Lao: Sungeeta, thanks for being here, how are you?
Sungeeta: I am well. Thank you for giving me this
Chung Lao: Where did you grow up?
Sungeeta: I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington.
When I was six months old, my family moved to Nigeria for a
few years. After that, we had plans of settling back in
India, near New Delhi, but it did not work out. So, we
ended up back in Seattle. I have been pretty local most of
my life. I received both my Bachelors Degree in Electrical
Engineering and my Juris Doctor degree in Law from the
University of Washington.
Lao: June 14th, 1986. What do you remember about
that day, and how has it affected your life since?
Sungeeta: June 14, 1986 is the day my life
completely changed. That is the day my family and I were in
the car accident that left me a paraplegic. Before the
accident, I was like any other ten year old; I could run,
jump and dance. However, after the accident, doctors told
my parents that I would never walk again. I would be
confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
But, I do not regret the car accident because I
know that perhaps the accident is the only reason that today
my entire family believes in Jesus. After the accident, my
family was on a mission to see me healed. And as we moved
forward on this mission, we met Jesus, and once again, our
lives were completely changed.
Some people look at me and say, “But you are
still in a wheelchair. Jesus has not healed you. So, what
is the big deal?” But, Jesus has promised me that He will
heal me in His time. When I was fifteen years old, Jesus
spoke to my mom and told her, “Millions of people will know
about Sungeeta before I heal her.” At the time we
questioned how millions of people could know about an
ordinary girl. However, after I won the Miss Teen of
Washington Pageant, my story went in television and
newspapers all over the world and millions of people knew
about me. If the first part of what the Lord said has come
true, the second part will come true as well. He will heal
me. Right now the Lord has said that He will take us around
the world to preach the Gospel and as we lay hands on the
sick they will recover. Then He will heal me.
The Lord has been doing just that. One year ago,
the Lord lead me to quit my job as a lawyer at a leading law
firm in Seattle in order to move to the outskirts of Delhi
to serve Him fulltime. We have seen people healed of all
manner of diseases, financial difficulties, job issues,
tension, addictions, and oppression, as we pray in the name
Chung Lao: Your family was part of the
Jain religion (originating in India), how did you convert
Sungeeta: As I said above, when I was ten,
my family and I were in a devastating car accident. We were
returning home from Vancouver, B.C., when all of a sudden,
our car skidded on gravel and flipped into a ditch. What
followed was like a bad dream. There were doctors and
nurses all around me, shoving all sorts of tubes into my
body. When I finally woke up, although the doctors had gone
and there were no more tubes, the fact remained that I could
no longer feel or use my legs.
I was sentenced to life as a paraplegic.
Immediately I spiraled into depression. Questioning
everything. Questioning my future. Questioning God.
Questioning my very existence.
“Why me? God, why did this happen to me?”
After the car accident, my family became extremely
“spiritual.” My mom prayed from morning until night,
religiously folding her hands and bowing her head before the
long line of gods in the makeshift temple in our home.
Pundits (Hindu priests) would tell my parents that if my
parents “donated” a certain sum of money, the pundits would
perform a ritual and I would be healed. My parents spent
thousands of dollars, but there was no healing. We tried
acupuncture, reflexology, ayurvedic medicine…all to no
avail. We chased after every ray of hope anyone would give
There was no peace in our home.
Then one day, we met a Christian man. He offered to pray
for me. Because his prayers were free, my parents agreed.
He began telling me of a different kind of God. A God of
love. For years I had believed that God was upset with me
-- that I was being punished for my sins. The Hindu notion
of karma was imbedded deep within me. But this man told me
that Jesus loves me. He loves me so much, He died for me.
I don't know when or how, but I started to believe in this
Jesus, this God of love and forgiveness.
The man then introduced us to a Christian family that began
inviting us to church. Without fail, they would invite us
to attend church with them every Sunday and Wednesday. My
parents were not interested in going to church. However,
they decided that the only way to stop the family's constant
calls was to go to church and then to tell them, “We did not
like it, so we are not coming back again.”
One night, my Mom, Dad and I went to church. My parents
prayed a silent prayer in their hearts, "Jesus if you are
real, show us something today, otherwise we are not coming
back." I prayed, "Jesus, I know you are real, show my
parents something tonight or else I know they will never
come back again."
And sure enough Jesus showed us. That night I was filled
with the Holy Spirit, not even knowing who the Holy Spirit
was or the story of Jesus. A couple of weeks later my
mother was filled with the Holy Spirit. And within a week,
the remainder of my family received the baptism of the Holy
Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. That same
day, we all took water baptism in our bathtub.
My family has been following and serving Jesus ever since.
Immediately, the joy, peace and happiness returned to my
family that had been missing for four years. We went from
being a family that never smiled, to smiling so much that
people often ask us, “Why are you so happy all the time?”
Chung Lao: Upon converting, what were some of the
things you and your family stopped doing?
Sungeeta: When we converted, thankfully no
one handed us a list of dos and don’ts. Instead, the
Holy Spirit became our teacher and our guide, showing us how
to live according to His will. Jesus did not require
us to change our name, our culture, our way of dress, or our
eating habits. The main thing we stopped doing was
praying to other gods. Instead, we began praying to
the only true and living God, in the name of Jesus. As
soon as we came to know Jesus and were filled with the Holy
Spirit, instantly, the joy and happiness returned to my
family. God, who had once seemed so far away, was now
right here with us.
When we prayed we no longer
wondered if God heard our prayers, but we knew that He not
only heard our prayers, but He answered them as well.
When we cried we no longer wondered if God saw our tears,
but knew that He not only saw our tears, but wiped them
away. When we were happy we no longer wondered if God
saw our happiness, but knew that He not only saw our
happiness, but celebrated with us. God became real to
Chung Lao: You have won multiple beauty pageants
including the title of Miss Teen of Washington in 1993,
becoming the first person in the world in a wheelchair to
win a pageant against other girls who were not in a
wheelchair. You were also third runner up in the Miss Teen
of America Pageant. How were those experiences?
Sungeeta: Amazing. As a little girl I used to walk around
the house in my prettiest Indian dress and declare that I
was Queen. The Lord made that dream a reality when He gave
me the opportunity to win various pageants.
When I was in the twelfth grade, I was invited to
participate in the Miss Teen of Washington Pageant. My
first reaction was that that there was no way I could enter
this competition. I had never heard of a girl in a
wheelchair entering a beauty pageant, let alone seen a
beauty queen in a wheelchair. But my parents encouraged me
to pray and seek God's will. So we prayed and God told me
to enter the competition. God also told me that if He has
given me a talent, then I should use the talent, and when
people say “job well done,” I should give Him the glory.
God also told me to thank Him in all things, good or bad,
because He is in control and can turn any situation around.
With this guidance, I entered the competition. From the
first moment, everything seemed to be going wrong. When I
arrived at the venue for the competition, which was almost 2
hours away from my home, I remembered that I had forgotten
some of my important paperwork at home. That evening I
arrived at the competition around 6:00 PM and assumed they
would provide dinner, but they did not. I went to bed
hungry. That night, I could not sleep; I was too scared,
nervous and excited. The next morning, I was up and ready,
way before the wake-up call ever came, waiting for my
breakfast. It was supposed to be delivered to our room.
But, as “luck” would have it, my room was conveniently
The competition began and it was time for the Interview,
which was worth 25% of the final score. In the interview,
we went before a panel of three judges who could ask us any
questions for five minutes. The interview started off okay
as I shook the three judge's hands, and we exchanged
greetings. We conversed for a bit, then one of the judges
asked me, "you are in a wheelchair, why are you here?" Upon
hearing this question, I began to cry. Not only was I
nervous, hungry, and sleepy, but it was a difficult question
for me. I did not know why I was there. There were about
30 girls in the competition and I was the only one in a
wheelchair. I was not like the other girls. Perhaps the
judge was subtly telling me that I did not belong.
Still, the interview continued, and through my
sobs and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I continued to
answer questions. Just as I stopped crying, time was
called, and I had to leave.
I went up to my room and phoned my mom. I had never thought
that I would win the competition. My goal had been to be in
the top eight. Now that I had cried during the interview
that was worth 25% of the final score, there was no chance
that I would meet my goal. As I told Mom what had happened,
she simply reminded me that God had said to thank Him in all
things even if they didn't appear to be "good."
In obedience, a weak, "Thank You Jesus,"
proceeded from my lips.
The next day the final pageant began on stage. They began
to announce the top eight. Each time a name was announced,
my heart fell. Even though I knew I would not be called as a
finalist because I had cried during my interview, I still
wished that I would. By the time the seventh finalist was
announced, I had pretty much given up. I looked around me
and picked the prettiest girl, expecting that her name would
be called next. To my surprise, I heard my name. I began
to praise the Lord.
That night continued like a dream. From the top eight, I
made it to the top four. I could feel God helping me every
step of the way. He was telling me what to say. He was
guiding me on what to do. Soon it was time to announce the
runners-up and the new Miss Teen of Washington. They began
with the Third and Second Runner-ups. I was sure that I
would be one of them, but each time, a different name was
announced. Finally, only another girl and I were left on
stage. I looked at her and she was tall and thin and
experienced with pageants. So, I prepared myself to be
The first Runner-up was announced, and when I didn't hear my
name, I just burst into tears. Never in my wildest dreams
had I ever thought that I would be the new Miss Teen of
Washington and the first person in a wheelchair to ever win
a pageant against other able-bodied girls.
This is not my victory a lone, but also my Heavenly
Father’s. The first question I asked the judges was, “How
could I make it even to the top eight when I cried during
the interview?” I was told that I had received the highest
score in the interview portion. The judges told me that I
was a teenager and they had asked a difficult question. The
fact that I hadn't just run out of the interview in tears,
but had stayed to answer every question showed strength and
courage. Like the Lord had said, "Thank Me in all things
and I can turn any situation around." He turned the hearts
of the judges around.
But, no matter how exciting it was to win
pageants and have a crown and titles, my ultimate goal is
not to be a queen in the world, but instead, my heart’s
desire is to be a Queen in His Kingdom.
Chung Lao: Tell us about The Orphanage Project.
Sungeeta: Every 30 seconds 2 children
become orphans. There are more than 100 millions orphans
worldwide. There are an estimated 65 million orphans in
It is hard to grasp such large numbers, but if
you had these Asian orphans hold hands in a line, the line
would go around the entire earth. If you were to follow
that line of orphans holding hands, driving 60 mph, passing
1700 children per minute, you could drive 24 hours a day,
mile after mile, hour after hour, day after day nonstop, for
over 17 days, and you would still see orphans holding hands.
These children are hungry, lonely and afraid.
They have holes in their clothes and tattered shoes (if they
have clothes and shoes). They feel cold, sad and forsaken.
The Orphanage Project’s (“TOP”) vision is to
transform the lives of these abandoned children. Our goal is
to take these children in, care for them, clothe them
educate them and love them. Our goal is to provide these
children with a clean, safe, and nurturing environment. But
we do not want to just stop there.
The vision of TOP is to one day have a
self-sustaining community consisting of a children’s home,
orphanage, school, university, training center, women’s
shelter, elderly person’s home, place of worship, hospital,
library, park, play fields, technology center, shops, and
other facilities that help a community to succeed. Our
vision is to one day establish such communities all over the
At TOP, our definition of “orphan” is broader
than the traditional definition. We believe an “orphan” can
be any person, child or adult, who through feeling or
circumstance is alone, dejected, empty, destitute, unwanted,
unloved, lost, or wandering.
TOP is a branch of the ministry, World on Fire (www.WorldOnFireMinistries.com
– the webpage is currently under construction).
Chung Lao: What makes The Orphanage Project
different from other non-profit organizations?
Sungeeta: The Orphanage Project’s ultimate goal is to
develop into a self-sustaining non-profit organization.
After initial monetary investments, The Orphanage Project
hopes that the school we intend to run will eventually
provide sufficient revenue to support our other endeavors.
In that way, we would not have to continually solicit
monetary support from donors.
Lao: Your sister, a doctor, decided to leave her
profession, and begin missionary work in Japan, a long time
non-Christian nation. How is her work progressing?
Sungeeta: My elder sister graduated with degrees in
Chemical Engineering and Medicine from the University of
Washington (one of the top 5 medical schools in the
nation). She was blessed with a prestigious family practice
residency in Seattle, followed by a stable job. Her life as
a doctor was amazing. She loved her practice, her patients,
her staff, and her co-workers.
And just when everything was perfect, God asked
her to quit her job. At the time, she did not know where she
was supposed to go or what exactly she would be doing. All
she knew was that it was time to become a missionary and
trust Him to take her to the next place. It wasn’t easy. She
knew she would have no financial support. She wondered: Who
would come listen to her? Where would she go?
To make matters worse, 2 months after quitting
her job, God told her that she was supposed to go to Japan,
one of the most expensive countries in the world with a
language she did not know! But, she went in faith and saw
people receive freedom from depression, self-condemnation
and suicide. The blind see and the deaf hear.
In her was birthed a passion to see this healing
love of God spread throughout Japan and to every nation of
The work in Japan is going full speed ahead. God
continues to provide my sister’s every need. She just prays
and asks her Heavenly Father for provision and He is
faithful. She has been in Japan on-and-off for one year
now. She is currently in the process of applying for a
long-term missionary visa in Japan.
It is the simple knowledge that Jesus loves her
that has enabled her to do what the world calls crazy and
people find reckless. She can live without fear, knowing
that God has called me and so He will take care of her and
all her needs. That is why she can give up a career as a
successful doctor and become a nameless missionary.
Lao: There’s a lot of apathy amongst young people when
it comes to missionary work. Why do you think that is, and
how can we change that mindset?
Sungeeta: I think there are a lot of
reasons young people are not ready to enter the mission
field these days. Some of the biggest reasons are (1) a
reluctance to fully commit ourselves to doing His will, (2)
apathy, (3) fear, and (4) limitations we put on Him and
ourselves. I think the key to changing these mindsets is
helping young people better understand the place they have
in the Kingdom of God and the true power, authority and
calling the Lord has given them.
We see famous preachers on TV, hear the stories
of healing evangelists, listen in awe as missionaries
recount testimonies of amazing miracles, and think, “Lord, I
want to see that kind of power in my life.” But we only
half-heartedly believe that the Lord will actually answer
this prayer. After all, aren’t some chosen and others not?
God has different ministries for different people, right?
We have been so impressed with the traditional
belief that God has chosen a select few to move in miracles,
signs and wonders, that we are not ready to believe that God
wants His power to work through all believers.
The Bible says, “these signs will follow those
who believe.” Mark 16:15. They will speak in other
tongues. They will cast out evil spirits. They will lay
their hands on the sick and they will recover. They will
see the manifest power of God working in their lives.
“These signs will follow those who believe.”
Mark 16:15 (emphasis added).
As Americans, we are taught to pride ourselves in
our individuality and uniqueness. But, to tell you the
truth, I am just an ordinary person. There is nothing
“special” about me. I have a bachelor’s degree in
electrical engineering, a Juris Doctor degree in law. I am
an attorney by profession. I was born and raised in
Seattle, a city that has gained some worldwide prominence as
the home of companies such as Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon.com
and Starbucks. I am the youngest daughter of a middle class
family. In my free time I like to write. I enjoy drama and
acting. I am somewhat artistic. I love music. I collect
Barbie dolls. Like I said, I am just an ordinary person.
I Corinthians 1:26-29 says God is calling the
ordinary to do the extraordinary.
Only once we truly take this message to heart can
we boldly go into the world and preach the Gospel to all
creation with these signs following.
Chung Lao: Are we living in the End Times?
Sungeeta: The signs seem to point to that. But I have no
idea when the Lord is coming back or whether or not He will
return during my lifetime. I choose not to dwell on these
things. Instead, I choose to live each day to the fullest
for the Lord.
Chung Lao: Name someone you admire and why?
Sungeeta: I know this may sound clichéd, but I admire my
mother. My mother is…just…Wow! She is the most selfless
and giving person I know.
When in Seattle, she spends a lot
of time in the kitchen cooking for the many people who are
in and out of our house every day (sometimes our house feels
like Grand Central Station). When on the mission field, she
is my partner in ministry. We travel and minister
together. Although she is often “behind the scenes,” she
does not complain. She serves with a smile. My mom is a
true woman of faith. She is definitely a driving force
behind the faith and accomplishments of her children.
Chung Lao: What is the most important thing in life?
Sungeeta: The word “thing” is so broad…I am not sure how to
answer. I think the most important “place” to be in life is
in the center of God’s will. The most important
“relationship” in life is our relationship with Jesus. The
most important “emotion” in life is love. The most
important “feeling” in life is happiness. The most
important “dream” in life is the dream that we hold onto
despite discouragement and circumstances. The most
important “people” in our lives are those who have touched
us and made a difference in our lives. The most important
“work” in life is to do His will. The most important “word”
in life is the word of faith or encouragement. The list
could go on…but I will spare you.
Lao: What are some of your favorite scriptures?
Sungeeta: Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the LORD and he
will give you the desires of your heart.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work
together for good to those who love God, to those who are
the called according to His purpose.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray
without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God
and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added
Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the
Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to
Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
end of the earth.
Mark 16:15-18 -- And He said to them, “Go into
all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He
who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does
not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow
those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons;
they will speak with new tongues; they will take up
serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no
means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they
Chung Lao: You’ve been on several trips to a
Juvenile Jail in Seattle, Washington. Tell us about that
Sungeeta: On January 21, 2005, one of the
first times I visited the Juvenile Detention Center in
Seattle, the Lord began a period of intense training and
preparation in my life. Although I did not have the time
that day, as I was busy at work (I was working as a lawyer
at a leading law firm in the Pacific Northwest) helping
prepare for a high-profile trial, I made the time to go on
an outreach to the juvenile jail. We had recently begun a
ministry at the juvenile detention center. We were
scheduled to minister at the jail the third Friday of every
month and the second Sunday of every other month. On the
Sunday nights we held church services in the gymnasium for
two groups of 40 to 60 kids each. On Friday nights, we
broke up into small teams and ministered to groups of 8 to
10 kids at a time.
On this Friday night, there were approximately
ten boys in the hall we were assigned to minister in.
It was an interactive group of kids. As we were
sharing our testimonies, they would interrupt us with
questions and comments, some relevant and others not so
relevant. As I was sharing my testimony, when I spoke about
God talking to me, a sixteen year old boy, Timothy,
 interrupted and asked "How does God talk to
I took the opportunity to explain a little about
the Holy Spirit and told the kids they could receive the
baptism of the Holy Spirit that day if they wanted. Then,
as I was getting to the part when Mom was filled with the
Holy Spirit, Tim interrupted me again. He gave a 10 minute
monologue on how he had given God a chance -- he had tried
to believe -- but God never answered his prayers. So, Tim
no longer believed. He told me flat out, “You are a liar!”
"I think all of the stories you are telling are
fake! God is fake!" Tim said with a firm determination.
When Tim finished his long-winded monologue, all
I could say was:
Ask Jesus to show you if He is real. I did not
believe in Jesus because of something someone told me. I
believed because He showed me. In the same way, I don’t
expect you to believe because of what I am saying. Ask
Him…he will show you. Give Him a chance. You have nothing
to lose…and everything to gain.
Then, I shared a little bit about the Holy Spirit
and how to receive. I invited those who were interested to
pray. Most of the kids began to pray. And, to my surprise,
Tim started to pray as well.
I went up to Tim and asked if I could pray with
him. He nodded his head. As soon as I touched Tim’s
forehead...it was like WOW! Tim immediately began speaking
in tongues! He began to sob loudly as God's presence
covered him. God was all over him! All of the other kids
in the hall saw this and knew that God was real. They began
praying harder, asking Jesus to touch them too. Six of the
boys in the jail received the Holy Spirit that night.
Tim’s conversion lead to the conversion of at
least sixty other young men and women in the detention
facility over the next six months. I could fill up a small
book with stories about the work the Lord did in the Seattle
Juvenile Detention center in the first part of 2005 through
Tim and other young men like him. We experienced miracles,
signs and wonders beyond our wildest imaginations.