• Sheila Harkins


Updated: Sep 20, 2019

I met Niran when he was a quiet, respectful new student at our school. It was always a mystery as to why the sleepovers my son had were so loud and rambuctious when Niran was over! It has been a joy to watch Niran’s search for truth and to see where his search has taken him!

Please introduce yourself!

My name is Niran Kittikulsingh, and I am finishing up my Senior year at Biola University. I am 22 years old (going on 23!) and so it’s been three years since my teen years.

Tell us some random facts about you. I am not a huge fan of coffee, but I do love some good chocolate milk. Growing up, I had a deep fear of moths. I also enjoy cooking.

Tell us some about your background. I am a fourth-generation Thai of Indian ethnicity. My great-grandparents moved from Northern India to Thailand (a long time before I was born), and so I am Thai-Indian, or Indian-Thai – either way. I come from a culturally Sikh family and I grew up with some knowledge of Sikhism in my religious background.

Can you share some of your spiritual journey with us?

I came to ICS my sophomore year of high-school with my defenses up against Christianity – my family wasn’t Christian, and there was no way I was going to believe either. Five years ago, I told one of my best friends, Philip Owens, that I would never become a Christian. Aaaand God changed that pretty powerfully.

During my time in ICS, I began to pursue the truth – I had wondered if there was an objective truth and I wanted to find out more. During this time God used basketball, music, my teachers, and a lot of my friends to slowly bring me to Him. (It took an army!) I had the impression that Christians were hypocrites – people who did not practice what they preached, and that was part of why I was so resistant. However, it was through my friendships with guys like Isaac Harkins and Philip Owens that I began to see genuine faith: they let me in to their lives – both the highs and lows, the struggles and answers to prayer. Through this, I got to see a part of what walking with God looked like. But I still wasn’t convinced, and God continued to pursue me.

During my Freshman year of College at UC Davis, God used another community of believers to bring me to Him as my friend from ICS, Bethany Groot, invited me to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. My Freshman year included a lot of wrestling with God, as I had questions that I needed answers to – I needed to know everything before I could come to Him. During the summer of my Freshman year, God finally broke through and I realized that I had seen too much to deny Him, and that it was okay for me to not have all the answers. I had come to a place where, like Peter, I could say: “Lord, to whom else shall we go?” (John 6:68).

It definitely took an army (family!). But God won.

As a teen, what was an area of vulnerability?

My biggest area of vulnerability was probably the fear that I was not good enough and that I needed to measure up. As I reflect back on my high-school years, I see a lot of insecurity about needing to be enough, and I think that was how I subconsciously defined my worth/value. I had no idea of this as I was in high-school, but as I look back, I see that subconsciously part of my motivations for wanting to do well in the things I valued like school, basketball, and my image was out of a desire to be enough – to be liked and seen as good. It’s a continued lesson! He’s taught me (and continues to teach me) that I don’t need to be enough, because I can’t and will never be. Here comes the cheese and cliché, but I’ll say it anyway because it’s true: we aren’t meant to bear the burden of being enough. He is enough! God says, “My grace is sufficient for you” and that “my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). It’s one thing to know this truth in one’s head, but God is wanting to take this truth deeper and continue to cement it into our very core. So, what does that look like tangibly? It’s a process: it looks like a battle where the old self (the desire to be enough) continues to fight against the new self (realizing that God is enough), but it is a battle that the new self is winning and will one day completely win as we will be made perfect when we see Jesus (1 John 3:2). He’s also been teaching me about reconciliation, and how this is sometimes hard and messy, but is good and possible through His power (2 Cor. 5:11-21).

What words do you have for those who are teens now?

Being a teenager is an interesting time of life – I look back on some moments with joy and fondness, and I look back on some other moments with a facepalm. I can look back on both the joys and the facepalm-worthy goof-ups, though, and see how it was used to grow me. So, to that end, I would say that if there is something you would like to do that you’re a little scared/nervous of doing, do it!Teenage years are a great time to learn – to make mistakes, to goof up, and to grow. They’re also a great time to challenge your fears and insecurities because that leads to growth, too.

While this is a great time to do teenage-tendency things, I’d also say it’s a good idea to invest in a community of people and to intentionally develop relationships and friendships. Whether you’re a Christian or not (I wasn’t!), intentional, authentic, deep and real relationships with people are awesome and can be long-lasting even after high school. It of course looks different after high-school, but it is very much possible. Relationships don’t have to just be peer-to-peer though because your teachers are there for you, too.

And while all this is happening, I’d also like to encourage you to read your Bible. And to cling hard to all the promises God has made in His Word – because they’re true! And to encourage those around you – that’s good to do.

And, remember that, like everything in life, this too shall pass (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

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