Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 9, 2019

Apostle of the Bleeding Feet

Sundar Singh was a remarkable man — someone whom I have added to my list of historical mentors. Historical mentors are individuals who, although dead, continue to influence the living because of the way in which they lived their lives. Barring some unforeseen discovery, their story is not likely to change. Their flags are still waving atop the summits of their respective achievements.

Singh was born in 1889 to a prominent Sikh family in Northern India. Unlike Hindus who have a pantheon consisting of millions of gods, Sikhs believe there is only one God. They also reject Hindu’s caste system. They are often confused with Muslims because the men traditionally wear turbans.

As a child, Singh’s mother took him weekly to sit at the feet of a Sadhu, an ascetic Sikh holy man. She also wanted him to learn English and sent him to a Christian mission school. After the death of his mother, fourteen year-old Singh became angry and turned on his missionary teachers and burned a copy of the Bible. Despondent, he decided to commit suicide.

Before he could follow through on taking his life, Jesus appeared to Singh in a vision in the middle of the night. He heard Christ asking, “Why do you oppose me? I am your Savior. I died on the cross for you.” That vision changed the course of his life.

That morning he told his father that he had seen Jesus in a vision and heard His voice. He further told his father that he would follow Christ forever. His father demanded that he give up the notion of following Jesus. When Singh refused, his father denounced him and put him out of their home.

Singh was baptized on his sixteenth birthday and then set off in the direction of those who had not heard the gospel. He was given refuge at a home for lepers operated by Christians. There he began to serve people in desperate need. Over the years that home became a base of operations for Singh.


In 1906, Singh made a controversial decision. In order to identify with those who needed Christ, he adopted the traditional garb of a Sadhu, a Sikh holy man. He wore a turban and a yellow saffron robe, renounced all material possessions, and began to travel as a religious teacher. Although he looked like a Sadhu, he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Singh wrote, “I am not worthy of following the steps of my Lord, but, like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God.”

Like a Sadhu, Singh did not wear shoes. Because he walked barefoot his feet were covered in blisters and often bloodied from travel. People began to refer to Singh as the “Apostle of the Bleeding Feet.”


In 1908, Singh started traveling to Nepal and Tibet. Some believe that he was the first evangelist to take the gospel into these two Himalayan countries. He faithfully preached the gospel throughout this mountainous region.

Finally on April 18, 1929, at the age of 36, Singh made what would be his final trek into Tibet. He was never heard from again. Rumors circulated that a group of men killed him and disposed of his remains in a river. Others speculated that he died of natural causes. We will never know for sure what happened to Singh.

What we do know for certain is that he was a man completely devoted to Christ. He did not allow any worldly thing to distract him from his mission to make Christ known in hard places. He suffered much persecution over the years but remained steadfastly loyal to Jesus and played a strategic role in the spread of the gospel in India, Nepal, and Tibet.

In his diary, Singh wrote these words: “It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for Him. Dying takes only a few minutes or at worst an hour or two — but to live for Christ means to die daily to myself.” The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet was right.

In the words of the Apostle Paul, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). Singh indeed had beautiful feet.


Responses

  1. A wonderful inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks, Jason. A really remarkable servant.

  2. What a life wholly committed to the Lord. We just studied Luke 14:25-33, the cost of discipleship. Singh life certainly confirms he had counted the cost and WAS truly a disciple of the Lord Jesus! Thank you for sharing, Omar.

    • He was a remarkable man who definitely lived out his faith in spite of opposition and challenges. A life well lived for the kingdom.

  3. Thanks O. I love his comments and could not agree more “In his diary, Singh wrote these words: “It is easy to die for Christ. It is hard to live for Him. Dying takes only a few minutes or at worst an hour or two — but to live for Christ means to die daily to myself.” The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet was right.

    In the words of the Apostle Paul, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). Singh indeed had beautiful feet.”
    Thanks for living it out and keeping it totally real!

    • Thanks, H. And thanks for all the good work you do for the kingdom. Appreciate you much.

  4. I loved reading about Sadhu Sunder Singh. Like him, there are so many Indians who are seeing and meeting Christ through the radio programs Kingsland sponsors.God bless you . See u shortly

    • So grateful for our partnership, Vinita, and how God is using the broadcast to reach so many for Christ. We look forward to seeing you soon.


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