I woke up and saw everything around me in terror. My heart racing over what I had seen, felt and done.
What had I done..? What had I done..?
I felt an unearthly fear grip me. I hear the light growl of a street dog in the distance, I hear the familiar sounds of the night in an unsafe neighborhood at unease with the unseen forces of terror that stalk and prowl, I feel my heart beat racing. Was I going to die today..? Did I have the assurance of salvation..? I had been engaging in a dangerous game of backsliding and grace abuse for the past two to three weeks, had I exhausted God’s patience..? Was murder going to become the way that I encountered God before I was to be led towards the fiery, never ending flames of hell..? I began to search for verses in my memory to combat the overpowering, domineering forces inherent in my mind. I tried to remember past experiences where I had been rescued, saved and comforted. I tried to calm myself and stop feeling what I felt. I did not have any luck… I knew the fear that I was feeling all too well. In my spiritual mind, I tried to discern if it was a spirit, if it was a spirit operating the mention of Jesus would yield a breakthrough in some unseen, mystical and supernatural way. The past few weeks I had been swamped with village visits, personal evangelism, preaching, witnessing, writing, shooting for tv, and testifying of the Lord’s power in the town that I was placed by the Lord. It was one of my greatest spiritual longings coming to life, and it had been coming to life in the greatest possible way… But I felt completely disconnected to it all despite being spiritually empowered and able in the greatest way possible. But the simplest way to put it across to you would be that I felt myself staring at it in unbelief. Not the emotional, overwhelming sort of unbelief. But the suspicious, anxious and unthinking kind where I did not even possess a human spark or capacity to comprehend what was at work in my life at the moment.
I had started to work as an evangelist slash (sub sub) assistant pastor to a Theologian, Pastor and Bible Teacher and despite my fears of the past, despite my fears of getting caught in a wrong situation, and getting caught up with some maniacal, Over Righteous Perfectionist whose bruising words of judgment, criticism and condescension would torment me eternally, I had taken a dive because working for the Lord was what I had been created for, it was the reason that I was alive today and it was the only passion in my life that consumed me 24/7. Prior to this dive I had had three months of fiery tests, tremendous mental trials and financial suffering as I quit my job at a Gospel Channel that I had had the pleasure of shepherding, laboring for and being a part of for two years. In that channel I had had my own tv show, I was popular on account of that show and everywhere I went people began to recognize me. As blessed as that made me feel, I could hardly care less.. It was the joy of ministering to people that I enjoyed, I was a wise man who had suffered endless trials and wounds in my past, I knew the perilous side of popularity and I wanted none of it, I enjoyed people finding a reason to talk to me, apart from that I did not particularly enjoy being known as someone who was a collection of television pixels in many houses.. I wished more to be a man of use to the Lord, effective to Him and absolutely of usefulness to the King of Kings who knew the pitfalls, downfalls and the people type who were rampant in my town.. I have always been more concerned about pleasing God than man.
I had my own individual, unique, God created way of ministering and I would usually get offended when people pointed out legal errors in my style that I had never been very thrilled about perfecting, as I had studied the Bible I knew deeply that the Lord chooses certain people for who they are and for who He had created them to be, but He would fill them with Him and then use them in Holy, awe inspiring Power. I get offended because people want me to be like them, to think like them and to talk like them in a Biblical manner, God has given me a different gifting that I find the most satisfaction in, it has enabled me to do His work in a form and fashion that is more about individual healing, understanding and empathy driven counselling, fiery preaching, expository sermonizing, building up deep personal connections, initiating complete engagement and filled with Holy, inspiring and Godly passion. My leadership was more in tune with my Master, Jesus.. I was a man of the people, I hung out with sinners but I fed them truths about the gospel, I prayed fervently for them(if i’m honest right now, it has been weeks since I have prayed for anyone with my style of time), I tried to bring out the best in them, I encouraged them, I supported them and I loved them like I loved myself, or at least attempted to heroically. I allowed them to be them self and I was wise about their nature, since I observed, studied and understood them in ways that they probably have not had the joy of being accepted. All such abilities come along with my Godly anointing, power and filling. It is the Power of the LORD that has helped me perform things that I am thoroughly incapable of. I was created for a different purpose, I was not created to please men, I was created to please God. I was a man of God, no matter how many times I say it I find it hard to believe and accept.
Growing up I never had a feel for my talents, gifts and uniqueness. I only found myself wounded since I was always overlooked, underappreciated and never recognized.
The worst part about the last few weeks was that I was underfed in my spirit. My prayers had been very distracted, filled with all kinds of fears, fraught with nervous tension, wary of Godly punishment and aloof from Biblical confrontation. I always have observed how the Lord grows sharp in rebuke the further I emotionally disconnect from Him. I enjoy that actually since i’m the exact same way. I know that only love has that quality. But it has taken me time to understand it, since I have always felt personally hurt with punishment since I grew up, a fearful, awkward, shy and self conscious kid. Academically I was poor, teachers rarely praised,admired, acknowledged my existence or even enjoyed my presence… As a matter of fact nobody that I knew acknowledged me, I was unseen, invisible and deemed unworthy. I was not loved for who I was, I was seen for who I was not. I was always at the bottom of the food chain.. words such as weak student, failure, slow learner, inept, foolish and other hurtful words in the Tamil language were bestowed upon me often. I gradually learned to look at myself based on the treatment, the words and the acceptance that I received. This was not frequent, but happened 80 percent of the time. It was always implied though, and my intuition has always been on point.
My parents were often informed of my low grades, and I felt humiliation at being such a poor example of my parents at my first school. I knew my parents story, they had worked so hard to come to where we were at the moment, and here I was ruining their name, their image and their pride. I felt shame about it, but I never talked about it, but it was something that I always felt even though there are tons of negatives about me. Very early on I could pick out social themes around me , one of them was inequality, I could understand why people looked over me, I could understand why they saw dark skin and saw it as something that reminded them of ugliness.., it reminded them of the ditch, the crows and unattractiveness. So you can clearly see the k I couldn’t understand why they still didn’t feel that even such a sort of inferior person, atleast in their eyes .. Still how they felt that such a person did not deserve kindness, respect and love is beyond me.. Culturally people grow up humanistically foolish.. My different world has always enabled me to be deeply humane despite all of my flaws.
So from my narrative you can sense the kind of emotional baggage that I possess in my heart towards being confrontational, controlling, judgmental and being criticized. All these experiences have drained into my nature a kind of individualistic, independence with a protective rebelliousness, where I learned to protect myself through self imposed isolation and emotional distance. I could understand why.. God has always given me deep understanding, but what I struggled, wrestled with and was unable to come to terms with was the question How. How could people disrespect and be so unkind..? How could people kill..? How could people humiliate others and never ask sorry..? How could people be so cruel to somebody else..? How..? How..?
At my first school, Inequality was implied, reinforced and taught consciously and unconsciously, at my second school it was worse. In the Indian education system teachers were allowed to punish, hit and hurt students back in my day. The motive was to make students succeed, I wonder if it has ever accomplished that though. For four long years, I went to a hostel where I encountered this in full force. I had failed 8th grade in my first school, which meant that I had to repeat it once again. Deeply depressed and hungry for a new experience, I asked my mother to enroll me in a school that I felt would make me stronger. Growing up around rich kids, privileged kids and amongst kids who knew how to express themselves with pride, strength and arrogance.. I felt weak, inferior, ugly, unattractive, undesired, left over and untalented. At my next school, my academic and socializing inabilities encountered bullying, teasing, cruel physical punishment, taunting, fights, pride, strength, force and verbal punishment. I was the one who was always punished the most, the one who felt the sickness in the system the most and the one who felt the hurt of others the most, growing up I could never sense anybody have the kind of heart for the suffering like I did. I say that with all humility, since the school that I studied at after failing eight grade implied that one had the license to be arrogant by brute force and be recognized as some sort of man. I can only laugh at the foolishness of all such imbeciles and snobs now, but still I have the humbling, my own pride breaking sense to also reach out with compassion to the bully in the same manner that I reach out to the suffering.
Punishment meant that I was unloved, rebuke meant that I was inferior, I knew that I couldn’t treat the Lord this way, as strong as it made me feel to have the power to stay within protective distance from the Lord’s rod of correction, I knew deeply well that I wouldn’t be able to stand a minute of His distance.., I would self destruct if He were to abandon and neglect me.., I would gladly murder myself if He were to distance Himself away from me forever. I can’t bear His distance, I can’t bear Him not enjoying me, I can’t bear Him being apart from me even though i’m an idiot who forgets things and acts belligerently and disrespectfully. More than seeing God as God, I view Him through the lens of my need.. Chiefly my inner most needs of wanting love at all times, at all costs and during all times. If He were to abandon me, I would revert to my former self, with all its demonic oppression, lies, fears and deep deep anxieties.
It had frightened me to my deepest core. The nightmare ie. But I sighed as I felt the absence of the deep darkness that I had felt as soon as I had woken up. I felt a deep burden lift from my the depths of my soul. The burden of my past and the promise of the future and my human inability to comprehend the power of both unsettled me, I wrestle when the burden of it all gets too much for my fragile human heart to handle. Christ has released me from the prison, the torment, mental suffering, the agony and the mental anguish of my past, but I still struggle to understand the difference. I can feel the presence of familiar strongholds, in my life they were not only based on personal suffering of the academic kind, they were of the highly sensitive kind, they were of the artistic kind, they were rooted to the chaos of a culture blind to the power of life in all its gory, brutal realities, I see too much, sense too much, feel too much and realize too much. I wish that I didn’t know what I know. But I do, and Christ is the only power capable of helping me from such an insane, deep evil at work in the human mind, in the outer fabric, layer, nature and power of reality as it manifests itself in places, people and situations.
Blackness.., blackness possessed the room. I could hear the deep slumbering whimpers of my canine lying next to me. I realized that the Lord had woken me up to pray. I was leaving for a trip, and He always knew how overwhelmed I got in unfamiliar places. He was asking me to pray to Him, He was asking me to rest in Him, to be refreshed in spirit and to talk to Him since He knew how hurt I had been in my last few trips after being ignored, rejected and unpleasantly treated by people. I immediately felt my own confusions stirring, why did I have to ask Him in order to gain it..? Didn’t my Heavenly Father know whatever I wished, required and wanted before I could find words to speak them..? Why did I have to ask Him..? My questions only aroused my deepest confusion, I wouldn’t be able to understand why I felt the way I felt, but I knew that my spiritual man needed to encounter Him. This was my spiritual mind at work, stuff that I can never explain with reason, even though I can if I wish to.
In my nightmare I had encountered a gang of hooligans, who wished to harm me and I had physically assaulted one of them out of self defense. He fell to the floor, bleeding and hurt. In my dream he dies, I immediately run away from that place, alarmed at my act and deeply disturbed by my own viciousness. Prior to this sequence, I had made a friend, and he invites me to a posh, three star restaurant and he has been sacked by that establishment, and I feel protective of him and wish to defend him. I knew that my violent attack in the nightmare was derived from my recent travels.., I had passed through Vellore’s prisons a week ago on route to an all night prayer, and I imagined the evil at work in the cruelty of the system that was godless, perverse and inhuman. I had shuddered at the thought of ending up there, my dream used that fear.., My current ministry also involves that I spread the gospel to the nearby villages that lie in scores all around my town, villages where the demonic Hindutva faction RSS are deeply rooted in. They are well known for using violence as a weapon to assault evangelists and preachers. I naturally feel fearful despite the thick sheet of God’s presence always around me, India is a cruel place for evangelists.., and persecution is a hidden truth.., but that’s the price that one pays for loving Christ.. I find that fear also woven into the nightmare.., I also sense the anger that I had felt in the evening towards a group of young guys at the ground that I played at. Their nature was so proud, haughty, rebellious, self loving and disrespectful.. in a spurt of emotion, I had imagined myself combatting those guys and teaching them some basic manners, this too was present in that dream. Over the past few days, my dreams had elicited fear and danger, these were themes that I was always discerning about in my life, not only as a former prisoner of fear, but as a prisoner of Christ wary of worldly realities that satan wished to preserve at all costs. I felt a spirit of fear at work in that nightmare, but the Lord was speaking more powerfully to me that I was around violent, demonic powers and that I needed to protect myself in His power.
I didn’t need any further prompting. I got off the bed, and opened the door and went to the Hall.
I knew that the city that I was heading to was tremendously difficult to stomach after my powerful experience with the Lord four or so years ago. Four years ago, the city had been my home for the better part of 7 years. In it I had grown up to become the man that I was right now, the city was like my mother.., I learned, grew confident in myself and learned to take charge.. But right now as an artist, writer and evangelist things would be different… I would not only see physical uncleanness, dirt, endless unkind and foul realities.. I would be barraged and assaulted by endless unkind, vile and disrespectful things that would make me sick to my stomach since the Bible is clear that God Himself begins to live within us after we are saved, and the Lord is hurt by a world of unkindness, uncleanness and hate. The thing that would hurt me the most as an evangelist would be the spiritual reality: scores and scores of diverse people groups divided by race, creed, nationality, social standing etc etc walking around having not even the most fundamental knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The attractiveness of people there would intimidate and confound me, the ease and comfort of people’s confidence would hurt and wound me, the intelligence and ability of people there would make me feel insignificant and useless.. My natural resources dry up the moment I hit its shores. I can only thrive and survive with Jesus power.
Godly power has enabled me to evangelize to most of my former friends in some shape, degree and fashion, all to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have loads and loads of basketball teammates, friends in petrol bunks, friends working behind the counter of the In and out stores.., watchmen and security guards.., auto drivers, homeless bums, flower sellers, beggars.. In my eyes, much like my Lord, everyone is a friend. I live that out, and I love that it is the way it is. I have always hated limits, rules and boundaries between people. In my life prior to encountering Christ.., I enjoyed conversing with people from different religions, different thinking styles.., I had among my friends.. Homosexuals, transgenders, shady types, bike mechanics, atheists who blasphemed the Lord routinely, Fanatics, people who blatantly did not like me.., but I was intrigued by them even though I have felt hurt on numerous occasions, I still enjoyed their personality, their person and their presence.., I had no thoughts about their sins.., their lifestyle and their mistakes.. In my eyes, I myself struggled with numerous sins, what made me so different from them all..? I still feel the same way.., God has enabled me to love people more powerfully since then.., where I couldn’t comprehend their choices, habits and lifestyle.., as a reformed man of God I can comprehend it.., and I see the staleness that sins create in a human soul. There is no art, no beauty in sin.., it only corrupts, destroys and breaks.., and now I do my best to save, rescue and help people with the living gospel of Jesus Christ which I believe with my life, my full heart and with all my mind.
This is why I love that city so much, it helps me experience people so different from me. I can’t wait to get there despite my natural fears, hesitations and anxieties.
I would like to leave you all finally with a moral from a recent experience that I had with one of my great friends. Part of my personal evangelism ensures that I hang out with tremendously difficult people who have nothing in common with me, but I plunge into camraderie, debate, conversation and endless attempts to win souls over, both to Christ and into a brotherly fellowship with me where I lead them into a deeper knowledge, power and understanding of Jesus Christ. The ending result is that I find myself facing intimidation, heartbreak, I encounter the shallow, nonspiritual nature of men, I encounter tremendous tremendous frustration, embarrassment, shame and awkwardness. I enjoy it deeply despite my well known aversion of any kind of pain. I literally have to stalk and follow people who want nothing to do with me, or with my calling, or with the Lord that I love so dearly in my heart of hearts despite my incredible weaknesses.
After my split from Tv ministry, the Lord paired me up with a friend i’d like to call Captain Wonder, which is his nickname by the way. He and I are worlds apart, but connected both by blood and by faith. He is my brother in Christ and I love him dearly, and affectionately.. But I was having trouble dealing with his way of looking at things recently. I had sent a story of mine that I wanted him to read. I know well how deeply restless his soul is, and how impatient he is, and how being outrageously extroverted is all that he knows. Still I wanted him to know my thoughts, my stories and my soul. I sent him the link to my wordpress account. I had chosen a story that I had written three years ago about a young man in a new city. I had gone through great efforts to send him that link, since finding this particular story meant that I spend half an hour searching through my posts since I have written around 400-500 of them. I also don’t share my works with people, since I know that their insecurity often parades as criticism and insight. Five minutes later, I get a reply from him stating that I used too many commas, full stops and that he couldn’t understand what I meant. Naturally I was hurt, upset and discouraged by his reply, but I wished to overlook it.
A few days passed and then he sent his writings to me. He had had a dramatic encounter at a temple in Thiruvanamalai a few years ago, which is a local religious hotspot for hindu devotees who view it as some sort of mystical shrine of their gods.. Wasting his life around material excess and moral confusion, he felt his soul encounter the truth of Christ in a place as spiritually dead as Thiruvanamalai. That touch had inspired him to walk with Christ, although he was struggling with direction and witness. I went over his written message, I enjoyed its vulnerability, I enjoyed its emotions and I enjoyed its effort. I understood what it meant, I understood also its unspoken emotion. If I had used his same critique about grammar, language and punctuation, his work was a disorderly mess. A casual reader would’ve discarded it the moment he would’ve picked it up. His understanding of the language was as astounding as his complete ignorance of how to use it with power, imagination and conveying a story. His thoughts had no order, it did not have the power to convey what he wished to say, his grammar was as correct as the random order of stuff in a garbage can. His understanding of his profound spiritual insight was as uninspiring as a cold wave of the sea with no color and life… These are observations that speak about the outer nature of things.. Which is the Biblical way.. the Bible points out outer ugliness to correct an inner dysfunction…I did not wish to gloat over my glee at his inability, I was a wounded healer and a preacher who often used both roles to convey scriptural truths. It was not his offensive response to my story that bugged me, it was more than that. I have a fellowship that met regularly on thursdays, where he is an active member. He has supported, provided for and shouldered that ministry from the start. But there were personal attitudes that were very demeaning, controlling, confused and power driven that I wished to help him understand, give him the inspiration to change and draw him closer to Jesus which was my ultimate goal. Working directly with people helps one understand the immense spiritual distance that exists between God and man, and how man often times assumes the greatest things about himself which are often deceptive and untrue.
I called him up and asked him if we could eat outside. He readily agreed. We hit up a local tandoori place and were very soon sinking our teeth into some grilled barbecue chicken, one of the finest in Vellore. I asked him about how things were going, I asked him the condition of his faith and his day. Midway through, in his method of apologizing he opened up about why he couldn’t read it. I asked him if he was ready for a few spiritual insights..? To which he replied that he was. I asked him how he would feel if his hardwork, endless nights of frustration, blood, sweat and tears ended up in a person’s hands and he dismissively cast it aside.. Understanding the response and trying to use familiarity as a way of encountering it, he talked about how he could understand what I was saying, and that he knew why I was saying the stuff that I was saying. Ministry work has helped me see that people often upset by making you feel upset in a way that is very subtle, but avoids an exposition of things that they are rebelling in.
I empathized with his convicting pain, I told him that this was how most of us were like towards the Lord, and that we were so blatantly disrespectful towards Him and His wants but pester and get from Him things that we want. I told my friend that we are all least concerned about the Lord’s feelings but only consumed by our own. I told him as a friend that I myself was an ugly sinner whose good works were like filthy rags, but that Christ enables me serve, love and obey Him. He grew silent, maybe for the first time in decades he learned to see a thing in the eyes of God’s most intense longing for humanity. The Lord makes us to become like Him. He enjoys who we are, but He knows that we can only touch the world if we are like Him.
Friends, I leave you with these stories, personal accounts and discoveries until the next time. God bless you and may you discover the king of Kings and know and understand that He is the ultimate treasure, passion and life worth living for.