How far would you go to have your sick child cured?
Jaanvi*, a mother of two in India, tried everything. She went to many different Hindu gods and participated in ceremonies. Yet her daughter still suffered from epileptic fits and her son had severe malnutrition despite eating well.
Ultimately she came to the King of kings. There she found healing for her children, as well as persecution for her entire family.
Interviewer: Tell us about your childhood.
Jaanvi: I grew up in a Hindu family. Of course, I was compelled to do idol worship. That’s what all parents teach every child: to worship the idols and take part in the many Hindu ceremonies. There are lots of gods and goddesses in Hindu culture.
I understand. What were your dreams when you were growing up, before you became a Christian?
Before coming to Christ, I brought a lot of sacrifices to the gods. We lived in poverty. We were extremely poor, had no money at all.
So your only worry was to earn enough money to survive?
No, we had other concerns. My daughter suffered from epileptic fits. I was afraid of those attacks, and we tried everything we could think of to cure her. In the end, it led us to Christ. We went to a prayer meeting organised by Christians. She was healed.
Can you explain how she suffered?
We went to so many idols and took part in so many Hindu ceremonies. Every morning and evening I went into our garden to worship the most important god of my tribe. It didn’t help. My daughter continued to suffer from evil spirits. Not just her, but then my son too. The evil spirit would torture them.
Do you mind giving an example?
My son ate well, but he was severely malnutritioned and very skinny. He had no strength when he was one year old.
How did you eventually come to faith?
One of my relatives had become a believer. She shared the gospel with us and told us to go for prayer. So we went. It was held in a small house in a small village. There were about 50 or 60 people around us. The pastor prayed over our children and both were healed. Not instantly, but over time. It took five Sundays. My son, for example, gained so much weight in such a short amount of time. The pastor did warn us: “If only [the Christians] pray, the children may not be healed fully. You must also pray and stop worshipping idols. You must also pray for yourselves.” So we did. We stopped with idol worship immediately and went to church instead. My husband was addicted to tobacco chewing and alcohol and he stopped that too.
With what expectations did you go to the prayer meeting?
“I had made a decision before I went into the meeting: if my son and daughter were healed, I’d give my life to God.”
That’s a real mother’s prayer, isn’t it?
Your ‘mother’s prayer’ led to the healing of your children, and to your family coming to faith. It also led to persecution. Did you expect that?
Not at all.
What persecution did you encounter?
(The corners of her eyes grew wet)
It was about two years after we had come to faith. We owned a small field, but we didn’t have any water supply. I asked the villagers if they could help me to get a water supply for my field. But they refused. My father and father-in-law had to dig our well. While they were working on it, all the people in the village were mocking us and laughing at us. Every day, I had to climb 32 steps to take mud out of the well, to get to the water. One day, I was crying so much. I prayed: “You have to help me!” God answered my prayer.
How did He answer?
I was able to earn some money so we could finish the well. The well gave us water for the field and we were able to grow some crops and sell them. This gave us an income.
(Jaanvi’s father-in-law passed away shortly after their well was completed. He was not a Christian, but still the villagers refused to attend his funeral as he lived with Jaanvi and her family. At his death, much worry assailed Jaanvi as she thought of how the family could survive the hostile environment around them. )
How difficult was your father-in-law’s death and funeral for you?
It was so painful. I didn’t cry for my father-in-law, but for all my worries: how were we going to survive in this hostile environment? I really cried a lot in front of God.
Three months ago, the villagers organised a special meeting for the Christians. We had to go. They asked us why we didn’t just leave Christianity. They told us to sacrifice to idols right there and then. “If you don’t,” they said, “we will not have any kind of relationship with you. Nobody will visit you. Nobody will marry your sons and daughters, and you will not be allowed to talk to us.”
It was aggressive. The people used foul language. They cursed and swore a lot. They told us that the gods would become angry with us. If we left the gods, we would die. They didn’t beat us, but we are now treated as complete pariahs. People don’t even look at us. Or if they do, they spit at us, or abuse us verbally.
Did you feel lonely or weak?
No. I knew God would help me. That’s why I prayed with tears.
Is there any Bible verse that gives you comfort?
God has spoken with [sic] us through many words, but specifically through 1 Peter 1:12-19:
“⋯⋯Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming⋯⋯”
I was reminded of the struggles of Daniel and Job too. These Bible books really encourage me.
How important is it that people outside of India are connected to you?
Very important. It makes me so happy to be connected to them via you. We are from different cultures and countries, but we unite. Unity gives joy and strength.
Would it make a difference if those people also prayed for you?
(After thinking deeply) Yes, that would be very nice.
How would you like us to pray for you?
I have a big desire. I see the Hindus around us suffering from illnesses and lack of peace, just like my family once suffered. I pray that they will come to prayer meetings and receive the healing and forgiving power of Jesus, so that they come to know the same knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Especially our village leader. He’s a family member and he persecutes us a lot. He says: ‘There are many of us, you are only a few. You will lose.’ It’s my deep desire that he repents and comes to Christ. He and the others don’t know Christ. They put all their faith in idols.
Is there anything you’d like to share to the people who pray for you and support our ministry?
“Please pray for my village, so that all will come to faith.”
Through local partners and churches in India, Open Doors supports Christians like Jaanvi with emergency aid, livelihood projects, Bibles, and training – so that they can be effective witnesses for Christ in a hostile environment.
*Name changed for security purposes
DOUBLE THE PERSECUTION (MEETINGS IN HK & TAIWAN)
A conversation on how a Christian woman is two times more vulnerable to persecution than a man.
Open Doors’ groundbreaking research has shown that the persecution that Christians face are specific to their gender, and target their respective areas of weaknesses. The result of this, is that Christian women are twice as vulnerable to persecution, than Christian men are.
Open Doors’ Global Gender Persecution Specialist, Helene Fisher, has seen first-hand the specific effects of persecution on men and women. She has counselled and cared for women who were victims of extreme violence in Central African Republic. Helene also designs programmes to help the women in the persecuted church.
Come and hear from Helene this June about how Christians are targeted around the world for their faith, and their gender.To Learn More