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CALENDAR AND PRAYERS LEAD TO THE GOSPEL

How does one find the gospel in a place like India where Church members are fewer than one in a million and there is virtually no contact with missionaries?

In the case of Raj Kumar, it was a picture on a calendar, months of fervent seeking, the whispering of the Spirit, and an Asian tour by BYU's Young Ambassadors.Totally committed to the gospel and anxious to proclaim it to anyone who will listen, Kumar is equally ready to testify of his conversion.

Here, as related on the long drive to the Hindus' holy city of Hardwar (see accompanying story) is his account:

"I was born and raised a Sikh in the state of Punjab. I worked hard in my father's pharmacy and went to the Sikh temple twice a day. We fasted often and prayed always but I had no feeling. We believed there are millions of gods, but I never felt any god or goddess answered my prayers.

"One day I went into a shop and saw a calendar with a picture of Jesus Christ and the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd." I wondered about that for months but didn't know what to do.

"After six or eight months, a voice inside me said, `Go to church.' I went to a Methodist church where I met a man who testified of Jesus Christ and gave me a New Testament. He said if I would forget my idols and temples and simply pray to Jesus my prayers would be answered.

"I studied the New Testament and developed a love for Jesus Christ. For the first time in my life, I prayed without the help of idols. I felt the greatest joy, and knew that our Father lives, that He is not found in idols, that Jesus is our Savior.

"I was baptized a Methodist, which meant breaking all my friendships. My friends and family fought me, but I knew I had to be a Christian.

"Shortly before I was due to graduate from college, I became deeply discouraged about religion. I cried and prayed, `Heavenly Father, please help me. I can't go back to Hinduism and I'm not getting the help I need."

"I felt the pages of my New Testament move to Philippians 4:4-7, and I knew I must keep praying to God and He would lead me to the right path.

"Six months later, on Jan. 25, 1982, the Young Ambassadors came to our city. I had a severe cold and didn't go to the first performance. My friends came and told me how good they were, that I must go that night.

"I didn't want to; I had heard that Americans are unchaste. But again I prayed and knew I should go.

"When I saw those young people, I knew they were different. My sickness was gone. I had a feeling I must stay after the performance.

"While I was sitting there alone, I looked around and there was a member of the group, Thomas Nelson. By the time we had finished talking that night, I knew what I had to do.

"He put me in touch with the first missionary couple to serve in India, Horace Hayes and his wife. They taught me by mail for six months, and on June 27, 1982, I was baptized.

"My life now is one of total joy. How can I ever again doubt that the Lord loves us and answers our prayers?"