Monday, September 25, 2006

Narrative of Grace

What is it about Christ Jesus that draws people? Skeptics say that only the poor and uneducated people become followers of Christ. It can’t be they intellectually believe in His message, marginalized people are drawn to Christianity so they will have place in society. Marx believed religion was “an opium” for the masses, a mind altering activity so that people could cope their miserable conditions. For some, perhaps this argument is valid, but certainly not accurate for many true followers of Christ.

As I sat and listened to Nakul’s story it was truly a remarkable narrative of God’s grace on one man’s life. He told me that at birth he was so tiny (I am guessing born premature), his father, believed he would not live so he tossed him into a pit. A cousin rescued Nakul from the trenched and nursed him. When he was nearly two years old his father came to take him back to their home. Nakul’s mother died before he was three and he has no memory of her. Nakul’s father did not remarry and with five children he could not manage his household so placed Nakul into a Catholic school where he remained until he was eighteen. I asked him if he learned about Jesus while in school and he said no. He learned songs, even prayers, but they did not read the Bible or have classes on the Christian faith.

From high school he worked menial jobs -- breaking rocks, farm labor, manning a PCO station (Public Call Outlets, private run business where anyone with a telephone line can set up a booth from their house and charge people to use their phone). His existence was the typical life that millions of Indian young men live every day.

There was a pastor of a small Mennonite Church in the area who would often use Nakul’s PCO. Each time the pastor came he talked to Nakul about Christ and invited him to church. At first Nakul just argued with the pastor, not interested in the Christian religion. Out of persistence from the pastor and curiosity by Nakul, he eventually went to the church and heard how God loved him and that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ that he might have salvation.

“The one thing in my life I never had,” said Nakul, “was to know that someone loved me. I never knew my mother, cast aside by my father. My brothers and sisters tried to help me in life, but it wasn’t until I heard the Gospel that I understood what it meant to be loved by someone.”

Though Nakul grew up in difficult circumstances you can tell he has keen intellect and a ferocious reader. He eventually received a scholarship at a seminary where he earned an MTh. Nakul is still very much, what many would consider, a common man. Married at the age of thirty-five, he now has one daughter and talks often of his family, people in his life he loves.

Mother Tersa use to say that the greatest poverty in the world was not the lack of money, but the poverty of love and compassion. Whether one is born rich or poor, high caste or low caste, the one common denominator is that people long to loved, that they matter to someone. Nakul was blessed to hear the message, “While we were still in our sins, Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.” It is the love of Christ that draws people to Himself. It is the love of Christ that motivates us to love others and tell the story how God loves them.


Anonymous said...

I throughly enjoy being reminded that the gospel is such a simple message - God loves you and has paid the penalty for your sin. I was also recently reminded myself of the power of God's Word to stand alone preaching the gospel. What a joy to hear of God's mercy and grace.


Anonymous said...

Good reminder of me to see people thru eyes of grace. I jump to be critical of others before I think of them as being poverty striken in the area of love.