'Now I am at peace'
Rahil Patel was a gifted Hindu priest, planting congregations all over the UK and across Europe. Then a special encounter changed his life forever ...
Rahil Patel was a gifted Hindu priest, planting congregations all over the UK and across Europe. Then a special encounter changed his life forever. MANDY PILZ reports
In 2012 a man of Asian appearance, but wearing western clothes, walked through the door of a church in London. Telling no one who he was or where he had come from, he sat through the service then quietly slipped out.
Unknown to anyone there, a miracle had just taken place.
Just three weeks earlier this same man, Rahil Patel, had been wearing the distinctive orange robes of a Hindu priest and had been in India visiting the guru of a major Hindu denomination.
The meeting had not been easy as Rahil had asked to lay down his role.
“It was a very hurtful and confusing departure because there seemed to be no love in the guru’s eyes anymore,” relates Rahil. “I had been his favourite for 20 years, his very gifted one, and suddenly I was nothing to him.”
What had led to this extraordinary chain of events?
“I was raised a Hindu in England,” he explains. “Although exposed to Christianity through my schooling, I was closely connected to my Hindu community and, aged 16, had just made a speech in front of 3,000 people when something exceptional happened.
“The guru of our denomination was present and told me I had a gift and ought to consider becoming a priest. It was overwhelming for me that someone we Hindus believed to be the face of God had granted me recognition.”
This resulted in Rahil undergoing six years of rigorous training in India. All appeared to be going well, but in his first year he started to experience health problems and nagging doubts about his vocation.
“A quiet internal struggle began and I heard a very authentic voice in my left ear saying: ‘Have you done the right thing?’ That really shook me.”
Eventually Rahil was given responsibility for planting Hindu congregations across the UK and Europe. He became a highly effective and popular speaker, increasing the congregations from 25 to 500 in just a few years.
It was during his many trips to Europe that his nagging doubts grew into what he describes as a “secret love affair with Jesus Christ”.
Rahil says: “They were very subtle yet beautiful encounters. In my European travels I just loved looking at the cross.
“I found a children’s Bible and secretly kept it among my other scriptures. I remember looking at some of the verses and experiencing how they spoke back to me.
“There was something about a relationship here, something live, but because it opposed everything I represented I would have a little moment of sweetness then put the Bible away.”
Ill health eventually put a stop to Rahil’s activities, shortly after which he resigned from his priestly role. Returning to London he resolved to live a quiet, conventional life.
“However, three weeks later I was walking along when my head suddenly turned and I saw a church spire on Onslow Square. It was Sunday so I decided to go in.
“As soon as I stepped in I felt a blanket of peace fall on me. It was incredible.
“I felt a beautiful encounter and a silent whisper in my left ear saying: ‘You’re home’. The worship and sermon all made sense. I drank it all in.
“I didn’t question any of it and there and then secretly decided to follow Jesus.
“I’d had ambitions of being a diplomatic genius or famous public speaker, but now I knew my identity was in Christ.
“My background had all been about performance; now I was resting in his presence and I realised how quickly the posture of my heart was becoming godlier.
“God began to build me up, gave me a job, a home and a church community where I am serving. I don’t know what the future holds but now I am at peace, enjoying authentic relationship with God.”
- Found by Love, A Hindu priest encounters Jesus Christ (£9.99, ISBN 978-1-909728-41-7) is published by Instant Apostle