A Life Transformed

I have now completed writing the faith story of Ganesh Shah, from Nepal, whom I met in India in November 2007. His story follows…

A Life Being Transformed by God’s Grace
The Story of Ganesh Shah
As told to John Hawbaker in November 2007

God can use anything he chooses when he wants to send a ray of hope to a struggling person. In my case he used a gospel tract from the fruit market.

My name is Ganesh Shah. I live in the city of Biratnagar in Nepal.

I grew up in a Hindu family. My grandfather was especially orthodox. He would eat no meat except goat. If a chicken or other animal strayed into his house, he would cleanse the house with a water ritual. When my father established his own home, he relaxed some of these rules for himself but continued to be a devout Hindu.

I am the third-born in our family. We are five brothers and one sister.

In my tenth year of school, influenced by my friends, I began to drink alcohol excessively and to use drugs. Soon I got into criminal activities. I was the hit man for our street gang, and while I never killed anyone, I’m sorry to say that I did break the hands and legs of some of our gang’s enemies.

One day as I opened a packet of fruit from the market, I found the fruit wrapped with paper that was a tract with a Christian message. To my knowledge the fruit seller was not a believer. It is common for a vender to wrap his produce in any paper that is available. I did not read the tract. I simply discarded it and gave it no more thought, assuming that it was thrown out with the trash. At this time in my life I had no knowledge of what Christians were really like, but I did have the impression that they were proud and hypocritical.

Some time later I attended a meeting sponsored by Roman Catholics and saw a Christian film.

About a year and a half after the fruit purchase mentioned above, I was cleaning my house and found the gospel tract. This time I read it and found it described how to be saved. This concept was totally new to me, but it was a first step in understanding what Christianity was all about. The close of the tract said: “If you are interested in learning more about the Christian faith, write to us at the following address.” So I began a correspondence with the people at that address.

I decided to try to find a church, but I couldn’t locate one in my home town of Biratnagar. I did find a Christian house fellowship in another city. Then a friend learned of my interest and offered to take me to a church in Biratnagar. It happened to be a Brethren in Christ Church. This friend was from India, had moved to Biratnagar, and started attending the Brethren in Christ meetings. He was not Brethren in Christ himself but attended their services.

I was not prepared for what a Christian worship service was like. I thought surely they would have images to worship. Instead, there were only mats on the floor, and people sitting quietly in rows, men on one side and women on the other. But in spite of the bare surroundings and the simplicity of the service, I enjoyed it. The singing was an attraction, and the people welcomed me warmly. I was 18 years old when I attended my first church service.

Something drew me to want to return, so a few weeks later I went back to another service and started attending regularly. I was still not a believer, but things began to change in my life. I stopped using drugs.

I met Mohan Subba, a Brethren in Christ evangelist (now a pastor). He befriended me, listened to my questions, and pointed me to Christ. Somehow in this process I became a believer. I quit my life of crime and was baptized at age 19 in the village of Hatibandhe. It was dangerous to baptize openly in Biratnager at that time.

My parents and grandfather were deeply distressed about my conversion. “He has become worse than a Muslim,” they said. My father repeatedly kicked me out of the house, especially on occasions when I refused to shave my head for Hindu rituals. When I was sent away from home, I did not become angry. I just went to live with my friends until my father’s anger subsided.

I looked for work and got a job as an accountant in a bank. Now that I had money, my parents took a more favorable attitude toward me and allowed me to return home. They saw other positive changes in my life and began to think that maybe Christians aren’t so bad after all.

At the bank some of the employees knew me from my days in street gang and they were amazed. “Why did they give this criminal a job in a bank?” But the bank manager knew me and trusted me, so I didn’t lose my job. Slowly people’s attitude toward me changed. “He does seem to be different. What made the change?” As time went by, I was promoted to being supervisor of all the bank accounts.

As I continued to participate in the Brethren in Christ Church here in Biratnagar, the church trusted me with various positions of leadership. Today I am the secretary of the Nepal Conference.

God has provided me with a good wife, Poonam. We are serving Christ together. I am age 32. I have no idea what my future will hold, but I am ready to follow Christ wherever he leads.

God’s ways of working are full of wonder. To think that he used a discarded gospel tract to set me on a journey that led me to Christ! The life I now live is because of the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

One Response

  1. Thank you John for sharing this amazing story at the World Missions Report meeting. This truly shows how powerful and loving God really is. It shows us that no matter who we are or what we have done, God can still claim us and completely transform us into a “new creation”.

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