This month VOM released a new book, Saul to Paul: From Persecutor to Christ Follower, which shares the story of seven men who once tried to destroy the Bride of Christ, but ultimately succumbed to the power of the Holy Spirit. One of those men is Pastor Gowda, a former radical Hindu in India who today passionately serves Christ and His church. Here is a portion of his story, when he decided to read his mother's Bible.
His mother rolled over, rubbing her eyes.
"Go away," she said. "It's midnight."
She cringed, afraid he would hit her again. But something seemed changed, she thought, though she couldn't be sure.
"Where is it?" he repeated.
"Where is what?" she asked, stalling for time. How do I escape? She thought. How do I get away if he becomes violent again?
"Where is the book?" he asked calmly.
She shook her head involuntarily. She would never let him have it. She couldn't let him destroy it.
"Please, mama," he said quietly. "I won't hurt it and I promise I won't hurt you anymore. I just want to see it. I want to read it. To see if what you said is true"
Still she hesitated.
"I will not damage it," he said. "You are telling me that Jesus is God who sacrificed His life, so just let me go through it."
She got up and grabbed it from a secret hiding place. She placed it in his hands. His hands were covered with bruises; his arms had large welts from his many needle marks. His face was drawn, and his eyes bloodshot. This man was not her son, she thought. But he could be soon.
Gowda took the book and climbed up onto the roof of the house. By the light of the moon he read the Gospel of John. He saw the words again: Sin. Forgiveness. Love. Jesus Christ. He read all night without stopping. It was as if he was in a trance.
Gowda thought about all the terrible things he had done. "God is living," his mother had told him. "Jesus died for your sins."
Suddenly, Gowda put the book down and stared at the cross on its cover. He somehow felt unworthy, unclean. He knew he shouldn't touch it. But he couldn't help himself. He searched in vain for all the things the [radical Hindu] RSS camp had taught him about Christ. He tried to find the part where Jesus forced people to convert. He looked for the country Jesus came from, to see if Jesus was really a foreign God. But Jesus didn't come from America. He was born in Israel—but He had a virgin birth. And then he read it—the verse that made all the difference. It was the phrase that clicked, that unleashed in him a powerful desire for the Lord. He knew before he finished reading it that it was the truth.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
Hope. Belief was the only price. And another one…
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John 5:24)
Hope. Forgiveness was available. Jesus could wash away all Gowda's sin and suffering.
Order your copy of Saul to Paul and read the rest of Gowda's incredible story, and how God transformed him from a persecutor into a pastor.