A memoir recounts one man’s spiritual journey to India and synopsizes the religious lessons he learned.
Debut author Bray grew up in Chicago in a thoroughly Christian household; his father was a well-known evangelical minister. However, his own faith, he says, was inauthentic, more self-serving and hypocritical than motivated by a genuine desire to emulate Jesus’ example. While attending the Moody Bible Institute in 1964, he was elected president of the India Prayer Band; he joined not out of any abiding interest in India but because of his attraction to the group’s female professor. However, one night, while praying for the many non-Christian souls in the South Asian country, he experienced a profound spiritual experience—a feeling of a tempestuous war within himself between God’s love and demonic forces. His hands were inexorably drawn to a nearby map—specifically, to Rajasthan, an Indian state on the border with Pakistan, and the city of Kota Junction. The author interpreted this as a sign that God was revealing the stage of Bray’s holy mission. Much to the dismay of his friends and family, he dropped out of school, abandoned his plans to marry his high school sweetheart, surrendered claims to his family inheritance, and left for India by way of Europe. His time in the country was filled with dejection and failure, and he was eventually expelled by the Indian government. However, the experience led him to build a relationship with Jesus and craft what he calls a “yielded life.” Overall, Bray’s account is a dramatic one and it’s a gripping read as a story of adventure. He distills his spiritual discoveries down into “five waypoints,” which include sensible, if familiar, directives to pray always and do the work of God. The author should be commended for avoiding the idea of “instant spirituality”; he wisely warns the reader that living a truly spiritual life is a challenge. However, there isn’t much here that will be new to regular readers of spiritual self-help books, and even the most committed Christians may tire of the author’s apparent dependence on sudden revelations for guidance.
A dramatic biography, hampered by some shopworn conclusions.