Hope, Jesus, Joy, Love, Stories

Testimony

I decided to share this, since I had to write this down for Bible college applications, etc. I consider this an exercise in vulnerability, because these are not things I would normally share–with anybody. 

I have always known about Jesus; you could say I “grew up” with Him. Ever since I can remember, my parents would read to me and my siblings from the Bible; and every single Sunday, me and my family would attend church together. I was submerged into anything pertaining to God and the Bible.

Though my childhood surroundings were “ideal”, and I would have been considered a “good” child, my attitude toward God was hardened and prideful from a young age. And, even from the time I was old enough to process what I was being taught, I doubted whether or not it was true. I never had that youthful awe of God or the innocence that ensues child-like faith. I constantly, inwardly, questioned God’s authority and holiness. Honestly, I could have cared less about God. I was a passive rebel.

This was all the same up until I was about seven or eight. As fear always stimulates some sort of response or action, it moved me to “get right with God”. Selfishness drove me to cry out to Him. I was committed to not end up in hell, so I began to recite the “sinner’s prayer” every time I didn’t feel that I was saved, which I never really did. Each new time, I would try to make it more sincere, more legit. I even tried shedding few tears to make God think that I was “sorry” for what I had done; but that was the irony of it all: I didn’t even believe I had done anything against God—that I had done anything wrong. I didn’t believe I deserved hell, despite what I knew the Bible says about human depravity.

On top of this, I was a very “dark” thinker—very pessimistic, very fearful, and very untrusting. I entertained suicidal thoughts, and I questioned my life. Nighttime was my enemy.In those hours, it seemed as if my fears grew faces and claws; myself, hell, and death being the biggest monsters. I would have nightmares, and one particular one that reoccurred over and over again. I cannot explain it any way, but that it was as if I was eternally falling. I understood it as a nightmare of hell.

I kept this all to myself, never telling my parents or anyone else. I was too ashamed to tell them my doubts and fears because I was afraid they would judge me. I didn’t want them to see me cry about “serious stuff”. I had a reputation for being confident, tough, strong, etc., so no one really knew how sensitive I was. I locked my emotions away for nobody to see. I just pretended to be a carefree kid and let this all brood. There were many nights with a tear stained pillow as I relieved what I had held back during the day. This was all the same up until I was a young teen.

Around the time when I was sixteen, I felt that I had finally said the “sinner’s prayer” the right way, and God now had accepted me. Confident that I had figured it out, I was motivated to be baptized along with a group of young adults from our church. I thought that it was going to “seal the deal”. This desire was primarily works based, as was the entirety of my interaction with God up to this point. In reality, I was a lost sheep practicing religion. I bogged myself down with trying to be good enough in order to appease God’s anger. My skewed view of God caused me to worship a very unloving and vindictive idol of my making. But, graciously, God did not leave me believing a lie. Instead, everything I thought I knew about God was to be challenged, and the true God, Himself, was to tare down my idol and reveal who He truly is. This was done through one of the most beautiful, yet painful, times in my life. This journey began with my childhood doubts returning, yet with more severity.

It started one afternoon as I was sitting on my bed reading a devotional. The author was writing about how, through many proofs of Scripture and creation, there was concrete evidence for God’s existence. I finished the lesson and set the book aside, pausing for a brief moment of reflection. Then, suddenly, through passing thought, the question, “What if God doesn’t exists?” came to me. I tried to ignore this seed of doubt, but it would not go away. As I have already mentioned, I had always been confronted with these doubts, but this time I could not suppress them like I had previously done. I was hit with the reality of it all—that I was alive and had nothing to account for it, besides the the bible answers I had been taught growing up. Then again, did I identify with Christianity just because it was what my parents believed and taught me? Generally, people born into other religions believe what their parents believe, too. Being a realist, Christianity was either right or wrong. If Christianity was true, then I was in trouble, for I couldn’t make myself believe something fully unless I knew it—with my whole heart—to be true. I could not live a lie. On the other hand, If Christianity wasn’t true, I had no hope. I had nothing to live or die for, for I knew what atheism and the other religions offered.

Life suddenly became very dismal, and I fell into the darkest despair I had ever experienced. The abyss would be an appropriate word for it. The only way I can describe it, though not a reality in itself, is that I felt the absence of God. I felt completely and utterly alone.

I believe my agnosticism drove me into despair because it caused me to feel hopeless. It was tormenting not knowing what was actually true. I could not take the risk of going through life without knowing, so, here, I set my face to search with everything in me to find the answer. And while I was questions everything about Christianity and the existence of a god, I was, ironically, looking for proof that it was true. See, deep down inside, though I was very much agnostic, I knew there was a god. Yet, my trouble was not with believing in a god so much as it was with Christ, Himself. So, naturally, my search began with devouring testimonies from Christian converts, and missionary biographies. I wanted proof from witnesses I could relate to. Strangely enough, though, I bypassed the one book that claimed to be the very words of God. I was afraid to read it because I thought it would condemn me and “distort my logical thinking”. None the less, during this time of searching, I prayed a lot. Simple prayers, such as, “God, don’t leave me alone,” or “Don’t let me go to hell.” Prayers such as these were the only comfort I had. I thought that if the God of the Bible was real, then He would hear my cry, and maybe He would be merciful.

Still, my heart toward God did not change overnight. It took a span of about a year till I was fully reconciled. One of the turning points during this process was reading about devout Muslims who had radical encounters with Jesus. These were amazing stories about people that hated Jesus and then were completely changed by Him. These testimonies enthralled me, but I was still skeptical. Soon after, God began to bring people into my life who had similar stories. Though they did not have a clue what I was going through, they would suddenly begin openly sharing. My heart was softening. It seemed now that Jesus was starring me in the face, showing me His hands and side, saying, “Don’t disbelieve, but believe.”

Finally, one night I sat down on my bed and decide to read the Gospel of John, though I was still hesitant about reading the Bible. While I read, and for the first time, Jesus’ words and promises were alive and real. It consumed me so much that I read the entire book. By the time I had finished, I had been reduced to tears. I believe they were tears of relief. I was so mentally exhausted from trying to believe, and so spent from emotional anguish, that I was thankful to find rest at His feet. He was humble and kind (Matthew 11:28-29); so very much unlike the cruel, vindictive god I had created in my mind. I knew he was the truth; I knew He had saved me. There was no “sinner’s prayer”; only a cry for mercy, which He so graciously answered.

Not long after that, I was baptized with my church family present. Though still weak in faith, I began to see God change my heart further. I learned that I was forgiven not for what I tried my best to do, but by what Christ had done perfectly for me. I learned that Christ is my all; my everything. My righteousness, my Redeemer, my hope, my Friend. In Christ I am complete, and God sees me as such (“And in Christ you have been brought to fullness…” Colossians 2:10 ESV). I also learned to believe that God loves me, and that I didn’t have to earn His love (“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV). Through this, I was surprised that I began to have a desire for God. I found love for Him instead of prideful questioning. I wanted, now, to serve God with my life, because life finally had meaning; something worth living and dying for. This is where I am now; still with questions unanswered, but finally alive. Though alive, endlessly learning how to die, which is the hardest part and very messy.

Looking back on the treacherous waters that my Jesus took me through, I see where He has brought me from. He has taken me from the darkest depths of the ocean and carried me to Calvary’s hill. From this hill I see how His sovereign hand has been at work in my life; how He has always been there, and how He drew me to Himself in the most beautiful way. He chased me down and healed my wound, but left the scar to remain in remembrance of His great love and mercy.

It is also hard looking back, because recalling all this brings back a certain tinge of pain and shame. Honestly, I didn’t really want to write this and let people read this for that reason. But even though I feel shame in my story, I can stand before the King shameless because of the eternal hope that I have in Christ. These verses accurately describe that hope: “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11 ESV)
I have hope because of His obedience. I have hope because, on the cross, He took my due penalty; He took my shame. He took the Father’s rejection and righteous wrath that was due me. And His resurrection seals my hope, for He conquered death; made a spectacle of it. Romans 6:8-10 (ESV) expresses this beautifully: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die gain; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.” And because of this, eternity with Him is mine. His death is my life—life eternal.
Numbers 23:19 (ESV) “God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?” He has not lied; His promises are true. Now I can say with confidence, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.

Love, Music, Poetry, Stories

No One Knows How Frail We Really Are

Frail

 

She shed a tear today
He turned and walked away
He knew that it would hurt her
But he’s leaving anyway

She holds her baby tight
They’re all alone tonight
Two mouths to feed
Another on the way

We’ve all got bleeding hearts
Deep wounds and hidden scars
But no one knows how frail we really are

Dear baby don’t you cry
Even though I say goodbye
You’ll thank me when your older
You’ll have a better life

She turns and walks away
She thinks of better days
When that ring on her hand meant forever
And there was no price to pay

We’ve all got bleeding hearts
Deep wounds and hidden scars
But no one knows how frail we really are

She met a man today
He stopped and walked her way
She didn’t see Him coming
But she knows He’s here to stay

He saw her bleeding heart
Deep wounds and hidden scars
He knows her every secret
But He loves her anyway

He’s got a loving heart
Deep wounds and healing scars
Jesus knows how frail we really are

We’ve all got bleeding hearts
Deep wounds and hidden scars
But Jesus knows how frail we really are

Stories

Looking For The Light: a true story of God’s love and power [part 3 of 3]

After this amazing encounter with her father, Arulai’s faith grew rapidly. She now lived with Amma, and was thankful everyday for her answer to prayer. But she had but one more request. Ever since she had become a Christian the year before, she had wanted to be baptized. But she was underage, and she still belonged to her family’s caste, even though they had abandoned her. Arulai knew her father would never give his permission for her to be baptized.

She had not seen any of her family for nearly six months now. She often thought of her younger sister, Mimosa, and prayed that she too, could one day live with them. But every day, Arulai prayed that she could become baptized with her father’s consent. Days, weeks, then months passed.

One day, Amma came to Arulai with a look of joyful surprise on her face. “Arulai!”, she cried. “A message has just come from your father. He gives his permission for you to be baptized! And he gave no reason at all for doing it!”
Arulai, overcome with joy, knelt down to give thanks to the Lord with Amma. They knew it was a miracle straight from God. Nearly three years had passed since Arulai had first seen the foreigners in her village and had set down her water jug to listen. She could still clearly recall those words she had heard; “I was a lion, and He turned me into a lamb!” Now she was about to be baptized.
Through her happiness, Arulai was barely aware of the fact that her father agreeing for her to be baptized was a point  from which she could never return. To a Hindu, having someone in your family who read the Bible was a disgrace. And having someone in your family who prayed to the Christian’s God was even worse. But baptism was the stopping point. A person from a Hindu family who was baptized into Christianity had broken caste forever. But Arulai was so happy that she did not realize all this.

After her baptism, Arulai heard nothing from her family for several months, except form her cousin. Arul  Dasan, Arulai’s cousin, had wanted to learn about God too. But when he tried to, his family reacted worse than Arulai’s family had. They tortured him for many days to make him give up the idea. But by a miracle, he had found out about God anyway from the ammal and her helpers.But Arul Dasan could not stay with them, for there was no place for boys, only for young girls.

Thirteen-year-old Arulai was content to stay with Amma and help her with her group of ever-growing young girls just like herself, that Amma had taken in. But one day, one of Amma’s friends decided that if it was at all possible, Arulai and Arul Dasan should see their family one more time. Arrangements were made, and a week later, Arulai, Arul Dasan, and several of Amma’s friends traveled back to Arulai’s village. But when they arrived, things were not good. The whole village had become very hostile to Christians and outsiders, and worse still, Arulai’s father refused to see her. It would be breaking caste for him to acknowledge that he had a Christian daughter. Despite this disappointment, Arulai wasn’t swayed. She had a home now, and a place where she could always live in he light.

**************************************************
Amy Carmichael carefully ascended the rough stone steps and entered the newly-built nursery, carrying a basket of clean blankets in one hand and baby Amethyst in the other. Her closest helper, Ponnammal, followed with more clean blankets and a pail of hot water for scrubbing the floor. As Amy walked to Amethyst’s crib, another lively toddler made her way quickly to the open door. Another one of Amy’s special helpers, a young woman in her early twenties, saw the girl and headed over to her. “Come here, Lulla”, she said, picking the girl up and carrying her outside where most of the other toddlers were playing in the courtyard. Ponnammal smiled as they left. “Arulai is certainly good with the babies, isn’t she?”, Ponnammal asked Amy.
“The Lord knew just what he was doing”, Amy replied, as her mind drifted back to fourteen years ago when the little Indian girl had first seen her, and learned of God’s love.

From the moment Arulai had first learned there was a Living God, she had strived to “live in the light”, rather than in the darkness of Hinduism. And that’s what she had done for the eleven  years she had lived at Dohnavur Fellowship, the name of the Christian compound. Arulai was now one of Amy’s most trusted helpers and friends. Amy was pulled back into reality by baby Amethyst’s wail. She gently laid the baby in the crib, and walked to the door.

Fifty toddler girls were grouped under the huge tamarind tree in the courtyard, listening to Ponnammal. She was sitting on a large boulder, narrating a Bible story to the girls. Arulai and three other older girls were waiting behind the tree for their turn to act out the story while Ponnammal narrated. Arulai wad hidden from view from the toddlers behind tree trunk, but from the doorway, Amy could clearly see her. As she stood next to the tree, sunlight filtered down through the thick leaves and fell on her and the ground around her in a soft gentle light.
Amy smiled. “Living in the Light”, she said. “Living in the Light”.
THE END

Prologue

This is a true story from the life of Amy Carmichael, who was a missionary to India for over fifty years in the early 1900’s. She rescued countless children from the evils of Hinduism and poverty in India. She was the “ammal” and “Amma” in the story to Arulai.

Arulai stayed at Dohnavur Fellowship for forty more years, serving the Living God who had rescued her from darkness.
She contracted a fatal sickness when she had been at Dohnavur for about twenty years. She was at death’s door. Even as her coffin was being prepared, Amy prayed for Arulai. The Lord miraculously gave His child of Light back to them, and she served the Lord for over ten more years.
Arulai was surprised and shocked one day, when her sister Mimosa showed up at the gates of Dohnavur with her three youngest sons, aged seven, four, and one. She wanted to leave her two middle sons with Amy, because her husband was not a good man.
Mimsosa had had a hard life. Like Arulai, her family had shunned her when she continued to believe in God. Arulai had not seen Mimosa for  thirty years, but every time she had seen her, Mimosa was encouraged. She had been forced to marry a very lazy and useless man, and Mimosa desperately wanted her sons to have a better life. She wanted them to learn to read so they could read the Bible. Amy and Arulai  gladly welcomed all of them, but Mimosa insisted on returning home to fetch her oldest son, Rajappan. So Amy took in two more children to care for. In this way, the Lord used Arulai to bring her sister to Him, as well as her cousin Arul Dasan, who was now the grown-up and much-needed boy’s house leader at Dohnavur.

Sadly, Arulai died of smallpox when she was fifty-two, in May of 1939.She had been through typhoid and fevers many times, and her body was very weak. She was buried in “God’s Garden”, the name of the cemetery at Dohnavur.
Amy herself was too sick to attend her beloved Arulai’s funereal, but Rajappan, Arulai’s nephew, stayed with her to comfort her.
Ever since arriving at Amy’s doorstep forty years ago at age twelve, Arulai had been committed to serving God in her homeland.

Stories

Looking For The Light: A true story of God’s love and power [Part 2 of 3]

But while Arulai was happy in her new-found faith, her family was not. Every day, Arulai prayed to her Living God. She never prayed to Siva again. And every day, she prayed “Jesus Lord, please, bring the ammal in the white sari to me soon. I want to know more about You from her.”

Arulai didn’t have any idea where the ammal lived, or how far away, but it didn’t bother her. She now knew nothing was too hard for her Living God. She didn’t even worry that she had never been out of her tiny village in all her eleven years. But her family was not pleased. “What shall we do with that child?”, Arulai’s father complained.”She never worships Siva like she should, because she is bewitched by those foreigners and by that Jesus Lord she talks of! It must stop”. Arulai’s mother looked thoughtful. “My brother, you know, is a Christian”, she said. “And yet he does not let that get in the way of his way of life, and his worships and practices. Let us send Arulai to live with him for a while. He only lives a day’s walk away. That should make her rethink all her Jesus Lord talk.”

So Arulai was sent on the day’s journey to her uncle’s village. Indeed, her uncle claimed to be a Christain, but Arulai was puzzled. Her uncle still fit in with the Hindu life, and she never saw him praying to the Living God. She tried not to let his Hindu practices bother her, as she went along as best she could.

She had been with her uncle for several months, when one day, he told her that her father was going to marry her off in a year, to be sure she gave up her new ways. Arulai was devastated. “O God!”, she cried that night, “Living God, I do not want to be a Hindu and I do not want to marry a Hindu! I want to go to the ammal in the sari. Please God, take me to her before my father comes for me! I do not want to live in the darkness anymore!”
A week passed, but nothing happened. Arulai began to think perhaps she had heard wrong about the Living God.

*****************************

One morning, Arulai was sitting outside her uncle’s house when an older girl she didn’t know came up to her. “Do you want to know more about the true God?”, she asked abruptly. “Yes”, Arulai said. “Very much”. “Do you love Him?”, the girl asked. “Oh yes”, Arulai said. “Where did you first hear about Him?”, the girl asked. “In my village”, Arulai replied. “Some Indian women and a man and some foreigners were telling about Him, and having meetings”. “One of those Indian women is my mother”, the older girl replied. “And I know the others too. They have been gone, but they will come back in two days. They live in the next village, right next to the Christian temple.”
Arulai was so excited she could hardly speak. In the next village! The living God had heard her, and the women would be back in two days! She could hardly wait.

Early on Sunday morning, Arulai set out for the next village, eager to meet the ammal in the white sari. But as she walked along the dusty, sandy path, a thought came to her, and not a very happy one either. “Jesus Lord, I have no offering to give to You. I should never go into your temple without any offerings, but I have nothing to give. I gave offerings to Siva and those dead gods, so it must be more important to give one to You! But I have nothing.” As she prayed, she realized she had stepped on something round and hard. She bent down and picked it up. It was a copper coin! Arulai wasn’t surprised. She knew the living God could do anything.”Thank You”, she whispered. “Now I can enter Your temple”.

When Arulai entered the church, she quietly sat down at the back where some children and some older people were. She listened as a man preached about love and sin, about God and forgiveness, about salvation and hope. The young Indian girl did not understand most of what was being said, but she listened to every word. When the offering plate was passed, she gratefully dropped in the copper coin.

After the sermon, she was delighted to find the ammal in the sari. She eagerly listened while the ammal explained the story of Jesus. Arulai listened for a long time. When she had heard the whole story of Jesus, she acepted Him as her Savior with great joy.
She thanked the ammal for telling her about Jesus, and hurried back to her uncle’s village.

***************************

But now that she was a Christian, Arulai had more questions than ever, questions about being a Christian. At every chance she got, she journeyed to the next village to ask her questions or to hear more Bible stories. But one day, she came to the ammal with news. “My father is coming to get me. My family wants me home for four days”, Arulai told her.”I will be back in four days. And I will tell my family all about Jesus! I want them to know they can live in the Light too.”

Arulai was eager to tell her family about her faith, but her family was far from interested, all except her younger sister, Mimosa. Mimosa wanted to hear more about God, but their father refused to let Arulai talk to Mimosa at all!
When Arulai arrived back home to her village, her family did not let her go back to her uncle’s village.They forced her to return to the Hindu practices she hated. And they planned for her to be married to a Hindu very soon! Arulai was grieved. She prayed often, asking God to help her through this time. She knew He would.

One day, Arulai was pounding corn in front of her family’s hut, when a breathless woman hurried up. Arulai dimly reconized her as one of the women who had been with the ammal.
“Why are you here?”, she asked. The woman told Arulai that the ammal had a message for her father. “She wants Arulai to come back and see her”, the woman said. When Arulai’s father heard the message, he angrily refused. But her mother had different ideas.
“That woman put a spell on Arulai”, she said.”Maybe if we let her go back, the ammal will take it off.” To Arulai’s surprise, her father agreed that she could go see the ammal that day. But just for a day. Mimosa pleaded to go too, but her father refused.

Arulai excitedly set off for the ammal’s village. She reached the village the next morning. As she approached the ammal’s house, Arulai became aware that she had a terrible headache. By the time she reached the house, it was worse. The ammal opened the door to find a dazed young girl standing there, sweating and moaning.
Arulai was very sick. She had a very high fever and could not stand up. She had become sick while being mistreated in her village. For a week, Arulai hing between life and death. Her family allowed her to stay at the Christian’s house while she was ill, only because she was too sick to come home. For three weeks, the Christians nursed Arulai back to health. When Arulali’s parents found out, they allowed her to live in her uncle’s village until she was completely well, so she could be close to help if she got sick again.

*******************************

“Oh, Amma!”, Arulai cried. “I am so happy I can live nearby and come and talk to you every day!” Arulai now called the ammal in the sari “Amma”, which means mother in the Indian language Tamil. And indeed, Arulai considered her Amma to be her mother in her new faith.
Arulai, now twelve, was excited to learn as much as she could from her Amma.
But one day, soon after her recovery, Arulai was inside her uncle’s house, getting ready to go see the ammal again. She suddenly heard voices outside. Voices of two men, arguing loudly. She peeked through the window and saw her father and her uncle outside!
Arulai ran to the back of the house and fell on her knees. “Oh Lord”, she prayed, “Please do not let him take me away! I am living in the light, and I do not want to go back to the darkness!” Suddenly, Arulai seemed to hear a voice, saying “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. “Thank You, God”, she prayed. A great peace settled over her as she calmly walked outside to greet her father. She kissed her father, and greeted him kindly. Her father was shocked. He was very angry, and tried to grab Arulai’s arm. But his arm fell at his side! He turned to run, but it was as if he was forced to turn around and speak. “I cannot do anything against your powerful God. Read to me from your Book” he said stiffly, surprised at his own words. Arulai joyfully read to her father from the Bible, and prayed for him. Then her father said weakly, “I will never take you away again if you do not want to go. I fear your powerful God. You may stay with the ammal.” Then he walked away, leaving a stunned but joyful Arulai behind.

Stories

Looking For The Light: A true story of God’s love and power [Part 1 of 3]

{This was written by a very dear friend of mine, Emily Fountain. When she let me read it a couple days ago, I was very impressed by her writing skills; she is 13 years old. She was very gracious to let me post it here (thanks Emily!). I hope y’all enjoy this as much as I did!}

The blazing sun shone down on a little clearing in the middle of a remote Indian village, were three little Indian girls were playing. Ten-year-old Arulai threw the small ball, a wad of dried mud and grass, to her friend Marial. Marial caught it, and tossed it to Setta. As Setta caught the ball, it slipped out of her hands and started to roll down the slight incline. Arulai ran after it, but before she could grab it, it hit a big boulder lying in the way, and the rock-hard dried mud ball cracked open.Arulai turned to Setta in fury. “Setta!”, she screamed. She swung her arm around towards Setta, but Setta and Marial were already running away. Arulai turned around, and slowly walked to the shade of a big tamarind tree nearby, and sat down. She knew she had a terrible temper, and so did her friends. They all knew not to be too close to Arulai if something didn’t go her way.

Every day, Arulai begged one or another of the many Hindu gods her family worshiped to cure her of her mean temper. But she had prayed to them all, from Siva, the greatest of the Hindu gods, to the least insignificant ones, and nothing had changed. She had to find the greatest God of the gods who could help her with her temper.

Arulai sighed. She knew Marial and Setta would not want to play with her for a while, so she headed toward her family’s hut.

The next afternoon, Arulai was returning from drawing water from the village well for her mother. She was alarmed when she approached her hut, for someone was sobbing from inside. Arulai set down her water jar and ran inside. Her mother was sobbing, and on her lap was Arulai’s baby brother.

*******************************

Arulai wandered aimlessly about in the overgrown field just outside the village. She was heartbroken. Her baby brother, whom she had loved and often cared for, had died. And worst of all, she didn’t know where he was. Her mother said he was in the Land of the Spirits of the Dead.. Her father said the same thing, and added that no one could really know where it was until they got there. Arulai could hardly imagine her dear brother in such a place. The God of the gods must be great, she was sure, but who was he? And why would he do such a thing to her baby brother?

Arulai threw herself down in the tall grass. “Oh greatest of the gods!”, she cried. “Hear me! I don’t know who you are, but plase hear me! Who are you?” She looked up at the sky, then down at the ground, expecting something to happen. But nothing did. Finally, Arulai got up, brushed the grass off her sari, and went home.

For the next few months, Arulai continued to search for the Greatest of the gods, but she never knew any more than she did. And in the meantime, she continued to ask the Hindu gods for help. She did not ask her father which god would help her. His answer was always the same: “I know of no such god, child. You must overcome it yourself”. Arulai, now eleven, knew she could not cure her mean temper. She needed the Greatest of all gods to help her.

One day, Arulai was making her daily trip to the village well to get water. As she appraoched the well, she saw a group of people standing nearby. AS she lowered her clay jug into the well, she glanced at the people. An Indian man and some foreign people were talking, and a few more people had gathered to listen. She balanced her jug on her head and turned to go.But the Indian man was talking loudly now, and Arulai couldn’t help overhearing. And what she heard pierced her heart: “There is a Living God! There is a Living God! I was a lion, and he turned me into a lamb!”
Arulai froze. Could she really be hearing this? She had been waiting months to hear this! Oh, how she desperately wanted to stay and hear this God’s name! But she didn’t dare, for she knew her mother would be very angry if she were late.Very slowly, Arulai started to walk away very slowly, hoping she could overhear a little more. But the man had lowered his voice, and she heard no more.

**********************************

That night, Arulai lay awake on her sleeping mat, long after her family had gone to sleep. She kept thinking of the words she had heard: “I was a lion, and He turned me into a lamb”. “There is nothing sweeter than a lamb”, Arulai mused. And nothing fiercer than a lion. My temper is like a lion sometimes”. If this Living God could turn a lion into a lamb, surely He could help her mean temper!

The next day, when her mother sent her to the well as usual, instead of grumbling, Arulai grabbed the jug and ran all the way to the well. She hoped the people would be there again so she could listen. And she was not disappointed, for indeed, the foreigners were there again. This time, Arulai went a little closer. There was an Indian woman ,and older couple, and a younger ammal, or woman, in a plain white sari.

“Why do they look so happy?”, Arulai wondered. People devoted to the gods never looked so happy. But these people had to be devoted to their God, and they were so joyful. “But I wonder who the ammal with the sari is?”, Arulai asked herself. “I think I will go to her. She can tell me about the Living God!” Suddenly another thought struck her. “My family will not like me worshiping another god than Siva as the greatest. I will surely be in trouble”. Then she had another thought. “But if this Living God is the greatest, then he can bring the ammal in the sari to me, I know he can!” Happily, Arulai drew her water and hurried home, hoping she would not be in trouble.

Early that afternoon, Arulai was outside, thinking about how she could be able to see the ammal, when Marial ran up.
“Arulai!”, she cried. “The foreigners are having a meeting for children! Do you want to come?’ Arulai was overjoyed. She didn’t even think about the punishment she would get for going to see low-caste and foreign people.

She listened eagerly at the meeting. But on the way home, Arulai started to doubt. Was there a Living God? Or had she just imagined it? She was almost home, when she decided on a test. “I will ask three things of this Living God. If he answers two of them, I will believe he is real.” But at that moment her thoughts were interrupted by her mother, who ran out holding her broom. She grabbed Arulai’s arm and dragged her inside. You have been listening to those low-caste, foreign people!”. she cried. “You have disgraced our family, so you must be punished! Arulai was kept inside for the rest of the day, away from her family.

But the next day, she slipped out. There was another meeting that day, and she had to go find out more! She sat amid the group of children near Marial and Setta, who had come too.

At the end of the meeting, the ammal asked, “Have any of you been punished for coming to hear about Jesus?” Arulai was too embarrassed to answer, but Setta pointed to her. “If you are punished”, the ammal said, “call upon the name of Jesus, the Lord, and he will help you face your trouble”.

As Arulai left the meeting, she murmured the name over and over to herself: “Jesus Lord, Jesus Lord”. That was the name of the Living God! Suddenly, she remembered her test. Arulai looked around. There beside the road was a tamarind tree, heavy with ripe, sweet fruit. Arulai knew the law in India- it was illegal to pick the fruit off the tree, but if it fell off, you could take it. Arulai looked under the tree.Not one pod had fallen. Arulai closed her eyes. “Jesus Lord, please make a pod fall by my feet for me”. She looked up just in time to see a perfectly ripe, but not rotten, tamarind pod fall at her feet. Arulai picked it up with a feeling of awe. She knew the Living God had made it fall for her.

But her heart beat very fast now, for there was only one more test. And it was the hardest. Arulai was almost at her hut now. As she walked, she prayed again, :Jesus Lord, please do not let my mother be angry with me. Show me you are real.”
She looked up. She was at her doorstep, and there was her mother. But she did not have her broom. “Arulai!”, she cried. “I thought you were lost. Come in child”. Arulai went in with feeling like she’d never had before.

It was settled. Jesus Lord was the living God!