The Golden Chain
Sundar Singh eagerly studied holy books, meditated, practiced Yoga, and did good works. When he was fourteen years old, in 1902, his mother and older brother died. (In 1908, C. S. Lewis’s mother, uncle, and grandfather died.) Unlike his mother, Sundar Singh’s father thought he was overly religious for his age. Once, the boy’s Guru said to his father, "Your son will become either a fool or a great man. "4
Sundar Singh sought God in Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. He was exposed to Christianity for a year in a local school provided by American Presbyterian missionaries, but the more he heard of the New Testament, the more he resented it. He quit the school. When he saw missionaries in public he abused them and ordered his father’s servants to do the same. He finally burned a New Testament in public to express his outrage.
Later, Sundar Singh saw that his fanatical opposition to Christianity had disguised a secret attraction to it. His father disapproved of his Bible burning as much as his obsession with proper Indian religions and wondered if his son was losing his sanity. Indeed, on December 17, 1904, fifteen-year-old Sundar Singh told his father goodbye and announced that he would commit suicide before breakfast. He fully planned to lie down on the railroad tracks near his house and be run over by the 5 a.m. express train in order to find God on the other side of death.
At 3 a.m. on December 18, Sundar Singh arose and took a cold bath according to Hindu custom. He begged and begged God to reveal Himself before the train came. Suddenly such a great light appeared in his small room that he looked to make sure the house was not on fire. Then a luminous cloud appeared, and he saw a Man’s face in it - radiant with love. The Man spoke in perfect Hindustani, Sundar Singh’s mother tongue: “Why do you persecute me? Remember that I gave My life for you upon the Cross.” 5
Sundar Singh wrote later, “What I saw was no imagination of my own. Up to that moment I hated Jesus Christ and did not worship Him. If I were talking of Buddha I might have imagined it, for I was in the habit of worshipping him. It was no dream. When you have just had a cold bath you don’t dream! It was reality, the Living Christ!” 6
Sundar Singh fell down before Jesus and worshipped him. Peace and joy finally flooded his soul. At breakfast he told his bewildered father, “The old Sundar Singh is dead; I am a new being.” 7 His conversion was obviously much like that of the apostle Paul, and he told everyone who would listen.