Praise be to the Lord Jesus. My name is Shailendra Kumar and I hail from central India.
I was born in a Hindu family but I did not take my religion seriously. When I was only 17 years old, I got addicted to smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. The desire to earn money drove me to Multilevel Marketing (a direct selling business). However, instead of earning money in it, I ended spending money on the business and my friends, which resulted in me getting into debt at a very young age. My father was not alive so I was not afraid of him, and I never used to obey my mother. No one was there to stop me from living recklessly and thus I came to the point where I was forced to leave my home and my hometown and run away to some other place because of my huge debts. In order to make some quick money, I got involved in the business of making fake notes. When I was going to take the very first sample order from the owner’s house, I got to know that the owner was caught by the police on that same day! God had actually saved me from what could have been a very big mess!
As the days went by, my condition worsened; I was roaming here and there like a helpless orphan. I became addicted to drugs. People used to go to my house and speculate about where I was, for example, that I was in jail, and the police also came to my house inquiring about me; I was very scared. Some people also said that I was a beggar at the railway station. I tried committing suicide many times but I was saved on each occasion. The people from whom I had taken loans used to chase me with swords and sticks but I was saved from them as well.
Amid all these problems, I went and lived for some time at my aunt’s home. While I was there I went to a church meeting for the first time; I couldn’t understand much of what was happening there, but I felt motivated to read the Bible. Over the next twenty days I read and pondered over several portions of the Bible. I learned that the God who created me and the entire universe is also a God of great love. He had sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to die for my sin, so that I, a lost sinner, could be reconciled back to God. However, I did not make any commitment to the Lord Jesus. Procrastination comes naturally to me and after all, there are many religions and supposed gods in this world. How was I supposed to be sure that the Bible was right and Jesus was truly the Son of God?
After this I began living in my uncle’s house. They put up with me for some time, but their patience soon ran out. They insulted me very badly; I couldn’t respond to the things they said to me. After all they were right: I was a failure, a pathetic alcoholic and drug addict who, instead of contributing something to the family livelihood, was up to my ears in debt. I left my uncle’s house weeping. I got into a bus and after the bus had covered 40 kilometers I got to the door of the bus with the intention of jumping into a river and ending my life. There, on the sharp stones on the bed of that shallow river, on that rainy day – 22nd July 2006, would be the end of my misery. However, as I was about to jump off, I heard a voice in my heart:
“I am concerned about you! Why do you worry so much? You have to do a lot of work for me.”
The moment I heard this, my heart was overjoyed. Somehow I recognized the voice. It was the voice of Jesus. The same person who soothed the fears of so many when he walked on this earth 2000 years ago was now reaching out to me. I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Changes began taking place in me. I overcame my addiction to smoking, drugs and drinking.
For about a year I continued in the same place where my uncle lived, in fellowship with the local church there. There was no hope in my heart that I would ever go back to my hometown, but God in His plans brought me back one day. The very next day, the Lord made it possible that Mr. Unnikrishnan could come and meet me. He was an evangelist, that is, a full time preacher of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. He gave me a Bible and explained many things from it to me. As a public testimony of my obedience to the Lord Jesus, I was baptized on 6th May 2007. I continued for some months in fellowship at Balod but I knew that the eyes of the police were on me, and I was haunted with fear for them. So I went to Gurgaon, North India, in search of safety, away from church fellowship.
I continued there for 6 months, fell sick many times and changed many jobs, but still had financial woes. I wanted to move from Gurgaon but I couldn’t; I didn’t even have the money for a ticket! In desperation I went to the rooftop and cried my heart out to God. Once again, He helped me. When I came downstairs, my friend all of a sudden handed me enough money to travel. I went back to Balod and into fellowship with the local church there. My church sent me to a Bible school. First I did a short term course of three months and then enrolled for a one year program. However, six months into the program I got the news that my mother had developed cancer, so I returned to my hometown. Despite trying various kinds of treatments in various places, there was no relief. I was dejected and I wandered away from fellowship again. Subsequently my mother passed away and the entire responsibility of my house was on my shoulders.
I kept avoiding God. I told myself that I would return to Him later, and so I got busy with my own mundane matters. So God chastised me by allowing me to fall into financial woes that were so deep that I was unable to recover from them. There was no help from anywhere and I began to weep. I decided to return to my Father, my God. The next day I went to a church meeting and from then on I continued in fellowship. For about 8 months I continually prayed to God that He would help me to rise above this situation and take me to Bible college or take me into His full time service. After a long time of prayer, the Lord replied. He made me understand that I wasn’t worthy of Bible college because after my previous stint, I had not obeyed the will of God. But the Lord is faithful. He did not leave me alone even though I was an orphan. He brought me to the assembly (local church) at Kurrenar where I serve God with the support of the assembly. My full time work is teaching the Bible and telling people about the Lord Jesus who saved me from hell and ruin on earth. God is my employer - my "salary" comes in the form of gifts from God’s people. After I began full time Christian work, the Lord also established my home – He gave me a good wife and daughter, and has kept me fruitful. It has truly been my experience that God has saved me, an orphan, from my life’s addictions, evil deeds, problems and even death. He has been with me and blessed me all along. May His name be praised.