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January 12, 2018

A dusty Bible sat on Ranjan Ghate’s bookshelf, never opened. Given to him during high school by a local pastor, it traveled with him from his hometown of Houston all the way to New Jersey, where he went to college. He held onto that book for years but couldn’t explain why.

Ranjan, an Indian American, grew up in an agnostic home where God was neither accepted nor rejected. His family celebrated Indian and American holidays, but he was never sure where he fit in. To top it off, his father was in the US Army, often deployed for months, leaving his mother somewhat like a single parent. “I had to grow up quicker than most kids. I needed to be the man of the house,” Ranjan says. “The biggest thing I struggled with in my teens was constantly thinking, Who am I? Where do I belong?” 

Through the years, he had heard about God. In high school in 2008, his best friend invited him to church where he got involved for the sake of making friends but didn’t get to know God. “I knew there was a God but didn’t really believe in Him,” he says. Everything changed when he attended a Young Life camp in 2012 when someone asked him if he’d heard the Gospel message. “I said, ‘Yes, but I’ll hear it again.’ And a light bulb just clicked on,” Ranjan says. “God had been laying a foundation all this time.”

It took Ranjan a full year to tell his parents he’d become a Christian. “I had friends who became Christians, and their parents kicked them out,” he says. But his parents were completely fine with it—they didn’t have anything against God. They just didn’t believe in Him. “It gave me the perfect opportunity to minister to my parents,” Ranjan says. And a big opportunity presented itself when God called him to make a bold move and come to Dallas.

During spring break in 2015, he came to Dallas to visit his cousin. While in town, he met up with an Instagram friend, Gateway-member Conan Head, for coffee. Conan invited him to Gateway Young Adults that night, and at the service, the Holy Spirit spoke to Ranjan saying, “This is where you belong. This is your place. These are your people.” So he went back to New Jersey, turned down three job offers, and saved up enough money to move to Dallas for six months and see where God would lead him. Right at that six-month mark, the Dallas Campus opened and he got a job at the Gateway Café. Since then, he’s gotten very involved with Young Adults and also volunteers at Gateway Students. Ranjan has truly settled into the Gateway community.

“Looking back, the Bible I kept all those years took the same journey I did,” Ranjan says. The Bible was a constant presence in his life just like the message of the Gospel. That friend who invited him to church planted a seed, and so did the pastor who gave him the Bible. It just took a few years to take root and truly change his life for good.

That’s why Ranjan has strong faith that his parents will be saved. When he returned home for the first time last July, his parents talked about how much he’d grown and how they want him to be happy. “I’m living my life—volunteering and working at church. I want them to see that,” he says. “I’m witnessing to them by loving them and praying for them. That’s what it looks like to follow Jesus.”