Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Am extremely happy and privileged to meet you and talk to you through this letter that I may be of little use to you on behalf of His Kingdom.
Am always struck with awe, when I think of my past and wonder “What good He found in me that He came in search of me to this world full of filth, shed His last drop of Blood on the cross of Calvary, died on my behalf and called me His son??” That is why I call this letter of testimony “In my Agony, His Amazing Grace”.
“Grace” is one awesome word which means a lot to me!!
This letter is all about that amazing grace that He showered on me and still showering in my life. The way God came in search of me, changed my heart, filled me with His love, led me in His path supernaturally that I could boldly say “Nothing that I have now in my life came by ordinarily because of my knowledge, hard work or skill set, but from God, by His Grace” and I mean it. You will know it yourself after you finish reading this whole article!
I am Vijayavenkataraman, a Mechanical Engineering graduate from College of Engineering, Guindy (Anna University), completed my graduation in 2011. I was born and brought up in an orthodox Brahmin family. I was taught with the customs and rituals that a Brahmin must follow and practice. I had a great passion for God and Godly things. I used to get up early in the morning during the month of December (Maarghazhi), take bath, go out to fetch flowers, decorate the so called Gods and Goddesses, chant mantras and serve them with much zeal and dedication. I was dreaming that my Gods would descend down to see me and talk with me. On the other hand, I was a very brilliant and intelligent student, liked and envied by people around. I used to stand first in class, winning laurels in all other extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. I wished and yearned to be perfect in all things I do. Like Jews, I followed my scriptures religiously and like Greeks, I sought after wisdom. At this juncture, I would like to stress another point. My family was in absolute poverty. My dad and mom were not graduates. They had no permanent jobs. With the meager remuneration, it was difficult to even pay my fees. Many days, I would go to school with half-tummy food and even empty tummy!! Still my passion for God and Wisdom remained still.
My mom lost her mother at a very small age of 3 and her only place of peace from then was a Catholic church in my town. She was forced to earn her living from the age of 16. On the way back from her work, she used to go to the church and cry out to God in despair. There would be no people in the church in the weekdays unlike the temples and hence she would pour out all her bitterness to God. The sight of the crucified Jesus shook her and she longed for His love. She loved Jesus in fact! When my dad liked to marry my mom, there were confusions, chaos and absolute resistance in both their families. Astrology was the root of all these problems. But by God’s perfect plan, they tied their nuptial knot and to prove false the astrological predictions, I was born as a great and precious gift and tongues that spoke against their marriage now admired me. This big story is to say a simple but crucial fact that my mom had a passion for Jesus even before her marriage. A seed sowed in a good land waiting for a stipulated period to uproot.
My grandpa died when I were in my primary school. He was a retired Pharmacist from Government Hospital. The pension he received and my mom’s meager income fed the whole family and my education as my dad had no permanent job by then and his usual problem of not remaining in a job more than 2 or 3 months. Now that my grandpa had kicked the bucket, family’s total income drastically came down and now with much reduced grandma’s family pension, we had to run the show. I am so closely attached to my grandpa that his death caused high fever and fits in me for the first time and from then on, whenever my temperature rose, fits accompanied it unwelcomed. One of my teachers in the school, who knows our family well, gave an invitation to my parents for a week’s camp in Divine Retreat Centre, Chalakudi. Both my mom and dad attended it and on the last day of the camp, during the time of prayer, the Father who prayed mentioned that “ God is touching a little boy who is affected by fits and it will never come again” and my mom was moved to tears and a seed of faith started springing up.
After they returned home, my mom started to attend a protestant church regularly and Jesus entered my mom’s heart and stayed permanently. A day came when my dad and even my orthodox grandma accepted Jesus Christ. It was a night. My grandma became seriously ill. She had asthma problem which severed. We had no vehicles to take her to hospital and no money to hire an auto. My dad lifted my grandma in his arms and said, ‘all the Gods whom I served all these days couldn’t save my mom and Jesus, as people claim, if you are true God, deliver my mom and I will leave all my customs and accept you’. After the whole hearted dedication, an auto was hired to carry her to hospital, just to know that there were no doctors in the town and they were out for some conference. Hopeless they were returning and my grandma started to tell in her heart ‘Jesus, help me!’ Jesus heard her cry and she felt ‘something’ left her and she felt light both in her heart and body. Wonder, the whole family was now christened, as I called. Another occasion, my grandma’s leg fracture was cured just by prayer and a bottle of coconut oil.
But I was not moved in any way. Nothing could shake my belief. When pastor entered my house, I would go out and shout at my mom for her changing belief. I challenged her that till my death I will serve only Hindu Gods and never allow anyone to mesmerize me to accept Christ. I could not remain silent as days passed. I was bewildered and started searching for books and scriptures that would clear my confusions and prove to me that my Gods are superior to Jesus. I read more than 50 books and nothing could satisfy me. Though I studied in a Christian school, I had the broad mind to embrace all Gods and religions, may it be Christianity or Islam but I can never compromise on the preaching that Jesus is the only God. No holy scriptures, no teachings of holy saints quenched my thirst for the eternal divine power. As I invested time in the search for true God, my mom invested her time in prayers to bring me to God. Meanwhile, I attended church services a few Sundays and the verses from Bible seemed to be authoritative and talking to me, answering my questions. I was exhausted searching and my heart melted slowly and I was surprised to see myself attending Sunday services and prayer meetings regularly. I don’t remember the exact day or event but my salvation was a very slow and gradual experience. Praise the Lord! I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and started to grow in Him. More willingly and enthusiastically, I started reading the Holy Bible and be in His presence. God lifted me up and I can very strongly say that “The fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom”. I really felt the difference. I had knowledge before accepting Christ but filled with the spirit of Wisdom after accepting Him. God fulfilled all the desires of my heart, small and big. But I didn’t go to seek Him just as He is fulfilling all my desires. I always go to Him because of the love that He had showered on me and the blood He shed on the cross for me.
I was then advised by the doctors to take medicine continuously (for years) for my nerve weakness that caused fits and one fine day, God put a thought in me that when He had already touched me and healed me, why should I take this medicine! I decided to stop taking medicine and God was faithful to me, that sickness didn’t show up even once afterward. I was very weak even from my infancy and a myriad times, my dad would cycle me and my mom to the doctor’s residence at late nights. But then, God made me strong, for the Bible says, “By His stripes, we were healed” and I had rarely visited any doctor thereafter.
Once I suffered from Sinus problem and great breathing difficulty. I had been breathing through my mouth for a few months and when we consulted a doctor, he diagnosed it to be Sinus and said it had to be operated. My mom had faith in God and prayed that no knife should touch my body. And it happened so. I didn’t undergo any operation nor did any medicine cure me. God healed me by His Grace!!
My grandma was a heart patient, had sugar and blood pressure with additional gift of asthma (wheezing). After she gave her life to Jesus, she too believed that Jesus healed her and the one who had a big box full of medicines and a timetable to take it at different times of the day now was hale and healthy and she didn’t take any medicine till her death. The one, who suffered badly from Asthma, now took bath early in the morning in the December chill in cold water and there were no signs of that disease surfacing back! There is no medicine to cure Asthma but Jesus healed her completely. She lived a life of testimony healthily and slept peacefully in the Lord after some years.
Dear ones, there were many incidents recorded in the Bible, where sick people came to Jesus and He healed them. There was no one instance in which Jesus didn’t cure a sickness or a disease. Nor He refused to heal anyone who came to Him for healing. He is the real healer and divine doctor. There is no disease in this world that He can’t heal. Doctors in this world may say no but our doctor in Heaven never says so!!
When I gave my heart to Jesus completely, this became my prayer.
“Lord, help me to love you more than anything in this world. Take me to heights but take care that you guide me in every step of my ascent and by your strength every step I ascend, that when I reach some high point in life, let there be NOTHING that I can boast of as my accomplishment when I look back. When I look back, let me with gratitude and not with pride. Every single thing that comes in to my life let it come from you by your Grace Lord! Amen!”
Believe or not, God hears all prayers and He heard mine too and I have to face a lot of tough times before getting a thing in my life and when I got that thing, my eyes would be filled with tears, my heart with gratitude and my lips with thanks.
I will let you walk through some of those times, where I experienced the hand of God working and how He cares for His beloved.
Consolation Prize in a Science Exhibition:
The first time when I felt the love of God is when I am awarded a “Consolation Prize” for my silly working model that I exhibited in the first science exhibition of my school. All my friends who had money and had educated parents to guide them came with expensive and real technocratic models to be amazed off. I had only a piece of motor from a broken remote control car that came to me second hand, a plastic three blade fan that usually accompanies a one rupee candy and a small “perungaya dappa”. I fixed the blade on the motor shaft, hid the motor in the box, covered it with thermo plastics and said this is fan. I don’t remember what I called it, what did I explain to the visitors but one thing for sure I remember, mine was the smallest, least bothered object in the exhibition. After the exhibition is over, prizes were awarded in the assembly the next day and when they called out my name for Consolation prize, my eyes were filled with tears and my heart with joy, how God by His Grace has consoled me by consolation prize. Though I had little in my hand to spend, with whatever I had I had done my best and God had not put me to shame. Probably the judges would have thought that it’s Green Energy I don’t know but from that time on, I started experiencing the love of God. Though it’s not a very big incident or miracle that some of you may be bored reading or ridicule, it’s the joy of a 13 year old boy with his broken toys exhibited winning a prize in a science exhibition. I always cherish that moment. How good it feels when you put your trust in God even in small things like a science exhibition!!
Admission to High School:
I have to look out for a new school for my ninth standard (first year of high school) since boys were allowed to study only till eighth in my current school. Though some of the schools came knocking our doors for admission as am known for my academic and other achievements, I was waiting on the Lord. The principal of the school am in called on the last day of my school, gave a letter of recommendation to the principal of other school and she in her letter had asked the principal of my new school to give me 50% concession. Praise be to God! I joined that school and God by His Grace made me stand first in the school in my tenth standard public exams with 95% marks, standing second in my town.
Admission to Higher Secondary School:
I would say this was the starting point where people around were awestruck by seeing the hand of God guiding me. I wanted to study my higher secondary in a better school in my town, with good coaching and teaching but unfortunately the fees was not affordable. I tried to seek the opinion of many about that school, the fee structure and the possibility of availing any scholarship. Many replied that there were no such scholarships given in the past and it won’t work out. I used to cry to God in prayer that I wanted to study in that school. The pastor of my Church came home and gave me Rs.1000/- for getting notebooks or books. We prayed that this is the money of poor people given to God and now it’s God’s money and its value is far more than a crore rupee. Me and my mom prayed and went for admission to the school in which I wished to study. Since that was one of the best schools in my town, getting admission was bit tough and people from neighboring towns were waiting for admission from early hours of that day. We entered with the filled in application form and the shabby notes of Rs.1000/- which we counted for a crore rupee. The admission hall was crowded with parents and students. I hesitated to go and give the application to the correspondent as I feared the money might not be sufficient and my admission denied. My mom went to the front and handed over the application form to the correspondent, which she accepted with a gracious smile. She kept my admission form first over all the applications that were already submitted from the morning and mine was the last or the one before the few. First name to be called out was mine and we went forward. She (the correspondent) said that she was very happy to have me there and she asked me to pay the fees and get admitted. I said, “Madam, I want to talk to you before I join this school”. Already people in the hall were murmuring that the one who came last was called first. She asked us to wait downstairs and before we hardly got down the stairs with despair, we were called up again. She asked us to sit before her and one man from the crowd started shouting “We are waiting here from the morning and you call somebody who came in the last and patiently talking to them” and we were shocked to hear her reply, “This is my school and if you want admission, wait patiently!” The whole crowd was dumb-struck and we spell bound and I explained my family situation and that I can’t afford to pay the intended fees and I promised her that I will do my best and get good name for the school. She immediately acceded and said “Money is not at all a problem, You should study well!” She called on the office staff that collected fees and said, “Get whatever Vijayavenkataraman pays and give the receipt to me, I will pay the rest of the money”. And happily I paid the same 1000 rupees which was from God and that served the whole fees for the entire 2 years of my higher secondary education!! Is it not true that God’s 1000 rupees is worth more than a crore??!!
Admission to College of Engineering, Guindy:
I completed my 12th board exams with 96% and a cut-off 198.75 out of 200. I wanted to study Mechanical Engineering in College of Engineering, Guindy and by God’s grace I got a seat. I have a testimony even here. When all my classmates joined entrance coaching classes, I had no money to go. I used to cry in God’s presence daily saying, ‘God, if there will be entrance, You teach me or else there need not be any entrance exam!’ And the gracious God, who heard my prayers, cancelled the entrance exam and I was through the gate in to the prestigious Anna University. We were the first batch to enter Anna University without entrance examination. Our God is the one who restates the Law of the land and I still consciously and very strongly believe that He had cancelled the entrance exam for my sake!
I had written my public exams without food, prepared and toiled burning the midnight oil, with only water as my energy drink! God strengthened me at all times and never put my head down. Good marks! Sure Mechanical Engineering seat in Anna University! But, where is the money to pursue my studies? With 3000 per month as family income, with a brother in school, how dare am I to dream about doing my Engineering?? But Bible says our God is Jehovah Jireh. Only a day remained for my counseling, my mom was grieving in her heart of her inability to educate me. It was 5 O’clock in the evening. My mom’s boss had sponsored me a ticket to Chennai. I have to pay the fees for counseling Rs.5000/- – a billion dollar value for me!! We were waiting on the Lord. I thank God for the faith that He had given me in my heart. Suddenly a lady came and knocked the door at say 5.15 pm. The door was opened and she was welcomed and served tea. She introduced herself as my friend’s mom. Minutes passed in silence. I have never seen her before and she too had not!! She broke the silence and asked me “DO YOU HAVE ANY NEED?” I replied “No aunty! Not at all!” It is not my habit not to advertise my adversity to gain sympathy. Already people around are talking ill about our family, mocking at us for accepting Jesus from a Brahmin family and waiting for another opportunity to poke us. I can bear hunger, poverty, hurts, insults, crisis and anything. But I can never digest someone talking ill about my loving God. I allowed nobody to question “Didn’t Jesus, whom you follow and testify, provide for your need?” and the subsequent questions that will defile the glory of God. This attitude of mine had not permitted me to say “Yes aunty! I need money!” She remained quiet and a few seconds later, the same question came more concretely this time, “DO YOU HAVE ANY NEED?” Now, with a surprised heart, I said more strongly “NO!!” She started telling something and I was struck with awe and wonder! Tears filled my eyes (even now as I write) and joy filled my heart thinking how much God loves His people!!
In her own words,
“For the past two days, I could not eat or sleep or do any work. I constantly heard a voice saying “Vijay! Vijay! Vijay!” My heart was burdened with the name ‘Vijay!” The voice started saying “COUNT THE MONEY IN YOUR BUREAU!” I know it is God’s voice. I prayed God asking Him, “God, in this big town of more than One Lakh inhabitants, how will I find the person you are pointing to, with no other identity except his name “VIJAY?”. I asked my son Livingston, “Do you know anybody called VIJAY?” and he immediately replied “Yes!” Surprised and baffled, I continued “Is he a Christian?” and my son replied “Yes! Of course he is a Brahmin-convert!!” Now I know it is God’s perfect plan and requested my son to drop me in your home and am here now. I don’t know what is your need or how much you need but AS GOD COMMANDED, I COUNTED ALL THE MONEY IN MY LOCKER AND IT AMOUNTS TO Rs.5000/-. Kindly have it!!”
Filled with tears, I got the cover in my hand and after opening it, drops of tears evolved in to flood. There were 1 and 2 Rupee coins in it!! Exactly Rs.5000/- in the cover!! I thanked God! I know Livingston, not so closely, but as a student studying in my class in the high school. I had no contacts with him after that, not even his mobile number I had. God always sends His angels to save His children and this aunty, a true servant of God is one appointed for me!! There was no direct contact or communication between us. It is God who communicated. I proceeded to counseling and there were all the departments available in all 385 Engineering Colleges in Tamilnadu, except ECE in CEG!! My three options were 1) CEG Mechanical 2) CEG Mechanical and 3) CEG Mechanical and am in!! I am now a student of the most prestigious institution in the world, the first and the oldest technical university in Asia and where the Mechanical Engineering course was first introduced in India!! Dreaming to sit inside the premises of the Red dome building, a dream of 6 lakh students of Tamilnadu at that time and which remained a dream for all except the cream 2000 of Tamilnadu!! Praise the Lord!! Glory to His matchless name!!
Counseling was over and I am guaranteed a seat in Anna University. Admission date was given along with the fee structure!! I had had to pay Rs.28,000/- including all during the day of my admission. I was waiting for another miracle from God as usual. Meanwhile, I was trying for an education loan in the State Bank of India in my town. After my repeated vain frequent visits to the bank, I could meet the manager at the last. He told me that though I have got good marks, more than 700 students have requested loans before me and I have a least chance of getting it. Also, he had been transferred and moving to another branch and he was not sure when would the next manager come. When am about to move out of the room after thanking him, he called me again and asked me to write my name and address in a diary. Per his earlier statement, almost half the pages of diary were filled with names and addresses, which again proved that there were many in the queue before me. At this juncture, again the same aunty called me and said that God was still telling that she had some pending work regarding me. And she said she has Rs.14,000/- with her, which was given to her to pay the insurance premium and since the deadline is one month ahead, she would give me that amount and I can repay after securing my loan. I praised God and told her that I will come in the evening to collect it. Again I got a call around 3 or 4 pm and she was almost in tears. When I asked her the reason, she said “Vijay, God loves you so much. It seems that He will change the whole world for your sake!” I didn’t understand and asked her what the matter was. She started to explain “We (aunty, her husband and their son) were having lunch together and somehow your name cropped up during our discussion. Suddenly my husband said he is a very good boy and he also will be waiting for college admission as our son. I have Rs.14,000/- in my hand and you can give that to him. He can repay after he got the education loan sanctioned!! This never happened before and I could not believe what he just spoke!” Praise the Lord!! When God could use a single man called Moses to stand against the biggest and most powerful nation of that time, Egypt and the one worshipped equivalent to God, the Pharaoh, is it not a silly thing for God to change a man’s heart?? I used to get this thought in my mind always, “One man with God is an army!!” Hallelujah!! Now, the math, 14000 plus 14000 equals 28000, the exact amount needed for my admission!!
I just finished my regular morning prayer during my holidays (before joining the university) for an hour or so and about to go out one such morning. A friend of my dad came running and asked me “What’s your full name?” Bewildered, I answered him, “Vijayavenkataraman!” People know me as Vijay and very few knew my full name then. He heaved a sigh of relief and said State Bank Manager has come in search of me!! Having introduced me to the manager, he left. The manager came in to my house. It was a very small house, a single room partitioned in to two. It was like a wall with a single slope of tiles extending in the front as the roof! It was located at the back of a house in a compound and it was difficult to find out. He came in and said, “I just assumed my office as a manager this morning at 9 o clock. As I ran through the diary containing the names and addresses of those requesting education loans, something stopped me when I reached your name. I decided to immediately come to your house, hired a call taxi and searching your home for the past 2 hours and more. This man (my dad’s friend) was standing out of his home and I told in my heart that I will enquire him about the address lastly and if its negative I will return for lunch (as it was already noon). When I enquired, he was also not sure and just in a doubt he guided me here and fortunately, you are the one!!” I was very happy and answered all his questions regarding my studies, marks and aspirations. He took a note of the whole house and then said, “You have got very good marks. I will definitely help you. Come to the bank anytime and I will process the loan!!” My joy knew no bounds. My heart was bubbling with joy. But God had something more in store for me. When he left the gate and about to get in to the car, he hesitated and seemed like he wanted to ask something. I told him, “Sir, you want to ask me something?”. He said, “Don’t mistake me. Your name is Vijayavenkataraman, I think you are a Brahmin. But, I don’t see any images in your house. Instead, you have Bible and Bible verses filling your home”. I told him that we were brahmins and Jesus came in search of us and now we have given ourselves to Him completely. His eyes widened and hands came together and said, “Praise the Lord Brother! My name is Muthuswamy and I am also a Christian!!” Can you imagine how much God loves His children!! I still wonder what in me had attracted the Almighty for Him to love me so much!
When we went to the bank with all the required documents, we were asked if we have any property, house or land or gold or silver. We had nothing! My mom replied, “We have only Jesus and nobody else or nothing else!” You believe or not, no more questions were posted and the loan was sanctioned immediately without any surety! Jesus is our only property that will help us at any point of time and nothing else can or nobody else can! His name is worth more than anything, any amount of money, gold or silver is not worth comparable to His name! And here is the proof!
Even after I entered the college, God enabled me to stand in the top 5 in my department. He gave me wisdom to author 2 papers published in reputed international journals and a few papers in national and international conferences.
I was in my final semester and I approached the bank manager to pay my last semester fees. He was signing my last payment cheque and handed it over to me and said, “I am transferred and I will be moving to another place shortly!” Can you believe? God brought him to this place to sanction my loan and when all my dues were over, God transferred him. It was like God brought him here exclusively for me and when am done, He took him to another place.
God is not someone who is far off and messing up your life often as many think. He cares for those who love and trust Him personally. I used to always quote this example wherever I go and whenever I get a chance and I am led by God to state it here too. Imagine a situation where you have a son or a daughter and he or she wants something, say a chocolate. How will you feel when your kid ignores you and goes straight to your neighbor standing by you and requests for a chocolate? Will your heart not break?? It is the same way with God. We do blabber something in prayer and go on to humans to tell our needs. God stands right before us, with stretched arms, tears flowing from His eyes and with a broken heart, “When am here who gave even my last drop of blood and my life, my son, my daughter, why are you not coming to me?” Think how many times we have failed His expectation, rejected His love and broke His heart!! From all my experience, I tell you, He leads you like a person physically present with you 24 X 7. A sister who heard my testimony said this way, “It was like God holding your hands and making you walk, like a mother does it to the Child!” How true!! Though am not worth this love, He is so beloved that He loves me more and more.
God is not tired and so His works continued. God enabled me to glorify His name in my college and He gave me grace to lead the fellowship there and be a blessing for many. Though I was at the heart of a metropolitan city, I had only once gone to the beach and once to the spencer plaza in all four years of my college. I was so obsessed with God’s love that I didn’t have time for all that and I don’t have any regrets for that till now! When God is with you, life is very smooth because when the path becomes rugged, He will carry us on His shoulders!!
Summer Internship in Germany:
I was awarded a fellowship to carry out my summer research in Germany, which only 200 students in India got out of thousands who had applied. God helped me right from filling the application form, getting consent from a German professor, selection, booking my flight ticket (with nil bank balance!!), my stay in Germany and my project. If I have to elaborate this, I need another 4 or 5 pages. God is so wonderful!
I was selected as a WISE (Working Internships in Science and Engineering) Scholar by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) to carry out summer research in Germany. Again, the Lord whom I serve led me graciously from day 1, when I started filling the application till the last day of my return from Germany. First step of the application is to get a consent letter from a professor in Germany, expressing his willingness to take me as a research intern under his supervision. I had written to hundreds of professors and a few replied and almost all of them negative. It is at that time a professor from Technical University, Munich (TUM), a top-notch institution in Germany visited my department a month before the deadline, regarding a joint project that was in progress between Anna University Chennai and TUM. One of my professor and a Godly man, Dr.S.Iniyan helped me meet the German professor and to my surprise, he immediately accepted my request and assured to give the consent letter. In fact, he (the German professor) waited for me for more than half an hour, which I came to know later just to say that he is happy to invite me to come to Germany. Praise the Lord! After all the application and selection process, I was selected for the internship. I had no money to book my flight tickets. God led me wonderfully through one of the research scholars to contact a Travels Agency, who gave me the flight ticket and permitted me to repay it after I get the money from DAAD after reaching Germany! Glory to His matchless name! God helped me and guided me all the days that I spent in Germany. I would like to share my experiences and feelings that I experienced in a foreign land.
My experience in Germany was wonderful! First flight travel, that too in an International flight! I traveled in Qatar Airways, one of the five star airlines in the world. The flight was from Chennai to Doha, transit at Doha and then from Doha to Munich. Approximate travel time nearly 10 hrs. one way. After all the formalities, I was waiting impatiently as the announcement came regarding the departure of my flight. I boarded the flight and I felt like I was inside some A/C Volvo bus! Nothing so different! I expected turbulence during take-off, to experience some thrill but to my disappointment, everything went perfectly well. I was the only fellow inside with camera in hand, clicking photos as the flight ascended! People would have probably thought I am crazy or they would have been reminded of their first air travel. At last, I landed in the Munich International Airport. After all the immigration checks, I was out of the airport and one of the students of Technical University of Munich (TUM), where I was supposed to work, was waiting for me. He guided me to the metro rail ticket counter to get a ticket for my travel to the apartment in Olympia Park, where I had booked my room. I reached my apartment in the Olympia Park. My room was in the fifth floor. The number read A0551. Oh now am left alone in a foreign land! I knew nobody there and I by then for the first time felt the pain of solitude. No phone to talk to my parents or my dear ones! No internet connection (procedure for getting IP address possible only the next morning)! But I was so excited because of three reasons
1) I was then in the land of prodigies (Karl Benz , Robert Bosch, Daimler, Rudolf Diesel, Albert Einstein, Hertz, Kepler, Kirchoff, May Bach, Ohm, Max Plank, Rontgen, Somerfield, Wankel and so on) The list runs exhaustive!!
2) The place where I stay is a historically significant one. It is called the Olympia Park or the Olympia Zentrum, which was built for the 1972 Summer Olympics.
3) There in front of my apartment stood the headquarters of the majestic Bavarian Motor Works (BMW), the dream of any Mechanical Engineer!
Above all, the love of God which brought me here, which I could feel in the air around me!
The first evening and night in the foreign land passed as a dream. The next day, I went to TUM to meet my professor and start my work. If I had to write all my experiences, pages will not be sufficient and you may also get bored! It was a wonderful experience indeed to witness a different culture in a foreign land! I cooked my own food (!) during the entire stay. I traveled a lot during weekends both inside and outside Germany. Inside Germany, I visited the most disgusting Dachau Concentration Camp (Hitler’s Nazi rule killed millions of Jews here!), Stuttgard, Hamburg, Berlin, the famous Berlin Wall, Neuschwanstein Castle of King Ludwig II (the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle) and lot other places. Outside Germany, I toured in Swiss. I went to the top of Germany called the “Zugspitze”, a mountain top from where 4 countries are visible! In fact, I was inside the clouds!
Zugspitze, The top of Germany!
Snow! Snow! Snow!
Executive class, return journey!
As true as that, God was with me all the time and helped me to survive in the foreign land alone. During my return flight, I was upgraded to Business class, without any additional fare. Oh, my God is just so loving and wonderful that he understands my little desires and fulfills it to fill my heart with joy! Landed safely in Chennai International Airport early in the morning and with the thought of the routine college life that will follow! A penny less young man returns in a 5 star airline, that too in business class, after a foreign trip!! Still I wonder what made God to love such a worthless wretched sinner like me!!
My Job in a Multi-National Corporation:
During the final year of my college, the placement season started. It was a tough and tried time for me as one of my professor started treating me badly and hurt me with harsh words almost daily, for no valid reason! I used to cry before God multiple times a day, wetting my bed with tears. I was short listed to attend the interview of one of the big public sector companies in India and rejected on face stating that I was over qualified and I would not stay in that company for more than a year. The interviewers even doubted whether I would join at all if they offered me the job. All were due to my research internship in Germany and my publications in international journals and conference proceedings. They were very confident that I would be pursuing my higher studies, probably a doctorate, keeping in mind all my past academic achievements. But none except God knew that we were suffering for a cup of gruel! It was at the start of the semester and I didn’t feel like attending any other company that followed. The last company that came for placement was a big private company, an MNC where every mechanical engineer would dream to work in. I could not attend the pre-placement talk as I had to attend that particular professor’s class when all others in my class attended. Even that day, am badly hit by words and with a wounded heart, on my way back to hostel, I happened to pass through the auditorium in which the pre-placement talk was being conducted. I walked in unintentionally, with the fuming stares of our placement officer. By the time, I went in and sat, question papers were distributed!! I was not prepared to take it, but no other way, 3 papers (technical, verbal and numerical) in 3 hours, I completed it in less than 1 hr, not knowing what I wrote, gave the paper, surprised the company representative and went for lunch. In the afternoon, we had a lab exam and I went to attend that, knowing for sure that I will not be short listed. But miraculously, our placement representative called me and said I was short listed for the second round Group Discussion. Again I came attended the GD and went back, not sure of getting selected. Again a phone call, saying I am short listed for the final interview. It was almost end of the semester and students will be leaving home for study holidays the day after, I just had only one set of dress washed and ironed. I was seen with beard and when I rushed in to the interview room, our placement officer stopped and scolded me for my interview attire (with beard!!) and asked me to shave my beard in the nearby saloon and then get in. As usual, I didn’t have even a rupee with me and I pleaded that I would go to hostel and come back quickly and he reluctantly agreed exclaiming that whether am really interested in getting a job. I sent my friend to get a print out of my resume as I didn’t have one and the time matched when I came clean shaven and my friend with my resume, met before the building where interview was being conducted. My interview was very short compared to others and again as I didn’t have time to modify my resume (removing my internship experience in Germany, which caused the rejection in previous interview), the placement coordinator came out and told me that the interview panelists were discussing that I might fly to Germany again for my higher studies and I was not even considered for the final selection list. I was so depressed saying that I was not even prepared for the first round, but having attended three rounds of selection and it was almost 8 ‘O’ Clock in the night and I hear such a thing. Though we were informed that all who attended the interview had to wait till the results were announced, I just walked away to my room, as more than one person said am not in the final list. Immediately after reaching my room, I got a call from the same placement coordinator that I am selected!! I didn’t believe his words and he gave the phone over to one of the company representative and he said “Vijay, you are really selected. Please come soon. We are waiting for you!” I can’t express in words the joy and ecstasy that filled my heart and the tears welling my eyes. How loving God is and what measure His Grace is upon His children!! And the miracles continue….
Whenever I think of my past, my heart will tell me, whatever I achieved is by God’s Grace and only by God’s Grace! God heard even the softest of my whispers!! I would feel like having a sweet and somehow God ensured that I got it in the same day or the immediate next day, the same sweet which I wished to have! May sound silly but I am amazed at His love for me! When my friends had 3 or 4 sets of uniform, I had a single set of uniform that too sometimes an old one borrowed from a senior; when most of them bought brand new books, I borrowed books from a generous senior; when all my classmates went for School tour, I was stranded in home! Amidst all this, God gave me His grace and maturity to bear all things happily and patiently! With good academic achievements and extra-curricular and co-curricular achievements, I was awarded the “Best out-going student award” in the year 2003, when I have to leave the school after my eighth standard. I got calls from almost all the schools in my town, inviting me to join their schools! The next two years I exposed myself to all the inter-school competitions and social service activities! I was awarded the “Best student award” of my town, following the “Achiever Award” and “Top Achiever Award” by the Lions Club in 2005. I got 95% marks in my matriculation exams, 96% in my HSC and with 90% marks graduated out of College of Engineering, Guindy which I had always dremt about!! I remember with tears that I had written most of my HSC exams with empty stomach as I could not expect something to eat out of an empty vessel in home!! Out of all these, it is God who strengthened me and graciously led me through the darkness of my life, which I feel every moment!! Only in the dark, the beautiful stars are seen and so will be the ever-lasting love and never-ending grace of Lord Jesus!
Change in the Inner Man:
Not only did Jesus help me miraculously at the time of my materialistic needs, but more than that he helped me mentally and spiritually too! Because what is more important is the inward man! My very nature before accepting Christ was so arrogant and unbearable! I used to get angry very soon even in silly issues and words that come out of my mouth will pierce anybody’s heart. I used to be so selfish; I can’t bear anybody talking ill about me! All these were my characteristics! Not that only the time line is divided in to B.C and A.D, even my life (in that case, everyone who accepts Jesus Christ) can be divided! In B.C, the above stated characteristics featured me, but the change in my character was so obvious, not only to others, but to myself after accepting Christ! The fruits of salvation namely love; long-suffering and patience filled my heart! The man who can’t bear anyone talking ill about him now accepted happily the words that came from the mouth of his friend’s mom “Vijay?? He’ll go to church or eat the shit!! Do your business!!” When I passed by his house, I heard these words and now as a completely changed man, I happily accepted! My anger subdued and patience and long-suffering filled my heart. My selfishness vanished and then I started to help people with whatever I had! I remember a day when a poor old man asked for a cup of tea, I had only 2 rupees for bus and I happily gave him that and walked back home (nearly 3 or 4 km)! The love of Jesus changed me! He gave me a new heart! Praise the Lord! God is still changing me and it is high time to remember that the purpose of Christ’s calling is to make us like Him, to transform us like Him, in our words, deeds, thoughts and actions! Jesus gives a new and transformed life and eternal happiness (even when you starve!).
There are many other things to write but pages won’t be sufficient. I have a testimony for all that I have, my purse, my driving license, my education, and my job and so on. God so truly loved me that though I don’t have many things that I wanted but I have all things that I really needed so that nothing or nobody comes in between me and God. We many times cling on to the blessings and forget the one who really blessed us. It is a sad truth that instead of us possessing the blessings, it’s the blessings that possess us.
I attribute all the goodness that I received in my life to Jesus Christ; the greatest of all being the salvation of my soul. The Almighty God humbled Himself, came down to take upon Himself all the sins of the world, died on the cross and resurrected on the third day and is still alive. He who found me and lifted my head is powerful and faithful to do the same and even more in your life. Glory to God! Amen!