My journey with Christ began with a Gideon placing a New Testament in the hands of my sister. Through the influence of her changed life, and through the power of God’s Word, I became a believer as well. The small New Testament was kept on the shelf for two years but, praise God, His Word never returns to Him empty. God knew the path that would best equip me to eventually lead others-both in the military and in ministry. He is our ultimate leader, and His influence is everlasting.
Over 1.3 billion people live in the country of India. Like most people there, I grew up in a Hindu family.
One day my older sister came home from school with a New Testament she received from a Gideon and announced she had received Jesus into her heart. She would no longer bow down to the Hindu idols in our house. She also said she would not accompany my parents to the temples to participate in their rituals. She was beaten and locked up in her room, but she stood strong in her faith.
In 1980, my sister left Delhi to pursue higher education and to seek fellowship with other Christians and grow her faith. Before she left, she gave me her New Testament and asked me to read it. Having seen what she had been through due to reading that book, I told her I would not touch it. I put it up on the shelf.
Two years later, I was a 17-year-old, with dreams of going off to school to become an engineer. I studied hard for the entrance test, but I still failed the exam by a few points. I began to question who was in charge of my life.
In all my confusion, I pulled that New Testament off the shelf and began reading. I came across Chapter 5 in the Gospel of John where Jesus says, “...whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). All the teaching I had received from my parents encouraged me to keep working hard to please the gods. Yet, despite all my attempts at pleasing the gods, I never had assurance of my salvation, and I wondered why. This book said eternal life is a gift from God - not on the basis of what I was doing, but because of the free gift of grace from God. I thought about the change in my sister’s life, and I knew I had to make a decision.
I said my first prayer holding that New Testament, ‘God if you are real, be my Saviour, my God. Take my life and do with it whatever is pleasing to you.’
I was selected to attend the National Defence Academy, where I received a call to join the Indian Army. I received assignments to various locations all over India, some so remote there was not a single believer to fellowship with. The Word of God was my constant companion and my help in time of need. The Lord continued to bless my career. I received quick promotions and was the youngest ever to lead my unit as Colonel.
After serving for more than 20 years, I sensed God calling me to full-time ministry. As I took the step of faith in submitting my papers for early retirement, I received a call from someone who said he was with The Gideons International. Immediately, that New Testament flashed before my eyes.
Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”.
Today, Navneet is the Executive Director for The Gideons International in India, where almost 15 million copies of God's Word were distributed last year.