CUMBERLAND — With his hands raised to the sky, the Rev. Manubhai Mecwan’s eyes were tightly closed. He was deep in prayer, giving praise to God for his family, his friends, the church and his faith.

Surrounded by a small group of fellow believers, Mecwan, an outreach minister for Brookville Road Community Church, led the gathering in praise songs and prayer at his home in Cumberland.

It’s a far cry from his childhood days in Gujarat, India, where he learned to smoke, drink and steal before he was 10.

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“I was a very naughty boy,” Mecwan said. “I was not believing in God. … My life was not going the right way.”

Not only was he heading in the wrong direction, Mecwan’s life was completely out of control. When he was 23, he began contemplating suicide.

Mecwan, now 57, said it was only by the grace of God that he was spared when a young American boy on a mission trip shared the gospel with him.

“I went and listened to what they had to say, and I saw big miracles,” Mecwan said. “They were praying, and many miracles happened, so my faith — it grew. … It changed my life.”

Mecwan dedicated himself from that point on to the Christian faith. He went to Bible college in India and become a pastor with the hope of converting non-believers.

After decades of being a pastor in India, he was sponsored by Brookville Road Community Church in 2006 and moved to the area full time in 2008.

For the past seven years, he’s traveled all across Indiana and other cities in the United States working with Indian families, spreading the gospel.

He has since become a mainstay with Brookville Road Community Church, where he works as an outreach minister.

“I will work with anyone because man is man,” Mecwan said. “God loves everyone.”

His main focus is trying to convert natives from his homeland.

The Rev. Hubert Nolen, senior pastor, said church officials fell in love with Mecwan’s heart and knew he was the kind of pastor they wanted to reach out and share the Christian faith with those of different cultures.

“He’s got a great love for people, no matter who you are,” Nolen said. “He has a great faith that is a simple faith, a real childlike faith.”

Nolen said the staff is often encouraged by seeing how God meets Mecwan through his prayer life and ministry.

“Whether he is praying for someone to get healed and they get healed, or some provision — God provides, and it has been an amazing thing,” Nolan said.

Church member Pam Derry is one of Mecwan’s regular prayer partners. She and others meet two times a week with the pastor and his wife, Roshen, at the pastor’s home. That’s where they pray for the world’s needs.

“He and his wife both have such a strong faith,” Derry said. “They are so committed to prayer and spend so many hours praying for so many people.”

The Christian faith has changed life for his whole family, Mecwan said.

“My wife — she is a real prayer warrior,” he said. “She prays five to six hours a day for India, America and others.”

One of Mecwan’s two daughters, Sharmin, 21, is a 2011 New Palestine High School graduate. She is studying radiology and technology at college. This summer, she plans to work at the church, which she attends regularly, and help with Vacation Bible School.

She said it’s been amazing to watch her father’s ministry grow through the years.

“I really like it a lot,” Sharmin said. “I go with my mom and dad, and seeing them and miracles happen through faith is great, so it helps my faith, too.”

Mecwan’s main responsibility with the church is to work with people from different cultures in their homes. He said he fears for those without faith.

“Many people cannot see faith because they are so intelligent,” Mecwan said. “Even some Christians see the real God, but they have dead faith. It is why so many struggle.”

For Mecwan, the struggle ended when he accepted Christ as his savior, he said.

Mecwan can quote scripture without a Bible and sing praise songs while playing the bongos, but he said his biggest gift is the desire to share the truth he believes to no end: that God is real.

“Life is so precious, but we need to know God has created us,” Mecwan said. “He loves us and wants the best for us.”

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or