Faith and hope in the darkest places
Living out the Christian faith in one of our restricted countries can come at a huge cost. A Scripture Union team member in one of these countries, shares his testimony, of how faith can grow even in the most difficult circumstances.
“I was born and brought up in a Buddhist family. Since my childhood I experienced conflict, hatred, and no love in the family. My father was a drunkard man. They used to do lots of pujas/rituals to bring peace and happiness but we have never experienced peace and love.
As I grew up, I started to long for good things such as love, peace, good clothes and good food. I started raising questions about the gods to whom we worship. Due to my father’s drinking habits and constant conflict in the family, our condition was very bad. We were in poverty and I had to discontinue my schooling. My elder brother was put in the school hostel, one day one of his school friends gave him the bible as a gift, and at the same time he told him that whatever you pray to Jesus, “you will get it.” During the winter vacation my brother came home and gave me the bible with the same message, ‘’Whatever you ask to Jesus, you will get.’’ That made me curious to read the bible. As I read, I came across a passage which said, ‘’If you ask anything in my name, I will do it,” and so many other similar passages. My curiosity grew. I was very young, I had lots of desires – dreams of getting back to school, having new clothes, good food, peace in the family. I wanted to see my father stop beating my mother and I wanted to see him stop drinking.
With that desire I prayed to Jesus. To my surprise, the very next year I got admission into the school, and got some new clothes. Slowly my faith in Jesus started to grow, and I started to ask more, which ultimately led me to the believer’s house. I started to learn more about Jesus, day by day. In the year 2001, I was baptised, which was when my parents came to know about my faith in Jesus. They tried their best to stop me from following Jesus, but I did not stop…
As a result, several times I was beaten up by my father. My whole family stood against me. I was kicked out of my home several times. With much burden and tears I started to pray for my family and side by side I shared the love of God with my mother. Slowly, she started to believe in Jesus, but due to opposition from other members in the family, we were not free to pray together. I used to send my mum to the toilet and to the jungle for prayer, and several times we used the toilet as a prayer room. The presence of God was so real and tangible even in those places.
I was beaten by my father every day. All my brothers and relatives used to encourage my father to beat me because they thought that my faith in Jesus would bring destruction and a curse on the family. In December 2001, one fine evening, just one day before my exams, I was preparing for my exams in my room. At 9pm, I saw my father coming towards me. At first I thought that he was just coming to wish me well for my exams, but as he entered he started throwing my books around and then he started beating me. My mum ran to call the neighbours for help and somehow with the help of our neighbours, she broke the door open and rescued me. One of our neighbours carried me out and placed me on the open ground. With the full moon, everything was visible outside. I was fighting for my life.
Everyone left the place after making my father calm and made him sleep, but after some time, I could see my father rushing towards me with a big knife. As I was badly beaten up I could not run away. I was lying there helpless and I thought that was the end of my life. I didn’t know what to do. But the only thing I could do was cry out to Jesus. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t ask for any help, but I just cried out, thinking about dying. As I started crying to him I could feel the warm presence of someone all around me. My father just passed behind me, I could feel the touch of his feet on my back, but he did not see me. Several times he came in search of me but he didn’t see me. I didn’t know how, but today when I traced back to that moment, I am sure it was God who protected me. When my father didn’t find me, he went to his room.
In the middle of the night, I managed to go to my neighbour’s house and sleep there. The next day my father came to me with two options. First, he said that if I wanted to continue my studies I had to stop following the Christian religion. Secondly, he said if I didn’t stop being a Christian, then I have to stop my education and he would not pay my fees. I had decided to follow Christ and as a result I was kicked out my house.
I didn’t know where to go. One Christian brother took me to his place and kept me with him for a month, which was when my father filed a court case against my pastor and I. The pastor was taken to jail and I was called to the police station. The police officer asked me several questions, he asked how I had become a Christian. I honestly told him that it was through reading the bible. The officer was so angry with me, he said, ‘’You know I am more educated than you.’’ He started insulting me and eventually asked me to renounced my faith. I did not agree to deny my faith and as a result I was beaten up by him, in front of my father. After that he handed me over to two other policemen.
They took me to the room where they deal with the criminals. On the way to the room, I saw my father standing with his friends. I thought he would say a word to stop them, but he asked them to do whatever they wished to bring me on track. They took me inside and asked me to take off my shirt. As I took it off they saw all the scars on my body. They told me that I had already been beaten by someone. I felt very bad, I could not control myself. I burst into tears and cried out aloud. I felt lonely, helpless and abused. The policemen left me alone. I took a chance and started praying loudly in tears. I don’t know how long my prayers went on, but when I opened my eyes, I saw that the two policemen were just sitting next to me. I prayed for them too. I thought that again they would beat me. But they did not.
All I could hear from their mouths was, ‘’Go’’! I went out, but I had no place to go. My father had warned me not to go back home. It was then that one of the believer’s brothers came forward and directed me to Grace Bible College in Haryana, India. It was the first time I had left my village. When I arrived at the Bible College, it was a new place and a new climate, and since I had never been exposed to the outside world before, I started falling sick. Everybody thought that I was useless. Nobody came forward to support me.
Two years later I wrote a letter asking my family to allow me to come back home, but they replied, “No!” For sometime, I thought that I was there because I had been sent out and had no place to go. But it was during this time that the Lord renewed and affirmed His plan and purpose in my life. When I was in the final year of my studies at the college, I was sick for almost a month, suffering with Chickenpox. After having a fever for so long, I needed a bath, but I had no soap. I used to go to bathroom after bathroom collecting the pieces of left over soap and gathering them together. I used to crush those pieces to form into big sizes so I that I could wash. I would sing out in the bathroom to the Lord, “Reign in me sovereign Lord, captivate my heart, let your kingdom come, establish your throne let your will be done…’’
It was during those times that the Lord started speaking to me from his Word.
“Be still and know that I am God, wait for me” Isaiah 43: 2 “When you pass through the water I will be with you, when you pass through the water they will not sweep you over, when you walk through the fire you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.”
And in Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” And there are so many other verses through which the Lord affirmed His call on me. So I completely dedicated my life for His kingdom.
With much burden I started to pray for my family. It was in 2008 that my father had a stroke and became half paralyzed, he was fully bed ridden and he called Christian people to pray for him. As they came and prayed, he was healed completely. Slowly, he started believing in Jesus. I was able to go back home that year. Now all my family have accepted Christ as their personal saviour and Lord.
After I accepted Christ, I had only two desires. One was to see all my family members come to the saving grace of Christ, and the second was to see my nation come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, right from the royal family to the ordinary citizens. This first desire has been fulfilled, as my parents and family members are all saved. Now it is the nation I pray for.
Today I’m walking with that burden and vision, to reach out to the lost at any cost.”