My struggles in life
My name is Ashok Kumar. I am from a middle class Hindu family that worships Hindu deities. I lost my father at the age of nine and a little farm was our family's only source of support.
I learned about the struggle of life through my mother's tremendous challenges, and when she fell ill I was unable to bear the hardships. Not knowing what to do, I became very depressed.
After I had completed my academia my elders began planning my marriage. However, because I disliked the girl they had chosen I felt it would only disrupt her future.
In my sadness I foolishly made my problem worse by becoming intimate with another girl, and was then unable to abandon that immoral activity.
I considered my actions to be a great injustice to my mother, and was so ashamed that I would not allow her to see my cowardly face.
Disgusted with life, I decided that suicide was the only way out. I told my girlfriend, and unfortunately, she decided to join me. So, at 20 years old, on May 1977, we both walked toward a fast approaching train.
We were taken to the government hospital by the railway authorities with critical injuries, and a week later I awakened from a coma. I had an oxygen mask, and there was saline, injuries, cuts, stitches on the broken skull, stitches on the right eye and torn left ear. I suffered from agonizing pain and was unable to move my legs. Bandage strips were all over my body.
My heart was crushed when I learned that the girl had lost a leg and an arm. My foolishness had also destroyed her life, and I loathed myself because I was still alive.
My relatives hated what I had done and some would not even come to see me. A close friend came, but after learning the facts angrily left, saying that I would never see him again. One of my relatives had even said to my mom, “he is useless, throw him into the river and go home”. My maternal family however, had supported me for my mother’s sake.
Ten days later when more problems developed the doctors advised them to take me to a larger hospital.
I was admitted to Guntur General Hospital. The bed was very hard and there was no fan to cool me. Due to an infection I was unable to have food, and I was burning with fever. I had many injections for pain, but it was still unbearable, and I could not sleep. I could not tolerate the sufferings and would often cry. It was a hell-like suffering. Several times I tried to get some poison. I begged them to kill me.
Five months later a major surgery was performed on my left side. Immediately afterward there was a severe storm and the physicians left to treat the victims. A week later the doctor opened the bandage and discovered that the operation had failed.
The doctors told mom that my survival would be difficult. A few relatives came to see me for what they thought would be the last time. And in my suffering and mental anguish I was waiting to see how quickly the soul separates from the damaged body.
Then, a friend of a fellow-patient came to enquire about my condition. He told me how he had come to believe in Jesus, but I was not interested. I had been screaming at my false gods because I was still alive, but that day I screamed out against Christ.
That night I dreamed a man clad in a white gown climbed down from a helicopter, came over to me and placed his hand on my shoulder and said that I should “not scream out at Jesus." Hindus believe that false gods punish for wrongs that are committed. My interpretation of the dream was that Jesus had appeared to warn me for my rebuke (outburst) toward him, so I was afraid he would punish me.
At the time I thought that everyone who believes in Christ wore a cross; so, in an attempt to divert the wrath of Jesus, I asked my nephew to bring me a cross and to put it on me. Even as a child I had a flippant attitude towards Christians, but I now realized I was wrong.
The memory of Jesus laying His hand on me in my dream was strongly on my heart. I had the feeling that Jesus liked me, and I started liking Him, wholeheartedly.
Ten months after admission into Guntur hospital, still with large areas of my body not healed, the doctors advised my family to take me home. Until then I had thought that, “If I survived, I would walk again, and I would then return to college to complete my PG.” However, when I learned that I would never walk again, my heart was broken.
After my father’s death, I planned to support my mother, now I could no longer support her. Not only that, but I was the cause of her mental agony and physical torture, which can never be pardoned.
My maternal uncle's family showed mercy and put me in a small hospital close to their village, and sent us food. A nurse came to dress my injuries on a regular basis.
The doctor knowing I was a Hindu, asked about the cross I wore, and was told that I did so because of my critical condition.
He then asked one of the patients (who is a retired teacher) to see if he could console me. The retired teacher visited occasionally, and began to tell me about Christ. At the request of my relatives, a specialist Doctor visited me, and he told them, “I can’t say how long he will survive, take him home, because it will cost a lot of money to remain in the hospital”.
But where would we go? Our house was locked, and our little farm disposed of to meet the hospital expenses. We had no livelihood. How many days could we manage on our meagre income?
When my relatives had learned of my assumed to be critical injuries one of them had taken away all my clothes, down to the last shirt. Someone suggested that I should undertake a typing job, but how could I even sit, with the raw sores? There is nothing, "except to await death," as assured by the doctors.
The teacher still came to tell about Jesus. Initially I was not interested, but then I began to wonder, “why is he interested in me, and what's the use of his coming to see me?” There seemed to be truth in his words, but what was the evidence to help me believe?
On one of his visits I asked him for a Bible, and began to read. I noticed that when I read certain words, it seemed that God was speaking directly to me, and that it could have been written about me, especially the Book of Job:
I was reading the Bible and thinking about the power of God, and His knowledge to be able to set up the entire universe, and was surprised at how great God is. As written in Isaiah 44: 9-20, no one discerns that the Omnipotent Creator does not exist in the ingenious forms made by human hands.
What could I give to such a God who had created the whole universe? I regretted and repented for what I had so foolishly and ridiculously done, (screaming, breaking coconuts, shaving the hair, etc).
I discovered that “He does not want material things from me, only a pure heart." I felt bad, why was I not told earlier about such a Living God. My eyes were opened. My heart had been transformed by reading the Bible.
I realized that I was a sinner and deserved absolute punishment.
I believed without a doubt that Jesus had died on the cross and shed His blood to cleanse me from all sin. He had risen from the grave by conquering death, and made me to live eternally at the feet of God.
On June 24, 1979 I trusted Christ to take me to Heaven. Even in such a critical condition, I believed that, much like the thief on the cross, if I died in bed I would enter into Eternity with Christ. Even if the doctors are right, and I am dying, I would not go to an everlasting fire, but to the feet of the Almighty.
The mental agony and depression slowly disappeared. My heart would jump with joy as I went through the Word of God, and enjoyed the tranquillity of the Father. The Creator who is with me and loves me had listened to my petty requests.
One day I was carried to an open terrace for a change, and Mom went to the ground floor. Thick clouds were forming and I was afraid the soaked lesions might worsen in the rain.
I Prayed, and a few minutes later was surprised to see the clouds driven away by a huge wind, with only one drop falling on my forehead. I rejoiced in God, because He had answered my prayer.
The teacher, and another friend, went to the Baptist Mission Hospital and explained my situation to a missionary. Dr. Marian O. Boehr. They asked her if anything more could be done to help my injuries to heal. (Incidentally, this same Doctor had performed my mother’s delivery when I was born).
So, she sent me another missionary, Ms. Doris Conney, and a few days later I was shifted to the hospital. It was a great turning point in my life. There, they looked after me and were kind-hearted. The doctor treated me as though I was her own child. Since then many brethren have regularly prayed for me.
Soon there were signs that the first vertebral lesion was beginning to heal. Then I was made to lie down in a position that would allow the morning sunlight to touch both sides of the injuries that were not healing. A few days later Dr. Boehr performed surgery on both injuries, and a miracle happened.
When the bandage was opened the injury on my right side was completely healed, however, the left side was not. Everyone, including myself, was astonished that God had miraculously healed what doctors had said would never heal.
Next, I was admitted to CMC Hospital where I underwent six surgeries, each causing extreme pain. Eight months later the injuries were completely healed, and I was learning how to use the wheelchair, and to manage my daily activities.
I got a great spiritual benefit by my small transistor radio while I was lying in bed. Listening to all Bible messages, including Bro. RRK Murthy’s Bible lessons, and meditating on the Bible was my routine. The servants of God visited and prayed for me. Bro Singh visited and prayed for me. Dr. Mary Verghese, a disabled doctor, presented me with a wheelchair.
So, after three long years, seated in my wheelchair I once again ventured outside, and into the world. Everything seemed new. The Father who had found me in a distressed condition, immovable between four walls for so long, had healed and raised me up.
Salvation is freely available only through His Grace, and not of our own righteousness. My mother, who had previously worshiped idols with great devotion, was transformed and began to read the Bible, and to pray. She also removed the idols and false gods from her home. Considering her strong Hindu ideology, her willingness to believe in Christ was a surprise to all.
On December 1980, one and one half years after accepting Christ as our personal Saviour, my mother and I were baptised. How blessed we are to be released from sin and receive Eternal Life.
My relatives had witnessed my physical recovery, and could only agree that it was Christ who had healed me. Unfortunately, being Spiritually blind, they can only see the external and cannot not break the social bondage and come forward.
We were at last back from the hospital, but how would we survive? Who could immediately provide me with a job? I decided to ask the missionary doctor at the hospital where I had been treated, if he would temporarily provide me with a job. After a couple of weeks one of the employees resigned, and I was given her job. My first earning was Rs.300 (.004 US Dollar). Mom and I rejoiced for God’s care for us.
At first, it seemed difficult to work for 8 hours without mobility. My injured waist turned red and swollen. I had tremendous pain and was exhausted. By evening my legs would be so swollen that I would look forward to going home and lying down. In the mornings I could get ready for work only with the strength given by God.
One evening, as I was returning home from work, Mr. Christopher, a bank employee, encouraged me to take the competitive examinations. The doctor, who had provided the job, also encouraged me to write exams.
So, believing God was guiding me, I subscribed to a newspaper and started searching available jobs, and applying, and I received 5 offers. In December 1982 I joined a State Govt job, but due to the terrible conditions in that office I began praying to get out.
At the age of 26 (1983), I resigned from the State Govt job and joined the Bank. I commuted back and forth to work by crawling into a city bus. A year after joining the bank I completed M.Com and passed the bank's internal tests (CAIIB),
One day, while returning home from work in a rickshaw, I had a fantastic experience:
I saw a man walking very fast along the side of the road carrying a calf buffalo, and it's protective mother was following ever so closely behind. In a brief moment I suddenly understood and that my Heavenly Father also closely guards my back; and He can certainly give more attention than any animal.
In 1989 I was a recipient of “A most efficient handicapped employee” award, from the Government of Andhra Pradesh. In1992, in recognition of my expertise at work, the Government of India awarded me “a most efficient handicapped employee” award. It is a great gift of Almighty received from the President of India Shri. R Venkataraman. My mother was overwhelmed with happiness.
The gift from God would be a rare event even in a normal person’s life. However, I was very careful not to allow myself to be exalted, but practiced humility and silent supplication to God.
I carried on my duties with renewed energy and efficiency. God blessed, and I was promoted to Officer. I have been blessed with three promotions in my service. As written in the Bible, my loving Father brought me up by His Grace. When we were at Vizag God provided me with a sidecar scooter.
Mom was happy that we were now able to move around by ourselves. My co-workers and neighbours were surprised that I could drive a scooter.
In 1996 the Almighty united me with a God-fearing girl, named Rachna. Well before my mother left the world the Lord had brought me another loving caretaker. In 1997 He blessed us with a flat. In response to Mom and wife’s prayers, God gifted me with a car. Now I could go to the office even when it rains. (God gave me the wisdom and the courage to drive a car, without training.)
My mom left to be with God in 2005, but she had cried, begged for my life, and cared for me until her last breath. She left this earth believing that “although her son is crippled, he could manage things independently, and that God had blessed him with a respectable position
The people at my work respected and acknowledged my devoted services. My firm commitment to my Organization had obscured my disability and provided an opportunity to serve as Branch Manager. I am always loyal to the Almighty who loved me and placed me in this respectable position.
Both trials and abundant blessings have been a part of my life's journey, but my loving Father has healed me, and I do not look back. I believe that behind every cloud, trial, or temptation, there is a rainbow of God’s grace.
The Lord has saved me from death three times:
First time: Avoiding a direct head-on collision with a rapidly approaching bus when taking my mother to a dentist.
Second time: I was admitted to a hospital for treatment and was saved from a wrong blood transfusion.
Third time: I was in ICU in a critical condition because a nurse had given an injection into a vein instead of a muscle.
My wife prays and looks after me as well as a mother, and never allows me to think that I am a disabled person. In every aspect she ensures that no burden falls upon me.
Though my body is like a ploughed field and chafed by the surgeons knife, Almighty Christ has enabled me to successfully complete 33 years of service.
The loving God, who knew me even in my mother’s womb has carried me on his shoulder like an injured lamb; and He has kept me alive to share His loving Grace and Omnipotent power.
"But if you will seek God earnestly
and plead with the Almighty,
if you are pure and upright,
even now he will rouse himself on your behalf
and restore you to your prosperous state.
Your beginnings will seem humble,
so prosperous will your future be." (Job 8: 5-7)
I trusted Christ, not only for my physical healing, but to reach His feet when I die. He not only healed me, he also gave me the opportunity to fulfill my responsibility to my beloved mother, and lifted my life to a respectable position in society.
The entire universe may perish, but the Word of God will never fail. He always fulfills His promise... my life is the living evidence. Praise the Lord.
Ashok Kumar: India