Jay Modha was stunned and extremely angry! His brother Jimmy had just confessed to his family that he had become a Christian. No other news, even of Jimmy's death, could have been worse. Jay had been brought up in a devout Brahmin Hindu home in Leicester, England. In such a household, he and his six siblings were expected to uphold the name of Modha in the community. His brother had just shattered their reputation.
Jimmy, in spite of all he had been taught about spiritual purity as a Hindu, had been leading a very corrupt life in college. He claimed that his sins were forgiven because he had found God. Everyone stared in shock. A man living such a life can say his sins are forgiven? Impossible! Hinduism recognizes no concept of grace; a person works his sin out to improve his karma so that he may be reincarnated higher and higher up until he attains "muksha" or eternal life, when his soul is absorbed into that of Brahma. This can take millions of lives. Only a person who is about to attain muksha can say, "I've found God."
"Which god?" asked his father, wondering which Hindu god he could thank for bringing his son back from a reprobate life.
Jimmy said, "It's Jesus Christ. Actually, He came and found me. He died on the cross for my sins; He is my God, and I am following Him. I am a Christian."
Mrs. Modha fainted, Mr. Modha ordered Jimmy out of the house, and Jay felt an overwhelming rage and hatred such as he had never known for his brother. In a few sentences Jimmy had rejected everything Jay believed in.
Jay's reaction was hardly surprising, given the very spiritual and religious household in which he grew up. "As little children of six or eight," he explains, "we didn't watch Saturday morning cartoons; rather we might be watching my father and a priest exorcise a woman believed to be possessed."
Jay's father had become religious in Tanzania, East Africa, where he and his young bride emigrated from India. Although a talented chef who opened his own successful Indian restaurant there, the young patriarch of the Modha family had lived a wild, reckless life until he came under the influence of a local guru. Through the holy man's guidance, Modha dropped his profligate ways and adopted a strict life of moral and bodily purity. As a Brahmin, or one of the priestly caste, he was given mantras and incantations to attain different levels of spiritual awareness and to contact the spirits.
"We respected my father enormously --he was a very honest and sincere man," says Jay. "In contacting spirits, he tried to bring healing to people and to bring reconciliation to those with enmity to one another. Unlike other Hindu gurus he never charged for his services. He just wanted to be a help to others."
Jay, now a Master of Divinity student at RTS, knows that Satan was at work; the spirits his father contacted were demons disguised as angels of light, as the Scriptures teach. Jay believes that the biggest myth in our society today --particularly with Hindus -- is that overt demonstrations of spiritual power are good, especially if they bring knowledge. In Jay's case the deception was extremely subtle. There was no display of evil; on the contrary, "blessings" appeared all the time. But it was those "blessings" that kept his family entrenched in darkness.
In 1967 Mr. Modha moved his wife and children to England because of the political unrest in East Africa. With only $200 in his pocket he began all over again and opened another Indian food shop. By this time, he had built quite a reputation as a godly man and had brought all of his children up as devout Brahmins. Since Hindus believe that bodily purity is a prerequisite to spiritual knowledge of god, they were vegetarians and were taught at an early age how to bow down to Hindu gods and how to wash themselves before opening the shrine to approach the gods.
Every devout Hindu household has a shrine with various deities the family worships. Each person starts the day by washing and approaching the gods, praying and chanting. Hindus believe that one approaches God, who is one or single, through lower gods. Out of the many gods available, Hindus may choose which ones they will worship. Jay's family god was Hanuman, a monkey-god.
His father's desire was to pass the mantle to Jay, since from the age of six he had shown a great interest in religious things. Moreover, astrologers had told him at Jay's birth that Jay would be a religious teacher and spiritually gifted. Consequently, Mr. Modha encouraged Jay and began to teach him at an early age. Jay grew very quickly in spiritual experiences, meditating and chanting mantras with his father. By his eighteenth birthday, people much older than he came to sit at his feet and learn how to enter advanced spiritual states with certain mantras. Knowing God and attaining muksha became his primary goals.
Spiritual prowess was not Jay's only gift. He excelled in school and was a good athlete. By the time he arrived at the University of Surrey in Guilford (the first in his family to attend university) he was a proud, arrogant, ultra-religious young man. An excellent student, he earned a Bachelor's Degree in medical microbiology, then received a coveted assistantship to work on his Ph.D. in parasitology at the prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the University of London. This added to his sense of pride.
To Jay, Jimmy's confession of Christ was unacceptable. "For a Hindu to say that his sins were forgiven was sheer arrogance," Jay explains. " I despised him. Later that night I came down, washed my hands and feet, opened up the shrine, and prayed to Hanuman to kill my brother. We would mourn his death, but at least our family would not be dishonored."
Over the next ten months, Jay mocked Jimmy, ridiculing him, cursing him, and praying against him. Jimmy suffered greatly. By the year's end, he disowned Jimmy as a brother, informing Jimmy he wanted no further communication with him. In parting Jimmy said, "Jay, if you are ever desperate and no one is there to help you, remember Jesus loves you and His hand is on your life. Call to him and He will save you."
Jay was furious. During the months he had persecuted Jimmy, he could see that his brother had changed. He possessed a peace and a relationship with God that had eluded Jay. How could Jimmy have acquired so easily what Jay had been working so hard for?
Much later, Jay discovered that Jimmy and many others immediately began to pray fervently for him and his family. It was not long after that in 1988 that certain events began occurring which really disturbed him. The first was a powerful and terrifying dream.
"It was as if I was awake in my bed at three in the morning," remembers Jay, "when suddenly a blinding light broke through the roof and the ceiling of my bedroom. In that light I could see a cloud descending from heaven, bearing three awesome, fiery men-like creatures. The first blew a trumpet so loud that I was sure the whole world could hear its thunderous sound. I knew whatever was coming was universal in consequence. The second creature cried out, 'Prepare ye, for the Lord is coming to reap the harvest!' Then the third swung a scythe over the earth and cried, 'Now is the earth ready for harvest!'
"I tried to wake up from the dream because I felt I was going to have a heart attack from sheer fright. But I could not. Then, in the middle of the cloud, I noticed a Person who looked completely different. The brilliant light was coming from Him. His face shone so radiantly that no features were clear except for eyes that looked like blazing flames of fire. A robe went from His neck to His feet, which were like white-hot metal. He was dreadful in His beauty and terrible in His splendor.
"As He descended, He looked at me. I was completely undone, absolutely terrified. I could not bear to look at Him any longer, so I turned my head. To my amazement, there beside me was my brother Jimmy, who was not scared at all. In fact, his face was joyous, and he was reaching out as if to embrace the figure.
"When I gained the courage to look at Him again, He addressed me saying, 'Jay, what are you going to do when this happens? Will you worship me like your brother or be terrified as you are now?' Then everything vanished, and I woke up."
It took an hour for Jay to calm down. Nothing in his Hindu spiritual pilgrimage had prepared him for this. He had no idea what he had just experienced. But he knew it had to be divine. For the first time in his life, he knelt by his bed and, without invoking the name of a Hindu god, prayed for understanding.
Providentially, Jimmy called a few days later, even though Jay had forbidden it. Not expecting him to understand, Jay related the dream to him. Jimmy grew very quiet, then solemnly said, "Jay, what you saw is the Second Coming of Christ. Can I send you a Bible so you can read about it?"
Jay curtly refused and hung up. He suddenly realized, however, that he had asked for understanding of his dream, and here it was. His problem now was not lack of understanding; he just did not like what he understood. It didn't fit with his view of life. He had everything a twenty-seven-year-old devout Brahmin could want -- what did he need with another person's god?
Other dreams continued to disturb him. In one he and his family were worshipping Hanuman when suddenly the god changed into an evil, demonic being who turned on the whole family. Jay looked to the sky and cried, " Jesus, help me!" Then this glorious figure came from heaven and destroyed Hanuman, and Jay's whole family worshipped Him.
After such dreams, Jay woke extremely distressed that he had been praying to Jesus in his sleep! He informed his father about his dreams, and the elder Modha consulted astrologers and spirits to interpret them. His unsatisfactory conclusion --- Jay was stressed and working too hard.
In June, 1988, Jay received his doctorate and was awarded a prestigious research fellowship in Japan. Eagerly he set out to make a name for himself in parasitology. But it was not to be the wonderful experience Jay had planned, for it was in Japan that God would break and humble him.
Several situations conspired to challenge Jay in Japan. First, virtually no one spoke English in his laboratory. Second, he worked long, tedious hours conducting meticulous experiments. Third, he could not get the vegetarian foods he required. And he was in a very small town; the sense of loneliness and isolation was stifling. Finally, his girlfriend, the one great joy in his life, left him. Devastated, he began losing sleep and not eating, while working six and a half days a week in the lab.
Then, what he can only describe as an evil, demonic oppression began afflicting him. The oppression seemingly continued to terrorize him twenty-four hours a day for almost two weeks. His mental strength to resist was waning.
"Rather than let it take me over one night, I determined to take my life," recalls Jay in a voice filled with regret. "From my third floor balcony, I leaned over to look at the pavement where I would hit, when the horror of what I was contemplating really sank in. Hindus teach that if one commits suicide, his soul is eternally tormented by being forced to repeat the act over and over and over for all eternity. Now I was in a terrible dilemma -- to live was hell, and to die was unthinkable."
Jay then looked to the sky and called to Hanuman, "Where are you? Why have you forsaken me? I've given you the best years of my life. Must I die like this?" There was no answer.
Then Jimmy's plea to call on Jesus for help came to mind. This gave Jay enough strength to push away from the balcony and fall on the bed. He vowed to the Lord (if He was there) that if Jesus would save him, he would find out if He was the true and living God. If He was, Jay would give his life to Him." Exhausted beyond belief, he fell asleep.
The next morning the feeling of spiritual oppression was gone. Jay finished his research and moved back to England, whereupon he forgot his promises to God. Returning to Leicester to do research work, he fell back into the Hindu ways and became more devout than ever. He pushed harder to rid his life of its impurity, determined to speed up the process of knowing God. His encounter with the true and living God seemed to drive him to prove that the Hindu gods were real and true.
About a year later he and his parents were listening to a faith healer speak of the power of God, when suddenly, as the man spoke the name of Jesus, Jay felt the wrath of God descend upon him, as the Lord brought to his remembrance all the opportunities to accept Jesus Jay had been given and had refused. He realized that God saw right through his smug self-righteousness and knew him to be a guilty sinner, filthy and hypocritical. Divine angry judgment poured over him.
Jay ran from the building, enraged because he was wounded and convicted of sin. For the next six months God pursued him; every waking moment Jay was aware of God's wrath upon him. He knew it was the God of the Bible with whom he was dealing; he could not run anywhere to hide from Him.
Jay wanted to make atonement, but he didn't know how. To appease Hindu gods one offered correct sacrifices and found peace. So he dug out from a cupboard a dust-covered old Bible that had been given to his brother in school some years before, and began searching for some mantra or incantation that he could use to pacify this god.
He began to read the Gospels, and, amazingly, seemed to understand them. As he devoured them, God inexorably drew him in. He identified with what he read; it spoke deeply to him. When Jesus touched the coffin of the widow of Nain's son, and the boy sprang to life and saw his mother's face, Jay recalled how Jesus had saved his life in Japan to see his mother's face again.
"I was astonished at Jesus' teachings, such as 'Hating your brother is as good as murder,'" marvels Jay. "By his standards, I was guilty far beyond my understanding. And I had never before heard 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!' I thought, 'This man is from another world; no wonder He was born in an extraordinary way. I would have been more surprised if He had been born in an ordinary way.'"
As he followed Jesus into Jerusalem, he realized his heart had changed towards Him, that he had begun to love Him. When they crucified him, Jay was crushed. As he read, though, he sensed a gap between himself and God. He told God that he would do whatever was necessary to bridge that gap.
Then he read Jesus' words, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." He then realized that he had to come to Jesus. Finally, he began meditating on Jesus' words from the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." Suddenly Jay knew he was a sinner for whom Christ came and died. He prayed to God for forgiveness and the burden of guilt lifted. He knew that he had connected with God.
"For about a month I just read the Scriptures and worshipped God on my own, not knowing that I needed to go to church," laughs Jay. "I didn't know that I was a Christian; I just knew that I was a child of God. As God would have it, Jimmy called again. He asked what I was doing, and I told him I was reading the Bible, trying to follow Jesus.
"You probably won't understand, Jimmy, but Jesus is alive," Jay naively informed his brother. "He is risen. I can't see Him, but I know Him."
Jimmy laughed. "I know; the same thing happened to me. You have been born again." As Jimmy explained what that meant from John 3, Jay began his spiritual discipleship.
Jimmy urged Jay to get rid of all his idols and tell his parents he had become a Christian, both very difficult assignments. Can you imagine someone asking you to burn your Bible? His parents' response was predictable. His father was devastated; his hope and joy had betrayed their religion. He told Jay it hurt too much to look at him.
In 1990 Jay was baptized and took a job in Glasgow, Scotland. He visited Dr. Eric Alexander's St. George's Tron Parish Church and knew after the first sermon that this was where he needed to be to grow in the knowledge of God. By God's grace, he grew quickly in the faith; during the first eighteen months he listened to three sermons a day -- driving to work, coming home, and going to bed.
After two or three years, he began to be invited to share his testimony, then to preach. Since 1993 he has been preaching frequently, many times with his brother Jimmy, who is also a lay preacher. The two have even preached in the United States several times.
As time went by, Jay began to feel more and more called to the pulpit ministry, and others confirmed it. But God was blessing his science career, too. In fact he turned down a lucrative research position to come to RTS. Last year, after his father died, he began to ask the Lord to confirm his call to seminary and to show him where he must go.
As church ended one morning in August, 1997, Jay had just prayed that request again, when thirty seconds later Dr. Alexander hailed him outside, saying, "Jay, I'd like for you to meet Dr. Luder Whitlock and Dr. Duncan Rankin from Reformed Seminary in the United States." Sure that God must be answering his prayer, Jay agreed to consider RTS and subsequently came for a visit, which proved that this was where God wanted him.
In addition to his studies at RTS, Jay serves in several different capacities at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, including teaching an adult Sunday School class and working closely with Senior Pastor Dr. Ligon Duncan.
The powers of darkness are real, and they are strong. They keep millions across the world in spiritual chains. But Jay's life is a testimony to the joyous fact that Jesus Christ and his sacrificial love for sinners are much stronger and can rip away the shackles of Satan's deception , allowing God's pure light to shine in our souls. Jay can't wait to tell others about that new freedom and life in Christ!
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