Indu Shanmugam is a 20-something, college student from Oregon, USA. She is majoring in English literature and language. She also studied Theology for a short period. She wants to be a teacher. As a literature enthusiast, she enjoys literature of all types and from writers of various backgrounds from the classics, French realists, Christian writings like C.S Lewis and South Asian literature. As for her own writings, "I am still trying to find and develop my own voice." She sees the art of the written word as a way to speak about Christ and explore truth. Before she met Jesus Christ, she has been searching for the meaning of life through experimentation of other religions, philosophies and ideas. At the age of 17, she accepted Christ after a powerful encounter with God through a miracle. God's presence and deep truths in the Bible fuel her creativity. She is involved in church activities and has a love for the church and would like to see every believer grow, become closer to God and live fruitfully. She loves traveling, sipping bubble teas, theatre, music, films and hanging out with friends and has a weakness for cheesecake.View all articles by Indu Shanmugam
In my first story, “Encounter with Jesus that Changed My Life,” I described how and why I decided to believe in and follow Jesus. Through a near-death experience, I understood purpose and the true meaning of life. I found these two things only after believing in Jesus. Now, I am going to tell you about my life after the encounter.
Let me start with my experiences as a baby Christian. For those not familiar with the term, a baby Christian is a person who just decided to follow Christ and still very young in their Christian journey. The baby Christian years or being a new believer was the most fun time of my Christian life. Think of a young child who is very genuine and innocent towards life. I was the same way with the ways of Jesus or Christian life. I just started reading my Bible, learning how to pray and the basics of Christianity. I enjoyed and was excited about every sermon, every youth group event and every minute I spend reading my Bible.
Later, I remembered my experience of coming to God and Jesus telling me about purpose. I wondered, “What could this be?”
I had dreams about myself standing in front of crowds preaching. This stunned me because at the time I had been a Christian for barely a year. Back then; I tried to reason with God praying:
Father God, I don’t know the Bible well enough and nothing about church. Look at my life; I don’t have my life right. I am not like those other people in church who are more mature Christians and seem to have it all together. I am not an eloquent speaker. And, why me? Lord, if you are looking for someone to serve you and preach, wouldn’t it be better if You picked someone who grew up in the church who knows what she is doing instead of a newcomer.
After this, I got an intuitive feeling that my Lord was looking at me gently to say, “No, I have My reason to call you into ministry.” I didn’t know the ministry details but felt peaceful about it. Months later, I had another God moment at our church youth camp. During a session, Pastor Bob Wagar, the missions pastor of our church spoke a message that inspired me. I felt inspired to want to serve God and started remembering the dreams of myself preaching. This is crazy, I thought. When Bob finished, he had an altar call for those who felt called to missions. I stepped up for prayer.
After a year, I felt the Lord guide me to Bible College. I learned that ministry starts with reflecting the character of God and being more like Jesus. It starts with our daily Christian life. I learned about myself and realized that God had created me with a purpose. He continues to build and craft my character, beliefs and convictions.
I went on a two-week short-term mission trip to Mexico. It was an experience that stretched me. Even though I may not be really called to move to Latin America for the rest of my life, a short-term trip like that challenges my spiritual growth. God wants us to grow spiritually. Christianity isn’t simply a transaction, where you accept Christ into you life, Jesus forgives your sins and past mistakes and fixes you and then you are on your way to heaven. It doesn’t stop there. After becoming a Christian, God builds you so that you can serve others. For example, I am able to use my past to reach out to and help other people who have been in a similar situation. I feel fulfilled every time I have an opportunity to preach a sermon, pray for people and do background things like setting up chairs for a youth meeting, a one-on-one conversation about faith with a non-believer and realizing how to apply scripture and Bible principles in my daily life.
I am going to share some of my thoughts on ministry. Ministry doesn’t always automatically mean a title. At the same time, if God calls someone to a ministry position, such as pastor, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Go for it. But, I realized that I don’t have to wait till later (like when I am older or married) to serve God. I can serve God while I am in college and having a title isn’t a prerequisite to fulfill God’s purposes.
During my first term in Bible College, I used to think you have to be a pastor or youth pastor in order to fulfill God’s purposes. Not necessarily true. You can be an engineer, businessperson, housewife, and student, rich or poor in order to live the purposeful life. All believers have an opportunity to participate in God’s eternal kingdom purposes. If you are a believer and if you haven’t caught this revelation you are really missing out on something. I am not after titles, position or recognition from other people. It’s all about obedience to God and pleasing Him.
At the same time, if God wants me to have a position, I will accept it and use it for a higher purpose. I believe my role in ministry is to equip and help other believers grow in Christ, find their purpose and also be a part of something bigger. The time I spend with God determines the outcome of my ministry. These ideas and convictions about my Christian walk and ministry came from spending time in prayer, reading and understanding the Bible at a deeper level and listening to my mentors and older people who helped me and listening to sermons. I consider my Bible College years the foundational years because it built the foundation of my ministry life.
God continues to build my life. I graduated out of Bible College and am now studying to be an English teacher. I felt called there and being a Godly person doesn’t mean you can’t give back to the community with a secular job. I love literature and always dreamt of being a famous writer since I was ten. The Holy Spirit is the inspiration for my writings. After reading the Bible or after a worship service, I have sometimes received ideas to write. I see an opportunity to use literature as a way to express God through me. Right now, I have an idea of writing a fiction from a Christian perspective that shows the beauty of redemption. Writing a novel is easier said than done but we’ll have to see where my aspirations lead me.
My other dreams are to go out all over the world and serve people. Sometimes, tears fall down my cheeks when I dream about reaching out to orphaned kids in a remote village and thinking about the nations of the world. I have big dreams and believe God will bring me there if He’s put those dreams in my heart. Right now, I am participating in my church’s youth ministry and an ESL (English as Second Language) ministry that teaches English to non-English speakers. I do ‘behind the scenes’ serving in my church and not always up front. I serve not be seen but to get things done.
I am not perfect but try my best to be genuine and an example Christian in my faith. This article is covering the last six years of my life since I became a Christian. A lot has happened. I remember God’s promise to me that ‘ He is the writer of my life and my life is like a complete book.’ When I look back at my life I see that everything that has happened so far is like a book that has a direction. I am in the middle of it and believe God will continue to ‘write’ the rest of my life as He guides me. This is still the beginning and I can’t wait to see what happens next in my life. Only because of Jesus, I am living it up.
My prayer is that all God continues to guide you and ‘write’ your lives. You are not living for yourselves as believers. If you live for Christ and personally know Him you find complete satisfaction, fulfillment and purpose. My life has been an example of that and I believe it can be possible for everyone, but that is up to you to accept the Lord and choose to follow Him.