Vijay, his wife, Shanthi, and their children immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in search of a better life and freedom from oppression from an authoritarian, dictatorial government. Like most newcomers to North America, they struggled with unemployment, financial difficulties, and adjusting to a new culture and climate. Life was difficult, and they soon became disillusioned. Shanthi was very unhappy and wanted to return to her homeland, to the security of family and friends left behind.
“I miss the lovely warm sunshine, the balmy breezes, the palm trees swaying in the wind, and the smiles of all our friends. I want to go back home,” she cried to her husband.
“Did you not promise to follow me to the ends of the world when you married me?” Vijay snapped. “Now stop crying like a baby. You’re a grown woman.”
Lives About to Change
There were many more disputes like this between the couple. Vijay’s frustrations turned to anger, which often led to physical abuse. The children cried when they saw their parents in conflict.
While Vijay was out searching for employment one day, Shanthi took the children and left him. But without enough money she could not purchase plane tickets to go back home, so they stayed in a shelter for abused and battered women.
]As a devout Hindu, Vijay wanted to consult an astrologer for advice on the future of his family and what he should do about the current situation. He flipped through the telephone book and found the phone number of a local astrologer. He dialed the number and explained his situation. The woman who answered hesitated for a minute. “Oh, yes, I know of a very good person who can help you in your situation and give you good advice on what you should do. Just come to this address, and I will introduce you to him,” she finally said.
Vijay kept the appointment but was surprised when the address led him to a church. He checked the address that he had written again. Suseela, the woman who had spoken to him on the phone, was waiting for him at the church’s front door. She smiled and welcomed him in.
Vijay was hesitant. What am I getting myself into? he thought. Vijay had never been inside a church before. He looked around and noticed there were no idols or statues anywhere. Whom did these people worship? An invisible God? His eyes grew accustomed to the place, then he heard the choir singing—and he liked it.
Suseela had notified their pastor about the strange phone call regarding Vijay’s situation and the help that he desperately sought.
The pastor preached a sermon that day that was indirectly meant for Vijay. “Life can be very tough at times,” he said, “and the burdens it hands you can be so overwhelming and hard to bear, but you don’t need to carry them alone.” He referred to Psalm 55:22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”[*] He explained that in humble penitence we may leave our burdens at the foot of the cross and ask God to solve them for us. He is a miracle-working God who can even bring the dead to life, as He did with Lazarus, Jairus’s daughter, and Peter’s mother-in-law in the Bible. Nothing is impossible with God. “Have faith in God,” the pastor added, “‘and He shall give you the desires of your heart’” (see Ps. 37:4).
A Living God Who Loves
Vijay listened very carefully to the pastor’s words. Would this Christian God help me? I’ve prayed to all the 3 million Hindu gods before but got no response from any of them.
At the end of his sermon, the pastor made an altar call for special prayer.
Vijay decided to take the risk. He rose from his seat and was the first one to the altar. After the service was over, the pastor took him to his office and counseled with him. He put him in touch with an agency that could help bring about reconciliation with his wife and children. The whole church prayed for them at prayer meeting, and the Lord worked a miracle in bringing the family back together.
After taking Bible studies, Vijay and his wife were baptized into fellowship with the Lord. As newcomers in the faith, they know the meaning of the biblical admonition given in Matthew 6:33, which reads: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
God kept His promises to Vijay’s family. He and his wife found employment, and their financial situation became stable. Their children went to school and soon adjusted to the North American way of life. The family attended church regularly, enjoying the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), which comes from knowing the Lord as their friend, counselor, and guide. As the church members opened their hearts and homes to help them, Vijay and his family came to see Christians as caring and thoughtful people who love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves.
When Vijay dialed the wrong number for an appointment with an astrologer, was it accidental or God’s leading in his life? “The Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform,” William Cowper, a famous eighteenth-century English poet, has said.
If Suseela had answered the call with, “Sorry, wrong number,” and hung up on Vijay, he and his family may never have been led to the Lord. Her presence of mind, quick thinking, and desire to share the gospel give a strong testimony on how we can witness for the Lord in everyday situations. There are many opportunities open to us if we remain alert and vigilant about sharing Christ’s love with others. Even an accidentally dialed wrong number can change a life.
Margaret Matthews is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada.
* All Bible texts are from the New King James Version. Copyright ã 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.