Sharukh Cooper is head elder of the Dallas First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dallas, Texas, USA.

It started and ended with love. I was born in Mumbai, India, to a Zoroastrian couple. Zoroastrians are the original inhabitants of Persia (now Iran), descendents of such powerful and mighty kings as Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes.

When my mother was carrying me, I was very dear and special to her. Because of her past childbirth problems, she did not want to lose me. But after I was born, my mother developed complications in the hospital and passed away a few weeks later. So my sister and I were raised by our father and grandmother. My father wanted the best for us, and he worked two jobs to provide for us and give us the best education. 

It was no coincidence that my father, who was very open-minded and respectful of all religions, sent me to a missionary school in Mumbai. He wanted me to have an excellent education. 

In His infinite wisdom, God had a plan for me. At an early age, I was introduced to the Lord. Students at the missionary school attended chapel services every day and had daily prayers. Like most kids, I was very inquisitive. Often I came home from school with questions about Jesus, which my father could not answer to my satisfaction. So one day, he allowed my sister and me to visit a church. Learning about Jesus at school and attending church now and then were the first pieces in my life’s puzzle.

After graduating from high school, I went to college with unanswered questions. I wondered about life’s true purpose. There had to be something more than growing up, getting an education, finding a job, getting married, having children, growing old, and dying. 

Slowly but surely the Lord was leading me to Him. He was preparing me, mentally and spiritually, for the plan He had for my life. My father had done an exceptional job of teaching me moral values and giving me a good upbringing, and God did the rest; He filled my heart with an extra portion of love and compassion for all. The love which my mother was not there to give was given to me by the Lord. 

After I graduated from college, I was caught up in the routine of life and something was missing. There was an emptiness in my heart, and I turned to worldly amusements to fill that void. But these pleasures were short-lived, and the questions and emptiness returned. I was working at an airport and was clueless about the plan God had for me. I could never have imagined that He would send someone halfway around the world to Mumbai to become a special person in my life or that that person would bring me to Him. 

One morning while I was working at the lostluggage counter, I noticed a young lady walking toward me. She had arrived from Dallas and the airline had lost her luggage. She asked me to help her find it. I tried to locate her suitcase but could not. In the process, we introduced ourselves, and I learned that her name was Margaret. While she spent a few days in Mumbai, we got better acquainted. I was very interested in her, and when my father met her, I was worried that he would be upset since Margaret was from a different religion. But he told me, “Son, do what your heart tells you.” 

But things did not go smoothly. Satan knew where this was leading, and he put different obstacles in the way of our relationship. For example, Margaret’s parents objected because I was a Zoroastrian and she was a Seventh-day Adventist. Our relationship seemed nearly impossible, but with God, all things are possible. After a few years, and with hesitant approval from her parents, Margaret and I were married in Dallas. I started going to church with Margaret and her family, but I was still a Zoroastrian. I struggled to give up my religious beliefs, but I felt I should find out for myself what was right for me, and I prayed about it. The outcome was astonishing. First, the Lord gave me the desire to read His Word, and understanding followed. I began to read the Bible and understand the scriptures better through Sabbath School classes. The Lord was slowly tugging at my heart, inviting me to come to Him. I was slow in responding to His calling, as Satan tried his best to take me away from Him. 

As time went on, Margaret and I had children, and I wanted to be a good example to them. God used my children to show His love for me. 

Early one morning, my son had a severe asthma attack and was gasping for breath. Knowing that the situation was life-threatening, we raced to the hospital, praying that the Lord would save our son’s life. We spent all day and night at the hospital. The next morning, the nurse brought us the good news that our son was out of danger. The Lord was there for us! He performed a miracle to help our son get well.

"Opening my heart, I made a commitment to serve Him, fulfill His will, and share His love and goodness with everyone."

A few years later, our daughter, who was only a few months old, could not keep any food down; the pediatrician called it an intolerance to baby formula. We changed her formula, but the problem continued. As our daughter’s health deteriorated, our worry grew. Margaret and I both prayed, and it occurred to us to take our little girl to Children’s Medical Hospital. A specialist there correctly diagnosed the problem. The Lord came through for us a second time, and our prayers were answered as our daughter started to improve. 

These miracles showed me that the Lord was good and that His love endures. When Satan tried to frustrate us with problems, the Lord was on our side. I began to understand God’s endless love and care for us. Opening my heart, I made a commitment to serve Him, fulfill His will, and share His love and goodness with everyone. Soon I was baptized, and ever since that time I have accepted the Lord’s calling. I have even been called the “minute man” of my church because I am always happy to fill in for those who are unable to fulfill their platform duties.

If the Lord, through a miracle, can change a non-believer like me into a believer, surely He can perform the same miracle in your life and in the lives of those around you. As church elders, we have been entrusted to invite others to accept Him as Lord and Savior, to assure them that all they need to do is open their hearts to Him, surrender all to Him, rely on Him, trust Him, and let Him take control of their lives. 

Elders, surely the Lord has a plan for each one of us. He uses us to complete His unfinished work and to spread the gospel to our families, neighbors, and communities. When we show our willingness to accept His calling, He blesses our efforts and takes us to the next level. When we accept His call, He reveals His plan and helps us fulfill it. 

It started and ended with love. Correction: God’s love never ends—it continues throughout eternity.

Sharukh Cooper is head elder of the Dallas First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dallas, Texas, USA.