My friend’s getting married. This is the day in which my dear brother, Andrew Singh, is pledging himself to another. Surely, it is the biggest day of his 27 year life thus far. When he came to the United States for the first time over a decade ago, I know that he did not expect to be here for this moment. God certainly works in mysterious ways. For the past three years, I have watched a pastor who knows how to care for the souls of his flock, observed an international come into a rural area and embrace this community with his whole heart, and learned what it really means to walk with the Lord, day in and day out. Together, we have formed an unofficial duo, the “Bachelors of Buffalo.” Today, the plural becomes singular.
Andrew and I have had many experiences during our friendship. For starters, “Ghandi” (my affectionate nickname bestowed on him) is always singing to himself, and I have learned many Southern Gospel songs from an Indian. Then there’s the cell phone, which is constantly plugged to his ear: “How are you doing, my frieennnddd?!” There’s the Hindi / Southern accent, which is incredibly difficult to place. One day Andrew said to me, “Brother, people always know who I am when I call them. I don’t even have to say my name!” I wonder why, Reverend Singh! There’s the mispronounced syllables, wherein my foreign friend often replaces a “v” with a “w”. Andrew’s conversation with the minister yesterday at the rehearsal: “Pastor Carl, when I do remove her “whale”? (he meant to say “veil”). Perhaps Jonah will show up today, big fish in tow. Since he is an avowed Methodist and I am firmly Southern Baptist (missions AND potlucks), we often have theological “conversations.” We finally just settled on an introduction whenever we meet new people: “He sprinkles. I dunk. We’re still friends.” The looks we’ve received from folks have been priceless.
Then there’s the other, more serious side of my friend. Whenever I’ve had a tough day or a difficult situation at church, there’s always one person who is going to call and ask how things are going. When people are sick or feeble, you can bet there will be a man of God visiting them in the hospital or singing to them in the nursing home. Whenever our folks have surgery, I try to go the hospital and pray with them, then return later on to see how they’re doing. I thought that was pretty good until I observed my Methodist brother. Andrew will ride with them to the hospital, stay all day, and take them home that night. When two of his fellow seminary students were tragically killed in a car accident 18 months ago, Andrew preached their funeral and wrote a song commemorating their lives, telling everyone present that “Jesus is Lord.” I have met many people that have a heart after God, but most of the time they are older and have more experience. With Andrew Singh, though, you can sense the presence of the Lord just by being around him. That is unusual for someone his age.
Around two years ago, he began conversing on the phone with Arpita, his future bride. I could tell something was up by the way his face brightened when he spoke of her. Through providence, Arpita was able to come to Kentucky (the “Promised Land”) this past summer. She enrolled at Asbury and is working on her master’s in counseling. She’ll need it living with my absent-minded friend. Andrew’s mother was responsible for setting up the relationship (in Indian tradition, the parents often pick spouses for their children). As we were coming back from Elizabethtown one day, Andrew looked over my way and said, “Brother, I am going to find you a wife.” We all laughed, then Arpita stared back at him and responded, “Yeah, call your mom!” I think he’s met his match (we are currently in the bargaining stages for naming their future firstborn son ‘Barry’. It has a great ring to it, in my opinion).
Seeing them together the past few months, I believe the Lord most definitely has his hand on these two. Andrew’s first name is actually Arpan (Andrew is his middle name). In the Hindi language, Arpan and Arpita are the masculine and feminine words for the same meaning: “offering to God.” Today, they offer themselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12) to God’s kingdom work. The two become one.
My friend’s getting married. And I couldn’t be happier for him.