Tim Schenker: The Power of Unconditional Love
By Randy Rudder
The 700 Club
“I was very passionate after this religion called Hare Krishna. I would get up early in the morning, probably 3:30 or 4:00 and dress these idols. I would dance to them, clap and pray to them. I was very zealous and passionate after these idols.”
Tim Schenker was born and raised in a Hare Krishna temple. Like many children there, Tim had daily chores. One of his was caring for the idols at the temple. But this wasn’t India; it was West Virginia.
Tim’s parents, Todd and Judi, converted to Hare Krishna after being introduced to the faith by a devotee in an aiport. The couple then took their six children to the New Vrindaban community near Moundsville, West Virginia.
“One of the things that I remember from the ashram was that, most of the time, I was away from my mom and dad,” Tim tells The 700 Club. “That was really difficult for me. All of the children from the commune would come together past a certain age. We would all live in this communal living. As a result, I was really lacking in that parenting bond.”
Tim also remembers a very dark side to New Vrindaban.
“Some of the things that were going on were sleep deprivation and mind control. Just a lot of domineering, manipulative kind of control over the people.”
At one point, a disgruntled member of the cult took an axe and attacked the guru.
Tim says, “As a result of that, they hired my father to protect the head guru. We raised pit bulls to protect the guru, and he also had weapons.”
When Tim’s father discovered that some members of the cult were molesting boys, he threatened to expose them. But he never got the chance.
“We had a fire pit right outside the house there. That’s where we burned all our trash. That’s where they found his skull and femur. That’s all they found. I guess the pit bulls had taken off the rest of the bones. That was really traumatic.”
Tim’s mother took the siblings and left New Vrindaban. The children were split up, and Tim went to live with cousins in Pennsylvania when he was just eight.
“Even though they were Christians, I was still a devout Hare Krishna. I did my Hare Krishna prayers. That’s all I knew as a boy. I was sort of stubborn.”
Tim’s cousins shared Jesus with him and loved him unconditionally.
Tim continues, “This was the first time that I had experienced the love of Jesus in my life. It was totally new for me. At first I didn’t react very well to it. I began to rebel, be stubborn, and throw temper tantrums.”
Tim was also haunted by visions from his past.
“I began having really bad nightmares,” Tim says. “Demons began attacking me in my dreams. They had long teeth and blood, very similar to the image of the idol that I had dressed back in West Virginia. I’d wake up crying at night I began to be so hopeless and even suicidal.”
The unconditional love that his cousins showed him finally broke through Tim’s fear and anger.
“There was a transition in my heart. I began to look inside my heart and compare my life. ‘If Hare Krishna was so good, why am I so hopeless?’”
Tim also realized there was sin in his life and that he needed a savior.
“There was an awakening inside of me from God and from the Holy Spirit that I was pretty rotten down to the core,” Tim confesses. “I saw Jesus, and I saw hope. I saw these people that had hope. I really desired that.”
Tim accepted Jesus and began attending a Christian school. One summer, he went to a Christian camp in Ohio, where he was filled with the Holy Spirit. There he felt a calling to do missions work and later moved to the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.
Today Tim is a worship leader at Pryor Creek Community Church, and his greatest joy is telling young people about God’s love.
“A lot of them have had no fathers,” he says. “If they have had a father, [he was] not a very good influence in their lives. It is amazing to see how my life experience ministers so much hope and salvation to these at-risk youth.
“Even though my dad died, I have a heavenly father that loves me and cares for me. It says in the Word of God that He is a ‘father to the fatherless.’”
Tim also shares his story with those who are drawn to eastern religions.
“There is a generation that is looking for something real. When they don’t experience the real power and manifest presence of God in their churches, they believe Christianity is a farce. They turn away from Christianity, and they turn to these other kinds of eastern religions. I want to speak into this generation and say, ‘There is a real God that you can experience, and He is living today. He loves you, and He wants to have a relationship with you.’ There is no other, greater thing in this life than having a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
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