“Waheguru, waheguru,* thank you, Jesus.” These words caught my attention as the traffic cleared on the road to Manali, a hill station in Himachal Pradesh, India. I didn’t quite get the significance of this expression of praise at first, but as the days passed, God helped me realize the wonderful working of the Holy Spirit in the life of my friend.
A group of childhood friends had planned a trip to Manali and Shimla in February. Most of them had studied together at an Adventist school, and later also attended an engineering college in Puducherry, India. I happened to meet one of them, who is a close friend from middle school, and asked if I could join them since I had already made plans to visit northern India during the same time. We began our four-day road trip from Chandigarh to Kulu, Manali, and Shimla. There was excitement in the air as we all looked forward to escaping the heat of Chennai and experience the magical snow of Himachal.
On the third day of our trip we visited the famous Tara Devi temple, 11 kilometers (seven miles) from Shimla. It was a long, steep drive up sharp hairpin bends. I got carsick and tried my best to keep my eyes off the road.
Our trip was often interrupted by visiting temples or churches along the way. The detour to the Tara Devi temple was our leader’s idea, delaying our lunch plans. We finally arrived—hungry, tired, and light-headed. I joined the brave making their way to the temple and wondered why this place was such a big deal.
We climbed a few flights of stairs and left our footwear at a counter. I dreaded to walk without my shoes since it was a cold day. The cold numbed my feet for the next few minutes, as I admired the intricate carvings on the woodwork of the temple. We then stepped out to gaze at the picturesque view of the Himalayas from the temple courtyard. A sudden calm came over us as we took in the stunning view.
My friends ate a meal served on the temple premises. As I waited for them, my friend’s questions, “How do we reach God? Who is God? What is salvation?” resounded in my head. Millions of Indians each year go on pilgrimages and make sacrifices and vows in search of God, truth, peace, and prosperity. Here I was, face to face with a seeker of truth.
Over dinner the previous evening, my Sikh friend, knowing that I had studied religion, asked, “What is God, and how do we reach Him?” I wasn’t ready for this conversation. Usually I am not good at being spontaneous. Thousands of thoughts filled my mind in a split second, yet I had to be simple and concise. I quickly prayed, “Lord, help me be a witness for You.” I then asked if he meant who God is. I said that I believe God is a personal being who created us, loves us, and gives us family and friends. God also reached down to us by sending His Son, Jesus, who died to save us. I was amazed at the way God helped me answer his queries on truth, salvation, and meditation in the simplest way.
The sincerity of his quest was reflected in his eyes. There was no sign of pride or mockery. As he recalled the first memory verse he had learned in the Adventist school, the story of Jesus, and how we didn’t work on Sabbath, I knew then that God was at work.
That day on the mountaintop, in the courtyard of the Tara Devi temple, I prayed that our heavenly Father would become real to my friend. I keep praying that God will lead me in the path of many others who are seeking God.
¹Waheguru refers to the mighty God in Sikhism. It literally means “Wonderful Lord.”