Dr. Ernie Prabhakar has “been becoming” a Christian for all his life. Though born in Chicago, his family traces their Christian heritage back nine generations to the beginnings of evangelical Christianity in India. He was deeply involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship throughout his eleven years in higher education: 4 years at MIT for an S.B. in Physics, and 7 years at Caltech for a Ph.D. in Experimental Particle Physics. During that time he ran numerous Bible studies, discipled over a dozen students, attended Urbana five times, and translated the gospel into calculus!
Upon graduation in 1995, he decided that he ultimately preferred people to particles, leading him to spend two years doing business analysis at the Boston Consulting Group in Los Angeles. While attracted by the data-rich world of business, he ultimately became disillusioned by consulting’s overriding focus on pecuniary advantage (“To a scientist, money is like toilet paper: it is bad if you don’t have it, but you don’t want to spend all your time thinking about it!”).
By the grace of God, everything came together for him when Apple acquired NeXT in 1997. Initially hired as a summer contractor because of his UNIX background, he rose to senior Rhapsody Product Manager within six months (because the rest of the department was laid off :-). He was instrumental in the launch of Mac OS X Server 1.0, as well as of Darwin, the open source core of Mac OS X.
Today, he is the UNIX specialist on the Mac OS X Product Marketing team, focused on Open Source, Web 2.0, Grid Computing, and other “geeky” technologies in line with his scientific background. He is also one of the key leaders of the Apple Christian Fellowship, which sponsors speakers, socials, and other events to help believers at Apple bring their “whole person” into the marketplace.
He and his wife Sandhya reside in Santa Clara, California where they attend Kingsway Community Church. He can be found online via LinkedIn or Facebook. He maintains numerous blogs and websites (technical, political, philosophical, personal) including this one, where he is attempting to blog through the Bible.View all articles by Dr. Ernie Prabhakar
When I first became a Christian, it was less because I knew it was true than because I knew that everything else was not. You see, I was born in a Christian home. My family has been Christian for nine generations, and I was taught about God and taken to various churches and camps all my life. I was about eight years old when I first decided I agreed with all they were telling me, and decided I should try to live that sort of life.
The problem, I soon discovered, was that head knowledge and following rules didn’t do me a whole lot of good. It all came to a head when I was thirteen years old. I was above the top of my class, I was well known and respected in my community and school, I had a solid, loving, well-off family — in short, I had every prospect of a bright, successful future ahead of me. I had everything that most of the people around me were striving for, and I realized it didn’t matter. It wasn’t worth a thing.
The reason it didn’t seem worth anything was because I had no friends. I was utterly alone. I had a few people I hung around, but nobody I felt close to. Nobody really seemed to appreciate me for who I was. What was worse was that I realized I didn’t deserve any better. I knew that deep down inside I was a selfish, uncaring individual. I didn’t really love anyone else, so why should anyone love me?
The clincher was that I knew that I couldn’t change. That selfishness, that obsession with my own desires, was such a deep part of my nature, I had nothing to change it with. The Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” and I really felt the truth of that. I knew I was what the Bible calls ‘a sinner,’ because sin is precisely that selfishness and inability to love that I couldn’t get rid of.
Finally, after another episode of rejection at High School, I decided I had had enough. At this point I had a choice. I could to turn to the God whom I had heard so many people talk about, and find out if He could do what they said He could. Or I could just give up and say I was stuck that way, with only myself to turn to for help. But I had already decided that if that was all I could expect for my life, I would end it right there. The only alternative was death.
And in a sense, I did die. The Bible teaches that the only way to deal with sin is death. But God Himself, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, died in my place - and then rose from the dead. Only God could love me in spite of myself, and have the power to give me a ‘heart transplant.’ He took a heart full of death, and gave me one full of life and love. I could be free to live a life of joy and meaning, free from sin (that is, life filled with selfishness), if I chose to let His heart beat within me, not mine. So I did.
It took me a long time to realize I was worth something, and even longer to start building meaningful relationships, but those things did happen. The one thing that did happen immediately was that I had hope. I knew that there was someone there who would share in my struggles, and more importantly would help me overcome them.
In a sense, every day is an echo of that same decision. I have traveled around the world, and sang and talked about God on three continents, and seen Him do unbelievable things in my life and in the lives of my friends. Yet I still find it hard to trust Him with many things I’d like to retain control over — possessions, relationships, the future — even though I know the only way I will ever gain anything is by ’sacrificing’ it to Him. I say that with quotes, because everything I have ever turned over to God’s control He has given me back ten times better than before.
When I first came to God, it was because I saw a faint glimmer of hope that He might have something better. That turned into faith in Him and His ability to work in my life. When I say ‘faith’ I mean a conscious decision to bet my life — my self esteem, my security, my livelihood — on the fact that God knows how I ought and need to live far better than I do. And over the years, that faith is hardening into certainty, as in a thousand little risks (and a few big ones) I see God fulfilling His promises to me and showing His love for me.
I won’t say that my life is perfect, or that I understand everything about God and the Bible. I just know what I was, what I am, and what I am becoming. And that I owe all of that to a God who loves me and has the power to save me from myself, and make me into His image, His son. That is why I am Christian.