A bracelet lays dry on the side of Lipscomb’s Osman Fountain for seconds before cheers erupt and Angad Madra (’16) is lifted out of the water. With tears and water streaming down his face, he leans over to hug Rob Touchstone and begins to pray.
“I remember the day I was baptized; standing in the fountain with Rob as he asked me if I believed in the trinity and that Jesus came, died for my sins and was raised again,” said Madra, a recent Lipscomb graduate in the College of Business. “I remember taking off my Sikh bracelet and laying it down on the side of the fountain. I wanted to let go of my old self, and follow Jesus whole-heartedly.”
Born in Chandigarh, the capital of the northern Indian state of Punjab, Madra was a follower of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that was founded in Punjab in the 15th century by Guru Nanak. “I had worn that bracelet for nearly 20 years as a commitment to the Sikh faith,” he said.
In 2013, Madra left India on a student visa and scholarship to play soccer at a school in South Carolina.
“I had been in the U.S. for a week, before getting injured and losing my scholarship,” said Madra. “I was desperate at that point and turned to the only person I had known in the states for help – a friend from India who was currently studying at Lipscomb University in Nashville.”
Admittedly reluctant to enroll in a Christian school, Madra said his friend suggested he reach out to Rob Touchstone, director of business as mission but who at the time was an adjunct professor in the College of Bible & Ministry, to enroll in his Bible class.
“I got an email from Angad saying my Story of the Church class was full and asking if he could have an override,” said Touchstone, who at the time, had just opened the Well Coffeehouse in Nashville, a business that leverages its profits by drilling water wells in impoverished communities around the world.
Touchstone said he began to notice Madra’s resistance to the Christian community at Lipscomb, but invited him to spend time with him at The Well Coffeehouse.
“At times, I felt like people treated me like a project and that they had to convert me, and that was frustrating,” said Madra. “But what I appreciated most about Rob was that he just wanted to be my friend and never forced his faith on me.”
Madra, who decided to pursue a degree in business at Lipscomb, said the business model at The Well intrigued him, and he couldn’t understand how people would so willingly give away their hard-earned money to help others. “The whole concept was mind-blowing, and so I spent a lot of time at The Well, and eventually started attending worship services that Rob held there as well,” he said.
During his first semester at Lipscomb, Madra said he had issues with the status of his visa and feared he would be sent back to India for good.
“I was amazed by the community of guys who came around me during this time,” said Madra. “There was a group of guys who prayed for me one night at The Well, and they were all crying and pleading with God to help me find a way to stay in the U.S. That was also the night that I prayed to Jesus for the first time.
“God answered that prayer through President Randy Lowry, Jim Thomas and Rob. They connected me to an international lawyer, and we were able to work out a solution.”
Madra said that after this experience, he began noticing the Lord revealing himself, first in subtle ways, and then through obvious physical signs.
“On June 11, 2014, I was sitting at a Tuesday night fellowship and everyone was talking about Jesus,” said Madra. “All I could think about were my parents and how supportive they had been to me throughout my life, which is not typically the case for Indian parents. I just didn’t know how I could betray them by following Jesus.
“As I got up to leave the study, I remember walking out, and feeling the Lord physically touch me. A friend who was with me said in that very moment that ‘He is calling you by your name and you can’t ignore it.’ I would say that was the moment that changed everything.”
After that encounter at the Bible study, Madra decided that he didn’t want to make an emotional decision and just get baptized right away. A couple of weeks later, he went to a worship service at The Well where Touchstone was teaching from John 9.
“As Rob was speaking about Jesus healing the blind man, I knew that I had been the blind man – but now that I can see Jesus, all I want to do is follow Him,” he said.
Immediately after Touchstone was finished preaching, Madra approached him to discuss the decision he had made.
“Thinking back on that, never once did Rob manipulate the conversation, in fact, the first time that baptism came into the conversation was when it was initiated by me. Rob just waited on the Lord to do what only He could do.”
On July 6, 2014, Madra was baptized by Touchstone in the heart of Lipscomb’s campus with his friends, mentors and a family of believers by his side.
In December 2016, Madra graduated with a management degree from Lipscomb. He says that he would one day like to open a fast-food Indian restaurant that, similar to The Well, will turn its profits into hope. He said he would also like to one-day plant a church in India with his wife, Kalin, who is a graduate of Harding University
As members of Ethos Church in Nashville, Angad and Kalin are currently enrolled in the Onward program, a nine-month program that trains church planters across the globe.
“I gave up everything to follow Jesus, and want to spend every day of my life proclaiming His name,” said Madra.