I have had the pleasure of knowing Claude for over a year now, as we belong to the same home group at church. He has lived and worked in a variety of different cultures, and his personal testimony of Christ’s redeeming work in his life is a great encouragement to us all.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in India (mainly Bombay and New Delhi) in a staunch Roman Catholic family. I was one of 5 children, and I clearly remember being marched off every morning to attend Mass – a practice I continued until 2005 when, in my early fifties, I moved to Abu Dhabi, and came to full salvation in Christ.
Tell us a little more about your life before coming to salvation in Christ.
I would say that until I was born again I was a Christian only in name – I knew Jesus but felt somehow that I had to ‘do’ various things in order to find favour with God. I imposed on myself strict routines such as attending daily Mass; indulging in vain repetition of rosary prayers, learned by rote; and undertaking pilgrimages to holy shrines in places such as Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje.
When did you become a born again Christian?
I believe I was born again when my faith was challenged by my wife, Shalini and son, Niv (currently training to be a Vicar in the Church of England). At the time, I was living alone whilst working in Abu Dhabi, and, during Skype conversations, Shalini and Niv would question me about God’s word. I was troubled because I just couldn’t answer them satisfactorily. Finally, after repeated invitations, I agreed to accompany Shalini to a worship service at the Evangelical Community Church (ECC) in Abu Dhabi in September 2008. Whilst at this service I was deeply moved by the Pastor’s Bible-based preaching which convicted me of my sinfulness and my need for salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. This marked a turning point in my Christian walk, as, for the first time in my life, I was exposed to teaching which was 100% Bible-based and I got to know people who sincerely tried to live in accordance with God’s Word.
During my time in Abu Dhabi I was fortunate, over the next 7 years, to become very involved with ECC, and was provided with wonderful opportunities to be discipled in my faith. I was able to listen to challenging weekly sermons by the senior pastor, and I attended the Men’s Bible Study class on Saturday mornings. I also began serving on Sunday evenings in AWANA, a children’s ministry which focuses on Scripture memorization, understanding and application. This enkindled in me a desire to memorise Bible verses and often to preach to myself!
What does your faith mean to you?
My faith is everything to me. It means living in light of what God has said by regularly studying his word and trying to live accordingly; by resting in what He has done in the finished work of the cross; and by entrusting the future to his care because God has said that he will never leave me and never forsake me. My faith is what enables me to live in this fallen world looking forward to eternal life in Christ Jesus.
What would you say to someone who is wondering what life is about?
We live in a fallen world where disappointment, pain and suffering are commonplace. As human beings, it is natural for us to want to place our hope in something. We attach our security, our sense of peace and rest to many things every day. But the final choice is between two kinds of hope. Either we look to created things to give us hope, or we look to God, the Creator, who is the one sure hope. Hope in the Lord, is trusting not only in the one who created and controls the universe, but also in the one who is glorious in grace and abounding in love. Such hope is well-placed and will never disappoint!
Sin has driven us out of the garden of Eden, but grace drives us right into the arms of our Heavenly Father through the life, death on the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ who came that we might have life and have it to the full.
If you want this life, begin by studying God’s word in-depth. This will help you to know Jesus and become more and more like him through the help of his indwelling Holy Spirit. As you get to know Jesus more deeply, so you will desire to meet with other believers to regularly participate in corporate prayer and worship.
As you grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, so, too, will your desire to bring others to faith in Christ.
By Naomi Ahronson on behalf of Claude Lobo