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)


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.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

High Praise

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
and a two-edged sword in their hand.
Psalm 149:6

A Prayer of High Praise

Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be Your name

I am the Alpha and the Omega
The Beginning and the End
Who is and who was and who is to come,
The Almighty.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
The First and the Last.
I am He who lives and was dead
And behold I am alive forevermore. Amen.
And I have the keys of Hades and Death.
The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness,
The Beginning of the creation of God.
The Lord, the Lord God,
Merciful and gracious, longsuffering,
and abounding in goodness and truth,
Keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and sin.
Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come.

Your Kingdom come.
O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven
And do You not rule over all the Kingdoms of the nations,
And in Your hand is there not power and might
So that no one is able to withstand You?
Then to Him (the Ancient of Days),
Was given dominion and glory and a kingdom
That all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.
Lift up your heads O you gates!
And be lifted up you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.
Blessed are You Lord God of Israel
Our Father forever and ever.
Yours O Lord is the greatness
The power and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord
And You are exalted as head over all.
Both riches and honor come from You
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.
Now therefore Our God,
We thank You and praise Your glorious name.
We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.

Your will be done on earth.
You are worthy O Lord
to receive glory and honor and power
for You created all things
and by Your will they exist and were created.
My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior
For He who is mighty has done great things
And holy is His name.
No one is like the Lord,
For there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to the grave and brings up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
He brings low and lifts up.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s
And He has set the world upon them.
I will sing to the Lord
For He has triumphed gloriously
The Lord is my strength and song
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God and I will praise Him;
My Father’s God and I will exalt Him.
Your right hand, O Lord has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces
And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You.
Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation
The Lord shall reign forever and ever.
Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the Saints.
Who shall not fear You O Lord,
And glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy,
For all nations shall come and worship before You.
For Your judgements have been manifested.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory.

Your will be done . . . as it is in heaven.
Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!
Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne
And to the Lamb forever and ever!
To God our Savior
Who alone is wise
Be glory and majesty
Dominion and power
Both now and forever

For Yours is the kingdom
And the power and the glory forever
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might
Be to our God forever and ever

Scripture References (quoted from the NKJV - in order of appearance):

Part 1: Matthew 6:9; Revelation 1:8,11, 18; Revelation 3:14; Exodus 34:6,7; Revelation 4:8

Part 2: Matthew 6:10; 2 Chronicles 20:6,7 (King Jehoshaphat's prayer); Daniel 7: 14, 27; Psalm 24:7-10; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 (King David's prayer); Revelation 11:17

Part 3: Matthew 6:11; Revelation 4:11; Luke 1:46, 47, 49 (Mary's song); 1 Samuel 2:2, 6, 8-10 (Hannah's prayer); Exodus 15:1,2,6,7,11,13,18 (Moses' song); Revelation 15:3,4; Isaiah 6:3

Part 4: Matthew 6:11; 2 Chronicles 6:18; Revelation 5:12,13; Jude 25;

Part 5: Matthew 6:13; Revelation 7:12

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

His name shines out

"They were living to themselves; self with its hopes, and promises and dreams still had hold of them; but the Lord began to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and had surrendered for it to be given them at any cost, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish; they had asked to be meek and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and He slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by “as a refiner and purifier of silver,” until they should reflect His image’ they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He had reached it to them it lacerated their hands.

"[...] But now at last their turn has come. Before, they had only heard of the mystery, but now they feel it. He has fastened on them His look of love, as He did on Mary and Peter, and they can but choose to follow.

"Little by little, from time to time, by flitting gleams, the mystery of His cross shines out upon them. They behold Him lifted up, they gaze on the glory which rays from the wounds of His holy passion; and as they gaze they advance, and are changed into His likeness, and His name shines out through them, for He dwells in them. They live alone with Him above, in unspeakable fellowship; willing to lack what others own (and what they might have had), and to be unlike all, so that they are only like Him.

"Such are they in all ages, 'who follow the lamb withersover He goeth.'"

– Anonymous, from Streams in the Desert

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