I had a normal upbringing in Dudley, but, unusually coming from an Indian background, I was never taught anything even vaguely linked to religion. I suppose the only religious influence I had was the little I was taught in RE lessons at school. Up until the age of about nine, I never even considered that God existed or had any concept or belief in him.
Through various family and friends, my mum began attending a church in Birmingham and soon became a Christian, meaning I was brought along to church each Sunday.
I liked to meet with the people every week, but did not listen to any of the preaching. I did however enjoy Sunday school. I made new friends and learnt many of the Bible stories, which I believed were true.
When people would ask me at school, I would tell them I was a Christian, but the truth was that I was not. Going to church, being good and reading the Bible do not make people Christians. I continued doing these things regularly for many years, with no real change in my heart; the belief was only in my head.
Then came a realisation one day that I was not heading for heaven. I vividly remember that night being very scared of dying, but stubbornly did nothing about my eternal state. I knew Jesus died for sinners, but continued on as I was.
By the time I was 12, I was still not a real Christian and, about this time, we began attending Sunday school at Dudley because it was closer to home, while still going to our previous church.
This meant I had a ‘double dose’ of hearing about Jesus each Sunday. At this period of my life, I really thought about my own sin, hearing every week that I was a sinner and the good news that Jesus died for people like me. This all matched with everything I was reading in the Bible and that my mum was teaching me.
Even at a young age I knew I had done wrong, including all the ‘little lies’ I had told — they were an offence to God and demanded punishment. I knew that I needed to turn to Jesus.
‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ is what the Bible says. I prayed to God and repented of my sins, but my life was still the same — I continued at the same time both living my own way and trying to live God’s way, which was impossible.
I needed to trust and put my faith in Christ, not just say ‘Sorry’, then carry on as I was before. However, by the time I was 13, my life was changed: I knew that I was saved, that my sins were forgiven and I was a real Christian.
I read the Bible with new enthusiasm and tried to live by it, knowing it was what God has said to man and that the Lord Jesus is my only example. I had a new and complete assurance that I was heading for heaven.
At times it is still difficult. Being a Christian at university is challenging, but the Lord is with me. Over recent years I have been more involved in sharing this wonderful gospel with others in Dudley and further afield.
I pray that this short but very real story of mine will make you consider your eternal soul, whether you are young, old, or in between.