Manoj Raithatha had it all. A booming property business, a picture-book family and the power to shape his destiny. His was a life to envy. Then his professional and personal worlds were shattered. The 2008 financial crisis devastated his business and a sudden illness threatened his son’s life. With his hollow foundations exposed, Manoj found himself utterly dependent on the prayers of others and the help of a previously unknown God.
Manoj fills in more of the background to his new book Filthy Rich.
How did you get filthy rich?
Though many would have described me as ‘filthy rich’, I can’t say I ever thought of myself that way. My trade was buying off-plan property at a discount and selling it on for a profit. With the rising house prices of the early 2000s, I had quickly moved from buying small numbers to buying whole blocks of apartments. I had made money but I wanted it all: the fancy cars, house staff and a humungous family home. And so in my opinion, I still had a long way to go.
When did it start to go wrong?
Despite a major feature article in the Daily Telegraph in 2005 I had brushed aside any fear of a recession. I felt invincible. Land was in short supply. The demand for property was rising. The future was bright. The future was Manoj! But in 2008 I was forced to accept how wrong I had been as the credit crunch brought my property company crashing down. I had bought some 900 off – plan apartments and sold them on to investors. With limited mortgage finance for my investors to access I found myself in the fi ring line of a queue of ruthless creditors demanding their money. My business never went bust but we were stripped of most of our cash. The impact on my family was brutal.
Tell us how you came to know God
As the credit crunch of 2008 set in, my two year old son became severely ill. He had been hospitalised on many occasions with breathing difficulties. But this time the nebuliser failed to work and he was rushed into resuscitation where he stopped breathing and had to be incubated to keep him alive. Transferred to St Thomas’, the ensuing days were the hardest days of my life. But my wife and I were strengthened by the continuous prayers of a Christian couple and on the fourth day my son suddenly sat bolt upright in bed. We had witnessed a miracle. A few weeks later I went to church to thank the couple for their prayers only to find myself giving my life to Jesus a few weeks later.
How has your life changed?
In that single moment of committing my life to Jesus everything changed. My relentless focus on money was quickly replaced with a desire to share the message of God’s love with others. Though I am still involved in property this is on a much smaller scale with the majority of my week spent serving in the South Asian Forum team at the Evangelical Alliance and Instant Apostle Christian publishing house. I still can’t get over the fact that God not only saved a wretched sinner like me, but gives me the privilege to serve Him in two very distinct ministries.
What message would you like people to take from this book?
Having been in that place of having had considerable wealth, I wanted to write a book that reveals that it is not all it is cracked up to be. Life’s true meaning is found not in worldly desires but in Christ alone: a crucial message to a world chasing money, success and fame. I have also deliberately allocated time to unpack some of the questions I grappled with about the Christian faith, such as ‘Why do Christians say Jesus is the only way to God? Is Jesus God? Isn’t Christianity a Western religion?’ In that sense my hope is that Filthy Rich will be read by Christians who prayerfully pass it on to those from other faith backgrounds, as well as those of no faith, in the hope that their questions too will be answered!
Manoj is one of the team that delivers our Discovering Jesus through Asian Eyes training. His book Filthy Rich is published by Lion Hudson and can be purchased here.