My name is Philip D' Silva. I am now (as of 27th July 2016) 71 years old. I was born in a Catholic home and raised as a Roman Catholic.
My father died when I was 4 years old. I lived in utter poverty in Mangalore, a city in South India, with my mother and 2 brothers. No one taught us the Bible because there was no one around us who knew the Bible! Of course, this did not concern us too much. We were struggling just to fill our stomachs daily and survive on this earth; there was no proper food for us at all. Somehow I completed my graduation and came to Mumbai, where I got a good job. Thereafter I got married; my wife and I have two children.
My wife and I carried out the Roman Catholic rituals that supposedly procure salvation. We would go to church and attend the Latin Mass, not understanding a word. After the Vatican 2 Council, the Pope allowed masses to be said in English. It did not make much difference because even now there was no Bible teaching. There was no prayer in our lives. In Roman Catholicism, "prayer" usually means saying the rosary, a series of memorized, repetitive prayers (see Matthew 6:7). We weren't even saying the rosary at home!
Up till the age of 51, I had only heard about Jesus but never opened the Bible
. I did not know Him. I was living in falsehood, pride, ego, jealousy, anger and in bondage to all kinds of negative habits. I was drinking as well as smoking two to three packs of cigarettes almost every day, fighting with my wife, children, neighbors and all my relatives. Gradually, this kind of life became unbearable; I knew that I was truly lost and sinking in utter darkness.
In the 1990s, both my wife and daughter became very sick. My wife had brain tumors and psychological problems, and my daughter had cysticercus (a worm in her brain). This was the most hopeless and devastating period of my life.
When I was in this desperate situation, a female colleague at office noticed it and advised me to seek God. I made fun of her. Despite my adamant attitude, she persuaded me to go to Potta in South India, a Roman Catholic retreat center. There, at the age of 52, I opened my Bible for the first time. Both my wife and daughter were healed as a result of prayer there (after we returned, their MRIs were normal).
This experience sobered me up. I stopped smoking, regulated my drinking, and started reading the Bible. I made 5 more trips to Potta. My fifth trip lasted 45 days, and during that time, I tried to study the Bible. I stopped drinking. However, I did not learn much about the Bible at Potta. I noticed that many Biblical subjects are deliberately kept hidden and not explained in the Roman Catholic Church for reasons best known to them.
In 1997, I met Mr. S K Alfred, a neighbor. He was a Christian, but not a Roman Catholic. I visited his church about six or seven times. Alphonso Menezes, a church member who had left Roman Catholicism
, visited us twice at home. Although I liked their church services very much, my Roman Catholic pride prompted me not to join this church, so I stopped going there. Both S K Alfred and Alphonso called on me, but I rudely told them to not call me to their church, or even visit me.
In the 20 years from 1995 to 2015, I went to almost 15 Roman Catholic retreats at various centers but I learned very little from the Bible. I saw idol worship everywhere. Rituals and dogmas that have no Biblical basis were given more importance than the Word of God. In some parishes, the people are fighting over church property instead of studying and obeying the Bible.
In 2011, I had another brush with death: four heart blocks! I took the sacrament of extreme unction from a priest in my parish before my open heart surgery. After the surgery, I had a severe loss of memory and consciousness due to wrong medication. Thankfully, I recovered from this as well. Incidents like these remind us very forcefully that our time on earth is limited and we had better get right with our Creator before we die.
I have the habit of reading lots of religious books. One day about 2 years ago I was reading a book titled "Knowing God's Ways". The author writes:
"First of all, it is the pride in our hearts that God is constantly seeking to burn up with His consuming fire. It is the proud, haughty ones whom He seeks to remove from Zion. The Lord says "I will remove from your midst your proud exulting ones, and you will never again be haughty on my holy mountain."(Zephaniah 3:11) And then the church will be left with a "humble and lowly people". (Zephaniah 3:12)
These words touched my heart. It was about 11 pm in the night. Immediately, I knelt down and cried bitterly saying loudly, "Yes Lord, I am the one who is very proud. I am a worst sinner. I don't know you Master, I seek your help and request you to keep me under your shelter. Show me a direction to walk in the truth."
The next morning I got up and remembered that Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life; no one can go to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Then my conscience told me that I could not go to the Father through these idols, so called "saints" or rituals but only through Jesus Christ
for which I should know Him through the Bible. I discussed this with my wife. She gave me her full support and we both together removed all the idols from our house. We started reading the Bible and accepted Jesus as the only Savior of our lives
Even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals the non-Biblical and anti-Biblical nature of Roman Catholic dogma and practice. It was obvious that we had to leave the Roman Catholic Church
and join a community of believers – Christians (in the Biblical sense of the term)
meeting as a church (as defined in the Bible)
– in order to walk with Jesus our Lord. I called a friend who was a Biblical Christian, whose father had been a Roman Catholic. He too encouraged us to leave the idol worshiping Roman Catholic Church and join other true Christians. I later met Andi Eicher
, who lived in my building. After meeting Andi at home several times, I went to his church with my wife. We liked their prayer and their way of preaching the Word of God. After going there for about 7-8 months, we asked them to give us Adult baptism
in their church. Accordingly I was baptized on 9th August 2015 and my wife in November 2015. This church meets at a house on the third floor of a building with no elevator. It is now difficult for my wife and I to climb so many stairs, and so we have shifted to Bethesda Assembly, a church that meets near our neighborhood in a hall of their own. This is the same church that I had refused to go to, the church to which brother Alfred (who by now, had gone to be with the Lord Jesus) and Alphonso belonged! I had wandered away like the prodigal son and was now returning! However they did not hold any grudges but graciously accepted me and my wife. I had the chance to say sorry and ask forgiveness from them after 20 years!
It has taken me so long to learn and accept the truth, but as the saying goes, 'better late than never'. For the remainder of my life, I want to know God more and more, and make Him known to others.