Shekar Kallianpur is a pastor of the New Life Fellowship movement that is embracing thousands of people into its fold. In a way, he is the Arvind Kejriwal of Christianity, unsettling the established Catholic hierarchy and trying to connect people directly with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. A fine orator, 53-year-old Kallianpur attracts a large number of people, including non-Christians. The hierarchy of the Catholic church frowns upon him and the fellowship movement because it has taken several people away out of the Catholic flock. In an exclusive interview with S Balakrishnan, City Editor of dna, Kallianpur, who was born in a Saraswat Brahmin family of Hindu priests, fields a wide range of questions. Excerpts:
You say that you are not a Christian and yet you are a follower of Jesus Christ. How do you explain this contradiction?
I don’t see any contradiction in that. Was Jesus a Christian? If you are born in a garage, you are not called a car. I have not left one religion to join another religion. I am not a religious person, but a man of relationships. I have encountered God (Jesus) and have a relationship with Him. The body is a temple and God dwells in me by virtue of the Holy Spirit.
How did you start your spiritual journey in search of Jesus?
I was born in a poor family. We used to live in Shivaji Nagar slum in Govandi. I committed many sins. There was no one to guide me. I was looking for answers to so many questions which used to bombard my brain as a youth. One day, a friend gifted me a copy of the Bible. I studied it closely, almost non-stop. I found answers to many of the questions that were bothering me. At last, I felt completely at peace with myself. I was unequivocally convinced that the path shown by Jesus was the one for me. I have never looked back. I realised that Jesus was born not only for Christians, but for the whole of mankind. I shared my testimony of Jesus as a living God with those around me. And they were convinced by what I was saying. I then decided to dedicate my entire life to share my testimony with the world.
What attracted you to Jesus?
Jesus is a unique person, because he was not born out of sin. He was the child of the immaculate conception. There is no one else like that. Hence, he alone has the power. Adam and Eve disobeyed God hence they were separate from Him.
Why is conception through sex regarded as a sin? Aren’t we all products of sex between our parents?
Everyone born biologically is in sin. The purpose of life is to desin (sic) oneself. Since only Jesus was not born out of sin, He alone has the power to set us free. The need is to repent for our sins and let the Holy Spirit guide us in our path towards salvation. Salvation is nothing but progress.
Jesus did not walk to this earth to take us to heaven; on the contrary, He wanted to create heaven on Earth. He wants us to rid ourselves of sin and become better human beings who are caring and loving.
There is belief that Jesus is going to come back. How true is this belief?
Jesus died only bodily, but not spiritually. He will come back in a glorious form to liberate all of us.
This time, he will come not as the son of God, but as the king of kings. My mandate is to tell the world that Jesus is alive and he loves and forgives all of us.
I am told you go to the seafront at Bandra and pray for Mumbai. Is that true?
It’s true. I have a close association with this city. I pray that all its citizens live in harmony and become better persons. Merry Christmas to all of them.