbly fall before Jesus knowing it is ONLY His grace that has held us and our hearts are filled with eternal gratitude. So marriage is beautiful when we are in a covenant relationship with the God of this Universe! We were advised just 2 weeks ago to commit to read God’s Word and pray multiple times each day together and see how God works – so far that has been the best marriage advice we have ever received!

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