As a Punjabi, what did you know about church?
Rajinder, Toronto Ontario
I always associated church with Jesus, and I thought that He was a god – of white people.
I was told that going to church, you light a candle and whatever you wish for, things come true.
I believed that all gods are the same, but I always had a curiosity about church. I was scared to enter because it wasn’t for me – it was a foreign concept. And all churches seemed to be the same – I had no knowledge of denominations, or backgrounds of the different churches or their beliefs.
Once I was told about Jesus. I wanted to know more.
I was very eager to sit and listen to the stories and the teachings in the Bible.
I began to attend church and I found out more about Jesus, and this strange love He had for people – why did He show love and care and for what reason?
I was afraid to share this with my husband because He never knew that I was searching. I felt the need to “pray” or talk to a higher power, but didn’t want to do so near my husband so I went to the next room. In my mind I was thinking of Jesus, and said “if you make a way for me to get to church, I will be convinced that you are God.” Within a week, I was back at church. I felt a certain tugging at the heart – a touch or a feeling that I’ve never felt before. For the first time in a long time, I slept so well – I had a different kind of peace and comfort and I wanted desperately to continue going to church.
Slowly a change started taking place in my life and a relationship was developing with this God that was unknown to me and to my people for many generations.
Religion sees God from afar, but relationship sees God near – you experience Him as a father, and the church becomes your family.
Before knowing Jesus, I was always searching for something, and longing for something but I couldn’t figure it out. No amount of rituals was fulfilling this void.
Bowing to idols and cleansing the house for days with chanting and incense burning with special religious pundits (or priests), doing spells and witchcraft routines for protection etc.
Cultural rituals are mandatory in other faiths. Daily traditions and religious formalities take place in temples like covering of the head at certain times, bowing and touching the feet of elders, abstaining from certain foods on certain days of the week, idol worship and sacrificing of different items – the lists go on!
I found that there is freedom in Jesus Christ and His church. You go as you are and He doesn’t care what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside.
A Bible in Punjabi was given to me – and I began to study and read it. Back in the temples, no religious book was ever opened and read aloud and given explanation. Only chanting in an unknown old dialect, which no one understood. There was never any inner transformation – but exercising rituals and traditions in blind faith from generation to generation. As I continued reading the Bible, I knew what sin was, what conviction was, what truth was and my life has changed because of it.