I hail from a middle class Hindu family. I was the only child to my parents after 14 years their marriage and named as Ashok Kumar. I lost my father at the age of nine. A little farming was the source of our family. My mother struggled a lot for the family and to bring me up after my father’s demise. The family conditions taught me what the struggles are since my childhood.
I grew up in the atmosphere of worshiping Hindu deities. I was responsive and unable to bear the hardships faced by my mother. When my mother fell ill, I used to be depressed sensitively not knowing what to do.
After completion of my academia, elders had a thought of performing my marriage. But I disliked the marriage with the girl intended to. I was saddened and I could not share the same with my mother or to anyone else. I decided the girl’s future should not get disturbed by me. I had no other go except to leave the world, to avoid the marriage with that girl. The seed of suicide entered into my mind.
In turn, I got intimacy with a girl, and unable to rectify that immoral activity. I have committed a grave injustice to my mother who had lots of hope in me and I could not show my coward face to her. I was disgusted with the life and decided to die. When I said the same to the girl, she was also ready to come with me.
I was 20 years old. On 25 May 1977, we both walked against a fast approaching train and lied down at the moment when it arrives nearer. At the last breath we were admitted to the government hospital by the railway authorities. A week later I was out of the coma. I understood that I was still alive. Oxygen mask, saline, injuries, cuts, stitches on the broken skull. Stitches on the right eye and torn left ear. Bandage strips all over the body. I was unable to move at all. Agonizing pain all through my body. I could not lie down due to large waist injury. I was unable to move my legs. Neither hospital personnel nor my mother told me what happened to my legs. I cried to make me sit because I could not lie down due to big waist injury. I could not make out what happened but bodily injuries all over.
I am told that the girl lost a leg and an arm. My heart was squeezed, for my foolishness destroyed her life as well. I loathed myself as I am still alive. My relatives had hated for my deed. Some even did not turn up to see me. A friend who holds me most dear, came to see me and angrily left saying that “he will never see my face.” Till date he did not turn up. One of my relatives said to my mom that “he is useless, throw him into the river and go home.” My maternal family, however, had supported us for my mother’s sake.
Ten days after the event a large ulcer had developed on my waist. About a month passed, doctors told to take me to a bigger hospital. I was admitted to Guntur General Hospital. The bed was very hard and there was no fan nearby. To heal the waist soar they made me to lie down on my right and left. In a few days, thrust deeper lesion sores formed on both sides. Unable to have food, due to an infection I was running with fever most of the times. Many injections with hardened needles. I could not bear the pain besides three side sores. I could not sleep at all. In such an early age, I could not tolerate the sufferings and used to cry loudly. It was a hell-like suffering. Several times I cried a lot to get me the poison. I begged to kill me. I could not see my mother’s hardship and agony. Whatever person appears in the hospital she used to beg “give life to my child.”
Five months later a major surgery was performed on the sore of my left side at Guntur hospital. There was a severe storm and the chief physicians left to treat the victims of a storm. A week later a doctor opened the bandage and said that the operation had failed. Unbearable odour was coming from the damaged left thigh. The wound was 10 inches long. Doctors told to mom that my survival would be difficult. A few relatives came to see me for the last time. In the face of physical suffering and mental anguish I was waiting how quickly the soul separates from the damaged body.
During those days, a friend of a fellow-patient came to enquire my condition. He told me how Jesus fostered him and how he believed Him. I did not show any interest to hear his words. I used to burst at the gods whom I worshipped till date for still I was alive. That day I did burst against Christ for no reason. I had a dream that night. A man clad in white got down from a helicopter and came to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said “not to utter like that.”
We as Hindus believe rather in dreams. We used to believe those gods will punish the wrong. My conscious interpreted of the dream that Jesus appeared and warned me for my rebuke. I was afraid of punishment from Him. To cover-up and divert the wrath of Jesus upon me, I got an idea of wearing a cross. I asked my nephew, who was assisting me throughout, to bring me a cross and put on.
I had an opinion that whoever believes in Christ wears the cross. I had a view that Christianity is a religion of a particular community. Why, because the Church was in the midst of such community in our village. From childhood I had a sense of levity towards Christians. But, sooner I realized that I had committed wrong by rebuking Jesus. The thought of laying His hand on me in my dream had sown in my heart strongly. I thought that Jesus likes me. I too started liking Him wholeheartedly.
Ten months after admission into Guntur hospital doctors advised to take me home. Large ulcers were not healed. Till then I used to think that “If I survive I will walk again and join the college to complete my PG.” While discharging with raw sores, then I came to know what my situation is. When I learnt that I never walk again, my heart was broken and cried a lot. In younger age, I myself destroyed the life. After my father’s death, I should have supported my disgusted mother. But, I no longer support her. Besides, I became the cause of her mental agony and physical torture, which can never be pardoned.
Whom we have? Where to go with raw sores? My maternal uncle’s family shown mercy and put me in a small hospital nearer to their village Buchireddipalem (Nellore District) and used to send food for us. A nurse used to dress to my sores on a regular basis. By observing the cross I wear, the doctor told about my critical condition and asked one of the patients (who is a retired teacher) to see and console me. Though the doctor knew that we were Hindus, but he never asked me why I wore a cross. The retired teacher used to visit occasionally and told me about Christ. His name is Anguluru Devadanam. A specialist Doctor visited me upon request of my relatives and he said, “I can’t say how long he would survive and take him home because it would cost a lot of money in the hospital.”
Where to go? Our house was locked. Our little farm was disposed of to meet the hospital expenditure. There’s no livelihood? How many days can we manage with the meagre amount towards food and hospital expenditure? When people learnt that I no longer live, one of our relatives had taken away all my clothes. I had not even left with a shirt. One advised to undertake typing job work. How can I at least sit with the raw sores? There is nothing “except to await the death.”
The teacher used to come and tell about Jesus. Initially I did not pay any attention. I started thinking “why he is interested in me and what the use of coming to me is?” I thought that something to be true in his words and had been listening gradually. What is the evidence to believe his words? Asked him to give me a Bible and began to read. When I read certain words, I have taken it as God was speaking to me, and it was written about me especially in the Book of Job.
“For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth. Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.” (Job 13: 26-27).
“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” (Job 5: 17-18).
“He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” (Job 33: 27-28)
“He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression. Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.” (Job 36: 15-16)
By reading and thinking about the power of God recorded in the Bible, and His knowledge of how he set up the entire universe, I was surprised that how great God He is. How such a Supreme God dwells in man-made stone, wood, etc.? 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.
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. Isaiah 43: 10-11)
“Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.” (Book of Job 41:11) What can I give to such a God who created the whole creation? I regretted and repented about what I have done foolishly and ridiculously so far such as breaking coconuts, shaving the hair, etc. I believed that “He does not wish material things of this world from me, except a pure heart.” I felt bad, why I am not told earlier about such a Living God.
My eyes were opened. My heart has been transformed by reading the Bible. I realized that I am a sinner and deserve punishment absolutely. I undoubtedly believed that pious Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood to cleanse me from the sin. He had risen from the grave by conquering the death, made me to live eternally at the feet of God.
On June 24, 1979 I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. That time, I trusted Christ to go to Heaven. In such a critical condition if I were dead while in bed, I believed that I would enter into Eternity like the thief on the Cross as assured by Jesus. Because doctors said that my sores would soon become septic and lead to eventual death. Even if I am dying, now I would not go to everlasting fire, but to the feet of the Almighty. Mental agony and depression slowly disappeared. As I go through the Word of God, my heart was jumping with joy. I used to spend in the tranquillity enjoying that the Father, who is the Creator, is with me and loves me.
He had listened to my petty requests when I prayed. One day I was carried to open terrace for a change. Mom went to the ground floor. Thick clouds were formed at that time. I was afraid of pus-soaked lesions worsens if it rains. I Prayed. A few minutes later surprisingly clouds were driven away by a huge wind and a drop had fallen on my forehead. I rejoiced in God. He answered my prayer. There were signs of healing of the first formed sore on the vertebral lesion.
The teacher and another bro. Mahimastotram went to the Baptist Mission Hospital and explained my situation to a missionary Dr. Marian O.Boehr. They requested her whether anything can be done to my sores. Incidentally, the same Doctor performed my mother’s delivery when I was born. Another missionary Ms. Doris Conney was sent to me by her. A few days later I was shifted to the hospital. It was a great turning point in my life. There they look after me kind-heartedly. The doctor has treated me as her child. Since then many brethren regularly prayed for me.
There I was made to lie down in a prone position so that the morning sunlight touches both sides of sores. A few days later Dr. Boehr had done surgery to both the sores. A miracle happened. When the bandage opened, a ditch-like sore on the right side was healed completely. Three stitches on the left side did not. However, the ditch was closed. All including myself astonished that how God’s hand had miraculously healed what doctors were told that the sores will never heal.
Due to the opening of some stitches of left side surgery, they themselves took me to Vellore (T.N.) and admitted to CMC Hospital. There I underwent six surgeries to move my stomach muscle to left hip. Each time of operation I underwent extreme pain. My left side of stomach is like a chaffing. Another new channel is formed which exists even today. Eight months after joining in Vellore hospital the sores formed at Guntur hospital was completely healed. Moreover, I was taught there how to use the wheelchair and manage daily activities.
I got a great spiritual benefit by my small transistor while I was lying down in bed. Listening to all bible messages, including Bro. RRK Murthy’s Bible lessons and meditating the Bible was my routine during my bedridden period. The servants of God used to visit and pray. At Vellore Bro. Bhakt Singh had visited and prayed for me. Dr. Mary Verghese, a disabled doctor gifted me a wheelchair. Sitting in a wheelchair, I stepped outside into the world after three long years. Everything seemed new. The Father who found me in distressed condition immovable between the four walls for a long-time healed and raised me.
Psalm 119: 75,71,67 —– written about me,
“I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”
My mother, who worshiped idols with great devotion, was transformed to read the Bible and pray during the afflicted period. She had removed the idols and photos and accepted Christ as her savior. Her willingness to believe Christ, who had a strong Hindu ideology, was a surprise. By watching my physical recovery our relatives too agreed that Christ has healed me. But they could not break the social bondage and come forward. They are looking out externally only. We are released from the sin and received the Eternal Life. How blessed are we. Salvation is available free through His Grace but not through our own righteousness.
We are back from the hospital, but how to survive? Who would provide me job immediately? I went to ask the missionary doctor where I have been treated, to provide me a job temporarily. After a couple of weeks a woman employee resigned from the hospital job, and that was given to me. My first earning was Rs.300. We started a little earning of our own. Mom and I rejoiced for God’s concern towards us.
After one and half years of our acceptance in Christ as our personal Saviour, On December 1980 we both are baptised. At first, it seemed difficult to work for 8 hours without mobility. My injured waist, turned red and swollen and I had a tremendous pain. By the evening, my legs were swollen heavily. With unbearable waist pain I used to wait for the evening to go home and lie down. By the evening I lay down like a dead with pain and tiresomeness. The next morning I get ready to go to work with tolerance given by God.
One evening while I return to home Mr. Christopher, a bank employee approached me. He asked my details and encouraged to attempt competitive examinations. When I said to the doctor who supported me while I was in distress and provided the job, also encouraged me to write exams. I believed that was God had guided me through them.
I subscribed for a newspaper. Started applying and preparing till late nights. There were 5 job offers. In December 1982 I had joined the State Govt job. But I wanted to get out of that observing the conditions in that office and was praying. One day after duty while returning home in a rickshaw I got a fantastic experience. A buffalo was running alongside of the road as if it is going to hit someone. I suddenly observed a man was walking fast in a few feet ahead of it carrying its calf in his hands. I wondered for a moment. Unknowingly, I saw in my back, assuming that my loving Father was watching and coming behind me. When an animal which cannot speak shows concern for its baby, the Father who loved and saved me certainly shows more attention.
I resigned from the State Govt job and joined the Bank at the age of 26 (1983). A year after joining the bank I have completed M.Com which was discontinued. I have passed the bank’s internal tests (CAIIB) travelling many times by crawling into a city bus. I am a recipient of “a most efficient handicapped employee” award in 1989 by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. In recognition of my expertise at work the Government of India has awarded me “a most efficient handicapped employee” award in 1992. It is a great gift of Almighty receiving from the then President of India Shri. R Venkataraman. My mother filled with overwhelming happiness. God gifted me which would be a rare event even in a normal person’s life. But I never exalted myself, but learnt humility with silent supplication to God.
With a renewed energy I carried on my duties more efficiently and God blessed with a promotion as an Officer. I am blessed with three promotions in my service. As written in the Bible my loving Father brought me up in His Grace and in the eye of human. God had provided me a sidecar scooter when we were at Vizag. Mom felt happy since we also were able to move around by ourselves. My co-workers, our neighbours seemed strange my driving a scooter.
In 1996 the Almighty had united me with a God-fearing girl, named Rachna. Well before my mother had left the world the Lord had brought me another mother. In 1997 He had blessed us with a flat. In response to mom and wife’s prayers, God had gifted me a car to go to the office even if it rains. God gave me the wisdom and the courage to drive a car without training.
My mom, who cried and begged a lot for my life and served me until her last breath as if I were an infant, had left to God in 2005. She has gone with heartfelt gratitude to God for all the blessings believing that “though her son is crippled, he manages things independently and God had placed him in a respectable position in the society.”
Noticing my firm commitment my Organization had given me an opportunity to serve as a Branch Manager obscuring my disability. Wherever I worked people appreciated and acknowledged my devoted services. I am always loyal to the Almighty, who loved me and placed me in a respectable position in the eyes of society. I always surpassed the earthly things. In my journey trails are also a part of my life along with abundant blessings. Because of my continuous sitting while performing my duties up to the late hours, got boils on my buttocks occasionally. There were worrisome threats in terms of going to my duties in 1990, and again in 2005. After some treatment and relaxation my loving Father had healed and led me. I did not look back at times of several trails and weaknesses. I believed that behind every cloud of the trail and temptation there is a rainbow of God’s grace.
Almighty had saved me from death three times. Firstly, how escaped from a direct collision from a rapidly approaching bus when I was taking my mother to a dentist, yet surprising. Second time, I was admitted to a hospital for a treatment. I was saved from wrong blood transfusion. Third time, I had to be in ICU in a critical condition when a nurse pushed an injection into vain instead of injecting into a muscle.
My wife looks after me as a mother and never allows me to think that I am a disabled person. Constantly prays for her husband. In every aspect of hard work she ensures that no burden falls upon me.
Though my body is like a ploughed field and chafed by a knife which looks ugly, Almighty Christ carried me on his shoulder like an injured lamb and successfully completed 33 years of service. I trust that the loving God, who found me when I was in the mother’s womb and before the foundation of the world, kept me alive for 39 years to share His loving Grace and Omnipotent power.
When I start my journey with the Christ, I believed this promise: Job 8: 5-7
“If you would seek God And implore the compassion of the Almighty,
If you are pure and upright,
Surely now He would rouse Himself for you
And restore your righteous estate.
Though your beginning was insignificant,
Yet your end will increase greatly.”
I trusted Christ, not for my physical healing, but to reach His feet if I die. But He not only healed me, but also gave me the opportunity to fulfil my responsibility to my beloved mother. He is extending my life to lead a respectable position in the society as well.
Even if the entire universe may perish, but the Word of God never ends and He always fulfils His promise… my life is the living evidence.
Praise the Lord.