"Their God died for the sins of mankind."

Prabhu Charan was born in India, near the banks of the Ganges River. He was the seventh son of devout Hindus, but his six brothers had died from a strange hereditary disease. In an attempt to break the curse of death, his parents dedicated Prabhu Charan to be a Hindu priest.

Then, when the child was just 18 months old, Prabhu Charan's father also died. Convinced that she was the greatest of all sinners, Prabhu Charan's mother committed her son and herself to a life of Hindu devotion. Every morning at 4:30 she took him to the temple. They performed the rites of Hindu worship, offering flowers, rice, sweets, and money to the gods and goddesses. They bathed in the sacred pond before returning to their village.

Passing through the bazaar on his way home one morning, 12-year-old Prabhu Charan noticed three musicians. One played a violin while the other two sang. "Who are those men?" he asked his mother.

"Oh, just some men singing about their God," she replied. "Their God died for the sins of mankind."

"Mother! What do you mean? None of our gods died for us. If their God died for them, he must love them very much."

A few weeks after this event, Prabhu Charan went to live with his uncle in another village where he would prepare for the Hindu priesthood. But his mother's words were constantly in his thoughts: "Their God died for the sins of mankind."

Each day on his way to school, Prabhu Charan passed a small Christian church. He always felt a strange warmth inside himself as he passed. On Sunday mornings when he heard the church bells ring, he went and stood at the church gate.

One Sunday as he stood at the gate, a missionary called to him and took him into the church, sitting with him in the front row.

"I really did not understand what was going on," Prabhu Charan said later. "Although the preaching and singing were in my language, I couldn't comprehend the strange new ideas I was hearing."

When the pastor finished his sermon that morning, he invited people to come forward to pray. "It was as though a hand pushed me off the bench," Prabhu Charan said. "I found myself standing in front of the congregation."

He didn't know what to do. He didn't know that Christians bow their heads and close their eyes when they pray. He didn't know they sometimes fold their hands or kneel. The only words in his mind were the words of his mother: "Their God died for the si ns of mankind, come to me."

Suddenly a brilliant light came through the front door and filled the sanctuary. In the light was a man hanging on some wood.

"Blood was coming down the man's face and dripping from his hands," Prabhu Charan said. "He said to me three times, 'I am the God who died for the sins of mankind.'"

Prabhu Charan fell to his knees and wept. For 2 hours he cried and prayed. When he rose from his knees, he was a Christian.

Prabhu Charan's uncle was incensed by his nephew's conversion and made plans to kill the boy. To save her son's life, Prabhu Charan's mother sent him to the missionary.

For 10 years, the missionary cared for Prabhu Charan. She sent him to high school and college. In keeping with Indian customs, she even arranged his marriage.

After his graduation from Bible college, Prabhu Charan, who early in Christian life took the name Samuel, went on to earn two master's degrees. During these years he was also active in full-time ministry. He served as an associate pastor for a time. H e became a teacher and eventually principal of a Bible institute. Later he was elected to serve a high position in a north India church, a position he held for more than 20 years.

Several years ago, he was honored with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his years of ministry and many accomplishments. He is now respectfully and affectionately known in India as Dr. P.C. Samuel. His parents had dedicated him to the Hindu pries thood, but he is a minister of the living God, the God who died [and rose again] for the sins of mankind.

-by Ronald Q. Tuttle

(edited by Glen Stewart)