Sent in by Shankster
I am 20 years old, male, and from Mumbai (India). By birth, I am a Hindu. My parents are (thankfully) not overly religious. They have a very modernist outlook towards life, believing in the power and benefits of education. Their liberal worldviews, I believe have greatly been shaped by living in the international, cosmopolitan environement of Mumbai and by the fact that both my paternal and maternal grandfathers were also essentially modernist in their outlook towards life.
Unfortunately, they have not had a very happy marriage, choosing to continue living with each other only because they felt a divorce would be harmful for their children. I admire their love for us, but in the same breath I would not hesitate to call their relationship unfulfilling and to some extent even abusive (not physically, but emotionally).
The unhappiness at home, my general social incapacity (I find it really difficult to make friends), the fact that the girl I really liked was going out with someone else from my class, my spending large amounts of time with a bunch of guys who cared for nothing in the world but rock music, my poor performance at high school (11th grade), and my general lack of direction in life led me to get interested in the Christian message when a senior of mine from school testified to me.
He told me about how his life had changed after he had accepted Jesus, about how he'd stopped smoking, doing drugs, drinking, fighting with his parents; he even attempted suicide. And the change in his lifestyle was evident and remarkable.
He told me that Christianity was about a relationship not about religiosity, that God loved me and wanted to help me change my life. He also told me that all other religions are false, and only the God of the Bible and the message of the Cross are true; everything else is from the Devil.
I was so desperate for change, that I took it all in (over a span of a month) and decided to follow Christianity and forsake my former liberal Hindu lifestyle. My closest friends (also from non Christian families) also accepted the Christian message and so I really felt that something big was happening.
This was in April 2005. As time passed I got deeply involved in the 'Word of Faith' protestant-evangelical movement. I never joined a church, but was part of a small prayer fellowship, led by the friend who preached the gospel to me and attended by a small bunch of people (the maximum number at one point was 15) called the Fire Fellowship For Christ. Our 'FFC' was supposed to be about purity and we were 'called to take the nation for Christ' and all sorts of things. During our meetings we would 'speak in tongues', 'prophesy', 'see visions', 'hear the Lord' and so on.
But at the start, we really enjoyed it, because we all felt that this Fellowship was a place of truth and freedom where we would be free do define our spirituality as we wished. We would conveniently push all the fundamentalist undertones of the Christian message that would be thrown at us under the carpet, mostly ignoring it or conforming with it unwillingly.
Things eventually started getting out of hand. We were told that God values obedience highly and that it would not be tolerated if we did not attend meetings, pray daily at 5 in the morning, take admissions in universities or jobs or do anything without 'asking the Lord', etc. There was also this constant subliminal pressure to engage in evangelism and win souls for Christ which is a really complicated and stressful task in Indian society. Essentially we had to 'put God first' - 'It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me' was quoted ever so often.
So I went against my will distributing tracts at a metropolitan railway station, shaking with fear that I get arrested or even worse into trouble with some Hindu or Muslim fanatics. I would lie and go to prayer meetings. I would fight with my parents at home, refuse to go to the temple or fulfill religious obligations that they observed out of respect for their parents. I would type emails containing explanations of Biblical verses every day. I would stay up all night designing posters and tracts for Christian events. I would take everything I was told in, accepting it as instruction from the Lord. I would refrain from speaking my mind so that I would not be regarded as 'proud'. There were so many conflicting emotions and thoughts in my mind that I was sad and depressed most of the time, yet I would put it all aside believing that God was teaching me something and preparing me for some bigger calling.
Meanwhile, my friends started leaving the fellowship one by one, for various reasons. One of my friends wanted to take up a summer internship, but the guy who was leading our prayer group told him not to do it, and also said that the job was from the devil. My friend got pissed off and left the fellowship (this was in may 2007), he never looked back.
Similarly, all my friends began leaving one by one.
By the time it was 2008, there were just 3 or 4 of us left in our prayer group (me included). I still stuck on because I thought that God was planning something big and that all my friends who left had been fooled by the devil and would come back to him. It was during this year that my reservations against fundamentalist Christianity began to crystallise.
My education was a complete mess (I was doing my Bachelor of Arts) because most of the time I would be thinking about God and Godly things and about how everything being taught to us in the secular education system was wrong and un-godly. My social life was non-existent, my only close interaction being with other Christians; I could not relate to regular people who did regular things. I looked at them with pity and as being needed to be saved frm the lies of the devil and the things of the world. My relationship with my parents was abysmal. There was so much conflicting pressure - pressure to be a good son vs. pressure to be a good son of God.
The final blow came when my friend who was like my mentor-in-Christ, told me that eventually I WOULD have to join some church on a regular basis and get baptised in water, so easily contradicting the Christian message that had been told to me when he was giving me the Gospel. No longer was Christianity a relationship, it was veering back to being a religion.
Also last year in September both my grandparents were suffering from major health problems and my grandaunt was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. I was mentioning all these things to my Christian friends and they told me that this was the time I had to step in for my family and evangelise! That really pissed me off big time. I mean what was I supposed to say to my ailing 80 year old grandfather? "Everything you know and believe is wrong, Jesus loves you and is the only God"??
His death in October last year only made my resolve stronger. And after a lot of debating in my head, I finally decided to cut off all ties from the fundamentalist brand of Christianity.
Today, my worldview is a mixture of Agnosticism, Absurdism, an unhealthy Nihilism and Realism. Like many of you on this website, I am ready to believe in a Godhead, if his/her existence is proved to me satisfactorily. I do not affiliate myself with any formal religious group or philosophy.
I have gotten back with my old friends who also left the fellowship over 2 years ago. We are much closer now and it amazes me to find that they are still recovering from their stint with Christianity - although they are over most of the stuff.
I'm trying to put things together and live a more meaningful life - personally and communally. I feel really nice whenever I read the posts on this website. I feel reassured that I made a wise decision by turning away from Christianity.
Thanks to whoever has been reading this through to the end. I hope it has been worth your time.