Sundar Singh

“I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord, but like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all people of the love of God.” Sundar Singh

Sundar Singh was born amidst the depths of Indian culture and religion into a Sikh family. During the early part of his life, Sundar’s mother would take him week by week to sit at the feet of a sadhu. She also taught him to respect and look for the good in all religions. Prior to following Christ, Sundar attended a primary school run by the American Presbyterian Mission where the New Testament was read daily as a “textbook.” However Sundar refused to read the Bible at the daily lessons…”To some extent the teaching of the Gospel on the love of God attracted me, but I still thought it was false.” In the midst of such confusion and while only fourteen years old, his mother died, and Sundar underwent a crisis of faith.

He publicly burnt the Bible and yelled insults at his Christian teachers. Sundar blamed the Christian God for the loss of his mother.

His mother was a loving saintly woman and they were very close. Within three days Sundar Singh could bear his misery no longer. Late one night in December 1903, he rose from bed and prayed that God reveal himself to him if he really existed. Otherwise — “I planned to throw myself in front of the train which passed by our house.”

For seven hours Sundar Singh prayed. “O God, if there is a God, reveal thyself to me tonight.” The next train was due at five o’clock in the morning. The hours passed. Suddenly the room filled with a glow. A man appeared before him. Sundar Singh heard a voice say, “How long will you deny me? I died for you; I have given my life for you.” He saw the man’s hands, pierced by nails. Amazed that his vision had taken the unexpected form of Jesus, Sundar was convinced in his heart that Jesus was the true Savior, and that He was alive. Sundar fell on his knees before Him and experienced an astonishing peacefulness which he had never felt before. The vision disappeared, but peace and joy lingered within him.

Despite his family’s pleas, bribes, and threats, Sundar wanted to be baptized in the Christian faith. After his father spoke words of official rejection over him, Sundar became an outcast from his people. He cut off the hair he had worn long like every Sikh man. Against great opposition, he was baptized on his birthday in 1905, in an English church in Simla. When he left his family they attempted to poison him. He survived the attempt.

Conventional Indian churches were willing to grant him a pulpit, but their rules were foreign to his spirit. Indeed, he felt that a key reason the gospel was not accepted in India was because it came in a garb foreign to Indians. He decided to become a sadhu, so that he could dedicate himself to the Lord Jesus. He was convinced that this was the best way to introduce the Gospel to his people since it was the only way which his people were accustomed to.

Sundar Singh

As a sadhu, he wore a yellow robe, lived on the charity of others, abandoned all possessions and maintained celibacy.  Dressed in his thin yellow robe, Sundar Singh took to the road and began a life of spreading the simple message of love and peace and rebirth through Jesus. He carried no money or other possessions, only a New Testament. Sundar journeyed much. He traveled all over India and Ceylon.

Following the advice of his friends, Sadhu enrolled himself in St. John School of Theology in Lahore. After studying for two years there, he resumed his travel. In the following years, he was often persecuted but he was also miraculously delivered by the Lord. In 1914, Sundar preached in Nepal, a country with a very strong root of Buddhism. In the town of Rasa, he was sentenced to death by a local Lama on the grounds of spreading a foreign religion but was miraculously delivered.

Between 1918-1919, he visited Malaysia, Japan and China. Between 1920-1922 he went to Western Europe, Australia and Israel. He preached in many cities; Jerusalem, Lima, Berlin and Amsterdam among others. Despite his growing fame, Sundar retained a modest nature, desiring only to follow Jesus’ example: to repay evil with kindness and to win over his enemies by love.

Over the years, many were won to faith through him. Even his own father was converted. In 1929, an unwell Sundar set out once more  for Tibet. He never returned. Nothing was heard from him again.