A new-found faith and community

Published on: 10 January 2020

Surya Teja Reddy Vajrala shares his everyday faith story of a move from a village in India to a new community in Thetford, discovering his faith as part of that journey through embracing new experiences.

Although I grew up in a nominally Hindu family, my grandmother introduced me to Christianity at an early age. She got me to read the Bible and was the one who first suggested that I go to church – and my family were happy for me to do that. From then on, I was praying and reading the Bible every day, not in a Christian sense, almost in a rhythmic sense. I was interested in it but had not really met with Jesus at that point.

When I was older, I left India and came to study (Master’s Degree) in the UK and started my part-time work. One day, I met Sol and Anna who had visited my home village on holiday. The conversation moved to talking about Jesus and I explained to them that I read the Bible and then they invited me to their church.

At the time, I had no car and my boss was not happy with me taking Sundays off to go to church. But I had decided that I needed to get to church, no matter what. I managed to get a bike and cycle the 13 miles to get to church. It took about an hour and a quarter to make the trip. Once I was there, I started making friends, getting into the community and enjoying being at church. It was great!

My boss still wasn’t happy with me taking off the Sundays and asked me to leave. My attitude was; fine, I’ll find something else. I left Bury St Edmund’s and came to Thetford, but I didn’t stop going to church. I didn’t let my situation upset me, I just kept praying and praying to God that he would provide for me – not lots of money or anything, just what I needed.

Then I met Helen Jary (then Team Vicar in Thetford) and she introduced me to the church community and to Nigel and Glenda who then agreed to take me in for two weeks while I got sorted. After six days staying with them, they came to me and said, “Stay with us until you find your feet – however long that is.” They treated me as a family member. Glenda now introduces me as her adopted nephew.

I now go to Hope Church with Nigel and Glenda and have met many new friends my own age. I have been welcomed into the family of the church and it is great. People smile at me as I walk around my neighbourhood and are friendly – I feel part of a community.

Recently, I got a phone call from a local delivery company in Thetford, offering me a job. I now have my own car and a job, and I’ve nearly finished studying. Even so, I would rather stay in Thetford than get a “better job” somewhere else because I love the community and the church so much. I am looking forward to my family coming over from India soon to see me.


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