A couple who grew up in a mix of religions now knows the one true God.
Julie K. Wietzke
Deo and Juliet Singh found the church pretty easily—it was right by the hotel they were staying at until their house was built.
That short walk across the parking lot started their journey to understanding sin and grace and to finding everlasting hope through their Savior.
The Singhs were not strangers to religion. Religion was part of their lives. Yet they didn’t really know or understand their Savior.
Deo and Juliet grew up living three miles apart in Guyana, South America, in the 1940s and 50s. At that time, Guyana was a British colony and, as Deo explains, had a mix of religions—mainly Hinduism and Christianity. The older people who migrated from India practiced Hinduism in a broken Hindi language, while the children grew up speaking English and attended Christians schools. At these schools, they sang hymns, prayed, and learned basic Christian principles.
Both Deo and Juliet grew up practicing both religions but not really understanding either one. They participated in the Hindu rituals with their parents but didn’t understand Hinduism because they didn’t know the language of their parents. “The Hindu priest would come to bless the house and do prayers, but we didn’t understand unless he explained in English,” says Deo. At the same time, they attended Christian schools, and Juliet remembers going to Sunday school and lighting candles at the weekly Catholic Mass. Their lives were a mix of both religions, and they weren’t sure what was really true. “We only keep following what we see our parents do,” says Deo. A Savior from sin and death was missing in their lives.
Juliet left school at the age of 11 to care for her ill mother. Deo attended secondary school through the age of 15 when he had to quit to find work. He worked several odd jobs and then got a job at a large company, where he slowly worked himself up the ranks.
The lives of Deo and Juliet came together when their families arranged for their marriage. “I was tending sheep and I say to my mother, ‘Look, some guy is coming and he’s well dressed.’ She said, ‘Leave the sheep and come get some clothes,’ ” Juliet remembers. “I went upstairs . . . and my aunt said, ‘Look through that window. You see that guy; you’re going to get married to him.’ And that was it!” They have been married for 55 years.
They left Guyana in 1985 for New York City, where Deo started working at a warehouse at John F. Kennedy airport. Juliet had several jobs—often working over 60 hours a week. They said there was no time for church. “My work week started on Sunday,” says Juliet. “There was no time for nothing but work.”
That changed when Deo retired in 2008, and the Singhs decided to move with one of their daughters to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Amazing Grace was located in a strip mall across the parking lot from the hotel Deo and Juliet were staying in while their new house was being constructed.
“We were anxious to start getting into prayers,” says Deo. “So I was walking around [by the hotel] and saw the church.
Deo stopped to talk to the pastor of Amazing Grace. “From the time we met one another, that was it,” says Deo. “We fell in love with him.” That meeting started the Singhs’ journey to truly understanding what their Savior did for them.
Pastor Ben Zahn began Bible information classes with the Singhs at their home. “I gave them a feast for their souls, and Juliet always had a feast for me,” he says, chuckling.
The Holy Spirit began working through the feast of the gospel. Zahn says he remembers two specific instances when he saw the Word in action in the Singhs’ lives.
When they first met, Deo told Pastor Zahn that he was afraid to die because he was uncertain of what would happen next. Zahn says as the instruction classes continued, they were talking about sin and grace and were looking at Hebrews 2:14,15: “[Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
“I said that the devil’s power had been destroyed and we don’t have to be afraid,” says Zahn. “Deo stopped me right after I read the passage and said, ‘Pastor, I have to tell you something. . . . I’m no longer afraid to die.’ I asked him why not. He said, ‘Jesus is my Savior.’ ”
Prayer by the Singhs in Guyana had offered no comfort. “Juliet said that when she was growing up in Hinduism, she was frustrated about praying,” says Zahn.
“[In Hinduism,] we had so many gods to pray to—lots and lots,” says Juliet. Deo agrees. “It was conflicting in so many ways with different deities responsible for the sun, the rain, and this and that.”
But when they talked about who the true God is and being able to pray to him in Jesus’ name, Zahn remembers that it was like a light suddenly going on for the Singhs.
Juliet says that after learning more about God and the Bible, she feels differently. “Now you pray, and the Lord answers prayers,” she says. “And it’s true. He does answer prayer.”
Deo and Juliet were baptized in 2009, confirmed in ??, and are regular attenders at Amazing Grace. “We can’t wait to get to church on Sunday,” says Deo, who Zahn says is the congregation’s resident “church hugger.”
The sacraments hold special meaning for them. “One day we were looking for our Baptism certificates, and I couldn’t find them, and I got scared,” says Deo. But the fear disappeared in the reality of their Baptism. He continues, “When we take Communion, I always try to concentrate on Jesus shading the blood on the cross, and it makes me feel good.”
Juliet says that now she understands more about the Bible teachings and it makes her happy. “I love the Bible, and I love Pastor reading on Sunday,” says Juliet. “We feel different. We learn more about God; we learn more about the Bible; we learn about Jesus.”
Julie Wietzke is the managing editor of Forward in Christ.
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Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 104, Number 9
Issue: September 2017
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