From Jainism to Jesus….
I was brought up in a relatively religious family where my parents prayed every morning and we regularly went to the Temple. We practiced Jainism, a sect of Hinduism, and thus my last name Jain. I was almost 12 when we moved to the U.S.—to Buffalo, NY in the middle of the winter—a huge change!
My first exposure to Jesus Christ occurred shortly after we moved to the U.S., as my dad taught in a Catholic school in Buffalo. We still practiced Jainism the best we could although there was no temple in Buffalo. Then I met a woman named Diane, and we started dating. We got married in 1985 in the Catholic Church. Religion was not a big issue for either of us in the first few years of marriage but all that changed after our first child.
Our initial plan was that we would teach our children equally about both of our religions and let them make up their minds as they grew older. But it didn’t take long for us to realize this wasn’t smart or practical unless we wanted to raise some confused kids. Although I agreed in principal to let Diane raise the kids in the Christian church, it bothered me to think of how disappointed my family would be that I allowed that.
And I wasn’t just not Christian, I was anti-Christian. My relationship with Diane went through a difficult time. Even though I was vocally against this faith, deep down, I was uncomfortable with my stance. I knew I wasn’t practicing any faith, so I would question myself about why I was so upset that Diane and the kids had faith, even if it was different than what I believed.
While I struggled with this issue, I came into contact with lot of people both socially and professionally which looking back, I don’t think was an accident. As a doctor, I must have had more than twenty pastors and missionaries within my practice. I admired them. The way they lived grew my interest in Christianity. I would say all of the people who had positive impact on me had one thing in common–they were followers of Christ. These people met me where I was and started a friendship without having a specific agenda. My spiritual growth was in some ways a byproduct of those relationships.
While this was going on, I had some health issues and ended up needing major heart surgery. I began to reflect on what was truly important and pondered what would happen if I died in surgery. With the possibility of death becoming real, I had to look deeper and see if Christianity was for me or not. I found myself drawn to the one thing unique to believers in Christ–the resurrection. I also liked the concept of this relationship being a gift and not something that you can buy or earn.
My relationship with God now is very honest and I try to live each day to the best of my abilities, thinking all the time about how Christ would have me act. I have my shortcomings and most days I stray, but I ask God for his forgiveness and try to build on it.
With Christ, I find life richer and more meaningful in almost every way.