I was hungry this evening. The restaurant i entered was about to close its kitchen and there were no other patrons at the tables. I ordered an idli and 2 wadas as that combination was the quickest available dish on the menu.As i waited for the food to arrive, i got into the following conversation with the owner who was waiting to check the accounts.
"So i hear you have opened more branches of the restaurant?" I asked.
"Yes i have," She replied
"You must be a very satisfied lady now?"
"Yes, all the branches are doing well. I need this branch to be renovated. Will you do the design FOC for me?"
"If i was still employed, i would be getting my regular salary and so i could have said yes but now i cannot do it free. However, i will do it for a reasonable fee."
"But i still won't be able to afford you"
"Just tell me your budget and i will do it for a 10% on that budget."
"What work are you doing currently?"
"I am designing a villa for a 'Man of God' in Pune, who owns a large property on top of a hill in Pune. It is a Christian NGO that has a drug rehab center, a retreat center and homes for elderly people to live for God.
"Oh Christians! The missionaries in India are making too many problems by converting Hindus. Hindus are too gullible and don't know the strength of their own religion. The British and the Portuguese also forced the Hindus to convert to Christianity... actually Hinduism is a beautiful way of life! It is a philosophy".
"Then one thing i don't understand ... why is idol worship practiced in Hinduism?"
"Everything has a reason and i cannot give you all the reasons. You need to have a Guru for that!"
"Which Guru would you recommend that i may ask the question?"
"If you are seeking, the Guru will come to you automatically".
"My seeking has lead me to the Holy Spirit who is my 'Guru'! Although i was born a Catholic, i was not following Christianity. Instead, i was so disillusioned that I stopped believing in God. But then i felt a morbid sense of emptiness in my inner being. I then began seeking to know if there was a God! I began to read voraciously the Holy books of the Hindus, Muslims and other religions of the world. Just five years ago, i started reading the Bible. I realised that i badly needed a personal saviour and i realised that there was a void in me that only Jesus could fill. When He said - 'I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE','NO ONE CAN GO TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME', 'I AND THE FATHER ARE ONE' - he either meant what He said, or was crazy! But to this day no one believes He was crazy. Everyone agrees that Jesus was a good man. If He was good then He cannot be crazy. Then His words HAD TO BE TRUE! My quest then lead me to the 300 odd prophecies in the Bible that He alone fulfilled. I came to know that His coming was prophesied EVEN IN THE VEDAS!" (Rigveda No.10)
"Do you know that Christianity is a dying religion in the West? It is only in the 3rd world countries that it is gaining ground?" She said vehemently.
"Yes, Christianity as an ORGANISED RELIGION is reeling with controversy upon controversy inside the Roman Catholic church. But it was never meant to be a religion in the first place! Jesus said 'repent, the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is at hand! Jesus summed up all the 10 commandments given through Moses to the Jews into just two! LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF and LOVE YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND STRENGTH. CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A RELIGION BUT A RELATIONSHIP! Sadly, the so called Christians of this day are just Christians by name but they are not Christlike. They are the ones who give Christianity a bad name. If only you knew Jesus and took Him as your personal Lord and saviour, you would indeed be set free from your bondages" ---- I said this motioning towards the numerous idols of the laughing Buddhas, the open mouthed frogs etc.kept around the restaurant and cash desk - "You will be a slave to whatever you put your trust in! Do not put your trust in the 'created' but in the 'Creator' Himself!"
I saw that she was listening intently and did not say a word after that. The fierce look on her face had left her. She was no longer argumentative. I wished her a blessed night and left the restaurant. I prayed to the Holy Spirit to water the seed that i had just sown.
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me - Mark 8:34
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? - Mark 8:36