I had never heard of Sundar Singh, but when I read that a young man from a devote Hindu family became one of the leaders of Christianity during the first half of the last century, I wanted to read more. He was not known as a systematic theologian, an apologist or an evangelist. He was simply a personal teacher, an Indian holy man who just happened to be a Christian, but his teachings captured the attention of the world. This book contains snippets of conversations, books, articles and conversations with others who knew him.
The book gives example after example of Sundar Singh’s thoughts, interpretations and beliefs. I will share three of them to show the richness of his God-given discourse. He tells the story of a woman praying to God to cleanse her heart as she was sweeping cobwebs from her house to get her house clean. She was frustrated when, the very next day, the cobwebs had all returned. Sadhu explained, “You will always have cobwebs until you get rid of the spiders. In the same way your heart will continually need cleansing until you get rid of the sin that makes it unclean.”
In teaching people how important their witness is in the world, Sundar Singh spoke of the deep sea creatures that shine their lights in the deepest depths of the ocean and the fireflies who shine their lights throughout the darkest jungle nights. Nature, he implied, teaches us to shine.
The story that meant the most to me, however, was the story of the Sadhu and his guide trekking through the Himalayan Mountains. They were making good time until a snow storm blew up bringing with it bitter cold and wind and they were still many miles from the nearest village. They proceeded along slowly, the numbing cold making them wonder if they would make it in time. Along the way they found a man lying in the snow, unable to continue against the wind and snow. Sadhu knelt by the man to help him when the guide said, “We can not take this man with us or we will all die.” Sadhu ignored the guide and proceeded to make preparations to take the man with him. The guide ran off toward the village on his own. Sadhu struggled with the man on his back, but he trudged along little by little. Hours later he could see the lights of the village! He knew he was going to make it. Just outside of town, however, he saw the guide lying frozen in the snow. He knew he had made it because of the heat of the man on his back. Sadhu taught, “This is the way of service. No one can live without the help of others, and in helping others we receive help ourselves.”
Wisdom of the Sadhu will bring depth of vision to anyone who reads it, but will most certainly bring the Christian reader refreshment. Although the narrative is not always engaging, I found that the nuggets to be found were well worth the panning.
There is freedom in Christ,