Saturday, October 28, 2006

How Jesus came to Mahesh Chavda

A while ago we were, in blogland, passing around conversion stories – the stories of how people have met Jesus. I love hearing these and am always on the lookout for more. Last week as I was browsing in our church library I came across the book Only Love Can Make a Miracle - the Mahesh Chavda Story. In it, Chavda tells the story of how he came to Jesus, or really, how Jesus came to him. The story below, is retold in my own words from that book, with quotes from the original. (Italic emphases are in the original)

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Mahesh Chavda’s search for truth began with the Hindu faith. This is not surprising since he was born (in 1946) to devout Hindus. His father and mother, Keshavlal and Laxmiben Chavda, were members of the princely Rajput caste. His father was a well-known and -loved figure in Mombasa, Kenya, where he was a civil servant in the British colonial government. After his father died, when Mahesh was only five, his mother continued his training by modeling a life of Hindu devotion and opening their home to traveling holy men.

Mahesh’s early life was characterized by a love of reading. He would rather read than play football or join in holiday festivities.
He was also consumed with the search for truth. Even as a youth, unlike other boys his age, he visited the Hindu temple three times a week to burn incense, bow to the images and talk to the priests. However, he soon began to question the truth of Hinduism’s teachings. He was especially disillusioned by the hypocrisy he saw in the lives of the holy men who visited their home. One day, when he was thirteen, he knew he had had enough. As he walked out of the temple that day, he knew it was for the last time.

“God,” he prayed, “I believe you exist. Every ounce of my being is telling me that you are real, that you are out there somewhere. But you are not in that temple. I am never going back in there again. I want to find you – but where?”

Some years passed. One day when he was about sixteen, his seven-year-old niece Rajesh came to the door of his home. With her was a pale-skinned woman. Because of the heat, the woman needed a drink of water. After Mahesh had brought her one, she introduced herself as Sid Pierce. She told him she was holding children’s street meetings and Rajesh had come to listen. She also said that she was a missionary and began talking about the Christian faith.

Mahesh, resenting that she was starting to preach to him, answered her questions politely but evasively. Soon she rose to leave. But before she left, she fished a book out of her bag and handed it to him. “If you are seeking truth,” she said, “you will find it in this book.”

Mahesh began reading the book she had given him, the New Testament (New English Bible), in Matthew. He quickly became fascinated with Jesus and the way his life was different from the lives of the priests he’d observed. As he read on, he was especially mesmerized by the book of John – noting the many times Jesus claimed to be God and identified himself with truth. Mahesh sensed a powerful pull inside to accept this Jesus.

At the same time, there was resistance. What about everything in his life to this point – his proud Rajput ancestry, the years spent studying the Hindu scriptures and living by its tenets. In some way his identity was all bound up in Hinduism. How could he ever give up all these things that were such a part of himself?

The battle went on as he, completely fascinated by Jesus, never got past the Gospels but read and reread them. Finally one day, tired of the struggle, he decided he couldn’t live like this any longer. It was time to make a decision one way or another.

He was sitting at his desk late that night, wrapped in his bed sheet except for his eyes, to keep mosquitoes from biting. He was reading his Bible as he usually did. Now he closed the book and, in his own words:

“No more,” I said to myself. “Enough is enough. I am never going to think about Jesus Christ again. I am never going to read this book again. My mind is made up”

And that was that.

Or so I thought.

The next thing I knew, I heard my head hit the desk. I mean I literally heard it, as if it were happening to someone else. Bang. I seemed to be in a sort of half-sleep, no longer fully awake and in control, but aware of what was going on. I remember hearing the noise and thinking to myself “That’s my head, hitting the desk.”

I immediately found myself in a strange and wonderful place. My body was still there at the desk, but in my spirit I was somewhere different, somewhere wonderful, somewhere I had never been before. The thought came into my consciousness, very simply and clearly, “I am in heaven.”

Then Mahesh describes what he saw – streets of transparent gold, grass as thick as a blanket, colors more vivid than any he had ever seen, music that he experienced more than felt.
I felt I was home. This was where I wanted to be, where I was supposed to be. This was why I had been created.
Then he became aware of a brilliant white light coming toward him. Within that light was a man. He sensed immediately that this was Jesus – even though he had never seen any pictures of him. And though he looked like an ordinary man and walked like an ordinary man, he was so brilliant Mahesh could hardly bear to look at him. Again, in his own words:
As he came closer to me, I could see that he was smiling. It was the same kind of smile you see on the face of a mother or father when they pick up their little baby, a smile of utter love and delight.

[...] Then, as I stood there gazing into his eyes, he stretched out his hand and placed it on my shoulder and said to me simply, “My little brother.”

As suddenly as it had begun, it ended. I was once again on the second floor of my house with my bed sheet drawn around my face and my head resting on my Bible – but something strange had happened. When all this had started, when my head had fallen forward onto the desk, my Bible had been closed. I had just made a decision never to open it again. Now, however, it was open. I looked down and saw that it was opened to chapter eighteen of Luke’s Gospel, the story of the rich young ruler.

[...] I knew how the story ended. The young man had turned away from Jesus with inexpressible sadness in his heart because he could not bring himself to pay the price of becoming Jesus’ disciple.

I heard a voice within say to me, “Are you going to turn away from me the same way he did?”

I said, “No sir.”

Then I did something that, to my knowledge, no ancestor of mine had ever done, that no one in all the eight hundred years of our family history could even have imagined doing. I got down on my knees and said, “Jesus, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for all the wrong things I’ve done. I want you. I want to give my life to you. Please come and live in my heart.”

Mahesh Chavda was true to his commitment to follow Jesus. Today he and his wife Bonnie pastor All Nations Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a result of their international teaching and evangelism ministry over 750,000 people have come to Jesus.

1 comment:

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