“The different one. That’s the one I was in my family,” said Sheetal Agrawal. “I grew up in Houston in a loving, spiritual, Hindu home. Hindus believe god can be manifested in various forms and gods. It’s a works-based religion where your life is constantly accumulating good and bad Karma. As you earn more good karma, you’ll be reincarnated at a higher level, hoping to eventually reach a state of nirvana. The concept of karma never made sense to me. I didn’t understand how I could reap the benefit or consequence from something I did in a life I didn’t remember.
“While I grew up in a loving home, my family was always facing some sort of hardship. My family’s pain only strengthened my faith in God because I knew He would fix it.
“My family faced another challenge when I was in college in Austin. My sister called me crying one day, and hearing how hurt she was broke my heart. I eventually gave up on God.
I thought He had ignored my prayers for help all my life. Now my big sister, someone I loved, was in despair, again.
“As I walked to class after that conversation, I was overwhelmed by my sister’s pain and the hardships my family was facing. The pain I felt for them practically immobilized me, and I went inside the nearest building to compose myself. As I looked around, I realized it was a church.
I saw the image of the cross and desperately prayed, asking Christ to heal my family’s pain. I felt comfort like I never had in my life. I never forgot that day.
“After graduating from college in 2009, I was dating a guy in Austin but accepted a job in Dallas. A few months after I moved, the relationship ended. All the hurt I still carried from years past and the pain of losing that relationship started crashing down on me.
“I remembered the peace I experienced four years ago in that church when I prayed to Christ. I asked the Lord to heal and comfort me again. He showed up in that moment. Earlier, I heard about The Porch, Watermark’s Tuesday night gathering for young adults, from a friend,
so I went. When I heard the speaker explain that God can use suffering to draw us closer to Him, I knew God was talking to me.
“A volunteer at the Porch, Lauren Murray, befriended meand met with me for months to explain Who God was.Lauren encouraged me to get into community. I begrudgingly heeded, not knowing that decision would change my life forever. My community was patient as I struggled to trust Christ, and they loved me like crazy the whole time. Those girls were instrumental in showing me Who Christ was and encouraging me to trust in Him. Through God’s faithfulness, friends at Watermark and my com-munity group, I fell in love with Christ and trusted in Him on Easter of 2010.
“In February of 2012, God made it clear it was time to share my new life with my parents. It was a conversation I said I would never have early in my faith. When I told them I was living a new life in Christ, they thought I was confused, wanted me to move back to Houston and
said I’d be lost by denying who I am. They were angry, hurt and said they never wanted to know if I converted. I thought the hardest part would be revealing that I trusted Christ as my risen Savior. Actually, it was more difficult to remain faithful to share Truth in every-day conversations and encourage them with God’s promises.
“I go to bed every night with a broken heart for my family, seeing their pain and knowing both the answer to their healing and their refusal to accept it. But God is relentless in reminding me to give Him that burden (Matthew 11:28-31), to pray and remain faithful in times I want to hide. The Lord has opened so many doors to share Truth with my family−doors that wouldn’t exist had that first conversation with my parents not happened.
“God used the Porch to tell me who He was and Who I belonged to. I loved going to the Porch and began serving there. At first, I felt ill-equipped because I’ve been a believer for such a short time. But God has given me opportunities to speak with women who are exactly where I was a few years ago – unable to see how God can use our painful circumstances for His good. What a blessing to know that God really can use me by His power alone!
“The more I learned about Christ and the love He displayed on the cross by dying for me, the more beautiful He became. I’m thankful that in the moment I gave up on God, He did not give up on me. I learned that as Christ-followers, we can love and serve others, not to earn God’s favor, but out of love for our God. We can love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). It’s what sets Christ apart in the world and what drew me to Him.”