As a young Indian Christian girl, Saree is particularly vulnerable to persecution. In recent years, it’s not just pastors that have been facing violence, threats and intimidation, but women and girls too. But Saree’s story is amazing – she came to know Jesus after being practically deaf for many years. “I was bullied at school for being deaf. They scolded me: ‘You are deaf!’ It made me so sad. I also couldn’t listen and study at school properly. My parents tried everything to heal me. We went to the hospital, to Hindu temples and even to people who practiced witchcraft. Nothing helped.”
One day, an aunt approached Saree. She said, “Your family members are not believers in the true God. But I am. Come with me. My God will heal you.”
It was the first time Saree set foot in a church. “The people were singing songs,” Saree says. “And the preacher taught from the Word of God. I heard a little bit of sound, so I could understand a little of what was being said and sung. The songs made me happy. After the preaching, the pastor and a few other people prayed for me. First they called me to the front. I was a bit afraid and actually wanted to run. But I still went to the front. While they were praying, I could hear sounds. Slowly the sounds became louder and louder. I also felt something coming to me. It came closer and closer. It was the presence of God. Then the sounds became really clear. I could hear everything. I was incredibly happy.”
“My aunt was there and she was equally happy that I had been healed. She brought me to her home and explained what I needed to know about Jesus. Then she told my mother about Jesus Christ.”
But Saree’s mum wasn’t convinced – she said to Saree’s aunt, “Your God is not our God. We are not going to believe in your God.”
Later, Saree’s mother warned her not to go to church. “The villagers can cut us off from the village. We won’t be able to buy any food or drinks any more and nobody will talk to us.”
But Saree knew she’d experienced something amazing, and even though she was only 11 she would go to church secretly on her own:
“My elder sister was the only one who knew. But my brother also found out. He caught me many times on a Sunday after I came back from church. He beat me and dragged me into the house. One time, I was carrying a Bible. He took it, threw it into the mud and beat me with a stick. Later I collected the Bible, wiped it clean and gave it to another believer. He kept it safe for me.”
After a few months, and more beatings, her brother and father were completely fed up with her.
Saree remembers what they said “‘If you continue to go to church we will punish you!’ They beat and kicked me badly. Then they gave me some clothes and pushed me out of the door. My father said, ‘You are not our daughter anymore.’”
Saree had only one place to go, her Christian aunt. After two days, suddenly Saree’s parents turned up. They accused the aunt of keeping their daughter and threatened to beat her as well, but they didn’t take Saree home. Instead, went to the house of another aunt, who was also a Christian.
It wasn’t long before her mother showed up at the second aunt’s house and invited Saree to come home. But on her return her 22-year-old brother immediately resumed his threats. “Leave Jesus Christ!” he said, while beating her with a stick and slapping her with his shoes.
“I won’t leave Jesus,” Saree replied.
Her older sister tried to pull Saree’s brother away from her. “She only goes to church! Let her go!”
Eventually, he let her go, and Saree knew she had no other choice than to go back to her aunt, who she has been living with for the last few months.
When asked why she hasn’t given up on Jesus, she replies: “I want to leave him… But I can’t. There’s something there… I think about the fellowship we have on Sundays. Whenever I feel depressed, I think about fellowship. A believer sister told me: ‘Don’t leave Jesus Christ. We are here.’ She encouraged me from the Word of God. That strengthened me.”
Amazingly, when asked how we could pray for her, Saree says, “pray for my family, that God will lead them to salvation. Pray especially for my brother.”
Saree’s life is not easy. Her education has been disrupted. She can’t transfer to a new school without a signature from her parents. Her life has been turned completely upside down. Open Doors partners are supporting Saree and aunt through this time.
Father God. Thank You for those like Saree who choose You, despite the cost. Give them strength and courage to keep following You no matter what they may lose in the process. I pray for Saree that she’d be able to continue her education and that her family would welcome her home. I pray the whole family would come to know and love Jesus. Help Saree know your love and protection. Help her inspire me to to keep choosing You in good times and bad. Amen.
A much shorter version of Saree’s story features in our new Guts and Courage resource. Get your free copy to learn more about the places in the world where Christians face pressure, violence and intimidation for their faith and get inspired to live out your walk with God with more boldness…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.