Like many practicing Sikhs and Hindus, one would have sought peace by following and conducting rituals given by temple leaders. This also meant bowing to idols on a daily basis, paying for prayers and shedding many tears in desperation. Conducting every matter in life according to these superstitious beliefs drove many to the breaking point. There was never any response, prayers went on unanswered and all in vain. Throughout it, some would have requested witchcraft and spells done upon certain situations and individuals.
Like many, one would feel a temporary fulfillment when going to these temples and repeating these instructions. But for how long? And at what cost?
Jesus Christ says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28
Youth from around the Greater Toronto Area
Like a family
New comers feel welcomed, like they were always there.
Opportunities to learn and grow and ask questions
Diverse – incorporating English and Punjabi/Hindi/Urdu
Easy to connect
Learning to get along with people
Encouraged to ask questions
Grow together as one body
Troubles and celebrations are faced together, we are there for each other.
Encouraged at discovering different personalities and learning how to get along with each other despite different chemistry.
Sticking it out together, building strong ties
Going out of the way because we are a family
Doing things for others – serving others makes for great friends
Working under submission
Learning about temptations and how to overcome
What the world offers and what God offers
Working on a team
Shubnam and Monu, Mississauga Ontario
It is a meeting place
Meeting God and His family
Learning and growing
Church has taught me to have a heart for those in need. Because it is a place where we live out the love that’s being taught about in the Bible.
Being a friend and family to International students
Coming together and offering support when families are struggling
I came to know about the “Barnabas Fund” which is a pool of finances collected monthly by a group of committed church families and then distributed turn by turn and replenished each month for the next. This was created to help out families or individuals in need, not forgetting that all are accountable to each other.
We love how the church acknowledges milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, new home, baby, marriages, etc…)
Love how the church comes alongside during times of difficulty (hospital, sickness, struggle, loss of a loved one).
Everyone plays a part in the church, and contributes without hesitation. In fact, many just wait for the next opportunity to help. It’s amazing how people come together to support one another.
It is different people from different backgrounds and walks of life, sharing many testimonies of what God has done throughout their lives.
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.
Anita, Mississauga Ontario
All my life I was a follower of Hinduism, and I never thought to cultivate a relationship with my creator.
Being human, we think too much of ourselves and for ourselves – in other words, we are selfish.
The world we live in encourages this thinking and so we are constantly reminded of this behavior. We see it and hear it everywhere, everyday. It has become a part of who we are.
I never had a thought towards church because I was not aware of who Jesus was. I actually assumed He was the one the western world prayed to.
Plus, I was content with all the material things why would I need anything else?
What did I need to go to church for?
I only came once because I was accompanying someone who needed a ride. I decided to enter and when I did, I was blown away at how much I was missing in my life.
I had been given an opportunity to sit and hear words of wisdom that have changed my way of thinking upside down, and inside out.
I continued to attend every week, and began to get involved.
What does getting involved look like?
Carving out time for others
Offering my resources to help those without
Thinking of the broader community around me
Coming up with strategic ways on how to help those in need
Using my talents and gifts for the betterment of others
Being a friend to the lonely
Exposing my vulnerability and not pretending that I was perfect
Not being afraid to show my flaws, because we are all weak
Holding myself accountable to what I had agreed to do
Holding others accountable to what they had agreed to do
Coming alongside those that are struggling and who need the encouragement
These are just some of the things that I had learned in the 2 years that I have spent so far journeying in my newfound mindset.