My name is lluri Jyothi David Raju. I am 21 years old and hold a graduate bachelor’s degree in commerce. I was born and brought up in Andra Pradesh, India in a Christian home and since birth, my parents dedicated me for the Lord’s service. My father is a godly man and faithful senior pastor of an independent church pioneered thirty five years ago. My mother helps my father in the ministry of God’s work. I have two elder brothers and one younger sister.
After my graduate studies, I worked in an organization specializing in sales and marketing. As the months progressed, I was promoted from junior executive to marketing manager with a big salalry raise. With an increase in my disposable income, I bought a Nissan Pulsar 180cc motorbike which was, to my dismay – a source of my downfall as it brought me to many places of vice and sin.
I was addicted and enslaved to many types of sinful bad habits and immoral behaviour unbecoming of a Christian. I started frequenting pubs and got used to the comfortable life of luxury and sin. Whenever I handled company meetings, I spoke authoritatively and with a commanding arrogance making statements like “Money makes the world go around” and “No money, no talk.” At all times, I pushed and motivated my staff not only to earn money but to worship the god of money. After all, without money one cannot fulfil dreams of getting friends and earning degrees and owning homes and all the toys and gadgets this world offers.
There were times in my life then that I used to borrow from friends and family to feed my lifestyle. There was one ocassion, I left my home for a few days, rented a double bedroom and stayed there with my new found friends to enjoy sin in secret. I thought that I can do whatever I want and nobody can stop me from this wonderful life of no accountability
My father often times reminded me to enter the mission field to be involved in God’s holy work. He said that there is nothing better than serving in God’s work. However, this thought was quickly drowned and forgotten in the pattern of wasteful living and worldly pleasures of my new found life!
I thought to myself, “Even if I go into ministry to serve God, I will have to live by faith like my family.” I totally rejected this faith mindset and decided to live this worldly life forever. There is no living by faith for me but only a practical believe in money.
About this time, I borrowed INR 40,000 [about S$1200] from personal financiers to be involved in stocks and shares. My life was going well but the recent financial crisis of 2009 dealth a serious blow to the marketing company I worked for and my income diminished before my very own eyes. The next month following the financial crisis, I had no income at all and my debts were unpaid with accrued monthly interest.
I was very down in my spirit and wondered who is going to help me with money. I went to my friends but they rejected and deserted me like a plague. I was in a very bad situation. No one helped me. One day, I came before God and prayed, “O Lord , please forgive me. I am a worthless sinner. I thought I was gifted and talented having much skills but today I am nothing. I know nothing Lord. Please Lord forgive me. I will never leave you again in my life.”
God spoke to me to leave worldly pleasures and to pursue Him with all my heart, soul and spirit. The Lord reassured me that I will be used mightily for the Kingdom of God. My father encouraged me with kind words and said that he is willing to send me to a bible college. He said, “Now I am encouraging you to go and study at the City Harvest School of Theology in Singapore.”
Even though I am pastor’s kid, I had very little knowledge about the Bible nor how to pray or have other basic ministry skills. My father told me to apply by faith for the City Harvest School of Theology in Singapore. Soon I got a confirmation letter dated 2nd of February 2010 and that I was to be in Singapore by 26th February 2010 in less than a month’s time. This is a miracle of prayer and faith.
I had so many odds against me – I do not have any money, I do not have a passport or a valid birth certificate. I battled in my mind and thought for many days “Is it possible for me to go to Singapore with nothing in my hand and on a very short notice?” My father encouraged me with these words from the book of Romans “The Just Shall Live By Faith” and told me to read, meditate and pray these words over my life.
I took a step of faith and immediately began the process of planning to go to the School of Theology in Singapore. Firstly, I went to apply for a passport and they asked for a valid birth certificate which I did not have. The passport department said that it will take two months to process the application for a valid birth certificate and by then it will be April 2010! But I believed that God would do a miracle. By the grace of God, within two weeks I obtained my valid birth certificate on the 3rd of March and applied for my passport the next day. On 11th March 2010, I got my passport and visa to go to Singapore.
There is yet no money for my flight tickets to go to Singapore and I was discouraged in my heart for bible classes starts on 15th of March 2010. I prayed to God in faith for S$600 for the flight tickets repeating what my father told me “The Just Shall Live By Faith.” The Lord stirred my heart to sell my Nissan Pulsar 180cc motorbike and I obtained S$600 to pay for the flight tickets to Singapore.
I arrived Singapore on the 18th of March 2010 directly stepping from Changi Airport to the School of Theology class. I was the happiest person alive. This is the first step of my journey of faith. I totally depended on God for everything – for finances, for a lap-top, for friends, for food, for travel and living arrangements. God gave me many good friends from many different countries of the world, provided for my every need and even a lap-top for my personal use.
After coming to the School of Theology, my faith has grown by leaps and bounds. I learnt a lot about the bible, how to pray and how to preach. The School of Theology has helped me grow spiritually from formal and informal learning experiencing most of the things I have learnt. I have a dream and desire to be a good preacher for the Lord and so fulfil my parents prayer for me to serve God full time.
I have humbly come to acknowledge that living life to the maximum and enjoying life is not to be found in the world but in the word of God. My life has been totally transformed by the School of Theology and I have decided to serve God full time by faith. I thank Pastor Bobby and the bible teachers at the School of Theology for supporting me with encouraging words of wisdom and counsel. But most of all I thank Almighty God for choosing me to serve God’s purposes in my generation.