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Podrishioner Profile: Kishore Vellody

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Kishore was born in Chicago and was raised in a Hindu home, but never fully understood the Hindu religion. At age fifteen, his father was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, and Kishore received no answered prayers from any of the numerous gods in the Hindu faith. For the next seven years, he became a staunch atheist with absolutely no belief in God, especially not a God who was a loving creator of all things.  He even became quite effective at convincing Christians that their beliefs were untrue.

In 1998, Kishore entered medical school to become a physician. What he did not realize at the time was that God had a much greater purpose for him at medical school. By exploring and learning about the human body, Kishore became convinced that there was no way something so beautiful and organized could ever come about by accident. Even though he started to recognize God’s awesome gift of creation, Kishore was not ready to say that this Creator was the God revealed in the Bible.

His girlfriend (and future wife) Katie, encouraged Kishore to read through the Gospels. There, he encountered a picture of God revealed in Jesus that was unlike anything he had ever seen before. So many questions and doubts arose—could God really be so loving and so forgiving? It seemed like a work of fiction—he felt it simply could not be true. In his doubt, Kishore read Greg Boyd’s book Letters from a Skeptic, in which Greg corresponds with his father about his faith. Realizing he had many of the same doubts as Greg’s father, Kishore was reassured to know that he was not the only one with questions. And in reading Greg’s answers, it was encouraging to see that he did not have to “check his mind at the door” to become a believer. In the summer of 1999, Kishore surrendered his life to Jesus!

Before too long, however, Kishore got introduced to the “politics of Christianity.” People wanted to tell him the “most important things” about being a Christian, and it wasn’t the cross or even the resurrection.  They would tell Kishore that he had to align his beliefs to their particular denomination because all the other ones had it wrong. They told him that he now carried a tremendous responsibility to decide who was worthy of love and who should be judged  for their sins. Kishore had to have the right views on divorce, immigration, war—it seemed everyone wanted to tell him who he should love and who he should hate because of their lifestyles or beliefs. But this did not line up at all with the Jesus he had come to know. It certainly did not look like the love of Jesus Christ willingly dying for his enemies and indiscriminately showing love to all the sinners he encountered.

This was so confusing, and it only got worse. Just two years into his walk with Christ, Kishore attended a church service on the first Sunday after September 11, 2001 and discovered how harmful politics and nationalism could be to knowing the real Jesus. As the church sang patriotic songs in place of worship songs, Kishore knew there was something very wrong.  Looking around the room with the congregation bowing their heads and lifting their hands to patriotic songs about killing enemies, he knew this was not where Jesus wanted him to be. But he struggled to find other churches or even individual Christians who understood the dangerous sin of fusing nationalism with Christ.

Then, in 2004, Kishore saw a news story talking about The Cross and The Sword sermon series at Woodland Hills. He heard about how the “controversial Pastor Greg Boyd” was preaching about the incompatibility of God’s love of enemies and patriotic fervor and nationalism. After listening to those sermons (and re-listening many times since!), he instantly became a faithful Woodland Hills podrishioner, long before the word “podrishioner” existed!

Kishore moved to Western Pennsylvania in 2005. Recognizing the importance of spreading the love of Jesus (and not the judgment of so many of his followers), Kishore started a speaking ministry called Prodigal Love Ministries to bring the message of Jesus’ love to all people. We’re glad Kishore is a podrishioner, and that he’s spreading the word of a Jesus-looking God wherever he goes!

5 thoughts on “Podrishioner Profile: Kishore Vellody

  1. Kishore says:

    Thank you, Woodland Hills Church, for your boldness in proclaiming the really GOOD news! This life is eternally changed because of it!

    1. Dianna says:

      Awesome story!!! Thanks for having an open heart despite all the wrong things about Christianity that were thrown at you! God bless your ministry Kishore!

  2. O’Dell Merryman says:

    I live In Pittsburgh and have tried to connect with other Boyd and Woodland Hills fans.
    I’m on your email list and listen to Renew and have been to a conference at your church. We go to your worship service on line. Have read most of Boyd’s books. I will connect with Kishore Vellody, this could be good! Blessings—

    1. Rebecca W says:

      Just found this article about Kishore. Thanks for letting me know about this Pittsburgh connection, O’Dell. : )

  3. O’Dell says:

    Thanks, Rebecca
    Didn’t know that my email was still in ponrishioner file. Always trying to find people in Pittsburgh that are Boyd/Woodland Hills fans.
    God Bless—

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