BROTHER BAKHT SINGH—A SAINT OF GOD
AN OVERVIEW OF HIS LIFE AND MINISTRY
By Dr. T.E. Koshy
"If any man serve Me, him will my Father honor." John 12:26
". . . he being dead, yet speaketh." Hebrews 11:4b
A Procession of Saints
On Friday, September 22, 2000, the city of Hyderabad came to a stand still--the Hebron, Hermon compounds, all adjacent roads and the main road (Chikkadapalli) between Golconda Cross Roads and Narayanaguda Cemetery, were like a sea of saints, numbering according to some estimates, a quarter of a million (two and one half lakhs). Shops and offices were closed. Traffic was diverted. Police and law enforcement officers struggled in vain to control the wave of multitudes that participated in the funeral procession. It took about three hours for the procession to cover the distance of three kilometers from Hebron to the cemetery. The funeral procession turned out to be the largest gospel procession Hyderabad had ever witnessed, where the weeping saints inched forward holding Bibles and Scripture banners, singing and praising God. What a witness for Christ and Him crucified. It was not a typical funeral procession but it was a victory parade for Christ triumphant, in honor of His humble servant who served Him so faithfully for about 70 years.
It seemed as though the Lord had accomplished so much even through the death of His beloved servant. The Lord was greatly glorified and magnified as an unprecedented throng of saints shook the city for Christ by proclaiming the gospel as they went. It was so awesome and glorious. People desiring to take a last glimpse of the casket containing the body of Bro. Bakht Singh climbed on trees, balconies and roofs of offices and houses along the three-kilometer stretch of Chikkadapalli Road. Hyderabad has never seen anything like it and probably never will. Even in church history a funeral procession of this magnitude has seldom occurred. The unusual occurrences in nature before and after his homecall reminded us that he was a man sent from God for the edification of His body and for His eternal glory. For example, just a few hours before he slept in Christ on Sunday, September 17th at 6:05 AM, there was an earthquake in and around Hyderabad coupled with continuous and unusual thundering and lightening. Lights were out and darkness blanketed the area for a while. Then on Friday, September 22nd, just before his funeral as the casket was being carried out from Hebron at about 11:30 AM while the sun was shining brightly, a rainbow circled the sun for a short time. As the rainbow disappeared, a shining ring, which looked like a "crown," appeared around the sun. Then suddenly scores and scores of pigeons flew over Hebron as the funeral procession proceeded to the cemetery.
People came from all over India and from around the world to pay their last homage and tribute to their spiritual father and saint of God, Bro. Bakht Singh. Weeping saints from across denominational barriers, languages, tribes and colors gathered together, praising God for every remembrance of this man of God who was indeed God's gift to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ worldwide. News of his homecall spread like wildfire and over 600,000 came to pay their last tribute to him from Sunday, September 17th through Friday September 22nd. His passing away brought an end to an era. Future church historians may refer to this period as Bro. Bakht Singh's era.
He Lived for Christ
What is the reason for such an outpouring of love, tears and honor for this simple man of God who began his ministry as an unknown itinerant preacher about 70 years ago in Colonial India? There are many reasons, but let me cite at least seven for this unprecedented honor showered upon him by God:
1) He was a grain of wheat that was willing to fall into the ground and die.
2) He followed the footsteps of his Master.
3) He loved the Lord more than his own life.
4) He did not count his life dear unto himself.
5) He finished the race with joy.
6) He fulfilled the ministry, which he received from the Lord.
7) He demonstrated the grace of God by his life and example.
His life and ministry exemplified the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the Apostle Paul. John 12:24-26 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor." Acts 20:24 says, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
Brother Bakht Singh was the spiritual father of tens of thousands in Asia as well as a spiritual role model and inspiration to believers across the world. He was India's foremost evangelist, revivalist and indigenous church planter who founded churches based on New Testament principles. In many respects all the five gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 were evident in him. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." No other saint of God was used more mightily than this man of God to turn many to righteousness in India. No other man of God had been used of God to spiritually impact his generation more than Brother Bakht Singh. Being a man he too had his flaws and frailties, but his spiritual strengths far outweighed his human weaknesses. Like the Apostle Paul he could say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." II Timothy 4:7
Bro. Bakht Singh was born to Hindu parents in Punjab (which is now part of Pakistan). He was raised as a Sikh . After graduating from Punjab University he went to England as a student of Agricultural Engineering. Bakht Singh miraculously accepted Christ in 1929 while in the West. In 1933 following his studies he returned to Colonial India with a clear call from God to be a witness for Christ among his own people in India. The Lord received him for his ministry on three conditions:
1. Do not join any organizations—serve all equally.
2. Do not make your own plan. Let Me guide you and lead you every step of the way.
3. Do not make your needs known to any human being. Ask Me only and I shall provide for your needs.
Brother Bakht Singh agreed. He resolved to trust God to guide him through prayer alone in carrying out that purpose. In seeking to obey God's call in various parts of undivided India, he underwent many trials and testings, but God sustained him through them all. After serving as an itinerant evangelist for a few years in Karachi and other parts of Punjab, God brought about a mighty revival through him in Martinpur (now part of Pakistan) and other places in Punjab. In 1937 he was a speaker at the Sialkot Convention, which was primarily organized by the Presbyterian Church and other major denominations. He spoke from Luke 24:5 "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" His preaching electrified the participants and organizers alike, both clergy and laity. In the words of Dr. J. Edwin Orr, British Church Historian, "Brother Bakht Singh is an Indian equivalent of the greater Western evangelists, as skillful as Finney and as direct as Moody. He is a first-class Bible teacher of the order of Campbell Morgan or Graham Scroggie."
Soon Bakht Singh became a household name among Protestant Christians throughout India. News of his extraordinary life and ministry flashed across the world through missionary magazines and newsletters. He was one of the most sought after young evangelists in India at that time. In one month alone he received more than 400 invitations from all over India. In 1938 he went to Madras and then on to Kerala and other parts of South India. Tens of thousands turned to Christ. According to Dave Hunt, author and writer, "The arrival of Bakht Singh turned the churches of Madras upside down. . . . Crowds gathered in the open air, as many as 12,000 on one occasion to hear this man of God. Many seriously ill were healed when Bakht Singh prayed for them, even deaf and dumb began to hear and speak."
Bro. Bakht Singh Establishes Jehova Shammah in Madras
Whenever the church--the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ--goes through spiritual decline, the Lord who is the Head of the church raises up His chosen vessels to bring back spiritual vitality. Bro. Bakht Singh was such a vessel chosen by God to bring back the glory of God in the Body of Christ throughout the world. Even though many turned to Christ through his preaching, they were not being discipled or built up spiritually by the lukewarm denominational churches. He fasted and prayed and sought the Lord's mind to do His will at any cost to remedy the problem. The Lord then led him and some of his co-workers to spend all night in prayer seeking His will for the future ministry.
After a time of fasting and prayer the Lord led him and his coworkers to establish a local church to fulfill the four-fold purposes of the church on the basis of Acts 2:42. These principles can be applied in any country in any culture without compromising the revealed Word of God. The four-fold purposes of the church are:
1) To show forth Christ's fullness (Eph 1:22-23)
2) To show forth Christ's unity – the unity of all believers (Eph 2:14-19)
3) To show forth His wisdom (Eph 3:9-11)
4) To show forth His glory ( Eph 3:21) and (Acts 2:42)—"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
The first church was established in Madras, Tamilnadu, called Jehovah Shammah on July 12, 1941 and the Lord began to multiply these churches across Andra Pradesh and other parts of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia and other parts of the world, now numbering into the thousands. Indeed Brother Bakht Singh can be called the father of the indigenous churches of India and abroad.
The Center of His Ministry Moves from Madras to Hyderabad
Brother Bakht Singh and some of his coworkers moved to Elim, Hyderabad on September 25, 1950. In the mid 1950's the Lord provided new facilities to house the local and extra local church ministry. He called the new place Hebron. The work of the Lord grew and multiplied. From the 1950's to the 1970's the local churches established by Brother Bakht Sing and his coworkers were the fastest growing local churches in India. These churches grew both qualitatively and quantitatively trying to show forth the four-fold purposes of the church.
In the year 1946 Brother Bakht Singh left India for ministry in Europe, UK, USA and Canada. The Lord used him mightily in every place, particularly at the Inter Varsity students' missions conference (now known as Urbana Convention) in Toronto, Canada, where he was one of the plenary speakers. Among those who attended the conference was Jim Elliott who was martyred in Ecuador in the 1950's along with four of his fellow American missionaries. In the 1950's Brother Bakht Singh ministered in Australia, various parts of Asia, Africa and the United States of America. Wherever he went the Lord used him to spread His fragrance. He was indeed a breath of fresh air in the midst of lukewarm churches and Christians who had a form of godliness yet denying the power thereof.
In Australia through his ministry the Lord constrained some believers to gather together on the basis of Acts 2:42. There are now several Assemblies, particularly in the Sydney area still gathering together as a result of Brother Bakht Singh's ministry there in the 1950's and 60's.
In 1969-70 Dr. Bob Finley of International Students Inc. invited Brother Bakht Singh to speak at the Indigenous Missions Institute, which was held in Washington, DC. The main purpose of the Institute was to give the returning Christian international students and scholars the vision of the New Testament church based on the New Testament principles already practiced by Brother Bakht Singh. During those years he also traveled extensively in various parts of the United States and Canada ministering in churches of different denominations. In 1969 and 1970 during his visit to the United States, he also spent time with us in Syracuse, New York, and encouraged us to start a local church based on Acts 2:42. In 1970 the Lord constrained us to start International Assembly which still continues today. In 1974, following his visit to Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland, Brother Bakht Singh visited various parts of Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. During that visit he advised me to hold a Holy Convocation in Syracuse, New York. The Lord led us to have the first Holy Convocation on October 18-22, 1974. The Lord blessed it so richly for the blessing of all who attended. The Lord enabled us to continue the Convocation until 1983. Brother Bakht Singh and his senior fellow workers came year after year for these Holy Convocations. We discontinued the Holy Convocation for some years and started again from 1993 onwards.
On his way back from the United States Brother Bakht Singh used to visit the UK and Europe, particularly France and the Middle East. Brother Bakht Singh shared with Brother E. Verborne and his fellow workers in France the importance of having a Holy Convocation to build up the Body of Christ. After much prayer Brother Verborne and his fellow saints were constrained by the Lord to start a Holy Convocation in Sarcelles, France in 1977. The Lord used these Holy Convocations to edify the scattered believers from various parts of Europe, the Middle East and other places.
Secret of His Spiritual Life
The Lord used Brother Bakht Singh as His chosen vessel to enrich and enhance the spiritual life of many around the world. He ministered Christ and the vision of the Church. Many asked him the secret of his spiritual life, as he was very unique in many areas of his life. Let me share at least a few.
1) His total dependence upon the living God.
2) He accepted the Bible as the Word of God and encouraged every believer to have his or her own Bible and to live in total obedience to the revealed Word of God. His insight into the Word of God and his photographic memory of the Scriptures are legendary. According to Robert Finley, President of Christian Aid Mission, "I have never seen a man who has a greater knowledge and understanding of the Bible than Bakht Singh. All our Western preachers and teachers seem to be children before this great man of God, Bakht Singh of India." During Brother Bakht Singh's visit to England in 1965 Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, the famed expositor and Bible teacher and Rev. Keith Samuel, one of the speakers at Keswick Convention met with Brother Bakht Singh. I was present at the meeting. They spent several hours with Brother Bakht Singh asking him questions from the Word of God. Brother Bakht Singh's answers challenged and surprised these men. Then Martin Lloyd-Jones asked Brother Bakht Singh how he got such insight into and knowledge of the Word of God. To that Brother Bakht Singh answered simply by reading and meditating on the Word of God upon His knees. Most of his life, until he became sick, he read the Bible upon his knees and meditated upon it for hours. The Holy Spirit of God revealed wondrous things out of His Word to him.
3) He sought and did God's will at any cost.
4) He had a passion for God and compassion for souls.
5) He discovered and practiced Biblical worship and encouraged all the saints both male and female to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
6) He encouraged fellowship among saints by introducing the love feast.
7) One of his greatest contributions was the annual Holy Convocations. The first Holy Convocation was held in Jehovah Shammah in Madras in December 1941, which lasted for 19 days. These Holy Convocations have been one of the hallmarks of Brother Bakht Singh's work and ministry. Norman Grubb, who was the International Director of World Evangelization Crusade, had this to say about his visit to the Holy Convocation in Hyderabad: "To us Westerners, the most striking part of the whole work with Brother Bakht Singh are the Holy Convocations held annually at Hyderabad. . . . Brother Bakht Singh puts on these Holy Convocations yearly where several thousand people are massed together in close quarters and all fed by the Lord for a week with no appeals to men. . . . Here is an Indian proving God."
8) Indigenization of New Testament principles in the local churches. After visiting Hyderabad in the 1950's, Norman Grubb noted in his book Once Caught, No Escape, "But in all my ministry experience I think these churches on their New Testament foundations are the nearest I have seen to a replica of the early church and a pattern for the birth and growth of the young churches in all the countries which we used to talk about as the mission fields."
9) The life of faith. Brother Bakht Singh was a man of faith. He trusted the Lord for all his needs throughout his life. The Lord honored his faith and not only provided for his needs and for the ministry but also used him mightily to challenge the people of God about the importance of trusting God for their needs.
10) The gospel processions testifying of Christ. During his gospel campaigns in every place he went, he held gospel processions going around the city/town turning them upside down for Christ. But the largest of all the gospel processions was the one that followed his casket to the cemetery where hundreds of thousands marched before and after the casket singing and praising God. Even though he died, his work and ministry follow him.
11) Life of prayer. Brother Bakht Singh was a man of prayer. He spent hours upon his knees in communion with the Lord seeking the Lord's mind regarding His will concerning the work and ministry. Therefore, the Lord also honored him and blessed him beyond any human understanding. This is one of the reasons why the Lord has used him so mightily for the edification of His Body and for the extension of His glorious kingdom both in India and abroad.
Even though he is dead yet he still speaks. We are richer for having known him and having been taught by him. The work that the Lord began through His servant and his early coworkers, such as Brother Fred Flack, Brother Raymond Golsworthy , Brother John Carter, Brother Dorairaj, Brother Rajamani and several others, may not only continue, but be multiplied till the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us rededicate ourselves to carry out his teachings and his vision so that local churches based on the New Testament pattern may be raised up all over the world for the edification of His Body and for His eternal glory.
How I Got Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory
The Personal Testimony of Brother Bakht Singh
"You have not chosen me but I have
chosen you and ordained you"
By these words the Lord is definitely pointing out that he takes first step in choosing. We do not knowHim first; and it is only when we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour that we understand this mystery.
I would like to tell you how the Lord chose me. I was very bitter against the Gospel of Christ. Though I was educated in a mission high school in the Punjab and spent seven years there, I never cared to know any thing about Christ. Most of us boys who were studying in the school hated Christians, and we used to make fun of Bible teachers and pastors. For five years I was in the boarding house. The Hindus and the Mohammedans lived on one side and the Christians on the other. During my five years' stay in that boarding, house I do not think I ever' visited the Christian side. That will give you some idea of my bitterness towards Christianity. I do not remember what I learned in those days, but I recollect that I used to hate the Christian boys who were studying with me. Most of us Hindu boys had a similar hatred against Mohammedans. But while with Mohammedan boys we used to play and talk freely, I do not think we ever made friends with Christian boys.
Once I had a beautiful Bible given to me after I had passed my Intermediate examination. I tore away the contents and kept the cover because of the beautiful leather binding. Throughout my school and college days I remained a bitter enemy of the Gospel of Christ. I was very orthodox in my own religion and spent many hours in the Sikh temples observing all the religious rites. Some of you may know that the Sikhs are well known for social service. I also took an active part in such work but I cannot say that I ever got any real joy in observing such rites or doing such service.
During my school days I used to have a dream. The Dream was that I was climbing a high and steep hill. With great difficulty and struggle I would reach the top. As soon as I reached it, somebody would come along and hurl me down. As I fell, the sharp points of the rocks would dig into my ribs. Thus I would be in great pain, so much so that I would cry out in my dream. But in the end I would find myself lying on soft silk cushions, so soft that I would sink into them. This lying on soft cushions would give me a heavenly feeling and I would say that, if one could get such joy on silk cushions, it was worth undergoing all the pain endured while falling down. When I was at the age of nine or ten I used to have this dream, but about six years ago this dream came to me, again, and the Voice said to me, "This is your testimony."
Like every schoolboy, I had many ambitions and ideas. Some of them were very high and some of them low, some of them noble and some of them base. With all humility I can say that I realized all my ambitions and desires. It is saying much, but there is not a single desire that I have not satisfied. My efforts and plans to satisfy my desires can be compared to my climbing this steep hill. But at every self-satisfaction and self-realization I was disappointed and disillusioned. So the disappointments and disillusionment represent my fall from the top of the hill. But the day came in my life when I experienced the joy of lying on the soft silk cushions and that day was when the Spirit and the life of Jesus Christ entered into my life.
My ambitions in life had been to go to England, travel around the world, obtain high education, enjoy the friendship of all kinds of people and remain faithful to my religion. Similarly I had a desire to wear smart clothes and eat high class food. I did not have these desires at an early age but they came later on and I was able to satisfy them all.
My father was not at all in favour of my going to England. He told me that he would give me any amount of money as he wanted me to help him in his business. He had set up a new cotton factory and he told me that he was counting on me, as the eldest son, for help. But I would say that I must go to England. After my B.A. examination I became very sad because my father would not let me go to England and nothing else would satisfy me. We were six brothers and my mother loved me more than any other of her children. So she said, " I will help you to go to England but promise me that you will not change your religion." I said to my mother, "Do you really believe that I would change my religion?" as at that time I was very proud of my Sikh religion. When I assured her about my loyalty and faithfulness she persuaded my father to let me go. My father being a business man was thinking in terms of money; my mother being a religious person was thinking in terms of religion. My father, however, said that he would try and send me all the money I needed and I promised that I would live very economically.
In September 1926, I reached England and joined the Engineering College in London for the Mechanical Engineering Course. When I got there I discovered that one could live very comfortably on eighty rupees a month. So I asked my friend why he wrote to me to come prepared to spend Rs. 300 a month. I said I was going to write to my father not to send me more than Rs. 80 a month. My friend said to me, "Don't be hasty. You wait for a few months and you will learn all about it." So I accepted his advice. With the result that I had to send false accounts. I used to write to my father, "I have spent Rs. 295.56 this month", even though I spent only eighty rupees. Thus for seven months I was able to save sometimes Rs. 200, sometimes Rs. 250 a month and I remember I had at the end of the period Rs. 1600 in the bank.
For the first three months in England I remained faithful to my religion. I kept my long hair and beard because the Sikhs never get their hair cut from any part of the body. Then I lost faith in keeping a long beard and hair but did not have the courage to get them cut. So I kept them on for six months, because I was afraid of what my friends would say if my beard were shaved, At last I thought of a solution. I said to a friend of mine that I would get them cut gradually, some that day, some the next day and in a month time all of it, I thought that by this means I would not feel embarrassed but what he did was to cut the beard from one side and leave the other half. So I said to him, "You may as well cut all". When I became clean - shaven I became an atheist, a socialist and a free thinker, and I said I would soon become a full-fledged European. Then I started smoking though as a Sikh I had never touched tobacco, I began to purchase expensive cigarettes and bought a gold case, and took great pride in showing the golden cigarette case to everyone. The next thing I did was to learn the use of liquor. I used to have very expensive clothes and spent Rs.400 for a suit, as much as Rs.35 for a shirt, Rs.20 for a tie and Rs.50 for a pair of shoes. Thus my savings of seven months I spent in one month. I learned then why my friend said no to be hasty.
With great difficulty I learned all the Western customs and manners. Although I never relished their food, yet I learned to eat with a knife and fork. I was regular in visiting theatres, cinemas and dancing halls. I had to master everything, or, in other words, do as they did and live as they lived. I lived like this for about two years. Just as I was finishing my course I asked myself a question, "What have I gained in England?" I knew I had learned to wear a collar and tie, to polish my shoes, to brush my hair and to say "Thank you" and "I am sorry" many times a day, because the more you say "Thank you" and "I am sorry" the more you are considered to be cultured. I had learned to be fashionable and to drink as they drank; in other words, I had learned how to worship my body. Then I began to ask the question," Am I more happy than I used to be?" But the state in my mind told me that I was far worse, for I had become selfish, proud and greedy. The respect towards parents and friends was -one. I had learned to tell lies politely and to deceive my parents. I had learned that one could do evil, provided he did it secretly.
I had travelled all over Europe and England; had been to museums, art galleries and picture palaces; had worn expensive clothes; had eaten grand meals; had made friends with rich and poor, high and low; had taken part in social functions; had indulged in amusements; had acquired as much education as I wanted; yet I was unhappy. Then I thought perhaps it was due to the fact that I was not fully civilized. So I began to ask my English friends; "Are you happy?" I asked this question of students, professors and clerks I used to say, "You have cot beautiful homes, lovely children, extensive parks, and can get almost anything for bodily comforts. Are you Happy?" Still I could not come across any one who was really happy. So I said to myself that the whole world is "vanity of vanities". I used to think if India were civilized it would become a heaven, and that education and sanitation would remove all evils from India. Now I saw that England could not get rid of her evils by education and sanitation. Rather I saw far more evils in England than in India. So I was convinced that culture and education could not solve this problem. I used to consider the question in this manner: A poor man in India uses a dirty rag, to cover his wound, while a rich man in England conceals his wound with bandage beautifully white and three yards long, which however, cannot remove the pus and the dirt underneath.
In the year 1928 a party of students was going, to Canada on a holiday trip. I wanted to go with the party but the secretary would not let me go. He said that the Americans did not know how to treat the Indians. So he advised me not to go with the party. I told him I was prepared for any kind of treatment and joined them on the ship, determined to show that I could do whatever they did. As there was a big party on board they had all kinds of amusements and I began to take part in all these functions. On the 10th of August, 1928, I saw a notice showing that a service would be held in the first-class dining saloon at noon. I said to myself that as my friends and companions would be going to the service. I should also go but a fear came to me, as I had never been to a church before. But I said to myself that I had been to picture palaces, dancing and drink saloons and they had done me no harm. So I thought a Christian place of worship too would do no harm. Moreover, I had heard that the first class dining saloon was a grand place, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to see it. So convincing myself with these arguments I went and occupied one of the back seats. When they all stood up to sing hymns I stood up too, and when they sat down I sat down too, and when the preacher began to preach, I went to sleep as I did not want to listen. When the sermon was over they all knelt down to pray and I was the only person who kept sitting in the chair. I said, "These people do not know anything about religion. They have exploited my country and I have seen them eating and drinking. What do they know? After all my religion is the best religion." So my national, intellectual and religious pride prevented me from kneeling and I wanted to go out. But I found one man kneeling on the right and another on the left and I said it would not be right for me to disturb them. Still I could not kneel. Then I began to say, "I have been to Mohammedan mosques and Hindu temples. I have taken off my shoes and washed my feet to show respect for those places. I must honour this place too out of courtesy." So breaking my national pride, I knelt down.
Please note that this was the first time I was attending a Christian service. I had never read the Bible before nor had anyone spoken to me about salvation. When I knelt down I felt a great change coming over me. My whole body was trembling. I could feel divine power entering into me and lifting me up. The first change that I noticed in me was that a great joy was flooding my soul. The second change was that I was repeating the name of Jesus, I began to say, "Oh, Lord Jesus, blessed be The name, blessed be Thy name." The name Jesus became very sweet to me. Before, I used to despise the very name, and during discussions and conversations I had made fun of it. Another change I found was that I felt one with Europeans. During my stay in London I never felt their equal, Sometimes I was their superior, sometimes their inferior, When I used to talk to the English people I felt superior. I used to say that I belonged to an ancient country havina an ancient culture; but when I used to talk to Indians I felt inferior saying that we did not know how to cat or dress properly. But this was the first time I was feeling quite their equal.
I stayed for three months in Canada, We travelled a great deal and came back to England, where I decided to attend a church service, So in the month of November, 1928 I attended m first Christian service in a church. When the people came out after the service, I began to look at them but I could not find any joy in their faces. I said surely these people had come for a funeral. I could not understand why they were looking so serious. I felt that there was something wrong, because my conception was that those who know Christ must be very happy. From that time I stopped going to church on Sundays but used to go on weekdays when the church was empty. In the city of London there are grand old churches where I spent hours sitting on empty benches, and I felt great peace there.
One year passed by, but I never told my Christian experience to anyone nor did I have the courage to do so, but the desire I had for smoking and drinking was all gone. Nobody told me to give this up, but I was so happy that I did not have the need for stimulants.
In 1929 I came back to Canada. I had to go there to finish my Agricultural Engineering course. I had to spend some time in the factories where they manufactured the agricultural implements, and had to go to the farms, where these implements were being used.
In the month of December I came to the city of Winnipeg. On the 14th of December, 1929, I said to a friend of mine, "Could you lend me a Bible?" He looked very much surprised and said, "You, a Hindu and an Indian, want to read the Bible? I have heard that Hindus do not like the Bible." I said, "You are right. These very hands have torn up a Bible. These very lips have blasphemed against Christ. But for the last eighteen months I have a great love for the Lord Jesus. I love His very Name, which sounds so sweet to me. But I do not know yet anything about His life and teaching." My friend put his hand into his pocket and gave me his pocket New Testament. From that day till now his Testament has been with me. This was my first pocket Testament. I brought it to my room and began to read from the Gospel of St. Matthew. I kept on reading till three in the morning as I became engrossed in the Word of God. In the morning I found the whole ground covered with snow, and I remained all day in bed, just to read.
The second day I was just reading the Gospel of St. John, 3rd chapter, when I came to the 3rd verse. I stopped at the first part of the verse. The words, "Verily, verily, I say unto you" convicted me. Just as I read these words my heart began to beat faster. I felt someone was standing beside me and saying again and again, "Verily, Verily I say unto you." I used to say, "The Bible belongs to the West," but the voice said, "Verily, verily I say unto you". I have never felt so much ashamed as I felt then, because all the blasphemous words I had uttered against Christ came before me. All my sins of school and college days came before me. I learned for the first time that I was the greatest sinner, and I discovered that my heart was wicked and filthy. My petty jealousies against my friends, my enemies, my wickedness were all clear before me. My parents thought that I was a good boy, my friends regarded me as a good friend, and the world considered me a decent member of society, but only I knew my real state. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was saying, "Oh! Lord, forgive me. Truly I am a great sinner." For a time I felt that there was no hope for me, a great sinner. As I was crying again the Voice said, "This is my body broken for you; this is my blood shed for the remission of your sins." So I knew that the blood of Jesus only could wash away my sins. I did not know how, but knew that the blood of Jesus only could save me. I could not explain the fact, but joy and peace came to my soul; I had the assurance that all my sins were washed away; I knew that the Lord Jesus was reigning in my heart. I just kept on praising Him.
After two days the same friend came to me and said, "It is Christmas time, and it is our custom to give our friends some presents." I said, "Please do not give me any presents," because I did not have any money to return him a present. But he insisted and so I said, "Alright, if you want to give me a present, give me a Bible as I have only a New Testament with me." He took me to the bazaar and said to me, "Make your own choice." He gave me the Bible which I have with me, the book that I love most and which is so dear to me. So I went to my room and started with the book of Genesis. I was so engrossed in it that I used to spend sometimes fourteen hours at a stretch, reading it. On the 22nd of February, 1930, I finished the whole Book. In the meantime I had also studied the New Testament several times. Then I started reading the Bible a second and third time. I gave up reading magazines, newspapers and novels. I had accepted the Bible as the Word of God from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, and no doubt has ever entered into my mind regarding any verse.
Formerly I used to wonder why some Christians had joy and some had not. But later I found out that those who entertained doubts about the Bible did not have real joy. Before I could not understand the evils I had been noticing around me, but the Bible solved all my difficulties. For two years I kept on reading the Bible. During my second reading, I came to the verse in Heb. 13:8: "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever." I had been suffering from nasal catarrh for many years. I had consulted the best English doctors, but they had done me no good. My eyesight too had become very weak. So I prayed, "Wilt thou heal my nose and give me eyesight?" In the morning when I woke up, I found to my great joy I was healed. That revealed to me that my Lord Jesus Christ was the same yesterday, today and forever. From that time, I have had the privilege of praying for the healing of many and the Lord has wonderfully answered my prayers.
On the 4th of February, 1932, I was baptized in Vancouver, Canada, and after baptism I was going on from place to place giving my testimony. During the first week of April, 1932, I was invited to give a talk about India. After the meeting was over they kept on asking questions, "What do you think of the missionary work in India?" I began to criticize it very harshly. As I came home and knelt down to pray, I found I could not pray and the Voice said to me, "Who are you to interfere in my work? You want others to be sacrificing but yourself lead a life of comfort." These words pierced my heart like a sword. They were true. I had so many plans to come back as an Engineer. I had said that I would give all my money for the Lord's work. But He said, "I do not want your money; I want you." That morning I knelt down and asked His forgiveness and said, "Oh! Lord, wilt thou accept me? I am prepared to go anywhere, whether to India, China or Africa. I am going to give up everything for thee, friends, relations, belongings." The Lord said, "You will have to live on faith. You must not ask anyone for any thing, not even your friends or relations. You must not ask for even a cup of coffee; you are not to make any plans." I said, "Lord, on the one hand you want me to give up all my claims on my property and home, and on the other hand you want me to live simply by faith. Who is going to provide for my needs?" The Lord said, "that is not your business." Although, six years have passed, I can testify to His glory that I have never asked any man for anything, not even my best friends. But the Lord is richly supplying all my needs. For one year I remained in America as a preacher, because I had given up all my plans to become an Engineer.
On the 19th of October, 1932, 1 wrote to my father about my conversion. On the 15th of November I prayed that the Lord might send someone to my father to explain the letter, which I had written to him about my conversion, as it was a long letter and I had given references from Genesis to Revelation. On the same day my father went to see an American missionary in my hometown. On the 21st of November, 1932 when he got my letter, he went to see the same missionary with whom he had become acquainted and said to him, "I have this letter containing many references from the Bible. Can you explain them?" The missionary gave him a Bible in Urdu and explained to him how to look up references. After looking up all the references, he was convinced that my conversion was according to real conviction. So he wrote to me saying that he had no objection and that he was pleased to know that I was happy in my faith.
On the 6th of April, 1933, I arrived in Bombay after seven years of absence. My father and mother came to meet me. When I came down from the ship the first thing my father said to me was, "Only your mother and I know about your conversion. Will you please keep it a secret and call yourself Sikh for the sake of the family honour? You can read the Bible and go to church but do not tell any one that you are a Christian." I said, "Can I live without breathing? When Christ is my life how can I live without Him?" I told him that I had given my whole life to Christ." He asked me, "Are you going to become a missionary? Are you going to be a padre?" I said, " No." He replied, "if you are no good to us why don't you be of some good to yourself. If you become a padre or a missionary some body will at least respect you. When you are going from place to place, who will listen to you and how will you support yourself?" I explained that God had called me for this work, but he could not understand. He said, " If you cannot keep the matter secret you cannot come home." So my father and mother left me in Bombay, and I began to do some Christian work there. After two or three weeks I got a letter from my sister. She wrote to me, "I have heard that you have come back. Will you come and see me?" She did not know that I had become a Christian. She thought I was merely trying for a job in Bombay, so I went to Karachi to see her. When my sister saw me preaching in the bazaar and going to church, she wrote to my father saying, "Things are dangerous. Come soon."
My father came to Karachi immediately. The same evening there was a family gathering—my sister, brother-in-law, my brothers, and my father. My sister became very angry and began to abuse me. She said to me, "You have left a high and noble religion and have become an outcaste." I said, "I am worse than and outcaste, because you cannot see the state of my heart. The Lord Jesus has told me that I am the greatest sinner. When I said that my sister became very angry and started to say some words against Christ. My father asked for my Urdu Bible and I gave it to him. He began to read from the New Testament certain passages. "We sent for you to reprimand him, but you are preaching for Christ," said my sister. My father replied, "You have no right to say anything against the Lord Jesus, because you do not know anything about Him. You can say what you want against your brother but do not say anything against Christ." They were all taken by surprise and the meeting came to a close.
The next day my father attended a church service. After the service we were walking in the street when I met a Sikh whom I had the privilege of bringing to Christ. He told his experience to my father. My father said to him that when he had left me in Bombay he became unhappy and so went to see sadhus and sanyases and asked them how to get peace. But all of them said that it was a difficult thing to achieve. So one Sunday my father happened to pass by a Church in Lahore. The service was about to commence, and so he got in without any particular intention and occupied a back seat. Just as the service began he saw a great light. As he saw the bright light shining he cried, "Oh Lord, Thou art my Saviour too." Then a Great peace came to his soul.
Before leaving Karachi, my father said to me, "You can come home when ever you want." So I went home. All my friends, relatives came to see me, and from morning till night they continued to reprove. Every man and woman had something to say. However I kept quiet. Afterwards my father said to me, "Why don't you give your testimony in the Church?" But the Indian padre in the local Church would not agree, He said, "You have so many relations and friends in this town it would be dangerous, as they are bound to create trouble." I said, "I am prepared for everything." So in the newly built church, meetings were held and people of all classes came. There was hardly any room left either outside or inside. There I gave my testimony. After the meeting was over, many people gathered around me and said, "We want to ask you some questions." I said, "Yes, you are quite welcome." The first question was "Does your religion allow you to disobey your parents? Does your love permit you to disappoint your parents? When your father had spent Rs. 25,000 on your education, surely it was your duty to ask his consent before you became a Christian. Look at your father; he is broken-hearted. Do you call this love?" I was about to answer when my father spoke out. My father has a loud voice, as I have. So he said as loudly as he could, "I am not at all broken-hearted. Why do you drag my name into it? I am convinced that my son has real peace. Before you ask any more questions, I want to know whether there is anyone standing here who can say that he has eternal peace in him. I know that my son has real peace. Please come forward if you have. I will not allow anyone to ask these questions unless he has real Peace." When the people heard this they looked at me and my father and dispersed one by one.
Since then I have had the privilege to go to my hometown many times, and have conducted several meetings in the local church. Now the first hatred they had against me is gone. My father is definitely born again and is testifying. He is very faithful, but he is not baptized yet. He says that he is waiting for my mother. My mother is very religious. She says that she has given her son to the Lord Jesus Christ and she has faith in Him. Once my mother had an attack of typhoid fever, my brother brought an English doctor to treat her. When he left, my mother said, "I do not want any medicine. You pray and I shall be healed." That, very night the Lord healed her. My father reads to her from the Bible ever day, and she listens attentively. My father is born again, and one of my younger brothers is baptized.
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail and the field shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herb in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation." (Hab. 3: 17-18)
We often wonder how we can realize the constant presence of God, how we can find out the perfect will of God and how we can become a means of the salvation of loved ones, friends, neighbours and enemies. "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37). The Lord Jesus Christ is assuring us in those words that He will welcome anyone who wants to know Him and have Him and to be possessed by Him. So those of you who are heavy laden with sin and worldly care, are being invited at this time to come unto Him without wavering. May I tell you that from the very minute you make an effort to come to the Lord Jesus Christ all the powers of darkness will begin to work in your heart and create doubts, fears and misgivings. But we get assurance from the same Lord who say, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" (Matt, 28:18). We also read in Jeremiah 29:13, "And ye shall seek Me and find Me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Then the Lord says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth, on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47). Your part is to kneel and believe on Him, and His part is to give you the gift of eternal life, which is being offered to us freely. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). So, my reader friend, if you are being convicted by the Holy Spirit of your sins and sinful nature, do not be afraid of all the doubts and fears which are being put into your mind by the Enemy. Accept the Lord Jesus in your heart and He will come into you, the hope of glory. "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles which is Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). The coming in and the living of the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts is called the experience of the New Birth. It is a simple experience of accepting the living Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts, as the Lord Jesus says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come into him and will sup with him and he with Me" (Rev. 3:20). The Lord Jesus will never force His way into our hearts. If you hear His voice please harden not your heart. The very minute you read this book is the time of your salvation. "For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee behold now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). If you do not obey His voice now your heart will become harder and harder and the light rejected will become darkness. The Spirit of God will not always strive with man. "And the Lord said My spirit shall not always strive with man" (Gen. 6:3). The spirit of God has been striving with you, bringing before you all your sins and the stink of your sinful nature. Remember one day your very bones will being to rot with the stink of sin, and the sin which you are covering by garbs of culture, civilization, manners, customs, smiles, and smooth words will be uncovered one day. "For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be made known" (Luke 12:2).
People throughout the world and throughout the ages have been trying to cover sin. The leper may succeed in covering his spot of leprosy in its initial stage, but one day the leprosy will appear upon the fingers and toes and other parts of the body. In the same manner, our sins are brought to light by the searching eyes of God. May I beg you to kneel down and say these words before the Lord, "Search me, oh God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).
As soon as you kneel down and begin to say these words be prepared to have your pride broken and the root of your sin burnt out by His precious blood: the Holy spirit will bring before you the sins committed from your childhood days and you must acknowledge them with these words, "I acknowledge my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid, I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin" (Ps.32:5). Confession means humility: God cannot make exceptions. Unless we confess our sins upon our knees and confess all of them, some kind of pride will remain in our hearts, and God cannot come into a proud heart. "For thus saith the high and the lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, whose Name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite one" (Isaiah 57: 15).
The nearer we draw unto the Lord, the more we realize the corruption of our corrupt nature. Job, when he saw God, said these words: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of my ear; but now mine eyes see thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and in ashes" (Job 42: 5-6). After confession we are ready to receive the Prince of Peace into our hearts, and the very minute we accept Him as our Lord we become His children. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name" (John 1:12). So to believe in His Name means to receive Him as the living Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts after our sins are washed away by His blood. We are also drawn near to Him by His blood. "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometime were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). And the same Blood of Christ purges our conscience from all dead works. "How much more shall the Blood of Christ who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14). As long as our conscience is not purged we are unable to conquer sin. So my friend, as soon as you accept by faith the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for purging of sins, you are free from the bondage of sin and the bondage of corruption, and then you will be granted liberty from every kind of fear.
There are three things which are offered to us as free gifts, on account of our accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. Firstly, victory over the world. "For whatsoever is born of God overcome the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Secondly, victory over sin. "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself and that wicked one touch him not" (1 John 5:18). Thirdly, we are given victory over death. "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is law. But thanks be to God which giveth to us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Cor. 15:56-57).
Having received these three gifts we become co-labourers with the Lord Jesus Christ. "For we are labourers together with God. We are God's husbandry, we are God's building" (1 Cor 3:9). Having become co-labourers we are made to sit together with Him. "And hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). Those who become the co-labourers of the Lord Jesus Christ become also partakers of His heavenly kingdom and all things that belong to Him. "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours; And we are Christ's and Christ is God's" (1Cor. 3:21-23). And having the assurance of possessing all these things we have perfect peace in our hearts. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14: 27).
My dear reader friend, I invite you to accept on this occasion these words in the Name of the Christ. As you read these words, fall upon your knees acknowledging Him as the Lord of lords, the Prince of peace, the King of kings, and as your own personal Friend. I can say from my experience that there is no joy in the world to be compared to the joy of having Lord Jesus Christ living in us. He is solving my problems; answering my questions, bearing my burdens, giving strength to overcome temptations, and enabling me to share my joy with others, and at the same time He has given me the honour of walking and talking with Him every step of my life's journey. Will you accept Him as your Lord and Saviour this very day? May the Lord Jesus bless you. My prayer is that the Lord may grant you an understanding of his hidden mysteries, and by simple faith that you may claim great things from the great God.