The path I took towards my current occupation of full time ministry as a Christian youth leader is hardly an expected or conventional one. Instead, it lead through very troubled teenage years when I rejected God and came close to taking my own life. I know now that the turn around that I experienced after that could only have come through Jesus Christ.
I grew up in a nominally Catholic home in a mining town called Thompson in Manitoba, Canada. My mom always taught me to read my bible and pray every night before I went to bed. It was a habit that I kept until my teen years.
But as a teenager, I questioned my faith in God. I used to see so much pain and suffering in the world and wondered how a loving God would allow so much turmoil to exist. There was starvation in Ethiopia, a war in the Middle East and natural disasters afflicting the innocent. The thought of an all-powerful God who had the power to change all this but chose not to made me bitter and angry. I made the decision at the age of twelve that God didn't exist and broke my habit of prayer and bible study.
However, after making this decision, I fell into a deep depression that took away every ounce of fun and joy in my life. I could no longer find pleasure in the simple pleasures. I became lonely, isolated and withdrawn from my family and friends. In high school I was an insecure teenager, searching for some kind of identity. In spite of my rejection of God I still found myself searching for meaning, value and joy in my life. Listening to satanic music was the only way I was able to express my frustration and bitterness at how corrupt the world was. This still didn't make my life better or more enjoyable by any means. It made me withdraw within myself and kept me feeling scared and depressed and, at times, even suicidal.
Being a part of a South Asian community from Kerala called Malayalees, I used to take part in cultural events. However, I found that I'd fall short of the cultural norms expected of me. The community would point out my lack of good looks, education and stature. The rejection I experienced from the community and in high school sent me deeper into depression. I just felt so confused and couldn't find the answers to some basic questions, like Who am I? Why do I exist? What's the meaning of this life? Why should I even bother living?
Things changed in high school when I was introduced to a Christian who would later turn my life right side up. My Christian friend took me right under his wing. He showed me care, sympathy and acceptance. He challenged what I believed, particularly with his seemingly counterintuitive statement that all my dreams and goals would still be empty even if they were fulfilled. This compounded my sense of despair until he told me about having a relationship with Jesus. One day I just broke down and couldn't take it anymore. The longing for identity, peace of mind and hope reached its climax. I told him that I couldn't do it anymore and that I needed something to take me through this wretched life. He made me read out some Scripture and I experienced a peace like none before. In time, the depression, suicidal tendencies and feelings of rejection were lifted. Instead I found peace, relief and purpose.
Since then Jesus has blessed me with a Bachelors in Biblical Studies from Trinity Western University. As a Youth Leader, I've seen Him change lives of children and young adults. And now I'm seeing God do a radical work among the Punjabi community here in Canada. God has also allowed me to be a part of the South Asian Connection, which is doing a ground-breaking work to meet this largely un-reached people. Life has never been more exciting than when it's lived for Jesus!