Swaranjali Samal is my official name. People know me as 'Anju'. I was born on 16th May 1974 in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. My dad worked for the Tata press. Mom was a house wife. I have a sister two years younger than me.
As a child I was very quiet because I never liked to talk about myself and my family. Actually, the situation at home was very difficult and I could not bear to go through the same feelings while I narrated the whole situation to others. My dad was not very fond of my mom because she was dark and not very smart; but she was a good and faithful wife and a loving and disciplining mother. I loved her because even though my dad abused her verbally and physically she had a pleasant disposition on her face. She was loved and respected in our apartment building despite her drunkard husband (he was not a compulsive drinker, though). This was the environment in which I grew up. I was always asking God, "Why can't I have a normal childhood like everyone else?" Today as I look back I see God's wisdom even in allowing me to go through suffering. God's school of teaching is very different from human ones; it may even seem weird to us humans. But that's the way it is!
Well, even this training was not sufficient for me - there were more difficulties on their way. God took away my mom when I was fourteen. My mom's heart could not take any more blows from my dad and it failed. She died of a heart attack and when my sister and I got to know, the news broke our little hearts and our world was shattered. To make things worse, my dad wanted to get married again - to my mom's friend; dad had given us many blows before, but this was a new blow! We just could not take it.
Meanwhile, college was fun - with new friends, new adventures and so on. But life at home was getting increasingly difficult and I was asking God, "Where are you?! Can you see my tears? Can you hear my cry?" God remained silent. I would visit temples and churches in search of God. But then I thought to myself, "These are merely gods made by man after all. Who is the God who made me? Who sees like I do? Who can feel what goes on within me?"
Mom had told me that there was someone up there who looked down and would reward and punish me for all the good and evil I did.
"I want to see this God who is up there in heaven" I thought, "who made me and all that I see!"
It was now time for Him to introduce Himself to me.
A friend of mine at college named Amita Matilda Machado told me about her God called Jesus Christ. "He loves you so much," she told me.
Amita gave me a Bible. Although I was a bad reader, I felt like reading this black book called the "Holy Bible". This book took me from darkness to light and changed my life. In it, I got the answers to all the questions that I had been asking myself for so many years. It was nothing less than God's word, and He spoke to me through it.
I learned from the Bible how the whole universe was created by His spoken word
. And then how He very fondly took clay and created Adam, the first man and then created Eve, the first woman, out of Adam. The Bible goes on to say how man sinned
and was thrown out of the presence of God. That's how the problem of sin began. Man was now ashamed of his naked body. God killed a sinless, blameless lamb to cover his nakedness.
I saw in the Bible an honest summary of man's condition:-
"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." - Romans3:23
But I also found good news in the Bible. The Lord God Almighty made a way for mankind to get rid of sin
. He sent His Only Begotten Son to take our punishment for all the sins we have committed. Jesus was God's only begotten son. When I read about the Lord Jesus - the way He lived in this world, the love that He showed through His life and through His death - I couldn't but respond to his love. I received the Lord Jesus as my Saviour. I was changed. This happened at a Bible camp organized by a church in Mumbai. The God of heaven and earth, the King of kings and Lord of lords became the Lord and God of my life!
"Love" - the whole world wants to be loved. We want love that never changes, love that is unconditional, love from an undivided heart, so on and so forth; I found this love in Jesus. We all enjoy attention, understanding and special care. I got all of these from the Lord Jesus Christ. I could talk to Him through prayer and He answered me remarkably through His word -- the Bible. I realized that the God who created me is none other than the God of the Bible.
When we become disciples of Jesus Christ, our problems do not disappear. Rather, God uses our problems to train us. My father held on to his decision to marry my mother's friend. My mom had served him for eighteen long years; she took all his abuse and remained with him through thick and thin. How he could forget her in just two years?!
Since my sister and I were not in favour of my dad's decision to remarry he decided to leave us - his own two teenage daughters. Evidently, he was not concerned about how we would survive in this wicked world.
It was then that the God of all comfort told me, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5). God tells His people through the prophet Jeremiah: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3). The psalmist David said, "When my father and mother forsake me, then Jehovah will take me up" (Psalm 27:10). These wonderful promises of God comforted me very much and kept me going in this difficult phase of my life.
With the money that dad gave my sister and I we could afford only a small house which had just one room, a kitchen and a bathroom. We had to use the public toilet. For girls who grew up in a decent house in an upmarket suburb of Mumbai like Bandra, relocating to a slum was very difficult. But God had some more lessons that He wanted to teach us. It is in this house that I have learned the real truths of life.
Someone has said: "The mountain top experiences are excellent but it's only in the valleys that we grow!"
That is so true. The circumstances were tough, but the Lord Jesus was faithful. He was always there with my sister and I. We blossomed and flourished in every aspect of our life just like lotuses in stagnant and dirty water.
It is now (2012) twenty three years since I received Jesus Christ as my personal lord and saviour. When I look back at my past I realize how the Lord helped me, protected me, led me and guided me. I have nothing to complain about Him. I have enough to thank Him and praise Him for evermore!!
There are many incidents and times when I have felt the presence of the Lord Jesus in my life. I know one thing for sure that in this changing world where people change like seasons, my God will never change. People leave you for someone better than you, but my God will never leave you nor forsake you. Trust me - He is a trustworthy God!! You will never regret knowing Jesus. Believe in Him. Confess to him that you are a sinner for He is ready to save you from the clutches of sin. JESUS LOVES YOU!!!