South Londoner Sam Suriakumar works in recruitment and loves writing music, singing, and playing piano in the worship band at church. His personal blog documents his journey with God, his life with his wife and two young daughters, and how he faces the challenge of being diagnosed with a brain tumour just before the pandemic.

Growing up, Sam had a longstanding deep and trusting relationship with God”, but over time he grew to realise the extent of God’s faithfulness.

A child of immigrant parents from Sri Lanka, Sam was encouraged in his twin passions of South Asian and Western music. His mum and dad supported him to start learning classical piano aged six, and a drummer got him into the mirudangam (Indian drum) after spotting young Sam tapping away at a party. Sam confesses he has always been quite loud, wanting to be the centre of attention”, and dreamt of fame and fortune in becoming a Bollywood composer.

Sam talks fondly of his parents’ unconditional love – even in his rebellious moments. He’s grateful for th sense of responsibility his hard-working dad instilled, and for his mum who played worship songs with him and his sister and brother, despite her limited knowledge of the guitar”. Talking of her impact on his faith and constant prayers makes Sam emotional: She is sacrificial, leads by example.” He recalls that although she was concerned when he left for university, instead she chose to pray, saying: I’m very comfortable knowing you are in the palm of His hands.”


However, there were times growing up when Sam got angry – shipped back and forth to the Tamil church two hours’ away, he missed friends’ birthday parties and got called a Bible-basher’ at school. Some children were unable to get their heads around Sam being both Sri Lankan and a Christian too, so he kept quiet about his faith.

Now, aged 37, Sam has become confident and open about his faith, and prioritises going to his church, Sutton Vineyard, with wife Sindhu and daughters Avaana, eight, and Arya, six. He nurtures their young faith as they pray together before school and bedtime – and during down time, thoroughly enjoys playing dress-up with them too.

Little Avaana and Arya also love joining Sam in his studio. They light up when they see him demonstrate a musical skill they haven’t heard before – excited for him to teach them.

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Sam has played at the Royal Albert Hall, the O2 and Wembley grand arena, but has also reangled some of his childhood ambitions. He finds contentment in enjoying music when he can, recognising other responsibilities. He admits there was a season of frustration: comparison for the sake of looking into someone else’s garden’ was really hurting me mentally.” This made him fall out of love with music and start doing songs for likes’ – ignoring the people who supported me”.

Sam also writes a blog, called Walk with Sam’, which he started after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. In it he
opens up about his diagnosis, his family, mental health, and his trust in God.

Initially, Sam fell into a black hole, fearing he wouldn’t see his daughters grow up. It was like everything went mute for me,” Sam remembers. His neurosurgeon advised him to put the tumour in a box and let me deal with it,” and focus on mental health and finding a support network.

Though it was an awful time, Sam says, God had already set that team around me… a strong squad.” In the ups and downs, he knew everyone was praying for him. I felt very much at peace… My mum had been praying and she said, ‘[God] said I’ve got this; I’m looking after him!’ It’s led to a whole new way of seeing things. I always had a steady faith but now I feel like God is waking me up, saying, We need to do more’ and is changing the way I think.”

Strength and vulnerability go hand in hand in Sam’s life, and he feels that Philippians 4:13 is a constant theme in his life: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Since my tumour, my philosophy’s changed. I’m a massive part of the church band now. Friendships at house group are a part of worship. It makes it so much easier and freer when your heart is in the right place.”

He now feels he can connect with God whether in front of one or 1,000 people, and that when it comes to his own songs, the only person who matters if they like it or don’t like it is God”.

"I always had a steady faith but now I feel like God is waking me up, saying, ‘We need to do more’ and is changing the way I think."

Some people ask Sam why he was sharing such private things in his blog, but he sees it as a positive way to be honest about how he feels and to get things off his chest. Not every post is shared, there are about 50 posts I have written, and I haven’t shared. It’s a place to be a bit vulnerable. There are some really hard days.”

When people reach out to say, I really needed to hear that”, or this is really helping me and inspiring me, please keep going”, it makes Sam feel great. From his health, to his faith in God, Sam is choosing to be vulnerable: I don’t hide anything.”

The blog even led to a new connection with a brain tumour specialist who has become a really good friend and even helped Sam with his diet. A confident artist, Sam has an energetic, go-getting impulse to put himself out there, reach out to others, perform and play music – but he’s also looking upwards and outwards to see how he can benefit others, as he shares his journey with everyone. He’s even raised a lot of money for the charity Brain Tumour Research and has been part of a campaign calling for better funding into research along the way.

If there was a soundtrack for the more performance-oriented season of Sam’s life, he would have chosen Vellai
Pookal’, a song by one of Bollywood’s most iconic composers, which Sam loved for its gorgeous” sound more than the meaning behind it. But more recently, his go-to song is Promises’, by Naomi Raine and Maverick City, which he would listen to over and over again to strengthen his faith: Though the storms may come and the winds may blow, I’ll remain steadfast.” Listening through tears, it makes Sam feel like he is coming home every time.

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