This Is It!
by Vamshi K. R. Bandaru
My two roommates told me boldly to my face, “You have heard the end of the Gospel. You have heard enough. You have reached the point either you need to follow God or quit and go your way.”
Then they said, “We are going to invite you for Friday prayer. You come and we are going to pray for you, and God is going to fill you with the Holy Spirit and you are going to walk out a believing Christian!” They just said it like that! They were prophesying over me.
I was Hindu and a student at Karunya Institute of Technology, a prestigious Christian minority college supported by the Indian government. The quota for Christian students was seventy percent, which allowed students of other religions to fill the remaining thirty percent. I was proud to be a student at Karunya. It was one of the top ten private engineering colleges in India.
Trying to fit in an environment where most of the students were Christians, from time to time I would attend an early morning prayer cell before going to class. Besides praying, some Bible teaching also went on. One day the discussion was on the Ten Commandments, and a student pointed his finger at me and said, “You shall not worship any other God!” I was offended. I didn’t have any problem accepting and worshipping the Christian god as another god, as one among the gods, but not as THE God. After that, I didn’t go back to the prayer meeting for a while.
Hinduism was my family’s culture and religion. We worshipped a number of gods, always with a desire that they do us good and not harm. Though we did pujas (rituals) in our home and we observed religious holidays as a family, our worship was mostly religious practice, never really touching our hearts. You might say we were secular Hindus. Even so, I knew my parents would not want me to become a Christian. It would bring shame upon our family because to them Christianity was a poor man’s religion. The caste system in India still controls much of people’s lives, and our family was of the highest caste.
During my third year in college, for some reason I registered late and was assigned the only available space left in a dorm room. I put my luggage in the room not knowing the two other guys I was rooming with were the most spiritual people in my department. One person was a pastor’s son, who turned out to be a very humble fellow, sweet, having the aroma of Christ about him. The other person was a convert from Hinduism, but now a fiery Christian.
These two fiery Christians slept on bunk beds opposite my bed. Every day they would get up at five o’clock, cover their faces with the bed covers and, in a kneeling position, pray. They wouldn’t pray loud, but at that time of the morning even a softly spoken prayer could be heard. They prayed for everybody in their classes, prayed over the college, and they prayed for me. Their prayers for me made me wonder, What’s wrong with me? But these guys were really good guys; they were so loving, and they shared their Christian faith with me. And this time I wasn’t offended. I knew they were telling me something they believed very strongly.
At this point I was also reading the Bible—an old King James Version a Christian friend had given me when I visited in his home. It had belonged to a grandfather who had died, and because of that, I cherished it as a precious gift. I read it because I was searching for the truth.
I was struggling in my heart: Why was Jesus the only way? Why was he not one among many ways? Why was he so stubborn to say Me only, Me only? At the same time I had images of the gods of Hinduism coming to me and tormenting me. They would remind me of certain vows I had made to them and never fulfilled—always thinking I would do it later. In my dreams the gods would say things like, “You haven’t fulfilled your promise to us, and if you go after this other god, we will kill your parents.” These thoughts were running in my mind all the time and I was scared. The Hindu gods had been part of my life for a long time, and they knew me well.
When the designated Friday night arrived, curious and out of respect for my roommates, I was at the football field. A number of people were there waiting, but the main focus was me. My roommates told me I was a sinner and I needed to accept it. They told me if I humbled myself before God, accepted Him as Lord and Savior— the Only God, I would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then these friends said they were going away to pray and would be back after 30 minutes. I was left alone, sitting in the stadium at the football field.
I really wanted to know what my sins were, so I began asking God, “Lord, how am I a sinner?” I knew I had done some bad things, but I didn’t really know what sin was. Then all of a sudden God started showing me the images of sin—pictures in my mind, pictures of things I’d forgotten. God reminded me how from childhood I had hurt people, how I mistreated people, how I had made my mother cry many, many times—and how as a young fellow I had lusted for things. Everything the Lord showed me obviously made me a sinner. By the end of 30 minutes I was crying, and I said, “Yes Lord I’m a sinner!”
When my friends came back they saw me crying, and they said, “Okay, God has begun to work in you.” Then the friend who was a Hindu convert came up to me and said he was going to pray over me, and if I would accept Jesus as my Savior, God would fill me with the Holy Spirit. All of a sudden when this friend started to pray for me, I could sense the presence of God so strongly that I couldn’t deny He is real. Immediately, I fell to the ground and said, “Lord, You are God, and I will not look back. I will worship You only.” I was uncontrollably weeping, and there was no consciousness of sin, as if all my sin had been forgiven.
I knew I was in the presence of God, and I could not stand in His presence. I prostrated myself before Him because in His presence I was like a small child. People who have come near to God know what I’m talking about. It is a very humbling experience. Even if you are an engineer, at the end of the day you are nothing before Him.
The experience in those two hours at the football field dramatically changed my life. I began to fellowship directly with the Creator of the universe, the Author of my life. I no longer needed someone to convince me that Jesus is God, the Only God. He revealed Himself to me, and the Holy Spirit began to teach me at the core of my mind and soul.
On this Friday evening, July 8, 2005, I became a follower of Jesus Christ. One week later I received believer’s baptism. Since I was from a Hindu family and had no church background, my friends took me to a small church near the college campus. A very humble pastor taught me about water baptism and went through all the scriptures that speak about knowing God as Savior. During the rest of my college days, this small church was my spiritual home.
The very high-tech college I was attending, located right in a forest on 1,000 acres of scenic land surrounded by beautiful trees and waterfalls and all the lushness of the forest, was such a contrast to this small church. Very poor forest people, held in bondage by voodoo and the gods of the forest, would come to this church looking for a way to get healed. They were in the control of spirits—demonized, totally. When the pastor spoke or there was singing, the spirits would manifest themselves. They would talk directly to God, saying things like, “Oh, You have come to destroy us.” The pastor also talked with the demons, asking who they were and what they had come for.
I saw these things happen right in front of my eyes and I wondered, What on earth is this? Actually, my faith was strengthened because I was seeing what I was reading in the Bible come true. The pastor, a very humble man who fasts and prays and enjoys the presence of God, would pray over the people and command the demons to come out. He prayed in the name of Jesus, claiming the power of the blood of Christ, and the demons would take the name of God seriously. Man is the only person who doesn’t understand the power of the name of Jesus. The devil understands it clearly. The people would fall down, and then get up and go out free. Many of them went out freed not only from the spiritual bondage but also from the physical bondage that had come upon them because of the devil. This humble pastor believed in the power and authority of the name of Jesus. I’m grateful God allowed me as a young believer to witness His power over sin and the devil first hand.
My journey to the U.S. to study is the result of a prophecy by my pastor. He laid his hands on me and told me that after graduation the Lord would take me to the U.S. where He would equip me and give me wisdom and knowledge of God. He said God would use me in the States, and among the Muslims. Then He would bring me back to my country to do the work of the Lord.
I have recently graduated from the University of Texas in Dallas with my Master’s Degree, and I have been blessed with a good job. But what I’m doing as an engineer is temporary and not my main goal. When Christ said to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, He meant it. The Kingdom of God is dependent on His children whom He has entrusted to Vamshi Krishma Reddy Bandaru received his Master of Science degree from the University of Texas, Dallas, in 2009. He presently works as a software engineer for an IT company in Dallas. He spends weekends and evenings doing ministry among the street people in Dallas. bring the Good News to the world.
My parents have accepted the fact that their oldest son is a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that someday, they too will believe and follow Christ. Much of my fasting and praying is for their salvation. I proclaim without fear that I am a Christian for I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… (Romans 1:16a).
(In 2004, the college was awarded university status.)